NBA DFS: What the Pelicans' Injuries Mean for Your Lineup?
Imagine what it must feel like to be Alvin Gentry right now. When he accepted the New Orleans Pelicans head coaching job last May he was gifted with an embarrassment of riches: future MVP Anthony Davis, a sharp-shooting stretch four in Ryan Anderson, a pair of solid young guards in Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, and some strong complementary pieces in Omer Asik, Quincy Pondexter, and Tyreke Evans. Norris Cole, Kendrick Perkins and Luke Babbitt off the bench were a bonus. Coming into this season, the Pelicans' cupboard was full and the team was reorganizing drawers trying to make room for all of their talent.
Before long, injuries ravaged the team like a ship of merciless Vikings. They robbed the Pelicans of nearly the whole roster, cleaning out the cupboard, the drawers, and the cellar, leaving Gentry and Davis to pick up the pieces. There are so many guys wearing suits on the Pelicans bench that it looks like a presidential debate.
Holiday is still recovering from an offseason procedure on his surgically-repaired right leg. He's just now being allowed to play over 20 minutes a game and he's still being held out of back-to-backs. Back-up point guard and human 5-Hour Energy shot Norris Cole could have filled in for Holiday, but the injury bug bit him, too, sidelining him indefinitely with a high ankle sprain. The team signed Nate Robinson to help in the backcourt, but waived him after two games. There's been so much turnover at the point that Ish Smith is wearing a different jersey than the rest of the Pelicans on the team website. That's not a joke. Check this out.
Small forward's been no picnic for Gentry and the Pelicans, either. Pondexter is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery, and Evans is targeting a mid-December return as he recovers from a knee injury. Dante Cunningham and Luke Babbitt have been holding the fort down in their absence, but their production hasn't matched their playing time.
Asik was supposed to be Davis' partner in the paint, but he's been out with a calf injury and has logged just 26 minutes total in New Orleans' seven games. Kendrick Perkins, signed to bring an edge and championship pedigree to the young team, is out at least two months with a torn pectoral muscle. The team has played more small ball without Asik and Perkins, and Davis, Anderson, and Gordon are each playing over 30 minutes a night. The Pelicans have been so thin in the frontcourt that Alexis Ajinca has picked up some starts. There's no chance that Coach Gentry thought he'd ever send Ajinca out for the opening tip.
But not everything is doom and gloom in the Big Easy. Despite a 1-6 start, Gentry might take solace in the fact that the season is still young and there's time for the Pelicans to turn things around when the team is at full strength. Plus, forcing bench players into the lineup today might help them build confidence and chemistry for tomorrow. The Warriors and the Rockets have shown us that an experienced bench can pay dividends come playoff time.
But the injuries and the odd lineups don't only affect what's happening on the court they've also made things interesting for NBA Daily Fantasy players
Everyone knew Anthony Davis
would be a DFS monster, but with the Pelicans suffering all these injuries, he's playing more minutes with the potential to rack up more fantasy points than anyone anticipated before the season began (like the 72.5 points he had against the Hawks last Friday). There won't be a better time than now to put the ‘Brow in your lineup.
Update: Davis left last night's game against Dallas with a hip injury. X-rays were negative, but consider him day-to-day. Guess it's a Murphy's Law season in New Orleans.
Ish Smith is an intriguing play
until the team lifts Holiday's minutes restriction and Cole returns. He's a bargain on both FanDuel and DraftKings and is putting up over 25 points per game on either platform. He's worth a look at the guard or utility spot.
is about right on the money for what you want to spend on a shooting guard
, and you can rely on him for 29-35 points per night. Expect his minutes and production to decrease when Evans and Pondexter are a go and Gentry can be more creative with his personnel, but for now, ride the Gordon gravy train.
has similar numbers to Gordon. He'll give you about 30 points for a salary around $5,500. Those are Dirk Nowitzki numbers
for nearly $1,000 less. Asik's eventual return will cut into his time, but for now Anderson is a go, especially if Anthony Davis misses significant time.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports. No one likes to see a team go through what New Orleans is going through right now. However, there's fantasy value in bench guys who replace injured starters. Keep an eye on how coaches set their lineups when a starter is out and you're bound to pick up some high scorers at low salaries.