Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser, Kyle Soppe and ESPN NBA Insider Kevin Pelton.
With Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) sitting out the last two games for the Orlando Magic, Bismack Biyombo posted a pair of double-doubles (14 points and 15 rebounds Sunday, 10 points and 14 rebounds Monday). Considering the nature of Vucevic's injury, do you think Biyombo (12.4 percent ESPN ownership) will remain a double-double threat the rest of the season? Should fantasy owners add him?
Joe Kaiser: Biyombo has averaged 6.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game this season. The thing is, with Vucevic out, Biyombo is now being asked to play well over 30 minutes a game (34 on Sunday against Washington, 42 on Monday against New York).
With that in mind, the 24-year-old is certainly a capable double-double threat whose game doesn't stop at points and rebounds -- he also blocks more than a shot per game. As long as Vucevic remains sidelined, Biyombo has a chance to be a Steven Adams-like fantasy player, so keep a close eye on Vucevic's condition in the days and weeks ahead.
Kyle Soppe: The Magic have Biyombo under contract for another three seasons at $17 million per campaign, a significantly greater commitment than they have in Vucevic (another two seasons at an average rate of $12.5 million). With Orlando out of the playoff hunt this season and in the running for a top-three pick, I see no reason why we can't assume that common sense prevails and they treat the final five weeks of the regular season as a trail run.
In doing so, I expect they will give the 24-year old Biyombo extended run in an effort to see if he can sustain his per-minute production (16.2 rebounds per 48 minutes over the last two regular seasons) in a greater role. The great early returns make the Magic more likely to put more on the plate of Biyombo, as they will want to enter the 2017-2018 season with an idea of what they can count on from their frontcourt.
If Biyombo can sustain his per-minute production (0.26 points, 0.31 rebounds and 0.05 blocks per minute) over a 30-minute role, you're looking at roughly 10 PPG, 8 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. Is that revolutionary? No, but the upside is greater, and even if he produces just those baseline numbers, he is of use to those in need of defensive stats.
Adding Biyombo is something every competitive team should do, as the reward far outweighs the risk involved with cutting a player at the end of your bench.
Kevin Pelton: Biyombo has averaged 10.4 points and 11.2 rebounds in the five games Vucevic has missed this season, so yes, I think he's a double-double threat as long as Vucevic as sidelined. That's also consistent with the fact that Biyombo has averaged 35.4 minutes per game in Vucevic's absence, and he's averaging 9.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per 36 minutes over the larger sample of the full season.
So the question then becomes whether you expect Vucevic to return, and that's tough to say. If the Magic were fighting for a playoff spot, I doubt Vucevic would be out for an extended period, but since they are effectively eliminated there's no reason to push his return.