Fantasy Basketball: Which returning stars can boost your squad?

Yahoo Fantasy Basketball expert Josh Lloyd discusses the potential stars managers should consider drafting before they return to action. You can ask Josh Lloyd any fantasy questions on Twitter and Instagram.

We’ve had a lot of unfortunate absences in the NBA so far this season. Every year it happens, but every year, it seems like it’s never been this bad. 

But, if you can swoop at the right time to acquire ‘damaged goods’ you strengthen your overall chances to take home the championship.

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Now, remember, if you are struggling in the standings, sacrificing the next few weeks for a payoff later may not be the best move, as you may be too far behind the eight ball to even come back.

But if your team has been solid, you can really amplify your odds as we move forward with a savvy move. So, I’ll give you some suggestions of players you could give up for players who are due to return in the next month or so to boost your squad.

Deandre Ayton (pictured left) and Zion Williamson (pictured right) are expected to return to the NBA soon. (Getty Images)

Returning stars

Deandre Ayton (Suspended)

Ayton has played just one game this season but has just nine games left of his PED suspension left before his returns on December 17. 

Ayton put up a massive 46.2 fantasy points in his first game, but our rest of season expectations should be a little lower. 

If you wait until he returns from his suspensions to trade for him, you will get no discount, so now is the time to strike in order to try and get a top 30 type player on your roster. I don’t know who you have on your roster, but given he is still almost three weeks from returning, sending a player outside the top 50 is probably the right move.

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It could be the likes of Myles Turner, Montrezl Harrell, Al Horford, Wendell Carter Jr., Tristan Thompson, or a Richaun Holmes.

John Collins (Suspended)

Like Ayton, Collins was rubbed out for failing a PED test and he has 12 games left on his suspension. 

He is set to return December 23rd, so we are about a month away from his comeback. As Collins can’t be stashed in the IL spot, you have to take the zeroes for almost four weeks, so who you send and your standing position is important here. 

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Collins was averaging 37.56 points, which ranks him 35th per game before the suspension. Due to the fact that he is missing a lot of games still, we aren’t giving up a top 40 player, but someone like Bogdan Bogdanović, who has been playing well with De’Aaron Fox out, is someone I would consider.

As well as Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., Richaun Holmes, and Tristan Thomspon.

Gordon Hayward (Broken Hand)

Unlike Ayton and Collins, we don’t know the exact date Hayward will be returning, but my estimations have him missing about nine more games for a return in mid-December. 

Someone who I would look to deal away for Hayward is Lou Williams.

Gordon Hayward with his injured hand. (Getty Images)

With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard playing together, I imagine Hayward’s production will exceed Williams’ when he returns. 

I would also look at his teammate Jaylen Brown, who is averaging 33.43, as someone to deal away to get Hayward back if you are in a winning league position. 

Spencer Dinwiddie is someone I would happily part with for Hayward, along with Jabari Parker.

Caris LeVert (Thumb Ligament)

LeVert has a thumb ligament issue that is likely to keep him out until mid to late December. 

That means he is likely looking at another 10-15 games on the sidelines.

Before his injury, Levert was averaging 27.67 fantasy points per game, which ranked him 93rd. I think he can be better than 93rd when he returns, so I would look to acquire him soon, offering up players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Bojan Bogdanović, Aaron Gordon (when he is back from his ankle issue), and Paul Millsap.

Zion Williamson (Knee)

We haven’t seen Zion Williamson in the NBA as he deals with his torn meniscus. 

There are legitimately people who think he won’t play at all this season. I am not one of those people. 

Zion’s recovery appears to be on track and he should be looking at a return around or after Christmas. That’s still 13-16 games away.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, center, watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

It’s a lot. He’s also a rookie and we don’t know how he will play in the league. 

But I am still okay, in the right circumstances, dealing for Zion, because once he gets going the numbers are going to be huge. He could easily be a top 15 player once he comes back. 

Of course, you don’t have to give up anywhere near that sort of value. 

Dealing away Blake Griffin or Kevin Love for Zion is a no-brainer if you can pull it off. 

I’d consider fellow rookie Ja Morant as well, along with DeMar DeRozan and his teammate LaMarcus Aldridge. You may not even have to go that high. 

Start with someone like Tobias Harris or Jonathan Issac and work your way from there and in nearly all of these cases, adding a player to lower guy like Harris is better than moving up your roster in terms of output.

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you feel comfortable grabbing these unavailable players and what you gave up to get them.