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Start Knicks’ Michael Beasley, Sit Jazz’ Alec Burks

Inside Injuries December 24, 2017 9:04PM EDT
Trey Lyles DEN – START ‘EM

Lyles has had a breakout month, giving the Nuggets a needed boost at the four spot with Paul Millsap still sidelined for at least another two months. The third-year pro is clearly Denver’s preferred option over Kenneth Faried at this point, who seems to be on his way out of the Mile High City sooner rather than later. Over his last 12 games, Lyles has averaged 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and two 3-pointers per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. If he can keep that production steady, then he is an every week starter until Millsap returns, which is still a ways away. Get Lyles into your lineups ASAP.

Alec Burks UTAH – SIT ‘EM

michael beasley

Michael Beasley has shown a vast improvement in December so far. Credit: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

With Utah dealing with plenty of injuries, Burks was able to seize an opportunity earlier this month as he got hot for a solid two-week stretch. However, now that the Jazz have gotten Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell back in the lineup, it looks like Burks is the odd man out. Last night, with Mitchell returning, he played just 13 minutes. With one of either Hood or Mitchell out, Burks had been playing 25-plus minutes per game. He’s still ripe for the occasional breakout game and becomes instantly more valuable if either of the two ahead of him go down, but he belongs on the bench right now in all leagues.

Mike Scott WAS – START ‘EM

You would be hard pressed to find a hotter player right now than Mike Scott. Over his last 10 games, Scott is averaging 14.9 points per game on 71.6 percent shooting in 21.5 minutes per game. Scott has gotten an opportunity to shine with Markieff Morris struggling in his return from injury. Morris is healthy (Low Injury Risk, Peak HPF (Health Performance Factor) according to Inside Injuries) and starting now, so the window for Scott to continue this outburst may be closing, but it’s worth riding for at least another week. Washington needs a go-to scorer from their bench lineups, and any time that Scott gets to spend on the floor with John Wall will result in plenty of open treys, which he has been knocking down at an incredible pace. This hot streak obviously won’t last forever, but Scott is worth starting in deeper formats until it dries up.

Richaun Holmes PHI – SIT ‘EM

After three consecutive games of playing over 20 minutes, Holmes only played four minutes in garbage time on Saturday night. This is due to the return of Joel Embiid, who had been out with a back injury. When Embiid has been out, Holmes has been a very useful Fantasy big man. With Embiid in the lineup, Holmes has been the third big man behind Embiid and Amir Johnson. With Philadelphia opting for fewer lineups with two true bigs, that leaves Holmes as the odd man out. Embiid is a High Injury Risk according to Inside Injuries, which is no surprise given his history of health issues, so Holmes remains a worthy asset as a stash for Embiid’s inevitable next injury issue. For now, however, keep him on the bench.

 Michael Beasley – SF NY

Michael Beasley is in his first year in New York, the sixth team of his career and the fourth in the last four years. He started off his career in New York with spurts of greatness surrounded by pretty awful games. After many games of 10-15 minutes and 4-8 points, out of nowhere he scored 30 against the Rockets. He then went right back to scoring six and seven the next two games.

But then on December 3, Tim Hardaway Jr. got hurt, and it has given Michael Beasley the opportunity to shine. And he has taken that opportunity. After averaging 4.4 points per game in October and 8.8 in November (skewed by his one 30-point game), he has averaged 16.1 in the month of December. Some of this has to do with more playing time due to the Hardaway Jr. injury (21.2 minutes per game vs. 15.6 in November), but mostly it is from a boost in his efficiency.

The two numbers that back this up are his True Shooting Percentage and his Usage Percentage. True Shooting Percentage is measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account all shot types, including free throws, and Usage Percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor. His month-by-month TS% is .571-.615-.767, and his month-by-month USG% is 22.3%-26.7%-34.8%. You can see that not only is he becoming more efficient on a personal level, but he is getting more opportunities while he is on the floor. This shows that even when Hardaway Jr. comes back, he should be able to hold some value. But until then he is a must-own.

Isaiah Canaan – PG PHO

Isaiah Canaan was very recently a G-League player and had been for several years. But two weeks ago, he was signed to a year-long deal with the Suns after the injury to Devin Booker. It was speculated that Canaan would mostly provide some bench depth, but he has immediately jumped into an important role for the Suns. He has averaged 26 minutes in his five games with the Suns, and he has been efficient in that relatively short amount of time, scoring 13.4 per game, and notching nearly six assists.

Canaan does not have the upside of some waiver adds, but he does have the benefit of being owned by an incredibly small number of owners. He is unlikely to keep up this level of production once Devin Booker returns, which could be as soon as next week, but he will still be a borderline bench guy for most fantasy leagues. Canaan could be a good flier just for the next week, especially if you are an owner that is suffering from one of the multiple PG injuries in the league.

Trey Lyles – PF DEN

Lyles is in his first year in Denver after a trade brought him to the Nuggets. The third year player out of Kentucky started off pretty slow, but he has gained some steam lately in both his minutes and his efficiency. In October and November, he averaged 1.3 and 5.6 points per game in 2.9 and 12.2 minutes respectively.  But so far in December, he has turned it up to a new level. For the month, he is averaging 13.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. His True Shooting Percentage has gone from .585 last month to .650 this month. For context, that is the equivalent of going from the 70th percentile (above average) to the 95th percentile (near elite). It is unlikely that he can maintain a True Shooting Percentage that high, but even if he tapers off a bit, he is looking like he will be a good bench add in most leagues. And if he somehow can maintain this level of efficiency, he will certainly start gaining more playing time and usage, and you might have a star on your hands.

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