fBasketballBlog

Yaouch: Yao likely out for the season

by on Jul.18, 2009, under Injuries

On Friday, Yao Ming decided to have major surgery on his left foot, which most likely signals the premature end of the 2009-10 NBA season.  The surgery is similar to the one Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a while back.  Yao is slated to go under the knife next week.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise since this was the expected outcome for a while now.  There is speculation that the injury-plagued Yao, 28, may be planning an early retirement from professional basketball, especially after the purchase of his former basketball club, the Shanghai Sharks.  However, he insists that he will return to the NBA when he can.

From a fantasy perspective, this is big news.  Yao, when healthy, is easily the most valuable pure center in the league, fantasy-wise.  With centers already a rarity, fantasy leagues will likely see more reaching for centers than usual in this year’s draft.

For the Houston Rockets this news spells big trouble.  When you look at their current roster, it looks like the 6-foot-6 power forward Chuck Hayes will likely have to step in and command some major minutes in the center position, where he’ll be vastly undersized.  The 6-foot-7 Carl Landry and the 6-foot-9 Luis Scola, both forwards, will have to help out as well.

The Rockets, in anticipation of Yao’s absence, acquired the rights to Australian big man David Andersen on Wednesday.  Andersen, 29, will be helpful if only because he’s 6-foot-11.  He averaged 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds with Regal FC Barcelona during the 2008-09 season.  Those aren’t stunning numbers, and Andersen probably won’t see huge minutes right away, but at least the Rockets have someone tall to stick in at center from time to time.

Fantasy impact:

  • Hayes will see way more minutes than the 12:05 he averaged per game last season, so his production will benefit from Yao’s absence.  He’s a tough player who will get rebounds, but his small size will work against him on many nights.  Don’t lean on him too heavily.
  • Landry will see more minutes than the 21:18 he saw per game last year, so expect his numbers to increase slightly.  He’s an active player who isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and has shown that he can produce in limited playing time, but he’ll also be challenged by playing against bigger players more often.
  • Scola will see more minutes than the 30:18 per game he averaged last season and he’ll likely benefit by seeing many more touches in the post.  He also becomes the most skilled of the big men on the Rockets, which means that defenses will hone in on him a lot harder.  His value may be stagnant.  His points will likely increase, but so will his turnovers.  Also expect his field goal percentage to take a hit.
  • Andersen remains a mystery.  Give him about three to four weeks before you judge his value.  His value may rise as the season progresses.
  • Brian Cook may see more playing time as a result of Yao’s absence, but his value remains minimal at best.  He’s a shooter who won’t replace Yao’s post presence.  Still, keep an eye on his minutes and production.
  • Joey Dorsey, the second-year power forward, will see more minutes.  He averaged 0.7 points and 0.3 rebounds in 2:06 per game last season.  However, during five games in this year’s Summer League, Dorsey has averaged 9.8 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 14.8 rebounds per game.  Those numbers can’t be ignored, especially with Yao now out for an extended period of time.  Feel free to place Dorsey’s name on your list of sleepers this year.
  • Trevor Ariza‘s value now becomes a lot more of a mystery.  Yes, he’ll see plenty more minutes and shots now, but without a post player to demand attention and open up lanes and looks, Ariza appears to be a prime target for defenses to focus on.  His shooting percentages will likely be weighed down by Yao’s absence.
  • Shane Battier, who is at his offensive best when he spots up for open three-pointers, will see fewer of these opportunities with Yao gone.  Expect his offensive value, already negligible, to take a hit.
  • Rookie Chase Budinger, 6-foot-7, could see more playing time than expected this season, but should not be counted on for anything meaningful.


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