Since my last injury update piece last week, we've had several influential players either go down with an injury or continue to rehab as they work towards a return. The main issue for managers is that teams have been sketchy regarding timetables. For many, it's been a waiting game that, unfortunately, has no precise end date. Let's try and shine some light on a few names that may or may not be edging toward getting back on the floor.
Let's dive in.
Desmond Bane, Grizzlies
Having already missed a significant portion of the season, Bane's recovery has been slow. His injury could cost him up to two months, a timeframe that extends well beyond our initial thoughts. Before the injury, Bane was putting together a top-25 season, exceeding the expectations of even the most optimistic managers. After breaking out last year, he had lifted his per-game numbers to 24.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.8 triples. Given his steals had basically halved when compared to 2021-22, there is scope he could up his productivity on the defensive end. Given his importance to the team, the Grizzlies will presumably exercise extreme caution with Bane. Managers must hold and hope he progresses through his re-loading protocol setback free. In the meantime, John Konchar and Dillon Brooks should continue to see increased roles.
Dejounte Murray, Hawks
The Hawks are currently running a skeleton crew, with several players sidelined due to injury. Murray suffered his ankle injury almost a week ago and is slated to be re-evaluated just before Christmas. The Hawks are a mess right now, and of course, they would love to have Murray back on the floor. With that said, they are unlikely to rush him, given just how key he will be if they make the playoffs. While he had slowed a little after a fast start to the season, Murray still can be a real difference-maker in fantasy. Barring any setbacks, this could be a quick turnaround. Managers looking for a short-term boost can consider adding AJ Griffin and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Trent Forrest may be worth a look in deeper leagues, especially with Trae Young nursing a back injury.
Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets
While Porter has no official timetable for his return, he was able to practice with the team on Monday for the first time since suffering his heel injury. His absence will extend to 10 games should he fail to suit up on Wednesday, which has already been deemed unlikely. This is undoubtedly frustrating for managers, especially given how well he had been playing to open the season. Prior to going down, Porter was putting up 16.4 points per game, including 2.9 triples. He was not all the way back in terms of production, but things were trending in the right direction. Still, an injury like this could linger, even beyond his eventual return. He is worth holding, but should he return and cobble together a nice stretch of production, selling him for any top-70 player could be an option for managers who are skeptical about his long-term health. Once Porter is back, managers rostering Bruce Brown need to keep tabs on the latter's role.
Jalen Suggs, Magic
Suggs is the most expendable of all the names on this list. Despite a few flashes to open the season, Suggs has basically spent the majority of time on the sideline. He is a top-170 player for the season, averaging 12.4 points per game, with 5.4 assists and 1.6 steals. His shooting remains an issue, connecting on less than 42 percent of his shot attempts. Since his most recent injury, both Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony have returned to action. While Suggs is a vital part of the future for the Magic, his exact role when he does return is far from clear. Given the uncertainty and lack of overall upside, Suggs is probably a player to move on from, at least in standard fantasy formats.
LaMelo Ball, Hornets
Simply put, it's been a disaster of a season thus far for anyone invested in Ball. While he could be drafted at a discount thanks to his preseason injury, no one could have foreseen a follow-up injury only days after returning. Given the upside, Ball is a clear must-roster player who could return to action as soon as Wednesday. Having suffered the same injury twice in succession, the Hornets are within their rights to play it safe. Managers should expect a minutes restriction when he returns. If you're rostering Terry Rozier, his production will likely dip once Ball is back. This may be a sell-high opportunity.
Wendell Carter Jr., Magic
Carter was putting together the best season of his young career before suffering a strained right plantar fascia. Playing on a team bereft of top-end talent, Carter had established himself as their center of the future, averaging 16.6 points per game to go with 9.1 boards. Sadly, he hasn't increased his defensive output, tallying a combined 1.0 steals and blocks. The Magic have not been very forthcoming regarding a timetable, which is not out of character. Carter went on record Dec. 1, saying he hoped to return in 1-2 weeks. While this could mean he is nearing a return, the team has released nothing official. An injury such as this can hang around for an extended period, suggesting there could be missed games coming, even once he is back on the court. Like Porter, if Carter comes back and strings together a week or two of elite production, selling him off could be a viable strategy. In the meantime, Moritz Wagner and Mo Bamba should continue seeing increased roles.