Nemanja Bjelica of the Minnesota Timberwolves suffered a season-ending foot injury during Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, the team announced on Thursday. The injury adds another road block to the Timberwolves dwindling playoff hopes.
The Timberwolves have yet to disclose the specifics on the injury other than announcing that the injury is serious enough to cause him to miss the remainder of the season. The team has defeated the Warriors, Wizards, Clippers and Jazz since returning from the All Star Break. Bjelica has been a huge part of the team’s recent success.
He had earned more minutes since returning from the All Star break, averaging 24 minutes per game compared to his 17 minutes per game he averaged prior to the break. While Bjelica was never a consistent fantasy basketball option in standard 12-team leagues, his play improved after seeing increased playing time.
Bjelica has been a 43 percent field goal shooter and connected on 34 percent from beyond the three-point line since the All Star break. Prior the the break he was shooting a poor 41 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. Perhaps his biggest performance came during Monday’s big win over the Washington Wizards. He had 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes.
To this point in the season, Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau has narrowed his rotation to generally nine players. Bjelica is effectively the only big man that earns double-digit minutes outside of Towns and Dieng. At only 4.5 games out of a playoff spot, Thibodeau is going to make sure his young stars get all the run they can handle to prepare them for the future. Both Towns and Dieng will likely see an increase in playing time.
Cole Aldrich is the other big man within the Timberwolves current nine-man rotation. He currently averages 1.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game. He won’t be a fantasy option but should see minutes in the upper teens. Jordan Hill has played just four games this season, despite being healthy. The injury to Bjelica should free playing time for the veteran big man, but nothing worth noting in regards to the fantasy world.