Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 18
The real NBA trade deadline passed over a week ago and now we're into the period when most fantasy hoops leagues hold theirs. We've accumulated a lot of buy and sell advice throughout the last several instalments of this series that continues to ring true, so cycle through them in the "Recommended For You" section if you want even more ideas of deals you could construct.
The fantasy playoffs are only a few weeks away for those of you who play in head-to-head leagues, so take advantage of your last opportunity to get your team just right for a deep playoff run.
Note: "A Dozen Dimes" will continue until the end of the NBA's regular season, but it will become more or a waiver wire column from here on out, seeing as how the majority of readers can't "buy and sell" anymore after this week.
Buy Giannis Antetokounmpo
Since the All-Star break, Giannis Antetokounmpo has struggled. The Greek Freak has averaged a fairly respectable 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 block per contest over his last six, but has shot a measly 36.1% from the floor, while turning the ball over 2.5 times per game. Those numbers only put him on the cusp of standard league value, but he showed that he has early-round upside in the 10 games he played before the break. During that period, he averaged 14.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers per game, while shooting 56.7% from the field and 77.6% from the line. We'll chalk his recent struggles up to his being heavily involved in All-Star weekend and trust that he's in for some big numbers as the season winds down. He'll be a big key to the Bucks success as they ramp up into the playoffs, so you can use his current cold patch to buy low and hope for more of that latter line going forward.
Add Aaron Brooks
The Bulls received some good news when they found out that they hadn't lost Derrick Rose for yet another season, but instead could potentially get him back just in time for the playoffs. Even so, his fantasy season is all but done and he can safely be dropped. In the meantime, Aaron Brooks has taken over as the starting point guard for Chicago and Kirk Hinrich is spelling him off the bench. Neither point guard has played well enough to deserve standard league ownership just yet, but Brooks should be picked up simply for his clear path to value as the starter. In the last three games that he's taken Rose's place, Brooks has averaged 10.7 points, 1.7 triples, 1.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steal, and a mere 1.0 turnover in a healthy 30.1 minutes per contest, but has shot an abysmal 25.0% from the field and 50.0% from the free throw line. If the efficiency equalizes (and it should), Brooks should certainly prove to be worth higher than 35% ownership in Yahoo leagues before long.
Add Ray McCallum
Like Aaron Brooks, Ray McCallum is suddenly fantasy relevant because the player ahead of him on the depth chart went down with an injury. In McCallum's case, it's Darren Collison who is likely to miss the rest of the season (with a hip issue), so McCallum jumps on fantasy radars by default for having a starter's complement of minutes on a team desperate for production. In the five games that McCallum has started for the Kings, he's been the 100th-ranked player in nine-category leagues for averages of 12.0 points, 0.6 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting a very respectable 49.0% from the field and 87.5% from the charity stripe. He will have his ups and downs, but his 7% ownership on Yahoo should start climbing if he keeps putting up 20-point games like he did this past Friday from time to time. If you need a point guard and those kind of numbers appeal to you, don't sleep on him.
Buy Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry recently described his game of late as "trash" in a media scrum and it's hard to argue with him. In the five games he's played since the All-Star break, Lowry has posted 331st-ranked value in nine-category leagues (ouch), with averages of 11.6 points, 0.8 triples, 2.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.6 steals, and 2.6 turnovers per game, while shooting a disgusting 29.7% from the field and 76.2% from the free throw line - all numbers that are significantly below his regular season marks. He got Sunday's game against the Knicks off for rest and he'll sit against the Sixers tonight as well, giving you as good of a buy-low window as you're likely ever going to get. Five games does not make a man and Lowry's far too competitive to fall too far from the numbers that have made him a top-50 fantasy value for four of the last five seasons. After a busy All-Star break, this two-game vacation should do him a world of good and get him back on track to help your fantasy team down the stretch.
Add James Johnson
While we're talking Raptors, it's important to reiterate that James Johnson deserves higher than 30% ownership, as he currently has in Yahoo leagues. We mentioned him as an add a few weeks ago going into All-Star break - when he took over as Toronto's starting small forward - but a couple of low scoring efforts have managed to keep him off people's radars. Even so, he's been the 20th-ranked player in nine-category leagues since becoming a starter (not a typo) and there seems to be little chance that Terrence Ross or Greivis Vasquez earn the spot that was previously theirs back at any point in the near future. If you can deal with the scoring fluctuations, Johnson's line of 12.4 points, 0.4 threes, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.3 steals, 1.8 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 67.7% shooting from the field, and 75.0% from the line is well worth owning going forward, particularly if you're in need of a boost in defensive stats.
Drop Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo's time in Dallas has been rocky, to say the least. Apart from getting in a big fight with his coach and getting suspended by the Mavericks for a game last week, his play has been nothing close to the level that once earned him four All-Star nods. As a Maverick, Rondo has been the 255th-ranked fantasy player in nine-category leagues for averages of 8.9 points, 0.5 three-pointers, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 3.0 turnovers, 40.8% shooting from the floor, and a ridiculously pathetic 28.0% from the line. The boards, assists, and steals are nice and all, but the percentages and turnovers make him more of a headache to own than anything else. He's been the 385th-ranked player in the five games since the All-Star break and it's becoming harder and harder to understand why he's still 90% owned in Yahoo leagues.
Sell Tim Duncan
With most fantasy trade deadlines looming, this is just a friendly reminder that trading Tim Duncan for something close to equal value is always the right move at this time of year. Yes, the Spurs are not as secure in their playoff seeding as they've been in recent years, but you have to expect that coach Gregg Popovich will still rest the Big Fundamental a few times down the stretch to keep him fresh for the postseason. Considering those random DNP-Olds always tend to fall in crucial fantasy playoff matchups, you're better off ridding yourself of that headache while you still can. Duncan's line of 14.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.8 blocks, 1.9 turnovers, 49.6% shooting from the field, and 72.4% from the free throw line is worth 29th-ranked value in nine-category leagues - an unreal accomplishment at age 38 - but trading for something of close to or slightly less value will help you sleep better at night, trust me.
Add Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Saturday's 5-point dud notwithstanding, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been an early-round value over his last six games with averages of 17.2 points, a blazing 3.2 triples, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, and a mere 1.0 turnover per contest, to go with 44.7% shooting from the field and 72.7% from the line. He's been a bit up and down all season long (only 140th-ranked in nine-category leagues on the season), but he'll always be worth owning when he's on a hot streak, since he's completely locked in to get 30-plus minutes per game as a Pistons starter and one of coach Stan Van Gundy's personal favorites.
Buy Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris has been the 75th-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season through 60 games, with averages of 15.1 points, 0.8 triples, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 46.2% from the field and 74.8% from the line. It seemed like all the trades the Suns made at the deadline would give guys like 'Kieff even more touches going forward, but Morris hasn't responded well since that time, shooting only 41.2% from the field and 60.9% from the line (which has only translated to 130th-ranked value during that span). The rest of his numbers have pretty much been in line with his season averages, however, so expect his value to shoot back up once his shooting woes get sorted out. He's a good buy low target with early-round upside to go after at your trade deadline.
Buy/Add Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley has quietly been a fantasy stud for the past month, coming in as the 30th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over his last 12 games with averages of 17.8 points, 1.9 three-pointers, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and a mere 1.2 turnovers per contest, with a shooting split of 45.8% from the floor and 72.7% from the line. One would think that the Celtics' trading for Isaiah Thomas at the deadline would've hurt Bradley's value, but he's been even better since then with averages of 19.0 points, 2.0 triples, 2.7 steals, and a bunch of other goodies in a perfectly healthy 35.4 minutes per game (good for 17th-ranked value over that span). He's only owned in 70% of Yahoo leagues, so he's out there for the taking in a lot of places, despite proving recently that he's a must-own player. If you can't simply add Bradley, it's worth checking to see if his owner is afraid of Thomas hurting his value going forward and try to buy him on the cheap at your trade deadline.
Add Will Barton
Personally, I want nothing to do with the dumpster fire that is the Denver Nuggets' rotation in fantasy hoops. Coach Brian Shaw is jiggering with his starting lineup on a nightly basis and there isn't really a single player on the roster with a clear and simple path to solid value. That said, Will Barton has been a surprising early-round value in nine-category leagues since coming over in the Arron Afflalo trade, so he's certainly worth a speculative add to see if he can sustain it. He hasn't started a single game for the Nuggets, but he's still playing a healthy 27.8 minutes per contest, with averages of 16.6 points, 1.4 threes, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, and only 1.2 turnovers, while shooting 49.2% from the field and 85.7% from the line. There's absolutely no guarantee that he'll keep this up, but there's nothing wrong with giving him a shot in standard leagues until we find out if he can.
Add Alexis Ajinca / Nikola Mirotic
There are a whole host of generally inconsistent players flirting with fantasy value right now, but I simply don't trust any of them enough to whole-heartedly tell you to run out and grab them in this space. If you feel inclined to give guys like Jeremy Lin, Andrea Bargnani, and Ersan Ilyasova a run, I certainly don't blame you; I've just been burned far too many times to go down that road again. I'm much more inclined to give temporary fliers like Alexis Ajinca a go while Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson are on the shelf and then just cut bait when they return or the next hot free agent comes along. Ajinca's averaged 15.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 22.5 minutes per contest off the bench over the last four the Pelicans have been without that duo, while shooting a ridiculous 70.6% from the field and 85.7% from the line (good for 23rd-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span). Similarly, Nikola Mirotic should have the chance to build on his 29-point, 9-rebound, 1-block performance from last game with Taj Gibson sidelined for at least a week with a bum ankle. Pick either temporary add and roll them out there until their teams get healthier.