It's been a long time since we've been able to enjoy some NBA action. In fact, when the league does resume, we will have gone more than four months without games. The NBA's plan to play within the so-called "bubble" in Orlando could have its ups and downs as players not only have to deal with COVID-19, but also being away from their families for an extended period.
The combination of the virus and the bubble has already resulted in some players declining to play once the league resumes. Let's discuss some of the risers and fallers in terms of fantasy stock as a result of those decisions.
When the Nets signed the injured Kevin Durant (Achilles) during the offseason, they were basically already playing for the 2020-21 season, even though they also added Kyrie Irving. Despite the pause, Durant still will not rejoin the team. To make matters worse for the Nets, Irving (shoulder), Spencer Dinwiddie (illness) and DeAndre Jordan (illness) will all sit out the restart as well, the latter two testing positive for COVID-19.
That doesn't leave a lot of healthy bodies. However, from a fantasy perspective, the absences of those players could mean huge production from both LeVert and Allen.
LeVert's usage rate for the season stands at 28.8 percent, but it climbs to 38.6 percent with both Dinwiddie and Irving off the floor. For Allen, he's been limited to just 26 minutes a game for the season, overall. However, he should play significantly more with Jordan out.
Across 13 games in which he has logged at least 30 minutes, he has averaged 13.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting a whopping 70 percent from the field. In short, look for both LeVert and Allen to put forth impressive numbers.
Stock up: Malcolm Brogdon
The Pacers have had their share of injuries this season, especially out of the gate. That put plenty of burden on the shoulders of Brogdon, who averaged 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, one steal and 1.5 three-pointers across the team's first 21 games. Expect him to once again be busy once the season resumes with Jeremy Lamb (knee) still out and Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) deciding not to join the team in Orlando.
Oladipo looked like a shell of himself after originally returning from injury in January, so him deciding to stay on the sidelines is probably a wise decision for a team that had slim hopes of making a lot of noise in the playoffs even with him on the floor. Brogdon did test positive for COVID-19 in June, but he is expected to be ready to play in time for the restart of the regular season. As long as he is healthy, he has the ability to provide excellent all-around production moving forward.
Stock down: Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside is the one player on this list who could actually see a decline in his stock. To say he has played well for his new team would be a massive understatement. He's been their anchor in the middle, averaging 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks a game. Not only that, but his 68 percent shooting from the charity stripe would be the second-highest mark of his career.
One of the key reasons for Whiteside's success has been his lack of competition for minutes. He's averaged 31 minutes a game, which is only the second time that he's reached at least 30 minutes per contest in his career. Such ample playing time will be more difficult to come by moving forward, though, with both Jusuf Nurkic (leg) and Zach Collins (shoulder) ready to return from injury.
Trevor Ariza deciding to opt out of Orlando should result in Carmelo Anthony spending more time at small forward, but Whiteside will still have to battle with Nurkic for playing time at center while Collins likely soaks up most of the minutes at power forward. It is important to keep in mind that Nurkic hasn't played in over a year, so don't expect him to immediately play heavy minutes. Still, his presence should result in a decline in playing time, and production, for Whiteside.
The Jazz's quest for a deep run in the playoffs took a significant hit when Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) underwent season-ending surgery in May. He's been one of the focal points of their offense with his 25.6 percent usage rate ranking second behind only Donovan Mitchell (31 percent). With Bogdanovic out, Ingles should move back into the starting five. While Ingles should benefit from a bump in playing time, his offensive upside has been limited for much of the season. He can provide value in other areas, though, given his averages of four rebounds and 5.2 assists across 30 minutes a night.
Conley has taken a back seat offensively with the Jazz, posting just a 23 percent usage rate. He had a usage rate of at least 25.9 percent in each of his previous three seasons with the Grizzlies. There's no reason to believe that he can't be Mitchell's primary scoring partner moving forward. It is important to note that Conley could also miss some time due to the upcoming birth of his child in late August.
Stock up: Trey Lyles
The Spurs' path to the playoffs became much more difficult when LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) was ruled out for the remainder of the season. Left to pick up the pieces in their front court is Lyles, who thrived while filling in for Aldridge previously. During a six-game stretch that Aldridge missed earlier in the season, Lyles averaged 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.2 three-pointers in 33 minutes a game. He might not be a sexy name, but Lyles could provide valuable under-the-radar production.
The Wizards may mathematically have a chance of making the playoffs, but it would be a shocker if they found their way in. First, Davis Bertans opted not to rejoin the team as he attempts to stay healthy and cash in on a big regular season during his upcoming free agency. On top of that, now Bradley Beal (shoulder) also won't play. The absence of Beal is a crushing blow given his averages of 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
It's going to take a group effort to try and make up for Beal's production. When Beal missed five straight games in January, Brown thrived with averages of 15.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.2 three-pointers. The key is that he averaged 34 minutes a game during that stretch. With the likelihood that he at least approaches 30 minutes a game moving forward, he stands to benefit from Beal's absence. Napier had moved into the starting five before the season went on pause and averaged 12.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.5 three-pointers across eight games in that role. He should have the ball in his hands plenty now, leaving his fantasy stock on the rise.