Welcome to Outrageous Claims, where the Damn Lies writers examine players that fantasy basketball owners might want to add to their teams. If you agree or disagree, or just want to vent, leave a message in the comments.
Gary Neal (SG, SAS)
Fantasy owners got booted in the groin on Monday when Manu Ginobili went down with a broken hand. Ginobili was playing fantastic basketball to start the year, which makes the injury doubly crushing. He’ll miss at least a month. Into the void steps… James Anderson? Not so fast. The Spurs have Gary Neal waiting in the wings, playing in the NBDL while recovering from an appendectomy. He’s back with the big club, and looking like the guy to own in the short term. Neal’s per-36 stats last year were solid: 16.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.8 3FG. He won’t do much in the defensive categories, but he can help replace a decent chunk of what Ginobili was producing. Certainly Anderson should be monitored as well. He’s been averaging 21.4 minutes per game in the early going and he’ll likely get the first crack at stepping up. But the smart money is on Neal, who was a legit weapon last year as a rookie off the bench for the Spurs.
Jeff’s Claim: Neal takes a game or two to get going, but he’ll stake his claim to the starting two-guard spot by the end of the week and justify you picking him up as a Ginobili replacement.