Commentary

Fantasy Spin: Ellis surgery won't slow down Nelly's Warriors

Updated: August 28, 2008, 2:34 PM ET
By Guy Lake | Special to ESPN.com

Warriors fans will have to wait a little longer for the Monta Ellis era to begin.

As ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting, Ellis underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn deltoid ligament in his left ankle. The prognosis is for Ellis to miss three to four months, and after speaking with ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell, I think it is safer to err conservatively and plan on Ellis returning after closer to the four-month time frame than a three-month absence.

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Ellis will have his ankle immobilized for six weeks following surgery, and then he will have another six weeks of off-court rehab before returning to basketball workouts. That takes us to Nov. 19, well after the start of the season, and his return won't be announced until sometime after then. Stephania added that the key to Ellis' return is how long it takes his ankle to recover from the stiffness that naturally follows being in a cast for six weeks. Given that Monta's game is contingent on lightning-quick cuts and pull-ups, don't bank on him returning shortly after that 12-week absence. He is going to need full mobility in his ankle to be effective for the Warriors and his fantasy owners.

So fantasy owners should expect him to be out well into December and knock him down accordingly on their draft boards. However, you head-to-head owners shouldn't wait quite as long to get him. An early-season injury is more easily absorbed in that setup, and Ellis could be a boon to fantasy teams down the stretch and in the fantasy playoffs.

Who else is affected by this injury? Well, you can bump up Marcus Williams' value a bit. He will be the starting point guard with Ellis sidelined and should get more than 30 minutes per game. Averages of 13 to 14 points, 1.7 3-pointers, 6.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game are reasonable projections for Jason Kidd's former backup. And if he plays well as the starter, there's a good chance he could maintain a lot of his minutes per game when Ellis returns. If he wasn't already, Williams should be considered a must-have player in the late rounds of a standard-league draft.

Marcus Williams
David Liam Kyle/Getty ImagesOffseason acquisition Marcus Williams figures to get most of Monta Ellis' minutes.
I like Stephen Jackson to "gunsling" a bit more to make up for Ellis' 20 points per game. He and Corey Maggette will be asked to shoulder most of the load in this regard. Look for increased scoring from both players through the first two months of the season. We could also see coach Don Nelson lean on Al Harrington early, especially from outside the lane, to help open up things for Maggette to slash to the rim.

One thing is for sure: Nelson isn't going to change his style with Ellis out. The Warriors will continue to run and gun against the competition, and multiple players will put up beaucoup points. Usually one or more players will emerge from obscurity to become fantasy assets on Nellie's squads. Williams should be one of those guys, and Kelenna Azubuike could be another. Also, Marco Belinelli and C.J. Watson are worth keeping your eye on to see if they can use extra playing time to get themselves entrenched in the team's rotation.

Guy Lake is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Guy.fantasy@gmail.com.

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