Who takes over at point guard for the Celtics?
The Celtics lost Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn right ACL last weekend.
Boston is one of the few teams in the NBA that doesn't have a true backup point guard, meaning the team will be forced to play somebody out of position. The lack of a true backup for Rondo also means there isn't a go-to fantasy replacement for him from Boston's roster.
Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa all figure to share point guard duties for the time being, with Bradley and Lee getting the first look as the starting backcourt.
Fantasy owners have been scrambling to decipher which one of the four would receive the biggest boost in value following Rondo's trade.
Since Barbosa will go from being a seldom-used player to having a sizable role in the rotation, he actually stands to see the biggest bump in overall production, but he'll also still hold the smallest role out of the group, which will limit his appeal to deeper formats.
Bradley, who was already averaging nearly 25 minutes per game as part of the starting five, will remain in the starting lineup while seeing a boost in playing time and usage. While he's the right size (6-2, 180) to be a point guard, Bradley has been used primarily as a shooting guard in both college and the NBA. Overall, Bradley's bump in production will likely be modest, with a possible return to his numbers as a starter last season (11.0 points per game in 31 minutes per game).
Lee plays more like a small forward than a point guard, and while his playing time will surely rise, owners shouldn't expect point-guard type production a from fifth-year pro who has averaged just 1.4 dimes in his career.
Instead, fantasy owners should focus their attention on Terry. The 35-year-old vet has long been deployed as a scoring combo guard off the bench, but he actually logged significant run as a point guard back in his early days, even averaging 7.4 assists with the Hawks in 2002-03. Of course, we're a long way from Terry's glory days, but he still remains the Celtics' best option when it comes to facilitating an offense.
The assist totals weren't there for Terry in the Celtics first game sans-Rondo, but the veteran did manage to score 12 points while playing over 32 minutes – the most playing time he's seen all month. Terry struggled earlier this season, which led to him being dropped in many Yahoo! leagues. He's only owned in 62 percent of leagues, so go check the waiver wire to see if he can help your squad make a second-half push.
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 game every now and then - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time, rotation role, or performance.
Kyle Lowry, G, TOR – The three-team trade sending Rudy Gay to Toronto hit the wires just before this article was set to be published. While there will be plenty of minor tweaks in fantasy value to some of the other moving parts, Lowry, who wasn't part of the deal, stands to see the biggest boost in value. Lowry will now have free reign over the Raptors starting point guard job. In 18 starts this season, Lowry has averaged an insane 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 three-pointers, and 1.7 steals. He did all that damage in just 31 mpg, a workload that should be easily eclipsed now that Jose Calderon is in Motown. The only thing standing between Lowry and top-30 fantasy value is his health.
Andrew Bogut, C, GS – Bogut made a surprise return to the floor Monday after missing 38 games recovering from an ankle injury. The seven-foot Australian showed little rust in his first game back, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in 28 minutes. He was held out of Tuesday's game and could continue to sit the second game of back-to-back sets in the short term, but Bogut is ready to be deployed in fantasy leagues. When healthy, he's ranked 61st and 67th on a per-game basis the past two seasons. If Monday night was any indication, we could see similar per-game production from Bogut for the remainder of this season.
Raymond Felton, G, NY – Felton, who was sidelined for a month with a broken finger, returned to action last week. He looked a little rusty in his first game back, but Felton was able to bounce back with a double-double (12 points, 10 assists) Sunday against Atlanta. The 28-year-old point guard was putting together one of the best seasons of his career prior to his injury, so hopefully he can pick up where he left off.
Jeff Teague, G, ATL – Teague has been a solid option at point guard all season, but he's taken his production to another level over the past two weeks. In his past seven games, Teague has averaged 19.1 points, 8.3 assists, 1.6 three-pointers, and 1.1 steals in 37 mpg. With Louis Williams (knee) out for the rest of the season, the Hawks will continue to ask Teague to shoulder the load at point guard and assume a bigger scoring role than he has in the past. Target Teague in trades if you're looking for a young player who could be on the verge of a breakout.
Tiago Splitter, C, SAS – The Spurs gradually expanded Splitter's role all season before really turning him loose over the past two weeks. During that stretch, Splitter has averaged 14.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 0.9 steals while shooting 69 percent from the floor in 30 mpg. The shooting percentage is slightly inflated, but Splitter was a 62-percent shooter last season, so he'll continue to convert attempts at a high rate. You won't find much defensive help here, but Splitter's double-double production with solid percentages and low turnovers will play in nearly any format.
Stephen Curry, G, GS – There's no reason for Curry owners to start having panic attacks yet, but he does deserve to be monitored more closely after missing his third game in less than two weeks due to an ankle injury. Early indication is that this latest ankle tweak isn't too serious, so hopefully Curry returns soon. Jarrett Jack will see a nice bump in value if Curry misses any additional time.
Chris Paul, G, LAC – Paul continues to be sidelined with a bone bruise in his knee. The Clippers don't have a concrete timetable and continue to list Paul as day-to-day. Despite Paul missing seven of the past nine games, it doesn't appear that this injury is too serious. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Clippers continue to be cautious, but CP3 should return at some point during the team's eight-game road trip, which tips off Wednesday night. Bledsoe will continue to be worth a look in fantasy until Paul returns.
Carlos Boozer, F, CHI – Boozer (hamstring) will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's tilt against the Bucks. The injury came out of nowhere and details haven't surfaced yet, but his status as a game-time decision is a good indication it's not a serious ailment. If Boozer is forced to miss any action, look for Taj Gibson to be a solid plug-and-play in the short term.
Andrea Bargnani, F, TOR – Bargnani, who has been sidelined with an elbow injury since mid-December, is set to return within the next week, possibly this weekend. For all his flaws (low field-goal percentage and poor rebounding), Bargnani still remains a valuable enough fantasy commodity to own in most leagues when healthy. He's only owned in 59 percent of Yahoo! leagues, meaning he could be scooped up and stashed if you're quick to the waivers.
Derrick Rose, G, CHI – Rose (knee) continues to inch closer to a return. He's now taking part in full contact practices without any restrictions on his shooting or cutting. All he needs is additional practice reps to shake off the rust and get back into game shape. We might be looking at another week or two until Rose starts appearing in games, but he should already be stashed away on fantasy benches. Go grab him now if you're in one of the few leagues where he's available.
Rajon Rondo, G, BOS – The aforementioned Rondo will be sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn right ACL. He's expected to go under the knife in the next two weeks with a timetable for his recovery to be determined after the surgery. Assuming all goes well in his surgery and rehab, Rondo will likely need about 10 months to recover.
Chris Kaman, C, DAL – Kaman is currently sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. As we've seen with numerous athletes in other sports, the timetable to return from a concussion can vary widely. He'll go through a concussion test again Wednesday, and if Kaman passes with flying colors, we could see a quick return. That said, the veteran big man was already headed for a downgrade before getting shelved due to injury. He was removed from the starting lineup last week and managed just 12 mpg in his last two appearances. Assuming Kaman is still being deployed as a reserve upon his return, his value will be limited to deeper leagues.
Marcus Thornton, G, SAC – An already up-and-down season for Thornton hit a new low this month, as he's averaged just 8.5 points in under 18 mpg since returning to action on Jan. 10. Thornton is at his best when deployed as a high-volume shooting guard, but the Kings have been content in using Tyreke Evans in that role this season. Barring some of the Kings' regulars getting traded or injured, Thornton will have a tough time reclaiming the 35-mpg role he played last season. Aside from his three-point production, there's not much use here for fantasy purposes.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, CHA – It's the point of the season where rookies either start really finding their groove at the NBA level or hit the fabled "rookie wall." Whether or not you give any credence to the "rookie wall," there's no doubt MKG's season has took a turn for the worse. After looking like a solid all-around contributor in the first two months of the season, Kidd-Gilchrist's averages have dipped to 7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 0.3 blocks in Jan. His struggles on offense aren't all that surprising, as that was considered an area he needed to develop when drafted, but the fact that his oft-touted defensive play has dropped off so significantly does hurt his fantasy value. Redraft leagues should look for other options who can offer more consistent value.
Jimmy Butler, F, CHI – Butler had a fantastic run while filling in as the Bulls starting small forward earlier this month. Over a five-game stretch as the starting three, Butler averaged 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while playing a ridiculous 45 mpg. Despite regular starter Luol Deng returning to action Monday night, Butler has remained one of the most popular pickups in Yahoo! leagues. If you were one of the owners who added Butler, it's already time to consider tossing him back to the scrap heap. His impressive run as a starter has probably bought him some extra playing time of the bench, but he's more likely to chime in at 20-25 mpg than the 31 minutes he played in Deng's return. Given his averages as a reserve (5.7 points and 2.7 rebound in 18 mpg), Butler will have a tough time providing value in anything but deeper formats.