Courtside Seat: Back in the nick of time?

Senior Fantasy Writer

The Fantasy playoffs are approaching in many leagues, and owners want to know if some of their injured stars will be there to help. We're not about to play doctor, but we can take a look at the injury report to help you make some decisions.

For example, you should expect someone like Nikola Pekovic (ankle) or Rodney Stuckey (toe) to return soon since their injuries haven't kept them out for an extended period of time. We hope the same could be said about Tony Parker (hamstring), who was injured Wednesday.

What we're here to do is look at injuries that have kept players out for several games or even weeks and evaluate whether or not they can return in time for the playoffs to make a difference to a championship run. Otherwise, it might be time to cut them and add someone who can actually help your roster.

Andray Blatche, PF, Wizards
Injury: Calf
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Wizards decided to shut down Blatche so he could work on his conditioning after being out almost all of February with a calf injury. He should return in time for the Fantasy playoffs in most formats, but he is not worth waiting for. Blatche is having a down year at 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, and the Wizards will likely feature new center Nene and give Trevor Booker a longer look at power forward. You should be able to find more production elsewhere than Blatche.

Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Warriors are hoping to get Curry back at some point this season, but they are not going to play him until he's 100 percent. Since Golden State will miss the playoffs, there's no need for Curry to rush back. He could be headed toward the best production of his career once he does return with Monta Ellis now traded to Milwaukee, but we hope Curry doesn't have ankle and foot problems the rest of his career.

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Danilo Gallinari, SF, Nuggets
Injury: Thumb
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Gallinari suffered a fracture on his left, non-shooting hand, and he is going to try and play through the injury even though doctors told him he could be out four weeks. Gallinari was just getting back to his old form after being out 13 games with a sprained left ankle, but he could still be a starting option in most leagues if he plays through the thumb injury. His rebounding could take a hit, but hopefully he can continue to score as long as the thumb doesn't bother him.

Brook Lopez, C, Nets
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
Lopez was just starting to play like a star again when he suffered the ankle injury. He had missed the first 32 games of the season with a broken foot, but he finally started to look healthy before he went down again. The Nets hope he can return this season, but they won't rush him back since they're out of the playoff race. Lopez has more value to them long-term and they obviously hope he can return at 100 percent. The only problem is that won't happen this year.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Rockets
Injury: Illness
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Lowry has been one of the best Fantasy options this year since he was drafted in Round 5 based on his Average Draft Position but has performed like a Top 20 player. We hope he can return soon, and the Rockets could definitely use him for a playoff push. Goran Dragic has been fantastic since Lowry went down, but Lowry is a stat stuffer in all categories. He might take a while to get back to 100 percent, but he is worth waiting for based on his talent.

Kevin Martin, SG, Rockets
Injury: Shoulder
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Martin's injury has lingered longer than expected, and he could return any game now from his shoulder injury, which has kept him out for five games. Martin should be able to close the season strong, and hopefully coach Kevin McHale will give him the minutes to be successful. The problem for Martin is since he went down Courtney Lee has emerged, but Martin is the better player and should earn his spot back once he's healthy.

Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
Injury: Groin
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Bulls are going to be cautious with Rose because they want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy for the NBA playoffs. That isn't a good thing for Fantasy owners, but it doesn't sound like Rose will miss several weeks. And once he gets back on the court he should be able to play at an MVP level again. Rose has struggled with injuries all year, but he should be a difference maker for Fantasy owners in the playoffs once he gets past this groin problem.

Anderson Varejao, C, Cavaliers
Injury: Wrist
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Cavs are hoping Varejao is ready to return by the end of March and help them with a potential playoff push after he broke his wrist Feb. 10. He was having a career season before he went down at 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds, and we hope he can pick up where he left off. Fantasy owners who stashed Varejao will be getting a No. 2 Fantasy center, and with the lack of talent at that position he will help as a huge addition to a playoff roster.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things.

Guys on the rise

Here is a look at the five players who have improved their performance over the past seven days. We want to let you know if they can keep it up at this level.

Luke Ridnour, PG, Timberwolves
Key stats for the past seven days: 11.6 points, 7.4 assists, 1.2 steals

Nate Robinson, PG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 13.3 points, 6.8 assists, 2.0 steals

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 16.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 20.0 points, 1.5 steals, 12 3-pointers

Marcus Thornton, SG, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 30.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals

Ridnour had a rough game Wednesday at San Antonio and was outplayed by J.J. Barea, but Ridnour should close the season on a high note with Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) out. Robinson has stepped up with Curry out, and Thompson has done a nice job replacing Ellis for the Warriors. Thompson has really shined and should finish strong with J.J. Hickson no longer in Sacramento. We hope Thornton can also stay hot, but he could lose some production once Tyreke Evans (ankle) is back at 100 percent.

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

Boris Diaw, SF, free agent
Owned: 56 percent of leagues

Chandler Parsons, SF, Rockets
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Courtney Lee, SG, Rockets
Owned: 13 percent of leagues

Gary Neal, PG, Spurs
Owned: 8 percent of leagues

Diaw recently received a buyout from the Bobcats, and while it's unlikely he will land in a spot where he can get increased playing time, you never know based on his skill set. He needs to get in shape, but Diaw could be useful in deeper formats. The Rockets have gotten quality production from Lee with Martin out, and he could be a short-term investment. Parsons has been playing well of late with 11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his past five games, and he has benefited with the injuries in Houston as well. Gordon had 45 points and eight assists against Denver on Wednesday with Stuckey out, and he's worth a look since he can get hot at any moment. And Neal could benefit if Parker is out for an extended period of time since he has done well in the past when Parker has missed time.

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