The Minnesota Timberwolves — and fantasy basketball owners — will have to navigate the stretch run without shooting guard Kevin Martin.
X-rays taken on Saturday morning revealed a non-displaced fracture of Martin’s left thumb. Luckily, the injury is to his non-shooting hand, but he will be out for an indefinite period of time. The injury comes out of nowhere, and fantasy owners will need to hit the waiver wires and try to replace a player who was averaging 19.0 points and 1.8 3-pointers per game.
The Wolves have been without star center Nikola Pekovic for the past eight games and it was announced earlier today that he will sit out through the All-Star Break. With Pekovic out for at least another 10 days, and Martin out for what could be 3-4 weeks, other players are going to have to step up to the plate in Minnesota.
Brewer has been playing well all year, but for some reason still remains available in 83 percent of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues. He’s averaging 11.2 points 1.6 steals, and 0.9 threes on the season, but has scored in double-figures in seven of his last nine games. He’s already playing 32 minutes per game, but that number could rise as the Wolves may have to go to a bigger lineup and possibly play Brewer more at shooting guard. He has 11 games this season with three or more steals and is a player who could really turn the tide in that category during a weekly matchup.
He’s struggled to play up to his potential since returning from off-season meniscus surgery, but Budinger is a player who can fill up the stat sheet when given ample minutes. Coach Rick Adelman has inserted him into the Wolves’ starting lineup on Saturday night, so fantasy owners might not want to wait to add him just in case he blows up. During his last full season, which was in 2011-12 with the Houston Rockets, Budinger averaged 9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 3-pointers in 22.4 minutes. Those minutes will rise if he sticks with the starting five, which could in turn boost those numbers a bit. Budinger is available in 100 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Barea and Shved are interesting players to consider in deeper leagues. What you see is what you get with Barea. He offers scoring, assists and some 3-point range, but that’s about it. Over his last six games, the seven-year veteran is averaging 10.8 points, 3.7 dimes and 1.2 treys. He’s also shooting an excellent 90.9 percent from the line during that span. The problem with Barea, is that at just 6-feet tall, he won’t play too much shooting guard, unless Adelman decides to go to a really small lineup. Barea is available in 99 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Shved (available in 100 percent of leagues) might be the most interesting of the four players, but he has one major liability that makes him almost unrosterable unless he can prove to owners that he’s fixed it — and that’s his shooting percentages.
The 25-year-old Russian was abysmal from almost every spot on the floor last year, hitting only 37.2 percent of his shots from the field, 29.5 percent of his 3-pointers, and 72.0 percent of his free throws. The 3-point shooting and free throws have gone up slightly this year, but his overall field goal percentage has actually gotten worse, shooting a dismal 32 percent on the season. His true shooting percentage of 45.4 percent — which is is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws — has him ranked 380th out of 455 non-qualified NBA players. Add Shved at your own risk.