John Wall getting close to returning

January, 7, 2013

When fantasy hoops managers were drafting squads back in October, John Wall had a sore knee but seemed to be just a few weeks away from returning to action. That meant he was drafted in nearly every league under the assumption that he would be contributing his typically terrific stats within a few weeks. Then there was delay stacked upon delay until we wondered whether he would set foot on the hardwood at all this season.

Fortunately, the injections he had in his troublesome knee have helped cushion the joint, and he finally was able to get back into limited-contact drills Thursday. Even better news, he reportedly is expected to make his season debut within the next two weeks.

The Washington Wizards have a five-game road trip beginning Jan. 16. If he is ready to roll and the Wiz are OK with taking him on the road, he could make his debut Saturday, Jan. 19, against the Los Angeles Clippers. (After that date, the Wiz have just two sets of back-to-back games until late March.) That's just the best-case scenario, though. We'll have to wait to see how his knee handles heavier practices before a true target date is set.

Nonetheless, his return to action would nix the value of Garrett Temple (who tanked Sunday) and limit the production we can expect from the inconsistent Jordan Crawford. If you've been riding those two, you should prepare for diminishing returns. As for Wall, his knee injury appears to be a long-term issue, and I suspect it will bother him throughout the season. In other words, if he pops off a few big games, I would be aiming to trade him away quickly before his body betrays him again.

Looking Back

LeBron James has been battling sore knees and a sore shoulder all season. Despite concerns that he might miss his first game due to his bruised knee, LeBron laced 'em up Sunday and was his usual dominant self, even though he did add a twisted ankle to his laundry list of injuries. It sounds like he will be fine for now, though, and he should continue to post historically monstrous stats for all of us fantasy junkies.

• After taking a little breather (one DNP, one game off the bench) to rest his sore Achilles tendon, Ty Lawson returned to the starting lineup for both of the Nuggets' weekend games. He looked terrific Sunday, racking up 21 points (9-for-18 FG), 10 assists, zero turnovers and 3 steals. There is some risk in leaning on a point guard with a sore Achilles, but hopefully he can shake it off. Andre Miller went back to the bench, but he remains a double-double threat even in limited minutes; he had 12 points and 10 assists in 23 minutes Sunday.

Bismack Biyombo took advantage of the absence of Hakim Warrick (flu) Sunday and came up big with 10 points (3-for-6 FG) and 17 boards in an overtime win over the Detroit Pistons. He hasn't been blocking shots lately (just two in his past five games), but he is someone to keep an eye on in deep leagues. If he can get comfortable as part of the Bobcats' rotation, he could be a reliable rebounder and shot blocker in the second half of the season.

Looking Ahead

• Despite a slow start to the season and plenty of ongoing drama, Dwight Howard has actually produced solid fantasy numbers this season. That includes tying a career high in rebounds (26) last night against the Denver Nuggets. However, he strained his shoulder during Friday's game and aggravated it enough Sunday that he is scheduled to get an MRI Monday. Stay tuned for updates before you set your weekly fantasy lineups. The Lakers have a four-game slate this week, including matchups with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

• In case you missed it over the weekend, Kevin Love re-fractured the same finger that cost him the start of the season. The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't announced a formal timetable for his return. The first time he fractured the digit, his timetable was 4-6 weeks, so it's safe to assume that we won't see him back in action until at least after the All-Star break next month. Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic should be hot plays in Love's absence, while Dante Cunningham will get a boost in production by starting in place of Love.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

The departure of Avery Johnson from the Brooklyn Nets -- whether justified or not -- has loosened the reins on Deron Williams' game and the results have been terrific for fantasy owners. D-Will has been red hot in Fastbreak this month, posting games of 34, 26 and 26. Tuesday evening he gets a favorable matchup versus the Philadelphia 76ers, making him a high-end Fastbreak guard option to pair up with Kobe Bryant, who should always be in your lineup.

Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst.



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