Commentary

Injury returns: Eric Gordon almost back

Updated: February 14, 2011, 6:58 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

With All-Star Weekend only a few days away, fantasy owners will get a much-needed break to take a step back, analyze their rosters and make any adjustments required for the remainder of the season. But fantasy owners aren't the only ones getting a break, and with an empty schedule from Friday through Monday, many players will get an opportunity to rest their nagging injuries and heal up for the stretch run.

This should come as welcome news for those who own players such as Brandon Jennings, Michael Beasley and Wilson Chandler, who have been less effective as they play through pain. The long weekend off should give them the additional rest they need to finish the season strong. It will also be welcome news for anyone who has been stashing injured players in hopes that they'll provide a boost for the late-season push.

The art of the injury stash has not quite been an exact science ever since the injured list went away a few years back, and trying to gauge the trade value of such players has been almost as tough as trying to figure out whether or not to hold on to them. With that said, let's take a look at some players who are set to return to action over the next two weeks and discuss what we can expect from them going forward.

Injury stash

The Top 130

Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value from this point forward in the 2010-11 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
3. Deron Williams, PG, UTA (3)
4. LeBron James, SF, MIA (4)
5. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (5)
6. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (6)
7. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (7)
8. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (8)
9. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (11)
10. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (13)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (10)
12. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (12)
13. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (9)
14. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (14)
15. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (15)
16. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (16)
17. Carmelo Anthony, SF, DEN (17)
18. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (18)
19. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (19)
20. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (20)
21. Raymond Felton, PG, NY (22)
22. Danny Granger, SF, IND (23)
23. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (21)
24. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR (24)
25. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (25)
26. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (26)
27. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (27)
28. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (29)
29. John Wall, PG, WAS (28)
30. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (30)
31. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (31)
32. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (33)
33. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (37)
34. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (34)
35. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (35)
36. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (36)
37. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (32)
38. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (41)
39. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (38)
40. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (40)
41. David Lee, PF/C, GS (39)
42. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, CHA (44)
43. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (43)
44. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (75)
45. David West, PF, NO (45)
46. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (46)
47. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (49)
48. Nene, C/PF, DEN (47)
49. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (42)
50. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, NY (48)
51. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (80)
52. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (50)
53. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (52)
54. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (53)
55. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (54)
56. Devin Harris, PG, NJ (55)
57. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (56)
58. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (51)
59. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (57)
60. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (58)
61. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (59)
62. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (61)
63. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (62)
64. Chauncey Billups, PG, DEN (63)
65. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (64)
66. Antawn Jamison, PF, CLE (65)
67. Darren Collison, PG, IND (74)
68. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (66)
69. Andre Miller, PG, POR (67)
70. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (60)
71. Baron Davis, PG, LAC (68)
72. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, NY (69)
73. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (70)
74. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (81)
75. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (71)
76. Jeff Green, PF/SF, OKC (72)
77. Marcus Camby, C/PF, POR (94)
78. Tony Parker, PG, SA (73)
79. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (77)
80. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (97)
81. Tyson Chandler, C, DAL (78)
82. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (84)
83. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (79)
84. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (76)
85. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (82)
86. J.J. Hickson, PF/C, CLE (83)
87. Mo Williams, PG, CLE (99)
88. Amir Johnson, PF, TOR (86)
89. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (85)
90. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (90)
91. DeJuan Blair, PF, SA (111)
92. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (92)
93. Nick Young, SG, WAS (93)
94. Hedo Turkoglu, SF/PF, ORL (87)
95. Vince Carter, SG/SF, PHO (89)
96. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (91)
97. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (96)
98. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (95)
99. Rashard Lewis, PF/SF, WAS (88)
100. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (98)
101. Landry Fields, SG, NY (100)
102. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (101)
103. Arron Afflalo, SG, DEN (102)
104. Ryan Anderson, PF, ORL (103)
105. Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET (104)
106. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (109)
107. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (105)
108. Nicolas Batum, SF, POR (106)
109. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (108)
110. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (110)
111. C.J. Miles, SF, UTA (113)
112. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (117)
113. Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET (114)
114. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, POR (NR)
115. Darko Milicic, C, MIN (118)
116. DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC (115)
117. Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS (NR)
118. Corey Maggette, SF, MIL (119)
119. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (121)
120. George Hill, PG/SG, SA (122)
121. Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, NJ (124)
122. Chuck Hayes, SF/PF, HOU (125)
123. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (123)
124. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (130)
125. Ty Lawson, PG, DEN (NR)
126. Tracy McGrady, SG/PG, DET (126)
127. Shane Battier, SF, HOU (127)
128. Aaron Brooks, PG, HOU (116)
129. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (128)
130. Sam Young, SF, MEM (NR)

Brandon Roy, SG, Blazers: Talk that Roy might only be a few days from returning from dual knee surgeries has prompted a mass movement from desperate fantasy owners playing the waiver wire. Over the past week, Roy's percentage ownership numbers have spiked from 45.3 percent to 86.9 percent in ESPN standard leagues. I don't necessarily have a problem with adding Roy in fantasy leagues, but only because now is the time of year when owners need to take more risks than they normally would. Roy was only a shell of his former self early this season, posting just 16.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 3-pointers in 23 contests. How he'll perform with his knees patched up remains to be seen, but I have a feeling he'll be limited both in terms of minutes and performance upon his return. That said, if there's even a slight chance that he could miraculously recover to even 80 percent of his former value, he's worth the risk of adding, particularly for owners in need of a boost.

Eric Gordon, SG, Clippers: Prior to suffering a right wrist injury that has kept him out of action since Jan. 22, Gordon was in the midst of a breakout season, averaging 24.1 points, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.0 3-pointers and ranking 20th on our Player Rater when sorted by averages. Expected to return shortly after the All-Star break, Gordon should provide top-30 fantasy status once he gets himself back into game shape. Remember, players who are coming off a shooting hand/wrist injury can struggle with their shot in the early stages of return, so be patient if he has a few rough outings upon his return.

Joakim Noah, C/PF, Bulls: I've been a huge Noah fan for a few years now, but the constant injuries are starting to put a damper on his promising future in the fantasy game. Last year it was a bout with plantar fasciitis; this year, a thumb injury has kept him out of action for the better part of two months. Nevertheless, it's hard to argue with the results he has provided when healthy: 14.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks in 24 contests this year. It's important to note that much of that production came with Carlos Boozer on the shelf, but even with Boozer at his side, Noah is still a top-40 player in the fantasy game. Look for him to pick right back up where he left off with double-doubles and plenty of steals and blocks when he returns to action on Feb. 23.

Mo Williams, PG, Cavaliers: After missing 13 games because of a hip injury, Mo returned in style with 17 points and 14 assists Friday night in a victory over the Clippers. Though the Cavs have been downright awful this season, they have been a source of quality fantasy goodness of late, and that should extend to Williams the remainder of the season as long as he can stay healthy. Remember, Williams put up 14.7 points, 8.9 assists and 1.1 3-pointers per game in December before his hip started acting up. I still don't fully trust that he'll remain intact for the duration of the season, but the All-Star break should give him some additional time to rest up for the stretch run.

Emeka Okafor, C, Hornets: A strained oblique ruined Okafor's ironman streak of 306 consecutive games, but with some additional time to heal over the All-Star break, he should be able to return to action on Feb 23 when the Hornets take on the Clippers. Oblique injuries can linger at times, but Okafor will have had three weeks of recovery time and should be good for his typical double-double, with plenty of blocks, upon his return.

Marcus Camby, C, Blazers: Camby flirted with the idea of returning from a knee injury earlier this week, but it looks like he might put off his comeback until after the All-Star break, which makes perfect sense. And his owners will happily sacrifice a few more missed games if it means Camby and his 11.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.8 blocks are completely healthy upon return. Camby is no sure thing, but he's worth the risk for the dominant boards and blocks he can provide. LaMarcus Aldridge owners should be aware that Camby's presence could negatively impact his recent surge in rebounds and blocks.

Chris Kaman, C, Clippers: You could be in trouble if you're banking on Kaman to help save your season. Out of action since early December because of a lingering ankle injury, Kaman is going to need some time to get back into game shape before we can even consider putting him back into our lineups. I'd be slightly more optimistic if we had any indication of a timeline for his return or if DeAndre Jordan wasn't standing in his way, but I don't think we can rely on Kaman for any more than 20-25 minutes per game when (if?) he returns to the court.

News and notes

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert has managed to turn his season around, averaging 15.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over his past five games under new head coach Frank Vogel. He's unlikely to be as valuable as he was earlier this season, but his owners can rest assured that his fluctuations in value should taper off now that there is more stability in his minutes.

• As I've warned multiple times over the past two weeks, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has already begun to rest Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan as the Spurs prepare for their playoff push. Ginobili played just eight minutes in Saturday's blowout victory over the Wizards, while Duncan has seen just 22.2 minutes over his past five games. I'd expect the duo to earn somewhere around 25 minutes per game after the All-Star break, which should make DeJuan Blair and George Hill quite popular in the fantasy world.

Charlotte Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin has had a tremendous season for fantasy owners up to this point, but he has struggled of late and has even lost some minutes to backup Shaun Livingston. Augustin has gone through slumps before this season, so let's give him a little more time before we overreact to his 10.4 points, 3.4 assists and 1.2 3-pointers in 27.0 minutes over his past five games.

• With the exception of a 27-point explosion Friday night, Jrue Holiday has suffered since the Sixers decided to put the ball in Andre Iguodala's hands as their main playmaker. Averaging just 11.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.2 steals over his past five games, it's time to drop Jrue in the rankings to more accurately reflect his future value.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at bmckitish@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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