After sitting out the past 18 games, the Los Angeles Clippers will get All-Star point guard Chris Paul back for Sunday’s game vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
Prior to Saturday’s practice, coach Doc Rivers said there’d be a “50/50″ chance Paul would play on Sunday, but he evidently had a change of heart after seeing him on the court. ”He looked great. We plan on playing him [Sunday].” The Clippers — along with fantasy basketball owners — will welcome the NBA’s assists leader back with open arms.
After leading the Clippers to a 23-12 record, Paul suffered a separated right shoulder in a game vs. Dallas on January 3, and has not played since. The Clippers have managed to play great basketball in the interim — going 12-6 — but fantasy owners probably haven’t fared as well. At the time of his injury, Paul was averaging 19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and the aforementioned league-leading 11.2 assists.
If you were one of the lucky owners who was able to grab Darren Collison off the waiver wire, then you may have staved off some of the pain from Paul’s injury. The fifth-year player out of UCLA averaged 13.3 points, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.2 3-pointers in Paul’s absence. Cautious owners with roster room to spare may consider holding on to Collison for a few games just in case Paul aggravates his shoulder injury, but otherwise, he can be dropped in nearly all formats.
Jamal Crawford, and Blake Griffin to some extent, will also take hits to their fantasy values. Crawford was averaging 16.5 points (on 34.6 percent shooting), 2.4 assists, and 2.1 3-pointers prior to Paul’s injury, but took his game to a new level afterward. With the ball in his hands a lot more, Crawford averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.6 triples in those 18 games. He even shot 4.7 percent better from the field. If J.J. Redick‘s hip injury lingers, Crawford could sustain similar numbers, but he’ll revert back to the numbers he was putting up before Paul went down when the Clippers are at full strength.
Griffin is one of the top players in fantasy basketball, but his numbers have been somewhat bloated with Paul out. Not to say he won’t continue to put up his current second-round value, but a drop in statistics is inevitable. Without Paul in the Clippers lineup, Griffin is scoring 27.5 points — on 55.4 percent shooting — and making 7.5 free throws per game. Without Paul, he’s scoring 22.1 points and grabbing 10.6 rebounds per game, while making 5.3 shots from the charity stripe. It wouldn’t be a crazy notion for fantasy owners to try to trade him for a player of equal value or maybe even get two quality players in return.