Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today’s contributors are ESPN Fantasy’s Jim McCormick, André Snellings and Kyle Soppe.
The San Antonio Spurs announced Wednesday that Kawhi Leonard will be sidelined indefinitely due continued issues with his quadriceps. What should fantasy managers do with Leonard? Is it time to drop him?
Jim McCormick: It’s been a troubling season for Leonard, who has missed 37 of the team’s first 46 games. And yet the Spurs are still on pace for 50 wins and have playoff odds above 99 percent, per FiveThirtyEight.
I still believe Leonard could be an influential asset, even if takes until late March for a return. Despite the blend of quad and shoulder injuries limiting him to 23.3 minutes per game this season, Leonard is 32nd on the Player Rater by averages, a testament to his elite defensive upside.
Would you release or sell LeBron James, Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant for pennies on the dollar if they were mired in a similarly confounding injury scenario? We have no idea if Leonard will play much this season, if at all, but I do trust that he’ll contribute at an elite level if he’s on the floor. I would try my best to stash Leonard on IR or acquire him on the cheap.
André Snellings: Yesterday’s news was certainly a big damper on what was already a down season for the rehabbing superstar and the fantasy managers that roster him. While I understand the frustration, unless I have absolutely no choice I’m likely to keep him on my roster if I have him. I feel like, if you’ve been carrying him all this time, you’re almost pot committed to him by now. If your team is competitive with him on the bench for most of the season anyway, you should be able to continue to be competitive until whenever he can return. If, on the other hand, the team is struggling it’s unlikely that whatever you would get from free agency would be enough to turn things around if you dropped him. I know that if I’m in a league and someone drops Leonard, I’m almost guaranteed to pick him up and stash him unless/until I hear officially that he’s done for the season.
Kyle Soppe: As frustrating as this season has been, I think you still have to burn a roster spot on him, as long as you’re not struggling in a big way. If your team is fading out of the playoff race, I’d suggest trading him for a piece that can help you now … as Leonard’s upside when healthy isn’t going to mean much if it comes after you are eliminated from postseason contention. But if you’ve managed to remain competitive with virtually no production from your first pick, I’d keep him rostered, albeit with obviously diminished expectations for at least the next month.