Kobe Bryant has a torn ligament in his right pinky finger and doctors have recommended he undergo surgery. The procedure would sideline Bryant for 6-8 weeks forcing him to miss a majority of the second half of the season.
Friday, February 15, 2008
With Andrew Bynum out and the west the tightest its been in years (1-8 seeds separated by a mere 5 games) Bryant is chosen to play with the injury and put off surgery until after the Olympic Games this summer. Given that the injury is on his shooting hand and he spends a majority of his time on the court handling the ball and shooting, there is a good chance that his game may be noticeably hurt by his ailing pinky. However, the general consensus is that the Lakers will need Kobe on the court just to survive in the tough Western Conference and make it into the playoffs.
Despite Kobe's repeated overtures that he will not miss any games, the possibility he is forced to go under the knife remains as this is a serious injury. Let's take a look at the Lakers' players who would see a rise in their fantasy value if Kobe were to miss time:
1) Pau Gasol, PF/C - With Kobe and Bynum out, Gasol becomes the Lakers' clear-cut number one scoring option and should see a spike in his scoring and rebounding numbers. 20-10+ numbers on a nightly basis would not be out of the question.
2) Lamar Odom, SF/PF - With the emergence of Andrew Bynum, Kobe's scoring prowess and the excellent offensive output from the Lakers bench, Odom's scoring has reached its lowest mark since the 2001-02 season. In Kobe's absence, Odom would be relied on to score more which would serve as an excellent complement to his already gaudy rebounding numbers.
3) Derek Fisher, PG - Fisher has been on championship teams before and is one of those guys that rises to the occasion. Fisher has had a solid season thus far and would enjoy added ball handling duties with Kobe sidelined, leading to an increase in scoring and assists.
1) Sasha Vujacic, SG - Vujacic would most likely start at shooting guard with Kobe out and has shown flashes of excellent scoring ability when he has been given extended playing time this season. In 9 games where Vujacic has played 20+ minutes (26 mins. is his season high), he is averaging 17.4 points a game. If he receives ample playing time, Vujacic can help fantasy teams in scoring and three pointers while shooting a high FT %.
2) Jordan Farmar, PG - While the Lakers would probably choose to start Vujacic at SG, Farmar remains the teams most talented bench player. In only 20 minutes a night, he is averaging around 9 points, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1+ three pointers a contest. Farmar should be in line for a bump in playing time with Bryant out as Phil Jackson will look to mix up his backcourt pairings. He should see an increase in point and assists while contributing admirably in the three point department.
1) Luke Walton, SF - Walton is already seeing around 24 minutes a night so his increase in playing time will be minimal. However, he should get more offensive touches and can be a guy that contributes across the board in deeper leagues.
2) Vladimir Radmonovic, PF - Vlad Rad is what he is, a three point gunner with the ability to put up good scoring outputs from time to time. With added offensive touches, he could help fantasy teams in deep leagues who need help in the three point category.