COVID-19 is devastating the NBA with more than 100 players entering the league’s health and safety protocols this season.
As a result, Fantasy Basketball rosters are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate with more players than GO places on your roster.
Before discussing how to handle those IR venues, let me make a suggestion that your league should consider adding an additional IR venue (or two). This week alone, despite 10 weeks into the Fantasy Basketball season, my league went from two IR spots to four due to the number of players on COVID-19 protocols, with a plan to re-evaluate the number of IR stains needed in a few weeks.
This will prevent owners from having so many “out” players on their active roster and should also reduce the amount of cuts required for players who would otherwise never stop playing.
NBA COVID-19 TRACKER: List of players team by team in health and safety protocols
Now with that being said, there are likely a host of homeowners who have latched onto injured (or absent) superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray, Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson, to name a few. hoping for a possible return at the end of the season for the Fantasy Basketball playoffs.
Which of those players should you hold onto in your infrared spots amid this COVID-19 breakout? We are here to help you next.
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Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Networks
To hold. Irving will reportedly rejoin the Nets as a part-time player, with head coach Steve Nash. recently said it will need “closer to two weeks” from the moment you return to practice. If you’ve been hanging on to Irving that long, it’s worth waiting a few more weeks, even if you’re only playing part-time.
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers
Release. With all the players in the league’s health and safety protocols, your roster is likely chock-full of IR-eligible players. It’s not worth holding on to Leonard (ACL), who may not be playing anything this season in general, let alone during the Fantasy Basketball season, which ends a few weeks earlier than the actual NBA season anyway. There hasn’t been any kind of update on Leonard’s status, so feel free to let him go if you’re still holding on to the two-time Finals MVP.
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Release. For the same reason as Leonard, he can drop Murray (ACL) if he was still grabbing him. The recovery schedule for a torn ACL is typically a full year, and Murray suffered his injury in April of last season. Even if Murray returned in a year on the dot, the Fantasy Basketball season would have already ended.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
To hold. Although there hasn’t been much talk on the Simmons business front, the three-time All-Star is still worth keeping in an IR spot for now. Given that Simmons is healthy, if he is traded, he will presumably be ready to play right away. However, if Simmons doesn’t retire before the February 10 trade deadline, it’s probably safe to release him (unless new reports emerge at that time suggesting otherwise).
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
To hold. Thompson is reportedly only weeks away from returning to court, so not much more explanation is needed. If you kept Thompson up to this point, be prepared for him to add an instant boost to his team’s score, 3s, and free throw percentage, among other categories.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
To hold. The owners who selected Williamson are likely growing frustrated that the All-Star has yet to appear this season and his return continues to be delayed. Despite the latest report suggesting that Williamson has been removed from basketball activities without a schedule for his return, he is worth holding onto for a bit longer, at least until there is another update. With that said, now would be a good time to try trading Williamson for anything if someone is willing to roll the dice, because there is no guarantee that they will play a single game this season.
The next level
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
To hold. Grant underwent surgery to repair a torn UCL in his thumb on Dec. 17 and is out for a minimum of six weeks, but that means he should be back long before the fantasy playoffs. With his name also popping up in trade rumors, Grant could be a valuable boost to your lineup when you need him most during the playoffs.
Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic
Release. Isaac is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the NBA bubble in August 2020. Although it looked like the defensive star was going to return early in the season this year, he has yet to progress to be cleared for the Contact. in practice. Magic president Jeff Weltman said in late November that Isaac was making “consistent great progress,” but there is no timetable for his return yet. It’s okay to let him loose for now, but keep him on your watch list because he’s a fantasy stud for defensive counting stats.
John Wall, Houston Rockets
Release. You probably never held onto Wall in the first place, but if you are, it’s okay to let him loose. Even though he is reportedly working to play for the Rockets at some point this season, you can expect to give him a snap once he finally gets back on the court.
TJ Warren, Indiana Pacers
Release. Like Wall, you probably never held onto Warren (foot) given the uncertainty surrounding his return from the start of the season, but if you were, let him. Warren has been out since December 2020 with a foot injury and there have been no updates on his possible return to the game. Keep him on your watch list though, as the prolific scorer would have an impact if he returns in the fantasy playoffs.