The Fantasy (and Reality) Impact of Gordon Hayward's Injury
Gordon Hayward's injury, six minutes into his first regular season run as a Celtic, has been described so far as awful, grotesque, NSFW, and tragic. There have been plenty more adjectives, but we all get it and I don't want to belabor the point. Losing a player the caliber of Hayward—most likely for the season—is a tough pill to swallow. The injury is bad for all involved: The Celtics, the NBA, the unbelievably rabid Celtics fan base; no one wins here. Especially those that drafted Gordon Hayward in their fantasy basketball league.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want to downplay the injury by shifting gears immediately to Dungeons and Dragons: Basketball Edition, but that's just where we are at this juncture. There isn't anything we can do as fans, or as any non-member of the NBA, but for those of you that used your first, second, or third round pick on the former Sultan of the Salt Lake (dude was owned across 99.9% of ESPN leagues), you just had to absorb quite the blow. Fear not wearied traveler! I am here to tell you that not all hope is lost.
While, "The Injury"—I'm decreeing it a formal event—is literally the worst thing that could have happened to your roster this early in the season. The beacon of hope is that it happened the first day, which means your waiver wire is probably ripe with fruit you did not expect to put claims in for. I've scoured ESPN's waiver wire, I've crunched the numbers, and I've pushed my glasses up my nose and said, "Actually..." for you, and my gift to you is this list of obvious, and not so obvious, players you should add to your roster. Keep in mind, none of these players will totally fill the hole that The Injury has left you, but, it can at least help you start patching it up.
1) Jaylen Brown (Owned in 60.1% ESPN Leagues)
One of the most obvious things to do after an injury to a star player is to look at those that will be, for lack of a better word, replacing them. Jaylen Brown is going to be the one to shoulder the bulk of load left behind by Commissioner Gordon, and after two games this season he's averaging 21.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He was already getting starter's minutes prior to Gordon going down, so he's someone that already has Brad Stevens' trust. He's looked prime for a breakout season this year early on, and it may be a good idea to jump on him now before his meteoric rise in ownership goes any higher.
2) Marcus Smart (Owned in 58.9% ESPN Leagues)
Again, I'm going back to the Celtics well here and recommending another expected load bearer. Smart was moved into the starting lineup for the Celtics game against the Bucks, so he looks to be the designated torch carrier in their starting five. Smart is a stat-stuffer and a fantasy dream if you can look past his VHS level of quality field goal percentage (31 percent). Currently pulling in 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals over the first two games, Smart is a...*sigh*...smart pick up if he's available.
3) Terrence Ross (Owned in 9.5% ESPN Leagues)
You're probably thinking, "LOLWUT?" and you'd be right, but hear me out. Ross is inconsistent, and I get that, but you need help, and he's going to be available. He checks all the boxes that you need filled, and he's a good-not-great player that is starting on a maybe-good-at-best team. That means he's going to have more opportunities to shine than most other players in his position, and if he's one of the lone bright spots on that Magic roster, he's going to have some inflated statistics here and there, and you have the opportunity to reap the benefits. He's standing there with his arms open, run up to him and hug him, even if he may leave you sometimes.
4) Nick Young (Owned in 27.9% ESPN Leagues)
Congratulations! You're reading the only article on the Internet that ranks Terrance Ross ahead of Nick Young on something. We all know what Swaggy P can do on a basketball court: Make a lot of shots and miss a lot of shots. He's a bit more one-dimensional than those listed above him, but on any given night, can push your points totals over the hump to win a category. Plus, he plays on a team whose offense encourages the one thing he's good at, so he may be more successful than not on most nights.
5) Joe Johnson (Owned in 6.1% ESPN Leagues)
Time is a flat circle and the universe is a hologram. Remember last year when Hayward missed the first few weeks of last season for the Jazz and they rolled old Joe Johnson out there to start? Do you remember how he did? He did a good job. He may be one year older, but Joe Johnson has been a model of consistency for the NBA. Shooters hardly ever lose their touch (lookin' at you Ray Allen) and Joe Johnson has one buttery biscuit of a shooting stroke. Plus, being slightly oversized for shooting guard, he flexes into the small forward spot as well, and will scoop up a good amount of rebounds per game, too. He won't see much more than 20 minutes a game, but if he can provide some help across multiple categories, he's worth considering, even if he is the Wal-Mart greeter of your team.
There you have it! Five players who aren't Gordon Hayward that can probably help you in the wake of his injury. Any of these players will help you out at relative low cost and low risk. They may be a Band-Aid on a bullet hole, but, hey, you're not trying to win a real basketball game with these players. You're just trying to win very specific categories of a basketball game, and I'm just trying to get you there. I'm your ally, not a wizard.
Alex is the host of 48 Minutes and wants you to win your fantasy basketball league, unless you play in the same league as him. Then you must lose brutally and in embarrassing fashion. He lives in your home here.