With the All-Star break just two weeks away, some key players are set to return to action. What will be the fantasy impact of their returns?
Elton Brand (left Achilles tendon)
OK, so he’s not coming back just yet. But there is some promising news for Clippers fans. EB42 was recently cleared to “begin extensive running and jumping exercises on the court”. The next step would be rejoining the team in drills, followed by his eventual return to full practice. CBS Sports have him returning to action in late-February. If you can withstand a few weeks (or more) of a non-active roster position, I’d say pick up Elton if he’s available in your league. Otherwise, a conservative owner might look to see if he’s available in about a fortnight.
The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Brand upon return
16 points, 7 rebounds a game on +50% shooting, 32 minutes a game
Gilbert Arenas (left knee)
Expect Arenas to be back at some point shortly after the all-star break (Feb.14-18). He’s been rehabing for some time now and expects to log a “significant” amount of practice time before he’s finally slotted into the starting lineup, saying Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan. Apparently both Jordan and Arenas himself are taking Gilbert’s return slowly, cognizant of the fact that coming back “too fast” last time caused the current injury. Arenas is owned in nearly all leagues at this point, but if by some chance your league is in the minority, pick him up immediately. Another reason Washington isn’t rushing Arenas’ return is the fact that Butler and Jamison (both All-Stars) have led the Wizards to a 19-12 record in his absence. Random: Check out Gilbert stoked he made the NBA Live 08 Cover.
The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Arenas upon return
18 points, 5 assists, 3.5 rebounds a game on 40% shooting, 33 minutes a game
Luol Deng (Achilles Tendinitis)
Deng’s timetable for return could be anything from 3-4 days to up to 2 weeks. The Chicago Bulls Forward has stated on his blog that a premature return would reaggravate the injury, thus he has not set a specific date for return. He may log minutes on Chicago’s upcoming West Coast road trip, so be ready to reinsert him into your lineup if he does.
The Trading Block’s fantasy outlook for Deng upon return
17 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 32 minutes a game
Chris Mihm may bring some fantasy value to deeper leagues as he looks to return to a depleted Lakers frontcourt in the next couple of weeks. Don’t expect Anderson Varejao back until the end of the month at the earliest. Carmelo Anthony is still day-to-day. Shaq’s out till mid-February.