The Denver Nuggets received some bad news when it was revealed that point guard Ty Lawson had suffered a broken rib vs. the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. With All-Star Weekend coming up and the trade deadline fast approaching, fantasy basketball owners will need to act quickly to ensure they have a suitable replacement for Lawson on hand.
The Nuggets are no fish out water when it comes to dealing with injuries this season. Danilo Gallinari (knee) hasn’t played since April 4th – of 2013 – and JaVale McGee (leg) has missed all but five games this season, but the Lawson injury is one that could potentially hurt the most. It’s hard to tell which play he broke his rib on, but he was holding his side and doubled over for the last minute of the first half and was finally taken out at the 0:25 mark of the second quarter.
As of Saturday night, no timetable had been given as out as to when he could possibly return to the court, meaning fantasy owners will need to assume the worst and plan accordingly. Lawson is averaging 18.3 points and 8.8 assists –which is third in the NBA behind Chris Paul and Stephen Curry – and is the 42nd-ranked player on Basketball Monster.com this season.
Just a week or two ago you could’ve snatched the blazing hot Randy Foye off waivers, but after averaging 19.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 3.2 treys over his last six games, he’s long gone in all but 11 percent of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues. In the last seven days, Foye had seen a 32.2 percent increase in ownership on ESPN.com — and rightfully so.
With Foye out of the picture, and Nate Robinson done for the season after an ACL tear, Evan Fournier pretty much becomes the only possible add you can make to fill Lawson’s spot from the Nuggets roster. Owners shouldn’t be turned off by the fact that Fournier only played six and a half minutes in the second half. Coach Brian Shaw opted to go with a bigger lineup coming out of the intermission and started Darrell Arthur to begin the third quarter. Also, the game was a blowout, with the Pistons having built an 11-point lead before the start of the fourth quarter. Even with the limited minutes, Fournier managed to score 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, which included two 3-pointers.
At age 21, Fournier is the second youngest player on the Denver team (Quincy Miller is one month younger), and as such, he can attempt to recreate some semblance of the breakneck pace Lawson brought to the court. Fournier has shown spurts of promise, and that’s what fantasy owners should be keying in on. In two starts, the native of France has scored 17.5 points — on 6-of-12 3-point shooting — and pulled down 5.0 rebounds in 35.5 minutes. Those numbers aren’t too far off of what you should expect if he takes over the starting point guard role.
Most head-to-head fantasy basketball leagues combine the week before and after the All-Star Game into a single scoring period, and the Nuggets are one of just seven teams with six games during that time. Due to the game volume and the opportunity for upside, Fournier — who is available in 100 percent of ESPN.com leagues — is a must-add as long as Lawson is on the mend.