It's almost four weeks into the shortened NBA season, and the injuries have been piling up, making life both interesting and difficult for fantasy basketball enthusiasts such as myself.
The lack of a proper training period before the season began (thanks to both the owners' and players' intransigence) has ensured that not everybody is really ready for the season. As a result, a whole host of injuries hitting both stars and average players alike.
In our long-running faculty league, I've already had injuries to Zach Randolph (Memphis, torn knee ligament), Corey Maggette (Charlotte, strained hamstring), Derrick Rose (Chicago, sprained toe), Rodney Stuckey (Detroit, groin), and Vince Carter (Dallas, sprained foot). Of these, I've already let go of Randolph and Maggette, and I'm still hoping the others will come back soon. Actually, Stuckey's already playing, but not at the level he was last year; he's still feeling that groin injury, which hampers his play.
As it is, I've had to retool my lineup with players such as Luke Ridnour (Minnesota), Ian Mahinmi (Dallas), Nate Robinson (Golden State) and Marreese Speights (Memphis), players who were undrafted, but now are valuable because they're either filling in for injured players, or they're playing better than expected. One of the difficulties of our league is that almost everybody guards the free agent pool with a passion, and, as soon as any player starts playing with any degree of consistency, he's quickly snatched up; one has to be quick on the trigger to get a good player.
At least, I'm not alone. My fellow managers are also dealing with various injuries. In fact, one can build an All-Star lineup with the various injured players:
PG - Chris Paul (LA Clippers), Rajon Rondo (Boston), Dwayne Wade (Miami), Baron Davis (New York)
SG - Manu Ginobili (San Antonio), Eric Gordon (New Orleans), Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers)
SF - Michael Beasley (Minnesota), Corey Maggette (Charlotte)
PF - Al Horford (Atlanta), Zach Randolph (Memphis)
C - Brook Lopez (New Jersey), Nene Hilario (Denver)
It also doesn't help that, with the shortened season, there are stretches wherein teams play three games on consecutive nights. Unless coaches are careful, more players will probably succumb to some injury or the other, and will have to make decisions on whether to play through the pain or submit to being shelved for surgery or rehab.
On the fantasy side, one has to be adept and flexible in order to deal with the slew of injuries; otherwise, it's going to be a long season.