Fantasy basketball rapid reaction: Chris Paul injury impact

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns is on-pace to lead the NBA with 10.7 assists per game. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On Sunday before the NBA All-Star game, TNT's Allie LaForce reported that Chris Paul would be out six to eight weeks with a right thumb avulsion fracture. Throughout his career, he has undergone four hand surgeries. During this season, the 12-time All-Star averages 15 points per game and leads the league with 10.7 assists per game.

Paul, who will turn 37 in May, is on pace to lead the NBA in APG for the fifth time in his career, and he has 126 more assists than the next closest player, Atlanta's Trae Young. With a 48-10 record entering the break, the Phoenix Suns were seven games better in the loss column than the Golden State Warriors. In their effort to win the franchise's first title, Phoenix will be without their star player for two months. So far this season, Paul hadn't missed a game with his streak of 68 consecutive games dating back to last postseason. Paul's importance to the Suns cannot be overstated.

When Paul is on the floor, Phoenix averages 115.9 points per 100 possessions. Without him, that number drops to 104.9. This season, Paul's net rating is +10.5, which is good for third among players averaging 30 minutes per game. For those unfamiliar this metric measures the Suns' efficiency with him on the floor.

Another factor to consider is clutch time. In the NBA, clutch time refers to any time during the fourth quarter or overtime period when the score is within five points. Paul currently leads the NBA in clutch plus-minus at +99. During clutch time, Paul is shooting 56% from the field. Additionally, the Suns are an NBA-best 24-3 in clutch time this season, thanks in large part to Paul's play.

With Paul out, guard Devin Booker will be leaned on more and is very capable of handling the workload, as he has a usage rate of 31% this season. In his last nine games, Booker has averaged 27.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.0 RPG and 1.2 SPG. Booker is rostered in nearly all ESPN leagues, but there are a few others to target as a result of Paul's injury that essentially ends his fantasy season.

If you rostered Paul or just want to capitalize on this situation, Cameron Payne should be added immediately. While Payne is available in 99% of ESPN leagues, he hasn't been practicing since suffering a wrist sprain in late January, but reports indicate he'll return soon. Payne averages only 20.4 minutes per game this season, but he provides a glimpse of his potential with per 40-minute averages of 20.5 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 5.4 RPG.

Cameron Johnson, who's available in 91% of ESPN leagues, could also be used more. His season stats are 12 PPG, 1.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.0 SPG in 26 minutes. It would be prudent for fantasy managers participating in deeper formats to prioritize guard Aaron Holiday, if Payne or Johnson is unavailable. Holiday is currently available in almost all ESPN leagues. Holiday has averaged only 16 MPG but his per 40 averages of 22 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 6.0 RPG are astounding

However you slice it, this news is devastating for fantasy managers considering Paul's statistical contributions this season. In fantasy basketball, it is always better to be proactive than reactive. If you are reading this, consider adding one of these players immediately.