From Deep: Add, hold, cut for the fantasy basketball playoffs

The three-ball has become arguably the staple of scoring in the NBA — so we figured we'd take some shots from way downtown, too. Here, fantasy basketball analyst Dan Titus will break down the three things fantasy managers need to know. Or, he'll break down multiple three-point pieces of advice, analysis and more — it just depends on how open he is From Deep.

Injuries are running rampant throughout the NBA, so today, I'll give three holds, drops and adds based on the recent wave of maladies impacting fantasy basketball.

Three players to hold during fantasy playoffs

Evan Mobley - PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers

Based on the initial reporting from NBA insider Shams Charania, fantasy managers braced for an extended absence for Mobley. However, we can breathe a sigh of relief after the Cavs said he'll be re-evaluated in one week after spraining his ankle in Tuesday's win over the Celtics. He left the arena on crutches, but with a clean MRI revealing a sprain, I'd hold onto Mobley if you can afford to.

The exact scenarios where I'd hold him would be if your playoffs have yet to start or you have a bye week coming up. I expect to see him back on the floor by Week 22 at the earliest but given how he played (top 15 over the last 30 days) and Cleveland's spot in the Eastern playoffs race, keep him stashed in IL if you can.

Walker Kessler - C, Utah Jazz

The second-year center has been dealing with a foot injury that's kept him out for four straight games, so there's cause for concern. However, similar to Mobley, I would hold if your playoffs haven't started yet or you have a playoff spot solidified. The Jazz have lost eight of their last 10 games and are 5.5 games back on the Lakers for the 10th seed in the West. With a minimal shot at the Play-In Tournament, there's no incentive to play veterans like John Collins in the finals weeks of the season.

The Jazz have yet to indicate anything other than a day-to-day injury, and with only one game remaining this week, we could see Kessler emerge by Week 20. Even in a bench role, he's still one of the best shot-blockers in the league and would be a threat for a double-double in an increased role.

Scoot Henderson - PG, Portland Trail Blazers

He's down to 47% rostered in Yahoo leagues, but the third pick of the 2023 NBA Draft could return as early as this weekend. Henderson is a player I've been eyeing as a stash candidate for some time, and just as he looked to be finding his way in February, he got hurt.

Now that he's on the mend, he'll be re-joining a Trail Blazers team that's down bad, especially at point guard. Malcolm Brogdon (elbow) has no timetable for his return, and they've been starting Delano Banton. In points leagues especially, I'm anticipating Henderson to make a productive run to close out the season, as he and Anfernee Simons will be getting a ton of usage and opportunity with Deandre Ayton (hand) and Jerami Grant (quad) out with their respective injuries, too.

Three players to drop for the fantasy playoffs

Julius Randle - PF/C, New York Knicks

The Knicks are better than any team at keeping injuries close to the vest, and there has yet to be much of an update on Randle's dislocated shoulder. Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau initially gave a rough timeline of the end of March, but recently provided a positive development, saying that Randle began taking light contact in practice with pads. However, there's been no firm timetable for his return, and since he's not playing with players, it sounds like he's still a ways away.

The Knicks can't afford to rush Randle back as he will likely be playing through some discomfort after electing to bypass surgery for rehab and a chance to play later in the season. It doesn't make sense to have him return before the playoffs.

So, at this point, I'm not trusting that Randle will make it back in time to help fantasy managers, so I'd move on and expect Precious Achiuwa and Isaiah Hartenstein to carry the load in the frontcourt so Randle will have more time to play when it matters most.

Joel Embiid - C, Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers are treading water right now, but like the Knicks situation, bringing back the reigning MVP too early could risk further damage in the long term. There's a distinct chance the Sixers slide to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, which would put them in the Play-In Tournament, but a lot of things can happen in the meantime to alter who finishes where by the end of the season. In terms of fantasy, Embiid looks like Julius Randle, a late-March return that will likely mix in some rest days with a minutes restriction. While there is undoubtedly a sense of urgency in Philly to win and secure a playoff berth, having Joel Embiid as close to 100% for the playoffs is the priority. If it's not, that organization needs to reassess its goals and aspirations.

LaMelo Ball - PG/SG, Charlotte Hornets

Hornets HC Steve Clifford said that LaMelo is progressing but is still without a timetable for his return. If there's one thing fantasy managers have learned this season, it's not to trust anything related to the Hornets' injury reporting. The Hornets' decision to trade for Tre Mann and Vasilije Micić gave them plenty of insurance for Ball's absence and opened up some playing time to assess other guards who could be rotational players in the future.

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The Hornets have the fourth-worst record in the league, so bringing back Ball, who's had numerous ankle injuries this season, is pointless. Mark Williams isn't coming back either, so cut your losses and look for Mann and Micić to carry the point guard duties the rest of the way.

Three players to add based off recent injuries

Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (30% rostered)

Timberwolves F/C Karl-Anthony Towns will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is out indefinitely. Some might remember Slo-Mo’s success with Karl-Anthony Towns off the floor last season, finishing as the 66th-ranked player in nine-category formats from Nov. 30-March 20. He hasn’t been as good this year, but with a boost in minutes, he’s more than capable of putting up a 9/5/5 with a couple stocks for the foreseeable future. Make him a priority in category leagues over points leagues with KAT likely out for the remainder of the regular season.

Gary Trent Jr., PG/SG, Toronto Raptors (45% rostered)

Scottie Barnes (hand) and Jakob Poeltl (hand) are both out indefinitely, and recently acquired Ochai Agbaji is also dealing with knee soreness. Trent Jr.'s scoring is needed, and while he's generally a streaky shooter, he's been making enough 3s and swiping enough steals to be streamed. He's averaged over 30 minutes a night across the previous eight games, and with some increased volume coming his way, he's a player to add.

Duop Reath - C, Portland Trail Blazers (30% rostered)

As stated earlier, Ayton is dealing with a hand injury, and while he's listed as day-to-day, I doubt we'll see much more of him as the season wears on. Reath's been playing outstanding, scoring in double digits in his last four games sans Ayton, averaging 18 points with five boards and 1.5 blocks over that span. Silly season is here, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Reath as a league-winning type of player. At under 30% rostered, he should be a player to target for the rest of Week 19 and beyond.