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Replacing Celtics’ Gordon Hayward and Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic

Brandon C. Williams Staff Writer October 18, 2017 5:48PM EST
Six minutes into the NBA season, the sports world was left aghast when Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward suffered a brutally graphic fractured ankle and broken right tibia in Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland. The injury will sideline Hayward fpr the season and maybe longer. He had signed a four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics this summer.

Hayward’s loss leaves a major void in the lineup, as Boston was expecting him to contribute at the rate of 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists he averaged with the Jazz last season. His injury amplifies the importance that second-year forward Jayon Brown and rookie forward Jayson Tatum must develop quickly if the Celts are to have a legitimate chance to dethrone the Cavs atop the Eastern Conference. Brown looked up to the challenge, scoring 25 points and six rebounds in 40 minutes. Tatum, held scoreless in the first half, stepped up with 14 points after intermission to go along with a team-best 10 rebounds.

From a Fantasy Hoops perspective, Hayward should be dropped in yearly leagues. There is no realistic outlook for him to step on the court in a competitive manner until at least next September. Brown, who also is guard-eligible, is owned in 74 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, and that number that will rapidly increase. There’s even less hope of picking up Tatum, who is owned in 93 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.

The best option toward replacing Hayward would be to see how the first week of games plays out and identify a replacement who can move between the G/F positions. There is no way to duplicate Hayward’s potential production, but the first week or two will present Fantasy owners with a reasonable option or two.

NIKOLA MIROTIC GETS PUNCHED, LAURI MAKKANEN ON THE RADAR

-Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic will be out until at least late November after he sustained multiple fractures in his face when teammate Bobby Portis punched him after practice on Tuesday. Mirotic also received a concussion and will require surgery. He had expected to have an increased role offensively while also becoming more of a presence in the paint.

The Bulls handed Portis an eight-game suspension on Wednesday, and while he will still be able to practice, he will not appear in a regular season game until the team’s November 7 game at the Raptors. It is still uncertain if the NBA will follow with punishment of its own. Rookie Lauri Makkanen and Paul Zipser will get the bulk of the minutes at forward, with Justin Holiday also likely to see increased time at small forward. From a Fantasy perspective, Markkanen projects to be the one player who could benefit in the absence of both Mirotic and Portis. Markkanen averaged 15.5 points and six rebounds in his last two preseason games and will see ample opportunities to shoot on a team lacking viable scoring options.

IT”S NOT EASY BEING GREEN

-Warriors power forward Draymond Green will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his left knee sprain suffered in Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets. Green suffered the injury in the third quarter and left after stat-stuffing his way to nine points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 28 minutes of work.

Green did tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes “he’s fine,” but if the MRI proves otherwise, the Warriors will be without the services of perhaps the most unique player in the league. Few — if anyone — can do what Green does on both ends of the court, and as his numbers on Tuesday showed, he is a walking triple-double waiting to happen on a nightly basis. The best case is that he misses a game or two. If that’s the case, the Dubs will look to rookie Jordan Bell (who has been favorably compared to Green) to fill his minutes.

Is there panic in Boston over the Gordon Hayward loss? Maybe not so much, writes Cam Giagrande.

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