Starting five: Is it Rodney Hood time?

Sandeep Chandok
·5 min read

Some major injury-related news dropped late on Monday night regarding Blazers guard C.J. McCollum who’s reportedly going to be out for at least a month with a fractured left foot.

He suffered the injury on Saturday night vs the Hawks, and despite Terry Stotts saying on Monday morning that McCollum would be re-evaluated in a week, it’s going to be much longer. And I hope he comes back sooner rather than later because he’s fun to watch and well, I have him in one of my leagues and will miss his nightly 26.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and five assists.

It’s a big hole for any one player to fill, so for those wondering who the best fantasy option is while McCollum is sidelined, there’s not a concrete answer to that question. It will likely be a collective effort from a few guys, but one veteran wing might have a better chance to put up some numbers than the others.

Although, I’d take any of the Portland players over the Wizards right now because they are currently the most COVID-hampered team in the NBA. They’ve already had five games postponed to date as players and staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

The Grizzlies also lost a key starter to the league’s health and safety protocols recently. No, it’s not Ja Morant. He’s back from his ankle injury, but Memphis will be without center Jonas Valanciunas for at least a week, paving the way for a rookie forward to get some shine in the meantime.

Here’s my starting five for the week.

Injury insurance

Eric Gordon - With John Wall (left knee) out on Monday, Eric Gordon started and notched 21 points, two rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes. He shot 9-of-17 from the floor, made a few triples and played well alongside newcomer Victor Oladipo who made his Rockets debut. It helps that Danuel House (health and safety) remains out, too, meaning there’s extra minutes up for grabs for at least the remainder of the week, depending on well House and Wall return. But even when they do, Gordon should play a sixth man role for Houston, as he’s currently posting 15 points on 45% shooting this season and boasting top-100 value. The veteran guard is sitting on waivers in over half Yahoo leagues.

Doug McDermott - Doug “McBuckets” has been living up to his old college nickname, averaging 16.2 points on an absurd 61% clip with a total of 10 made 3-pointers in his last four games. He’s only rostered in 10% of Yahoo leagues right now, and with the terrible news of Caris LeVert (kidney) being ruled out indefinitely, McDermott is setting himself up nicely to play a bigger role until LeVert returns. Though there is a small battle for minutes with Justin Holiday, who’s been starting some games and playing fairly decent over the past week, too. McDermott is a more reliable scorer whereas Holiday tends to salvage his fantasy performances with defensive stats. I’d lean toward McBuckets if I were you.

Rodney Hood - When the McCollum injury news first dropped on Saturday night, Gary Trent Jr. seemed like the immediate must-grab guy, and he still might be, but he struggled against the Spurs on MLK Day, shooting 1-of-9 with two points in 24 minutes. On the other hand, Rodney Hood got the start alongside Damian Lillard in the backcourt and dropped 21 points in 25 minutes. It was easily his best game of the season, and though Terry Stotts hasn’t decided on a permanent replacement starter for CJM, Hood’s 6-foot-8 stature adds some length to the starting unit and the potential to be a disruptor on defense. That plus his ability to get his own bucket, as opposed to GTJ who’s more of a catch-and-shoot guard, makes Hood the better option of the two. He’s available in 96% of Yahoo leagues and is worth a look in deep leagues.

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Xavier Tillman - The rookie out of Michigan State started his first career game on Monday in place of Jonas Valanciunas, posting 12 points, six rebounds, one assist and a steal in 29 minutes. He nearly doubled Gorgui Dieng in playing time, has scored in double figures in three straight contests and will likely continue to start with JV out for at least a week. The Grizzlies have three more games in this fantasy week, by the way, including a two-game slate with the Blazers on Wednesday and Friday before finishing with the Kings on Sunday. He may not put up big numbers, but he’s a serviceable option during this injury and COVID-riddled season.

Luke Kennard - A man of $64 million, Luke Kennard has been mostly quiet in 2020-21 till the Clippers last two outings with Lou Williams (hip) sidelined. He’s combined for 34 points in those two blowout wins, shooting 13-of-21 with nine rebounds, eight assists and seven 3-pointers. This is what fantasy managers expected from Kennard when they drafted him before the season began. It’s probably what Jerry West expected when he acquired and paid Kennard, too, and slowly but surely, the former Piston is starting to earn his checks. If Lou Will misses more time, Kennard is a good streaming option and definitely a must-add in deep leagues. He’s only rostered in 12% of Yahoo leagues at the moment.