Fantasy Basketball: Russell Westbrook leads drop candidates

Los Angeles Clippers' Russell Westbrook.
Having recently suffered a fractured hand, the Los Angeles Clippers will go without Russell Westbrook and your fantasy team should follow suit by cutting him for an active player. (Photo by Ringo Chiu/Xinhua via Getty Images)

By Mike Barner, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

We’ve reached the stretch run in fantasy basketball. Some leagues have already started their playoffs, while others are on the cusp of the postseason. Injuries have piled up across the league, so some fantasy managers might be scrambling just to fill out healthy lineups. In order to add players off the waiver wire, some difficult drop discussions might need to be made.

Here are five players who it’s time to move on from in most leagues.

Marcus Smart, Memphis Grizzlies (66% rostered)

The Grizzlies had their season derailed in the early going with a rash of injuries. Smart (finger), who was one of their key offseason additions, has been limited to just 20 games. He did play well when he was on the floor, averaging 14.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.1 steals and 2.1 3-pointers per game. He was even shooting 43.0% from the field, which was on pace to be the highest mark of his career.

When the Grizzlies came out of the All-Star break, they said Smart would be re-evaluated in three weeks. The end of the season is rapidly approaching, and with the Grizzlies having nothing left to play for, they could just hold Smart out for the remainder of their schedule. Even if he does play, he would likely be limited for at least his first few games back. There’s not enough upside that comes with holding onto him at some point, so it’s time to drop him.

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers (56% rostered)

Westbrook has seen his fantasy value take a significant hit this season as he moves to a role off the bench for the Clippers. He has logged only 23 minutes per game, which is by far the lowest mark of his career. With his playing time being so drastically reduced, he has averaged a modest 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Since Westbrook has been serving as a reserve for the Clippers, he has been a borderline fantasy-relevant option in 12-team leagues. Now he has suffered a hand injury that required him to undergo surgery earlier in the week. It was reported that the hope is that he’ll be able to return for the playoffs, but that doesn’t do much good for fantasy managers. Don’t hesitate to drop him.

Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets (47% rostered)

It has been another lost season for Simmons, who has played in only 15 games. He was sidelined from the beginning of November through the end of January with a back injury, and the Nets took a cautious approach with him once he returned. Over the last nine games that he has played in, he has logged just 19 minutes per game.

Simmons has missed the last four games with another back issue, putting his status in doubt moving forward. Even if he is able to play again, the Nets will likely keep him on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season. Availability is key at this point, so Simmons simply isn’t playing enough to be worth rostering.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Los Angeles Lakers (41% rostered)

Dinwiddie was traded from the Nets to the Raptors, but never played with his new squad. After clearing waivers, he quickly latched on with the Lakers. He was a fantasy-relevant option when he was with the Nets, averaging 12.6 points, 6.0 assists and 1.9 3-pointers per game.

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Since joining the Lakers, Dinwiddie has been an afterthought off their bench. He is averaging only 24 minutes per game and has a 12.1% usage rate. That has left him with averages of 5.1 points, 3.6 assists and 0.9 3-pointers over nine games. As long as D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves are healthy, Dinwiddie won’t have a large enough role to be worth rostering in most leagues.

Gordon Hayward, Oklahoma City Thunder (30% rostered)

Hayward is another veteran who changed teams at the trade deadline. He was moved from a Hornets team that is playing for a high draft pick to a Thunder squad that has a chance at the top seed in the Western Conference. Hayward has dealt with plenty of injury issues again this season, which has contributed to him appearing in only 32 games.

It seemed a bit odd that the Thunder made a trade for Hayward, rather than try to add some size up front behind Chet Holmgren. The rest of their roster is excellent, which has contributed to Hayward being stuck with a limited role off the bench. Since joining the team, he has averaged 2.4 points and 3.3 rebounds while playing fewer than 20 minutes in all seven games. There is no reason to push him to play more minutes, and with the hope of keeping him healthy for the playoffs, Hayward is likely locked into a limited role moving forward.