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, John Cregan and Kyle Soppe.
Hassan Whiteside needed 13 stitches to repair a laceration to his right hand sustained during Tuesday's game. We don't know if the injury will sideline him Thursday against the Raptors or Sunday against the Celtics, but he missed three games after suffering a similar injury two years ago that required 10 stitches. Who would you recommend adding (from the Heat or other teams) to help replace some of Whiteside's stats if he does miss some game action?
Kyle Soppe: Hard to say if he will miss time, but with the Miami Heat hanging on to the eighth spot in the East, I would venture to guess that Whiteside will be playing sooner than later. That said, it is possible that he doesn't help you the rest of this week, so I would add Willie Reed as insurance.
Despite averaging just 14.5 minutes per game, Reed is averaging 1.9 offensive rebounds, a number that would almost put him in the top 10 if he had enough minutes to qualify. For the season, the 26-year-old is averaging 13.2 points (on 56 percent shooting) and 11.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and with two below-average defensive-rebounding teams on the slate to wrap up this week, Reed could well be a difference-maker.
Digging deeper? Joffrey Lauvergne/Bobby Portis are worth a look due to the Bulls' lack of frontcourt depth and the fact that they play three more games this week. If Willie Cauley-Stein is still sitting on waivers (he is in 62.5 percent of ESPN leagues), he is also a great grab for his three games remaining this week.
Joe Kaiser: Depending on the depth of your league and which players are available, two players I'd look at to replace Whiteside are Phoenix's Alex Len (owned in 23.2 percent of ESPN leagues) and Milwaukee's John Henson (owned in 2.8 percent of ESPN leagues).
Len is the better option of the two. He put up 12 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks on Tuesday against the Heat and narrowly missed double-doubles in each of his two previous games. While not nearly the scorer Whiteside is, Len can help your team replace some of the rebounds and blocks.
Henson plays less than Len but he enters Wednesday averaging 6.3 rebounds and 2 blocks in his last 10 games.
John Cregan: If you're missing Whiteside (like me), you're in sudden need of blocks, rebounds, points and field goal percentage. You won't miss the bad free throw shooting ... but to be fair, Whiteside has been trending up at the line (83 percent over his past five games).
The immediate answer could be Heat backup Reed. If he can stay out of foul trouble, and hit his ceiling, Reed can provide a reasonable ballpark simulation of Whiteside's production. Reed briefly entered 20-10 territory in early January, posting a 22-point, 12-rebound, 3-block line and a 22-point, 18-rebound, 2-block line. If you're down Whiteside, you need upside, and fast. Reed is the way to go.