The Los Angeles Lakers‘ season has been one of turmoil and injuries, but they will finally have some key members of their team back for tonight’s game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves. Point guards Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar will all be active for the Lakers tonight, which spells bad news for Kendall Marshall‘s fantasy basketball owners.
Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and future Hall of Famer, will make his first appearance in Laker purple and gold since November 10. He’s missed the last 39 games due to nerve root irritation in his back. Nash is available in 79 percent of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues, but certainly isn’t a must-own player at the moment. Owners should take a wait-and-see approach with the 39-year-old. Prior to sitting out with the injury, he was scoring 6.7 points and dishing out 4.8 assists — his worst averages since his second year in the league, way back in 1998. He is also going to be eased in, and is only expected to play the first five to eight minutes of each half tonight.
The decision to start Nash by coach Mike D’Antoni means that Marshall, a fantasy basketball sensation over the past month, will be relegated to a bench role. It’s a shame for fantasy owners who hopped on his bandwagon in the beginning of January, as the second-year point guard has put up 11.9 points and 11.5 assists over 15 games since the first of the year. According to Basketball Monster.com, Marshall was the 84th best player in fantasy basketball during that time period.
NBA.com is reporting that Coach D’Antoni expects Marshall to “still [have] an opportunity to get 20-25 minutes”, but that’s not what his owners want to hear. D’Antoni has shuffled his lineups around numerous times this season, so it’s hard to read too much into anything right now. If you are one of those owners who was unable to trade Marshall before this day came, rather than drop him, it may be best to see how things play out. There’s no guarantee any of the the other three guards stay healthy, and with the trade deadline approaching, any of them could be moved.
To make things more complicated, Blake and Farmar will also be suiting up tonight, with Blake being thrust right into the starting lineup alongside Nash at the shooting guard position. Farmar is way down the pecking order right now, but Blake is worth a pickup for owners in need of assists and 3-point shooting. Prior to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear, Blake was averaging 9.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, while hitting 1.9 threes per game. That production came without Nash and Marshall in the lineup, but he could easily garner a fair share of minutes if he keeps slotting in at the shooting guard spot or if Nash were to get hurt again. Blake is available in 93 percent of ESPN.com leagues.