Fantasy Focus: Time To Trade
It’s that crazy time of year again. As the February 21st NBA trade deadline draws closer, speculations and rumors involving nearly every team are heating up. And that’s an understatement. Entertaining though it may be, fans tend to get anxious about their own team and the future of their favored players. Likewise, fantasy basketball owners are having their own type of anxiety as they anticipate what certain trades will mean to their success.
With this event looming – and knowing trades can have an unwanted effect on fantasy teams – we encourage owners to take stock of their players right now. While trade scenarios are being discussed by a multitude of sources, keep in mind that only a small percentage of trades will actually occur. Nevertheless, owners should look at those trades that may have legs and other factors such as which players may have peaked, which players may see reduced playing time and which players have been adversely affected due to the return of an injured teammate.
The season is halfway over, and the playoffs will be here before you know it. Now is the time to make sure your roster contains the best players available to take you past each round in your journey toward the championship matchup.
HOOPSWORLD compiled a list of players that we believe may be headed for, or have already suffered, a permanent dip in fantasy numbers. Whether it’s a roster change due to a trade situation or other reasons, it may compromise your fantasy success as the end of the season comes into focus. Considering all the dynamics, who should you try to trade?
J.J. REDICK (Orlando Magic)
Redick’s expiring $6.2 million contract is quite valuable to teams wanting a deal and looking to upgrade down the stretch; most recently, speculation has centered on the Boston Celtics making a run at the sharpshooter. He’s presently leading his team in three-pointers made (2.3 at .398 percentage), with an impressive .901 at the foul line and .458 in field goal shooting. In a new team situation, Redick may maintain such solid shooting percentages, but he doesn’t figure to log 31.4 minutes per game as he’s enjoyed in Orlando this year. This means his current three-pointers and his career-high 14.9 points and 4.4 assists may take a dive.
ROY HIBBERT (Indiana Pacers)
For whatever reason, Hibbert’s game took a real step back this season. With the exception of blocks, he’s recording lower numbers in each meaningful fantasy category over last years’ numbers. He’s averaging 9.8 points and 8.2 rebounds compared to 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds last season, though blocks are 2.7 vs. 2.0. Hibbert’s playing time is steadily decreasing with each passing month as well. However, his shooting has been more efficient in the past few games, making his stock at the highest level now, so a lucrative trade right now makes sense.
JASON KIDD (New York Knicks)
Kidd’s name alone still attracts fantasy owners, but there are so many better options for his position. True, he’s an asset on a real-world team; not so much in the world of fantasy basketball. Things are about to worsen with the return of point guard Raymond Felton, and that’s not just our opinion. Knicks coach Mike Woodson admitted once Felton gets his legs back, Kidd will return to the bench as he monitors his minutes in the coming months. Obviously, decreased minutes means decreased production. At first glance, Kidd appears to contribute well in three-point shooting (a season average of 2.0 per game at .411), but over the past seven games, he’s averaged just 1.1 at .251 shooting. Is he wearing down some? What about his ailing back? In other areas, Kidd gives serviceable numbers: 8.2 points, 3.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds, and his 1.9 steals are noteworthy. Consider a trade proposal now to fellow owners still seduced by his name.
ANDREA BARGNANI (Toronto Raptors)
If you are among the 52% of Yahoo! Sports owners still holding on to Bargnani, make your move now. Reports have him returning soon, so your prospective trade partner may delight in thinking they’ve pulled one over on you. While Bargnani’s name is connected to many a trade speculation, teams aren’t exactly banging down the door to nab that pricey contract. He’ll likely stay put with continued regression and nagging injury questions aplenty. Plus the rise of double-digit teammate Ed Davis is worrisome.
CHRIS KAMAN (Dallas Mavericks)
Kaman’s role has taken a decided downward turn. In the first 36 games, he played around 24 minutes per game, yet in the past five games he’s averaged 17.2 minutes. In the last game against the San Antonio Spurs, Kaman played just 12 minutes and was even replaced in the starting lineup by Elton Brand. This is a trend that may continue with Brand being a better fit when Dirk Nowitzki is on the floor. In fact, Brand has become the recipient of Kaman’s recent lost minutes and he’s performed well. Rookie Bernard James may begin stealing minutes as well.
JARED DUDLEY (Phoenix Suns)
Speaking of trends, Dudley’s playing time has been reduced to an average of 27 minutes in three games under new Suns coach Lindsey Hunter. Compare that to nearly 30 minutes in the first 39 games of the season, or even 37 minutes in the past 18 games. In the first two games with Hunter at the helm, Dudley scored 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists vs. 15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists. It appears Hunter is testing P.J. Tucker with Dudley’s minutes. Tucker didn’t exactly light up the boards (averaged five points, three rebounds, one assist with two steals). Though Dudley scored 23 points at 34 minutes in the third game, it may be an unstable situation going forward.
MARCUS THORNTON (Sacramento Kings)
Thornton was a solid fantasy bet based on last seasons’ numbers (18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 three-pointers, 1.9 assists 1.4 steals) at 34.9 average minutes. However, his numbers of late have been all over the place; playing 24.2 minutes this season is quite a drop. Instead he’s posting 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.8 threes and 0.9 steals.
JAVALE MCGEE (Denver Nuggets)
McGee didn’t make a jump this year as anticipated. The reserve player’s numbers are virtually the same this season (10.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) as last season (10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks) except for his playing time: it’s around two minutes less per game (20.6 to 18.8). In the past four games, it’s dropped even further to 15.2 minutes and just 3.0 rebounds. Nuggets coach George Karl speaks frequently about McGee having to earn minutes and how there’s no entitlement, and he means it. McGee still has potential, but it won’t be realized this season.
KRIS HUMPHRIES (Brooklyn Nets)
Yahoo! Sports shows 54% ownership of the plummeting Humphries. His situation doesn’t figure to improve. Check last years’ stats: 13.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 34.9 minutes. And now this season: 6.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 21.2 minutes. Ouch. That’s probably not what the Nets anticipated when securing his $24 million two-year contract last year. In the past three games, he played just 17 minutes posting 2.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
JASON TERRY (Boston Celtics)
Hopes were high for Terry in Boston, but he’s not doing much for fantasy owners. Averages of 9.8 points, 2.2 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 in threes in nearly 28 minutes don’t help fantasy squads much. In fact, in the past five games, he’s logged 6.2 points and 1.0 in three-pointers. With Terry’s name mentioned in trade talks, it’s time to talk trade in your league too.
RICKY RUBIO (Minnesota Timberwolves)
It’s plain to see why fantasy owners are interested in Rubio with his averages of 10.6 points and 8.2 assists last season. Since his return this year (16 games in total), those numbers have decreased to 4.8 points and 5.3 assists, plus his playing time is much lower. His shooting percentages are down across the board and he doesn’t have a three game. His name is still very attractive though in fantasy play, so take advantage now.
Rumors surrounding big names (like Rudy Gay, Josh Smith, Pau Gasol and Al Jefferson) will run rampant until the bitter end of the trade deadline. These players are of such caliber that a trade certainly wouldn’t spell the end of their fantasy value. Just keep your eye on the situation.