After injuring his knee in the first minute and not returning to an eventual loss to the Wizards on Tuesday night, it sounds like Kevin Durant’s season is in jeopardy.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, KD’s inner circle was prepared for the worst as they await the results of an MRI. Woj continued, saying it was feared this would be “months, not weeks” when it comes to a recovery timetable. With the NBA Finals set to tip off in three months, you can do the math yourself there.
Woj reported back with some encouraging news for Durant and the Dubs on Wednesday morning, though. Durant has a sprained MCL and bone bruise and will be re-evaluated in a month. That doesn’t mean he’ll play in a month, but it also means he could play again this season. Woj tweeted that there’s a chance Durant could return in mid-April for the first-round of the playoffs.
Needless to say, the Western Conference potentially just got blown wide open. We’ll have to wait and see. But there’s plenty of fantasy fallout to discuss …
What happens at SF?
The Warriors have already done their best with damage control, reportedly signing Matt Barnes — a former Warrior who was cut by the Kings following the DeMarcus Cousins trade.
This move probably helps fill out the starting lineup (even if Barnes isn’t named a starter right away), as Steve Kerr loves to use Andre Iguodala as a Swiss Army Knife off the bench. No doubt these two guys will be at the front of the line when it comes to replacing SF production, and it likely starts with Iggy. He has built up a great reputation playing with the starters and is well respected by them. His value should take off without Durant or Harrison Barnes in front of him. Barnes will fit in as a key role player once he gets comfortable.
There could be some surprise contributors, though. A lot of minutes just opened up and Kerr is going to get creative with his rotation at times. The Dubs love small-ball, which means Shaun Livingston, and even Patrick McCaw, could both see extra time on the floor as 6’7” PGs. Ian Clark and Kevon Looney are other guys that could contribute. None of these guys are immediate fantasy options, but at least keep an eye on if their roles change moving forward.
What does this mean for Steph, Klay and Dray?
The short answer — a lot.
It’s funny, we were just discussing on DK Pre Lock Live on Monday night how Zaza Pachulia has actually been exceeding value more than any other Golden State starter because the “Big Four” were taking away opportunities from each other. Just a couple days later the tide has turned.
The reigning back-to-back MVP is going to be called upon to dominate once again, and Thompson is going to move back to second fiddle. Green will likely defer to the Splash Brothers to carry most of the scoring load left behind from Durant, as he has in the past. However, a slight boost in value can certainly go to Draymond as he may need to play more minutes at forward.
There’s more that we need to consider here as well. The last time the Warriors played without Durant, they had the services of not only Barnes, but Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush and Mo Speights … now they don’t.
Golden State gave up a lot to get KD even though it was technically a free agent signing. Now the Steph/Klay/Dray trio is going to be asked to contribute more than they ever have been in the past. Fantasy-wise, there’s potential they reach new highs over the next six or more weeks.
What does this mean for the big picture this season?
Well, the news is good on Durant. The Warriors had to go stretches in the playoffs without Curry and made it to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. If KD is indeed back sometime in the first-round of the postseason, they should still be considered favorites. But that’s a big if.
His knee could take longer to heal than initially reported, even worse, he could re-injure himself as he has in the past with foot injuries. The door in the West definitely just cracked open for teams like the Spurs or Rockets to slip their foot in and at least hold it open until they see Durant back at 100%.
Meanwhile, LeBron and the Cavs aren’t really impacted unless this injury does carry into June for Durant. But again, that’s not out of the question.
I never wish for a player to get injured, but the landscape of the NBA did just become much more interesting for the time being. That goes for DFS as well.
Hit me up on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.