All-Star Anthony Davis was forced to leave Wednesday’s game vs. the Dallas Mavericks with a left shoulder sprain, adding to the long list of injuries endured by the New Orleans Pelicans this season.
The 20-year-old power forward is having a phenomenal season, averaging 20.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and a league-leading 3.0 blocks per game. He is the No. 2-ranked player on Basketball Monster.com for the 2013-14 season. Fantasy basketball owners have been through this drill before though, as Davis was sidelined for seven games back in December with a non-displaced fracture in his hand. That injury was supposed to keep him out for 4-6 weeks, but he made it back in just 15 days.
A shoulder sprain could be tricky for Davis, especially because he is a prominent shot-blocker and rebounder. Soft tissue injuries are often harder to put a timetable on because that usually depends on how well the individual can play through the pain. Fantasy owners will have to hope he heals quickly enough to return in time for their league’s playoffs.
Unfortunately for Davis’ owners, the Pelicans have no reason to rush him back. They are having a poor season and will be motivated to finish with one of the league’s worst records. New Orleans sent a 2014 first round pick to Philadelphia (along with Nerlens Noel) in order to acquire Jrue Holiday, but if they don’t end the season with one of the NBA’s five worst records, the Pelicans would have to relinquish that pick to the Sixers.
With Ryan Anderson (back) out for the remainder of the season and Holiday (leg) with no timetable to return, fantasy owners may have already raided the Pelicans’ waiver-wire cupboard, but there are still a few names out there worth adding.
Alexis Ajinca (0.1 percent owned on ESPN.com) has played well over the past two games, averaging 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in 26.5 minutes. While not a big shot-blocker (0.8 on the season), he makes up for that with excellent shooting percentages for the center position. The 25-year-old is hitting 56.8 percent of his shots from the field while knocking down 78.6 percent of his free throws. Ajinca was signed earlier in the year after playing in his native France where he scored 13.9 points and grabbed 6.9 rebounds in 12 games. The 7’2″ behemoth figures to get all the minutes he can handle while Davis is out.
There are a few other Pelicans to consider when glancing at your league’s waiver wire.
Al-Farouq Aminu (played very well last time Davis was hurt, but has tailed off in a big way. In those seven games, Aminu averaged 11.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks. He’s always been capable of putting together 8-category games, but has serious consistency issues. Over his last five games, the former Wake Forest standout is scoring just 6.6 points with 3.4 rebounds and has not blocked a single shot.
Luke Babbitt and Greg Stiemsma are desperation adds if you need help in specific categories. Babbitt is a 3-point specialist, knocking down 3.0 treys per 36 minutes, and Stiemsma will provide your team with blocks. The third-year pro is swatting 2.1 shots per 36 minutes this season.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Luke Babbitt and Greg Stiemsma are all available in 100 percent of ESPN.com fantasy basketball leagues.