Memphis Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol had to exit Wednesday night’s game vs. Orlando Magic after aggravating his left knee. An extended absence could prove to be very costly for the Grizzlies and for fantasy basketball owners.
Earlier in the season, Gasol sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in the very same knee and was forced to miss 23 games. Since his return the Grizzlies have gone 11-4 and crept back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Fantasy owners have gotten some nice contributions from his as well, as the 29-year-old Spaniard has averaged 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.2 blocks during those 15 games. Those numbers don’t reflect what he’s fully capable of and even Gasol himself recently admitted that his knee hasn’t gotten quite back to 100 percent since his return.
At the 6:24 mark of the third quarter, Gasol got tangled up with the Magic’s Jameer Nelson and immediately grabbed his knee, calling for a trainer. He was taken to the locker room, but later returned. While it’s a great sign that he came back to the Grizzlies’ bench, aggravating a knee injury is not something to minimize. With the All-Star break this week, it will give him a chance to rest, but fantasy owners would be wise to head to their league’s waiver wires to find a replacement.
When Gasol was previously injured, Kosta Koufos filled in — and played very well. During those 23 games, Koufos averaged 8.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He started off the stretch playing at a higher level, but Ed Davis ended up cutting into his minutes, which lowered his overall output. Koufos is owned in just 1.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
The aforementioned Davis, as well as James Johnson, are also players to keep on your radar. Davis has big game capability, but coach Dave Joerger hates playing him alongside Zach Randolph, which really caps his upside. Johnson should already be owned in most 12-team leagues, but if he is not, he is worth adding. Since getting signed by Memphis on Dec. 17, the former first-round pick by the Chicago Bulls is averaging 8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 0.5 3-pointers. His ability to contribute in multiple categories is the reason he is ranked No. 72 for the season on Basketball Monster.com.
Johnson is owned in just 14.1 percent of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues.