Fantasy Basketball: Khris Middleton Seeing More Minutes


Injuries are always a part of sports. This week is a big example of that. It features two players taking advantage of a teammate’s injury, and two others who have returned from injuries of their own and are back in a starting role.

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Khris Middleton (Mil SF/SG, 42.1% of leagues): A few weeks back when Jabari Parker tore his ACL, it was pretty much a toss-up between Middleton and Jared Dudley as to who would receive Parker’s minutes. At the time, Dudley was a good decision as he was outplaying Middleton and receiving more minutes. Middleton had shown prowess in his young career, averaging 12.1 points in his first season with the Bucks, but dropped to 7.9 in November and 10.5 in December. He has really struggled with his field goal percentage (a career .451 shooter). It’s not the worst percentage ever seen and it has improved this year, but he takes a lot of shots and we’d obviously like to see more go in. January became a different story, as Middleton scored in double digits in ten of the Bucks’ fourteen games. Not to mention that he played more than 30 minutes in nine of those games. The Bucks are in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and I really like their young backcourt of Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Head coach Jason Kidd has seemed to stick with Middleton as Dudley’s average playing time fell 6.0 minutes behind Middleton in January. Middleton is right up there with Knight and Antetokounmpo in playing time and I would expect that to continue throughout the rest of the season. Milwaukee is 20th in scoring, but 13th in point differential. They’re here to stay in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a young core. Middleton will be an important catalyst in that offensive gameplan.

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Spencer Hawes (LAC C, 10.3% of leagues): Dave Fuqua wrote an article on Sunday detailing the importance of Hawes following Blake Griffin’s elbow injury, so I’ll let it speak for itself. I’ll just say that I also endorse Hawes as a good short-term pickup and agree that Matt Barnes will also be a beneficiary.

Robin Lopez (Por C, 44.1% of leagues): Lopez was out well over a month with a hand injury sustained on December 15. He had struggled slightly at the beginning of the year, but it’s tough to follow up your best year as a professional. In 2013-14, Lopez played in all 82 of Portland’s games, averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and a .551 field goal percentage. He was a monster in points leagues with hardly any negatives to his game. However this year, even without the injury, Lopez’s stats have fallen in every category (unless you’re really encouraged by his increase in assists by 0.2 per game). But on the positive side, his four games in February have shown a light at the end of the tunnel. He’s scored in double figures in all four of the games, something he hadn’t done since December 3. In addition to that, he’s played more than 30 minutes in three of the four contests, so head coach Terry Stotts is clearly comfortable using Lopez as often as at the beginning of the year. The Blazers will definitely welcome Lopez back with open arms because Chris Kaman and Meyers Leonard weren’t the greatest replacements in the world. They pretty much just coasted along, whereas Lopez will be a defensive monster on the block. I can see Lopez regaining his form now that he’s fully healthy and an increase in production is imminent.

George Hill (Ind PG, 47.7% of leagues): Hill has been plagued by a groin injury all year as he missed all of November, most of December, and half of January. C.J. Watson and Donald Sloan anchored point guard duties in Hill’s absence, but each barely hovered around 10.0 points per game. In the 13 games Hill has played in, he actually leads the team in scoring (14.4). That’s not a huge sample size, but it shows that with Paul George out and Lance Stephenson gone, Hill is ready to be the go-to guy on offense. I’d like to see him make his teammates better as he only averages 3.3 assists. He’s never averaged more than 4.7 in a season. I wouldn’t bank on that 3.3 increasing too much, but the scoring still has potential. February has been kind to Hill with two 20-point performances, both of which were done in less than 30 minutes of court time. NINE Pacers currently average over 9.0 points per game on the season. It’s a tough season for them, but Hill could give them that player who takes the last shot in games. He’s not going to open any eyes if you pick him up, but it could be an under the radar acquisition that pays off.

Guys I’ve mentioned previously who are producing: Donatas Motiejunas (Hou PF, 35.9% of leagues); Robert Covington (Phi PF/SF, 45.7% of leagues); Carlos Boozer (LAL PF, 42.1% of leagues); Gerald Henderson (Cha SG, 18.2% of leagues); Rudy Gobert (Uta C, 37.5% of leagues)

Guys I would be comfortable dropping or trading: Deron Williams (Bkn PG, 72.9% of leagues); Dwight Howard (Depending on your schedule, his injury could keep him out through playoffs. If you can’t spare a spot, he may be more valuable off your team)(Hou C, 85.9% of leagues); Arron Afflalo (points leagues)(Den SG, 63.4% of leagues)

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