The Los Angeles Lakers have been hit hard by injuries this season, and their 18-33 record after Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls reflects that. Pau Gasol is expected to be out until at least Feb. 19 with a groin issue, and as the league’s trade deadline approaches there will be plenty of rumors surrounding him over the next 10 days or so. Is someone in line to take advantage of Gasol’s absence, and perhaps move into a bigger role if he is traded?
Ryan Kelly only played 16 minutes against Chicago on Sunday, and he did not score (0-for-5 from the floor) along with two rebounds and one assist in the game. But he had performed well before that, averaging 13.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in the previous 12 games (10 starts) while seeing 30 minutes of action per game. The highlight of that stretch came Feb. 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when the rookie forward from Duke had a career-high 26 points (3-for-7 from three-point range) with six rebounds and a steal.
Kelly’s fantasy value will largely be dependent on his playing time, but even with his defensive shortcomings he has scoring potential that the Lakers’ remaining big men (Jordan Hill, Shawne Williams, etc.) don’t have and the team may need someone to step into a primary offensive role as the season winds down.
Owners in deep leagues that need to add front court depth or a three-point shooter can consider adding Kelly, and he is available in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues right now. I tentatively expect his value to increase from here to the end of the season, particularly if Gasol is out beyond next week or winds up being traded, so Kelly is also worth stashing and holding for owners in standard-size leagues that want to upgrade their roster depth.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.