NBA Barometer: Injuries Paving Way For Late Bloomers

NBA Barometer: Injuries Paving Way For Late Bloomers

This article is part of our NBA Barometer series.

GUARDS

GAINING VALUE 

Pat Connaughton, MIL: Stuck in a minor second-unit role for the majority of the first three seasons of his career in Portland, Connaughton has started to blossom amid injuries in Milwaukee. The 26-year-old has scored in double digits in three of his last four games, and he's averaging 11.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals across 30.9 minutes over the last eight contests overall. He's seen no fewer than 24 minutes in any of his last 12 games, as he continues to benefit from Malcolm Brogdon's regular-season-ending foot injury.

Tyler Dorsey, MEM: Dorsey was just recalled from the G League on March 20, and he's made good use of his opportunity during what is now a seven-game absence on the part of Avery Bradley (lower leg). The second-year guard has averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists across 31.9 minutes during that span while seeing time at both backcourt spots. Teammate Delon Wright was mentioned last week as also being on the rise, but Dorsey is the more likely of the two to still be available in leagues at this late stage.

Dion Waiters, MIA: An ankle injury delayed Waiters' season debut until Jan. 2, and the veteran sharpshooter understandably had trouble hitting his stride early on. However, Waiters started heating up in early February, and he's taken his game to another level during the current absences of Justise Winslow (thigh) and Josh Richardson (heel). Waiters is averaging

GUARDS

GAINING VALUE 

Pat Connaughton, MIL: Stuck in a minor second-unit role for the majority of the first three seasons of his career in Portland, Connaughton has started to blossom amid injuries in Milwaukee. The 26-year-old has scored in double digits in three of his last four games, and he's averaging 11.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals across 30.9 minutes over the last eight contests overall. He's seen no fewer than 24 minutes in any of his last 12 games, as he continues to benefit from Malcolm Brogdon's regular-season-ending foot injury.

Tyler Dorsey, MEM: Dorsey was just recalled from the G League on March 20, and he's made good use of his opportunity during what is now a seven-game absence on the part of Avery Bradley (lower leg). The second-year guard has averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists across 31.9 minutes during that span while seeing time at both backcourt spots. Teammate Delon Wright was mentioned last week as also being on the rise, but Dorsey is the more likely of the two to still be available in leagues at this late stage.

Dion Waiters, MIA: An ankle injury delayed Waiters' season debut until Jan. 2, and the veteran sharpshooter understandably had trouble hitting his stride early on. However, Waiters started heating up in early February, and he's taken his game to another level during the current absences of Justise Winslow (thigh) and Josh Richardson (heel). Waiters is averaging 15.7 points (on 40 percent shooting from three-point range), 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists across 29.4 minutes over his last 12 games. Waiters is encouragingly sporting a 23.2 percent usage rate over that span and should continue heavily involved as the Heat push to keep a hold of the Eastern Conference's eighth seed.

ALSO GAINING VALUE: George Hill, MIL; Antonio Blakeney, CHI; Wayne Ellington, DET; Wayne Selden, Jr., CHI

LOSING VALUE

Jaylen Brown, BOS: Brown remains a steady part of the backcourt rotation, but his production has suffered of late. Brown missed Monday's win over Miami with back spasms and he's expected to remain out for Wednesday's rematch. Prior to the back issues, Brown had scored in single digits in five of the last seven games. A 29-point spike against the Hornets on March 23 boosts his average to a respectable 11.7 points during that span. However, Brown has been inconsistent after an impressive stretch of play in the 13 games prior during which he scored in double digits on 12 occasions while averaging 15.2 points.

FORWARDS

GAINING VALUE     

Troy Brown, Jr., WAS: Brown saw a bump in minutes beginning March 16 against the Grizzlies and has delivered some solid performances while Trevor Ariza has missed five of the last six games with a groin injury. Brown is averaging 11.2 points (on 45.8 percent shooting, including 42.1 percent from three-point range), 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists across 29.8 minutes over that stretch. That includes a career-high 24-point effort in his most recent contest Thursday versus the Nuggets. With reports emerging Tuesday that Ariza is unlikely to return this season, Brown's opportunity should be locked in moving forward.

Shaquille Harrison, CHI: Harrison was mentioned as a player to keep an eye on last week, and he's continued delivering over the past several games. He's scored in double digits in three of his last four contests, and in four of the last six, overall. Harrison's averages check in at 13.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals over the last six games, a stretch during which he's also averaging 12.8 shot attempts per contest. With Otto Porter, Jr. out indefinitely, Harrison looks assured of solid minutes for what remains of the season.

ALSO GAINING VALUE: Dragan Bender, PHO; Josh Jackson, PHO; Rodney Hood, POR; Mikal Bridges, PHO

LOSING VALUE

Rodions Kurucs, BKN: Kurucs is averaging a meager 4.6 points (on 32.6 percent shooting, including 28.0 percent from three-point range) and 3.7 rebounds across 19.9 minutes over his last nine games. Except for the rebounds, all of those figures represent significant downturns from his season averages. He's now also dealing with a knee bruise, and DeMarre Carroll has been considerably outpacing him across the stat sheet during the aforementioned span.

ALSO LOSING VALUE: Kenrich Williams, NOP 

CENTERS

GAINING VALUE   

Tristan Thompson, CLE: Thompson seems to be hitting his stride after spending more than two months on the shelf due to a foot injury. The veteran big man just put together his best scoring effort since returning March 20, posting 15 points over 21 minutes against the Suns on Monday night. That game came on the heels of a double-double against the Clippers. Thompson is one veteran on a non-contending team that figures to play through the rest of the season as he looks to build some momentum for next year.

Joakim Noah and Ivan Rabb, MEM: Jonas Valanciunas' wildly successful initial Grizzlies stint came to a crashing end due to an ankle injury he suffered Sunday against the Clippers. That pushes both Noah, who's been sidelined for the past four games due to a knee injury himself, and Rabb into extended opportunities at center for the next eight days. Noah has been impressive since before the All-Star break, averaging 11.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in 15 games between Feb. 9 and March 20. Meanwhile, Rabb has flashed potential at times this season while seeing time at both power forward and center. Without Valanciunas, he could jump right into an allotment of 25-30 minutes, at minimum, if Noah isn't ready to go for Wednesday's game against the Trail Blazers.

Alex Len, Hawks: Dewayne Dedmon is out for the remainder of the season due to chronic ankle soreness, which should continue boosting Len's value the rest of the way. The 2013 first-round pick actually played very well throughout March, as he finished the month with 14.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists across 23.9 minutes over 14 games. Len saw 27 minutes during Dedmon's first full absence Sunday against the Bucks, and he should continue thriving within the Hawks' league-leading pace of play.

ALSO GAINING VALUE: Gorgui Dieng, MIN, Christian Wood, NOR

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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