Afterwards in the Milwaukee locker room, Antetokoumnpo immediately inquired about the health of Porzingis as he began his postgame presser. “First of all, is he OK?” Antetokoumnpo asked reporters. Informed that test results were forthcoming, he added “I hope he is OK because he is a close friend of mine.” Shortly thereafter, the news spread after much of the assembled media had departed.
Porzingis had scored at least 30 Fantasy points in 14 of his last 15 games prior to Tuesday, including a 56.60 gem against the Hawks on Sunday. He was averaging 22.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game, putting himself among the elite Fantasy players. He also shot 80 percent from the free throw line and was thriving as the focal point of the Knicks as his career-bests in both usage rate (29.2 percent) and Player Efficiency Rating (20.59) indicated.
Big names in the NBA joined in wishing Kristaps Porzingis a speedy recovery after he tore his ACL Tuesday night. pic.twitter.com/RkivM7NwBj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 7, 2018
As traumatic a loss Porzingis represents, his Fantasy owners shouldn’t despair.
The best option available is Michael Beasley, who is already owned in 66 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and was the third-most viewed player behind Porzingis and Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison on Tuesday night. Beasley scuffled in the wake of replacing Porzingis, shooting just 3-for-11 to finish with nine points, six rebounds and two assists. If you’re a Porzingis owner, you’d better add communicating with Beasley’s owner near the top of your to-do list on Wednesday. Despite his struggles on Tuesday, Beasley has put together a solid, if not spectacular season, delivering a 19.59 PER and a 27.6 percent usage rate that equals his career-best PER in 2015-16.
The biggest question surrounding Beasley is whether he can maintain his effectiveness while playing more minutes. He’s averaging 19.5 minutes per night but should see that total increase to at least 25-27 minutes. If he’s able to continue shooting nearly 52 percent from the field (OK, 51.6 percent to be precise), Beasley — who was the second overall pick of the draft 10 years ago — could see his 12.5 points per game inch more toward 16-18 points per night while throwing in 6-7 rebounds and a couple of assists.
He’s been effective as a starter, averaging 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in seven starts. You have to feel encouraged about Beasley’s 30.2 usage rate when The Unicorn wasn’t on the court with him. While that’s a lofty number to expect Beasley to provide on a nightly basis, his numbers do suggest he’s worth the cost regardless if he’s on the waiver wires or if moving a player would do the trick.
From a DFS perspective, Beasley goes for $4,500 at Fanduel and $5,000 at DraftKings, screaming a possible bargain
This could also be a boon for swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., but his injury-prone nature reared itself on Tuesday when he underwent X-rays on his shin. The results were negative, but Hardaway (owned in 96 percent of CBSSports.com leagues) is struggling to the point where one could question whether he could hit water even if you dumped him in the Atlantic. He’s shooting 25.4 percent from the field in his last five, including 16 percent from beyond the arc.
However, he does present some buy low potential if you’re one who likes to gamble. Hardaway averaged 19.2 points per game in November and shot 40 percent from 3-point range in January, so there’s reason to believe he can find his touch and run hot for an extended period. His True Shooting Percentage is at 53.2, off from last year’s 56.8, yet Hardaway has seen both his rebounding percentages (7.1) and usage rates (22.7 percent) climb from last season, showing signs of becoming more than just a gunslinger.
Hardaway comes at $6,200 at Fanduel and $5,700 at DraftKings. In both cases, there’s some low-cost upside but I’d stay away from Hardaway
I wouldn’t put much stock in Lance Thomas, for while he will see an increase in minutes, his 6.32 PER is ranked 433rd out of the 499 players who have suited up in the 2017-18 campaign.
The waiver wire doesn’t offer much hope. Mavericks forward Dwight Powell (10 percent ownership in CBSSports.com) has at least nine boards in three of his last five and did score 17 points against the Kings on Saturday, yet he can’t be considered a reasonable option to replace Porzingis because of his inconsistent scoring. Pistons forward Stanley Johnson is at 48 percent ownership at CBSSports.com due to his recent scoring splurge yet is shooting just 36 percent from the field and comes nowhere near the blocked shots and rebounds Porzingis delivered.
The Knicks could also make a move before Thursday’s trade deadline and while the potential for that is lessened by the loss of Porzingis, there is an outside chance New York can add someone who could be a Fantasy factor. Either way, replacing a Unicorn is a daunting task for both the Knicks and Fantasy owners.
Featured Image: (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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