Injuries are also opportunities

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When one door closes, another opens.

The news that Portland's star guard Brandon Roy underwent double arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday and isn't likely to return this season closes the door on his season, but is a chance for other players to shine and become "fantasy- worthy."

For the Trail Blazers, that means Wesley Matthews will likely be the starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future. It also means that Roy's 16 shot attempts per game will be divided among the remainder of the team, which should lead to an increase in scoring chances across the board.

Certainly, Matthews, who averaged 11.4 shots-per-game before December 15th (Roy's last game) is getting more chances as the starter. He's averaging 14.1 shots per game since and 17.7 ppg. He's also owned in 81-percent of all leagues, so there is a one-in-five chance that you can pick him up for just a waiver claim.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the team's most talented player still on the floor, is averaging 25.9 ppg since mid-December, well above his season average of 21.1 ppg.

Additionally, point guard Andre Miller has gotten more of an opportunity to run the offense and his assist totals are climbing. He averaged 5.4 apg in 2010 and this season that number is up to 7.3 apg.

Even small forward Nicolas Batum has increased his statistics. He is averaging 12.1 ppg since Roy's mid-December exit along with a career-high 4.7 rpg.

So the injury, while catastrophic to Roy's fantasy owners, has opened up opportunities for four other players to shine. It's helped take Aldridge from star to elite, turned Matthews and Miller into solid fantasy options and even made Batum a borderline starter.

Another example is the return of Cleveland's J.J. Hickson to fantasy relevance. Hickson started out the year on fire, averaging 16 ppg for the team's first nine game, but then fell apart. For the month of December he averaged just 8.1 ppg and 4.3 rpg and was stuck coming off the bench.

In the five games since Anderson Varejao's season-ending injury, Hickson has averaged 15.8 ppg and 10.6 rpg. That's fantasy-worthy in any league. Hickson is owned in just 69-percent of all leagues.

The moral of this story is that every time you see an injury report, think about its consequences and how it might help other players on the team become worthy of a spot on your roster and in your starting lineup.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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