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Preseason Notes: Welcome Back, Injuries, and Tanking Teams

Guys, guys, guess what day it is? Since I'm posting after midnight, today is now the final day before preseason games begin. I am absolutely, completely, unreasonably excited.

Welcome back to the RotoWire fantasy basketball blog. Let’s get right to it. Tonight's themes are "injuries" and "point guards for tanking teams", and somehow Terrance Jones sneaks in at the end.

Injury Analysis

LaMarcus Aldridge’s injury is minor, just maybe not
LaMarcus Aldridge will miss "a little time" with a left quad strain (not left hip flexor, as was initially reported). Everything about this sounds short term. Muscle strains happen in sports. Yet, I see more to this. Aldridge’s games played totals paint a picture of a durable big man – since becoming a full time starter his sophomore season, he has only once missed double-digit games. The complete story, unfortunately, is a lot less rosy. Aldridge has suffered from plantar fasciitis (a bad, lingering foot problem that can be played through, but can only really be cured with rest). Aldridge has had surgery on his shoulder and his right hip. He even missed games during his rookie season due to a rare heart condition (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome), and years later had to undergo another surgery to resolve ongoing complications thereof. What am I getting at? Two things:
- This guy is tough. Anderson Varejao will miss more games in 2013-14 due to injury-to-be-named-later than Aldridge has missed in his whole career.
- The male human body evolved to be almost 6 feet tall, not 7. Some freakishly sized bodies are able to adapt and maintain normal health despite their colossal size (see Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, and many others). Far more often, however, the bigger a player is the more injury prone they are (see Greg Oden). At 6-11, 240, Aldridge is hardly a record-setting behemoth, but all the signs point to a person whose body is bigger than evolution wanted it to be. I like the guy and I love his stats, but I don’t draft him. Toughness can only overcome so much, and eventually one of these seemingly minor injuries will have to be that proverbial dreaded straw.

Joakim Noah is sore
Joakim Noah sat out practice due to general soreness today. This may be a headline, but this is not news. This is coach Thibodeau giving his stud a rest before some games begin. The news came a few days ago, when Noah declared that he is "100 percent healthy" and that his foot feels better after last season's struggle with plantar fasciitis.

Kobe Bryant… treatment… outside the US
I'm told the biggest deal here is that the treatment is for his knee, not his Achilles. This is apparently good news because it means the Achilles has suffered no setbacks. I think it is good news because non-American doctors have already performed near-miracles for Mr Bryant. We should know better than to doubt Kobe or his European doctors/warlocks/Pucas by now. Kobe is a top-30 fantasy player until he tells us otherwise.

Jason Terry still gets headlines
Good for him. Today's is because he is almost, but not quite, back from offseason knee surgery. I'm a Celtics fan. When the Green signed Terry I was ecstatic. I was also wrong. As I learned watching game after disheartening game last season, the Mavericks let this guy go because he had lost some serious steps. And surgery plus another year older is not the recipe for getting those steps back. I wish I could go back in time and retire for him after the 2011 championship.

Jared Sullinger something and Danny Granger something
Both Sullinger and Granger had "injury updates" today. For both players the injury status was the least interesting part of the update. What is important is that both are doing well enough to play in preseason games. Granger underperformed two years ago and missed almost all of last season, but remember that this guy had top 10 hype not long ago (entering the 2010-11 season, to be precise). While that degree of hype was over the top, his talent is real. The preseason games are our first insights into what Granger's role will be, and the fantasy implications could be huge. Sullinger's situation is similar. Before going down in late January, the rookie was posting quality stats in his 20 minutes per game. But he's returning to a much different Celtics squad with a much deeper frontcourt, and fantasy managers ought to pay attention to what rotation emerges. Granger's preseason begins Saturday. It is unclear whether Sullinger will play in the Celtic's opener on Monday.

Tanking Teams Analysis

Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic will both start
Until one of them gets traded, that is. On a team this bad, and with a trade for one or the other a near lock, these guys will get tons of minutes and plenty of opportunities to produce. And then one will be traded, at which point the traded player's fantasy stock will plummet. Unless someone gets hurt (looking at you, Kyle Lowry), Goran or Eric would be a backup on all teams except for many of the ones that would have the least interest in selling assets: Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Utah. You could make an argument that either player could start for Dallas or New York, but I'm not convinced. One of these two will go from between 30 and 35 minutes (or more) to a bench role. When that happens, it could be the biggest non-injury decline in fantasy value of the season.

Trey Burke may not start for Utah?
Quick – tell me something about John Lucas. Since entering the league in 2005, he has never averaged 15 minutes per game, but apparently the Jazz are considering starting him in order to bring rookie Burke along slowly. Note – right now, this is just speculation. The Triangle Blog recently called the 2013-14 76ers "the most brazen tanking attempt in years", but if Burke starts the season on the pine then Philly may have some competition for that ignominious title. While I wouldn't put too much stock into this "Burke not starting" theory, I am enjoying the idea of the full-fledged multi-team shamefully shameless tankathon a Burke benching could incite. Could it get so bad that teams would risk challenging the records held by 2011-12 Bobcats or 1972-73 76ers?

Terrance Jones?

Terrance Jones a Houston starter?
That’s the current prediction from the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigan. My reactions:
- I thought Donatas Motiejunas outplayed Jones last season, but Jones is so much easier to spell, so I support this.
- Is Omer Asik really going to start on the bench? And if Asik is now officially a backup center, does that mean Milwaukee will now overpay him for three years?
- There is standard league fantasy value for the player who wins this starting job. That statement sounds more obvious than it actually is.


One day left before games start. Just one more day....

See you all next week.

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