Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard is expected to miss his second straight game Thursday while recouping from a “strained” left ankle.
Fantasy basketball owners should be grabbing backup Omer Asik for what could prove to be a very tasty matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ weak frontcourt.
An MRI taken on Tuesday confirmed that Howard is indeed dealing with a left ankle strain. Monday’s matchup with the Utah Jazz was just the first game he had missed all season, so it shouldn’t be too long before the eight-time All-Star is back in the Rockets’ lineup.
Howard, who is averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, missed Wednesday’s team practice, and according to the Houston Rockets’ official Twitter feed, is highly doubtful to play in Thursday’s game:
Coach Kevin McHale does not expect Dwight Howard (ankle) to play tomorrow vs. Minnesota.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 19, 2014
With Howard out, Omer Asik becomes the top waiver wire pickup in fantasy leagues.
After stewing on the bench for much of the season (amid trade rumors and injuries), Asik showed on Monday what he can do when given playing time, exploding for 12 points, 11 rebounds, and one block in 28 minutes vs. the Jazz.
Asik is owned in just 31.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues and is as close to a must-start as you can get on a night with only four games on the NBA schedule and in a matchup vs. a poor Wolves’ defense.
Minnesota ranks just 26th on the season vs. opposing centers and will likely be without starter Nikola Pekovic, who is dealing with a recurrence of his troublesome ankle bursitis.
If Asik is unavailable in your league, second-year man Donatas Motiejunas is worth a look.
Motiejunas played 28 minutes on Monday, scoring seven points with 11 boards, three assists, two steals, one block, and one 3-pointer. He is available in 100 percent of ESPN.com leagues.