Gary Neal only started 25 games over his three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, but he was a prominent player off the bench, averaging at least 9.5 points and 21 minutes per game in all three campaigns. He signed a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in July, and joined a crowded backcourt with fellow new acquistions O.J. Mayo, Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour.
But with Knight aggravating a hamstring injury early in the game, Neal played 32 minutes in Wednesday night’s season opener against the New York Knicks and scored 16 points (2-for-5 on three-pointers) with five assists and two rebounds. With Knight and Ridnour (back) declared out, Neal will start at point guard for the Bucks in Friday night’s game against the Boston Celtics and presumably see significant minutes for at least one more game. Should fantasy basketball owners now have him on their radar?
Neal has been a productive three-pointer shooter during his career (39.8 percent), and in 17 starts for the Spurs last season his production increased slightly (10.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game) over his season as a whole (9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game). So a bigger role could yield solid production for fantasy owners, as long as Neal sees consistent playing time.
It’s unclear when Knight and/or Ridnour will return to action, but it’s not a stretch to say Neal is a superior player to Ridnour and should not have much trouble earning significant minutes when all things are equal. For now Neal is not much more than a solid streaming option in one-day fantasy games for Friday night, but he is someone to keep an eye on if Knight and Ridnour continue to miss games.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.