Fantasy NBA: Players whose vaccine status might impact drafts

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Kyrie Irving (left) and Andrew Wiggins (right)
Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins are falling in Fantasy drafts due to their vaccination status.

It appears COVID vaccination is going to play a part in the fantasy season for 2021/22. 

Players that play for Golden State, Brooklyn, and the Knicks will not be able to play in home games if they are unvaccinated. 

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The Knicks are 100% vaccinated, so this has no impact on them. 

We know that Andrew Wiggins is currently unvaccinated for Golden State, so if he chooses to remain this way, he will miss at least the 41 Warriors home games. 

We assume, given the recent reports, that Kyrie Irving is also unvaccinated, although that is not 100% confirmed. 

If it is the case, he also won’t be able to play the 41 Nets home games, and because he is employed in New York, he also won’t be able to play at Madison Square Garden in Knicks’ home games, so that limits him to a maximum of under 40 games this season. 

This can all change if Irving and Wiggins do get vaccinated, and there is a belief that they will.

We also know that Washington's Bradley Beal, Denver's Michael Porter Jr., Dallas' Trey Burke, and Orlando's Jonathan Isaac are currently unvaccinated. 

It is also assumed that Boston's Josh Richardson is not vaccinated, and likely that Washington's Kyle Kuzma is not.

The difference with these players is that they are not banned from playing in their home arenas nor are they banned from playing in San Francisco and New York. 

The local laws only prevent employees in their respective cities (Warriors/Nets players) from being in the arena. It does not apply to visiting players. 

So Beal, Isaac et al. are not going to be forced to sit out games at home, nor will they be banned from Nets/Knicks, or Warriors games.

But, this can change. Other cities may follow San Francisco or New York and lock players out. If that happens, we will update.

Drafting unvaccinated players could have Fantasy NBA ramifications

The issue for Beal and Isaac, and anyone else unvaccinated is that if they catch COVID-19 or are exposed as part of the health and safety protocols, their exclusion time is longer than for people who are vaccinated. 

As such, it increases the risk of these players missing more time than their vaccinated counterparts.

I wouldn’t be dropping Beal, Porter or Isaac off your draft board, but perhaps dropping down a few spots is wise if they are at risk of two weeks on the sideline due to exposure when other players will not have that same restriction.

Contrary to rumours, LeBron James is fully vaccinated and the Charlotte Hornets have clarified PJ Washington's status after revealing everyone on the team was vaccinated or about to be fully vaccinated.

Michael Porter Jr on court
Denver's Michael Porter Jr says he will not get the Covis-19 vaccine, leaving him at risk of missing games due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

So should you draft Andrew Wiggins or Kyrie Irving?

As for what to do with Kyrie and Wiggins, it’s tough. 

If you have a draft coming up now, it’s very tough to draft Wiggins. He isn’t good enough to take the risk that he plays a maximum of 41 games. 

Kyrie is a little different because of how good he is, but if he plays just a maximum of 39 games (due to games against the Knicks and Nets home games), he would be undraftable. 

There is a chance Kyrie does get vaccinated, so taking that risk would be a league winner if that happens. 

I think Kyrie is worth the risk outside the top 50 and I wouldn’t touch him near his ADP with his current unvaccinated status. 

The risk is too high as losing your second-round pick means you really can’t win.

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