Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 17
Everyone told us to expect a quiet trade deadline in the NBA this year. "Most of the big deals have already been done," they said. "Sure, there's plenty of smoke, but I doubt there's a whole lot of fire," they contested.
Instead, we had one of the absolute craziest deadlines in the history of the Association. Approximately 8% of the active players in the league got traded in one day; that's 37 players changing addresses all at once.
In the words of Dante Hicks from Kevin Smith's Clerks: "37!?"
Last week, we speculated about who was on the move and which fantasy moves would be smart to make in anticipation. Hopefully you managed to buy Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Reggie Jackson, and Rudy Gobert as we suggested because those were arguably the biggest beneficiaries from the flurry of activity that went down last Thursday. We won't repeat any of that here, but if the opportunity still exists, aggressively buy all four of those guys right away before their owners get wise to just how favorable their new circumstances are.
Of course, we couldn't predict every move that was going to happen last week, so there's still plenty of fantasy fallout left to discuss. Some of the guys mentioned below might've been swooped up quickly in your league late last week during all the breaking news, but it's important to check and make sure. It was hard to follow at the time and the dust is only now settling on the whole thing.
Furthermore, there have been a few other developments in the four short days since NBA action resumed, so we'll look at some of those injury- and rotation-based changes as well.
Read on for all the details.
Sell Brandon Knight / Michael Carter-Williams
Despite the fact that Brandon Knight was a near All-Star as the points (17.8), assists (5.4), and steals (1.6) leader for the surprisingly effective Milwaukee Bucks this season and Michael Carter-Williams was last year's Rookie of the Year for the Philadelphia 76ers, both teams decided to ship their centerpiece point guards out on deadline day. Knight's 26.8% usage rate will almost certainly go down as he adjusts to playing more off the ball in a two-point-guard lineup with Eric Bledsoe, while MCW's gaudy stat lines will probably take a hit playing and sharing the ball with more NBA-ready players in Milwaukee than he played with in Philly. Knight should maintain decent value but with a volume hit that should drop him down a couple rounds. MCW will be very hard to own if his inefficiencies continue (38.0% shooting from the field, 64.3% from the line, 4.2 turnovers per game) and his popcorn stats drop off (15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals). Both are priority sells if you can still offload them at their current value.
Add Isaiah Canaan
Other than shipping out Carter-Williams on deadline day, the 76ers also acquired second-year point guard Isaiah Canaan from the Houston Rockets in a separate deal. Canaan started his first game with the Sixers on Sunday and posted 14 points, 4 triples, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block in 29 minutes of action. He should have no trouble holding down the starting job on this lottery-ball chasing Philly team and his averages of 12.6 points, 2.7 three-pointers, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game through nine starts for the Rockets this year make it clear that he's worth owning from here on out in standard leagues -- particularly for owners hunting production in threes.
Add Alex Len
Alex Len has been a top-75 fantasy asset in nine-category leagues since entering the starting lineup for the Phoenix Sun in mid-December on the strength of 7.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in only 23.4 minutes per game to go with 56.2% shooting from the field. Another aspect of the Brandon Knight deal for Phoenix was that they offloaded Miles Plumlee to the Bucks, so Len's playing time has opened up considerably with the move. In Len's two games since the deadline, he played a very healthy 34.7 minutes per contest, while averaging 9.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per contest. If he's available in your league, get him immediately before his 35% ownership rate on Yahoo skyrockets.
Add Langston Galloway
The Knicks didn't make a big splash on deadline day, but they waived Amar'e Stoudemire and announced Carmelo Anthony's rest-of-season shutdown due to knee surgery just before it. Looking for a clear fantasy winner from the leftovers on New York's roster is a bit of a disgusting undertaking, so we'll just go ahead and reiterate that Langston Galloway is worth owning and even more so with all the latest news out of Knickland. Galloway has played 37.4 minutes per over the Knicks' two games since the All-Star break, averaging 16.0 points, 2.0 triples, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.0 turnovers, while shooting 42.9% from the field. That makes him the most valuable Knick in nine-category leagues over that span, so he's the guy on that roster to own for the time being (for whatever that's worth). He's still 75% available in Yahoo leagues, so don't sleep on his filling the "well, someone has to put up numbers" role in New York for the rest of the season.
Buy Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng has started only 38 of his 54 games played this season, averaging a pretty middle-of-the-road 28.9 minutes per contest in the process. Despite the unclear path to playing time, Dieng still comes in as the 51st-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season for the subtle-but-solid line of 9.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.7 blocks per contest with a shooting split of 49.5% from the floor and 78.1% from the line. Thaddeus Young was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for an over-the-hill Kevin Garnett on deadline day, which should clear more playing time for Dieng going forward. KG is well past his prime and played only 20.3 minutes per contest in his 42 games played for Brooklyn this season (compared to Thad's 33.4). Anthony Bennett may have started in Thad's place for the Wolves in the first game after the All-Star break, but he's sidelined for the next two weeks with an ankle issue and probably wouldn't have stuck there anyway. Combine those two factors with Nikola Pekovic's injury proneness, and Dieng should have his path to playing time clear more often than not for the rest of this season. Buy in and you won't be disappointed.
Drop D.J. Augustin / Arron Afflalo
D.J. Augustin was enjoying a nice little resurgence since the end of January, when he took over as the starting point guard for the Detroit Pistons, and Arron Afflalo has been a solid (albeit late-round) asset in fantasy leagues for the last several years. Both players had their fantasy value killed on deadline day, however, when they were shipped off into backup roles. As long as Augustin is backing up Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and Afflalo is spelling Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum in Portland, neither will be worth owning in standard leagues. Feel free to cut your losses on both those deals and move on to a hot free agent.
Buy Wilson Chandler / Add Danilo Gallinari
As part of the Afflalo deal, both Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari should see a fantasy boost playing for the Nuggets. Chandler looked like a likely candidate to get moved at the trade deadline, so I admit that my advice to sell him last week is now outdated with his staying in Denver. His top-100 value in nine-category leagues now looks safer than ever and he might even absorb some of Afflalo's possessions for even more upside. Gallinari, on the other hand, has been inconsistent all season but has moved into the Nuggets' starting lineup in the spot left by Afflalo. In the two games he's played since then, he's put up a serviceable 13.0 points, 2.5 triples, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and only 1.0 turnover per contest. The inconsistency is likely to continue to an extent, and Gallo's health will always be in question, but his 45% ownership on Yahoo should see a boost going forward if he continues to put up numbers close to what he has in his last couple games.
Buy/Add Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter, as a fantasy player, has only ever been good for points, rebounds, and field goal percentage and not a whole lot else. The move to OKC doesn't really make him any less one-dimensional, but the injury to Steven Adams has opened up a clear starting spot for the Turkish big man for the time being, and he's certainly capitalized through his first two games with the Thunder. In those two contests, he's averaged 15.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 turnover per game, while shooting 57.1% from the floor. The complete and utter lack of defensive numbers persists with the Thunder (1 steal, 0 blocks in those two games) like it did in Utah (0.5 steals and 0.3 blocks per game on the season), and that will continue to hamper his fantasy value. Even so, he should be owned in standard leagues for as long as Adams is sidelined and perhaps beyond if he manages to hold the starting job.
Add Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk is drawing close to a return from an ankle injury, and he's coming back to a situation in which he should be able to recapture a starting job (which he hasn't had since November) due to Jared Sullinger's season-ending foot injury. In the 13 games he started for the Celtics during the first month of the season, he was a mid-round value on the strength of 11.2 points, 1.1 three-pointers, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.5 blocks per game to go with 51.9% shooting from the field and 76.9% from the charity stripe. If you're wondering about the other bigs in Boston, Tyler Zeller should maintain a starting job for the rest of the season, but Olynyk has higher fantasy upside because of his threes and steals. Meanwhile, Brandon Bass should move back to the bench and lose value outside of the deepest leagues when Olynyk returns. All told, Olynyk is the best play of the three and he's a priority stash with the chance he plays this weekend.
Add Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones looked like a pretty obvious drop candidate only two weeks ago, considering how well both Donatas Motiejunas and Josh Smith were playing when he returned from a leg injury that kept him sidelined for 41 games. The possibly extended absence of Dwight Howard, however, might make Jones a more viable fantasy option as all three of Motiejunas, Smith, and Jones share frontcourt minutes until Dwight's return. In his first two games since the All-Star break, Jones has posted mid-round value, averaging 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks in 26.6 minutes per contest. He might not have the top-30 upside he displayed before his injury -- when Houston's frontcourt situation was less muddy -- but he looks capable of continuing to put up standard league value, despite the logjam at his position.
Add Rodney Stuckey
Rodney Stuckey is a streaky player, and he might not be worth owning in standard-sized fantasy leagues by this time next week, but for now it's impossible to deny the temptation to add the first-round value (that's right) he's posted over his last five games. During that span, Stuckey has averaged 21.8 points, 1.6 triples, 2.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 turnover per game, while shooting a blazing 60.3% from the field and 95.0% from the line. Regression is all but certain to rear its ugly head before long, and Stuckey will more than likely sink back down to the borderline late-round value he was posting on the season as a whole before too long: especially when you consider how much closer the Pacers are getting to full strength, health-wise. Regardless, he's a must-add player until we see where this goes. He's only 40% owned in Yahoo leagues, so take a look on your waiver wire if you need a temporary boost in scoring and a sprinkling of other goodies across the board.
Add Jerryd Bayless
Michael Carter-Williams has been sidelined with a sprained toe since earlier this month, so he has yet to suit up for his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks. In the interim, Jerryd Bayless has assumed the role of starting point guard and will likely be there again tonight as the Bucks take on the Chicago Bulls. This is far from being a long-term add recommendation, but Bayless has been serviceable over his last two games in that role, averaging 12.0 points, 1.0 three, 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.5 turnovers per contest while shooting 50.0% from the floor (top-50 value in nine-category leagues). He'll be droppable the second MCW gets back, but for now Bayless is a solid plug-and-play option during the Bucks' four-game week.