As the NBA season winds down, injuries become a factor — and where there are injuries, there is opportunity.
Over the past few weeks, young centers such as the Utah Jazz’s Enes Kanter and the Brooklyn Nets’ Mason Plumlee, have done wonders with some extra playing time, lofting them up the fantasy basketball center rankings.
The following players’ stocks are rising and are worth rostering as the fantasy playoffs continue to unfold:
No. 15 – Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz: To say Kanter’s had an up-and-down season would be an understatement. A consensus sleeper pick in most fantasy drafts, the 21-year-old soon fell out of favor with Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. Kanter was contributing on offense, but his interior defense was really lacking. He played 30.1 minutes per game in November, but saw that drop dramatically to 21.6 in December and to 22.8 in January. He was even removed from the starting lineup in favor of the less talented Marvin Williams.
Kanter has come roaring back though, averaging 12.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in 28.0 minutes over his last 20 games. It’s no secret that his uptick in production coincided with Derrick Favors‘ recent injury woes. While Favors has played every game in March, he missed eight games in Jan./Feb., giving Kanter the extra playing time he needed to show Corbin his worth.
The Jazz are a young, rebuilding team, and Kanter will continue to get more playing time as veterans Williams and Richard Jefferson have their minutes decreased. Enes Kanter is owned in 68.5 percent of ESPN.com leagues, but in reality, the third-year pro is a must-own player going forward.
No. 19 – Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee, not to be confused with his brother Miles, has been a key part of the Brooklyn Nets’ recent hot streak.
Starting center (or big man) Kevin Garnett has been dealing with back spasms for a while, but around three weeks ago it got so bad that the former Celtic has yet to play a game since. Plumlee, the Nets’ first round pick this past summer, has stepped in admirably for the future Hall-of-Famer.
Since Garnett last played on Feb. 27, Plumlee is averaging 7.5 points, 6.0 boards, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, and shooting 64.2 percent from the field. The Nets are 9-2 in those games. Without Garnett, the Nets can play a more uptempo game and it’s obvious that the 24-year-old Plumlee is better suited for that than the 37-year-old Garnett.
K.G. is set to be reevaluated on Saturday, but the team could very well choose to rest him for the remainder of the regular season, regardless of whether the diagnosis is positive or not. Even when he was playing, he was only averaging 21.0 minutes per game.
Plumlee (0.2 percent owned) seems to be locked into a starting role and should be added in deeper leagues. The Nets have 16 games remaining, tied with the Hawks and Heat for the most in the Eastern Conference.