Chris Paul, the point guard for the #1-in-the-NBA with a star Phoenix Suns, has a broken thumb and will be out for the next 6-8 weeks. CP3’s (predictable?) absence will obviously cause concern for his IRL team, but the Suns aren’t the only team heading for the playoffs. Mucho fantasy basketball teams will also feel the lack of the numinous without the Point God. Chris Paul was first in assists per game this season (10.7) and he’s been the fifth-best player overall in basic fantasy basketball. How the hell do you replace such heavenly numbers?
In short, we probably don’t. There are options to add or to stream, of course, but we’re probably not going to find a player, an available player, who can replicate most of what the Point God does. We’ll have to do a patchwork of streaming or we’ll have to get lucky on a player we add for the rest of the season. Here are some suggestions for players who can hopefully help us cash some dimes, because losing Chris Paul’s volume of assists is probably your fantasy team’s #1 problemo right now.
CAM PAYNE and AARON HOLIDAY
The first two names who come to mind are the backup guards on Phoenix. Cam Payne and the recently-traded-for Aaron Holiday will inherit most of CP3’s minutes. Payne’s coming back from a wrist injury, and Holiday literally just got to Phoenix, but one of them WILL be the starting point guard. If that guy fails, the Suns will probably turn to the other one. Cam Payne has been with Phoenix, and he’s done well starting in place of Paul previously—but again, he’s coming back from an injury. Holiday, meanwhile, seems very CP3-esque: he’s a small guard who can defend well. Now, he’s not nearly as good an offensive player as Chris Paul, but Holiday could probably deliver 3-4+ APG if he’s given the minutes.
Both players are available in over 95% of ESPN leagues. Neither of their stats really matter too much for this season because their role will be so different if they’re starting for the Suns. There’s also the possibility that Phoenix just lets Devin Booker run the team as the point guard for the rest of the season, and they start another wing, like Cameron Johnson, rather than Payne or Holiday. There’s significant opportunity for volume, but there’s also significant chance to whiff on this one, since who knows what the Suns will elect to do. For what’s it’s worth, I picked up Cam Payne in my main league. He did well when Chris Paul was out last season, so I’m crossing my fingers he’ll be able to do so again this season.
Here are a few other players to consider for assists:
AYO DOSUNMU, PG/SG, CHI, 22.3% ROSTERED
Dosunmu’s value for the rest of the season depends on whether the other Bulls guards get healthy. If Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, and Lonzo Ball can’t play, then Coby White (also rostered in less than half of all leagues) and Ayo are the immediate beneficiaries. Dosunmu is 11th in APG during the month of February (9 games) at 7.4. He’s averaged 11-3-7 on 50% shooting with 1+ steal per game and 1+ 3PM this month, and that’s the kind of production and efficiency that makes you a top 50 player in fantasy, as Ayo Dosunmu has been for the past month. Ayo is a fantastic source of dimes, and an astonishingly efficient scorer for a rookie. I strongly suggest you roster Ayo for as long as possible, and he’s not a half-bad investment in dynasty leagues.
MONTE MORRIS, PG, DEN, 19.% ROSTERED
Monte Morris is having a nice February. In six games he’s averaging 12+ points per game and 5 assists per game on 53% shooting. That’s not a terrible replacement for losing Chris Paul, but you’re hoping that Morris can keep this up, rather than it just being a nice streak. He hasn’t been a top 100 player for the season despite starting, but we can’t be too picky. If Monte keeps producing 4 or 5 dimes per game, then he’s worth streaming, at least.
PATRICK BEVERLEY, PG, MIN, 17.4% ROSTERED
If PatBev is playing, he’ll give you the counting stats. So it goes. In the month of February, Mr. Beverley’s averaged 11-4-4, with 1+ SPG and 1+ BPG, and 2+ 3PM. Do you want to know what his field goal percentage is? No, you don’t! Efficiency isn’t everything, right, friends? Sometimes, all we care about is volume and counting stats. PatBev’s delivered recently. Players who can make solid all-around contributions tend to be more important later in the fantasy season, as owners try to consolidate prior to a playoff push. If your trade deadline has passed, then pick up Patrick, or at least keep him on your watch list to stream.
JUSTISE WINSLOW, SF, POR, 13.7% ROSTERED
Hey, remember Point Justise a few years ago in Miami? We may have another sighting in Portland. He’s now STARTING for the Trail Blazers, and he’s dished at least 3 dimes in five of the six games he’s played in Portland. He’s getting 30+ minutes per game, he’s scoring in double digits, he’s grabbing boards, he’s getting steals, I mean, I dunno what to tell you, other than: if you liked Justise when he had a large role on Miami, then maybe you like him in a large role in Portland? If you can combine his assists at the SF position AND get a PG replacement for Chris Paul? Portland’s front office isn’t trying to win, but the players aren’t trying to tank, so it seems like these guys may get all the minutes they can handle for the rest of the season. Point Justise was hella valuable in fantasy once. Can he be again?
RAUL NETO, PG, WAS, 2.8% ROSTERED
This is purely an opportunity play. Neto is now THE starting point guard for the Washington Wizards. He’s averaged 4+ APG recently, and 1+ SPG, along with double-digit points. It’s not sexy, but we’re getting desperate here at the tail end of the fantasy season. If you’re desperate for dimes, keep Neto on your streaming radar, and play as needed.