Fantasy Basketball Stock Watch: All-Star Week Edition
The All-Star break provides an opportunity for both players and fantasy managers to take a break from the long grueling NBA season. This is the time for fantasy managers to asses where your fantasy basketball squad stands for the final stretch of the season. Heading into the second half of the NBA season, fantasy owners know exactly what categories are needed and which stats aren’t as needed as others. Plus, managers know how current injuries will impact the rest of the season. If you are looking to make some moves before the trade deadline, here are four players to consider acquiring, as well as four players to perhaps consider trading away.
Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers
LeVert was absolutely dominating when he was the sixth man for the Brooklyn Nets, especially because either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant received plenty of maintenance rest days. In just 28 minutes per game, LeVert was averaging 18.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.8 conversions from beyond the arc.
Since being traded to Indiana, LeVert was forced to take a physical, which revealed a cancerous mass on his kidney. He hasn’t played a single minute since. However, the mass has been removed and LeVert is finally healthy enough to take the floor in the very immediate future. Although the Pacers will likely ease him back into action, he is the most talented winger on the team. Indiana has two solid bigs in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, along with point guard Malcolm Brogdon. But the Pacers have nobody at the shooting guard or small forward position who can shoot, pass, and put up some decent defensive stats. LeVert will have absolutely no problem passing Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holliday on the depth chart. Even if the Pacers elect to keep LeVert out of the starting lineup, we’ve seen how that plays out in Brooklyn.
Take a chance and try to acquire LeVert now. It could be quite the payoff by the time the fantasy basketball playoffs begin.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
VanVleet is having his best season to date since he made his NBA debut after performing as a stud at Wake Forest. He is producing over 20 points and 3.4 three-pointers, along with 6.6 assists, 4.4 boards, and 1.4 steals per game. VanVleet is playing a ton of minutes and has a career-high 23.9 percent usage rate thus far this season. He even set the Raptors’ franchise record by scoring 54 points in a single game earlier this season.
That being said, he is in the midst of quite the shooting slump, converting just 35.5 percent of his attempts from the field over his last nine outings. Given the high volume of shots he takes (16.9 per game), he may be the reason that certain fantasy teams are punting field goal percentage.
If the owner of VanVleet in your league is frustrated with the guard’s recent struggles, now would be the perfect time to offer a trade proposal for the combo-guard. If you can afford to take a slight hit in field goal percentage, put a few feelers out there and see if he can be a welcomed addition to your squad as we enter the second half of the NBA season.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
With Kemba Walker out to begin the season, Smart was the primary point guard for the Celtics to begin the season. He was averaging just about six assists per game prior to Walker’s return. Smart has always been a solid passer and has averaged at least four assists per game in each of his previous four seasons. However, Smart suffered a calf injury at just about the same time that Walker returned to action and has not seen the floor since the end of January.
Now Smart is close to making his return and may even be back immediately following the All-Star break. He isn’t going to produce the same assist numbers with Walker back, but he can still provide top-100 value in most fantasy basketball formats. He is an elite defender, and has averaged at least 1.5 steals per game in all but one season of his career. Plus, he has no problem knocking down shots from downtown, averaging at least 1.6 threes in back-to-back seasons. Smart’s price tag is low and could be had for lowly assets. Take a chance on the Celtics’ guard.
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Devonte Graham has missed five of the past seven games for the Hornets, which has resulted in Ball and Terry Rozier taking on much more significant ball handling duties. Graham is dealing with patella discomfort, and that’s an injury Charlotte likely does not want to take any risks with. As long as he remains sidelined, Ball should continue to to play at a very high level. Since Graham has been absent from the lineup, the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft is averaging 17.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Not too shabby for a rookie.
After producing a double-double on the last day of February in which he dropped 24 points and 12 assists in 39 minutes of action, Ball dominated yet again on the first night of March. He scored 30 points, dished out eight assists, hauled in six boards and swiped four steals.
Wednesday night snapped a five-game streak in which he had scored at least 20 points. However, he was only one point shy. Since the Hornets blew the Wolves out, Ball was only asked to play 26 minutes in the contest, in which he finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Owners may be a bit hesitant to sell Ball right now, but if the price is right, jump on the potential Rookie of the Year.
Steven Adams, New Orleans Pelicans
Adams’ playing tame has taken a sharp downturn over his past 13 appearances. He has seen just 25.5 minutes per game during this stretch with mere averages of 6.3 points, 8.2 boards and 1.6 assists. At this point, he is barely even worth owning so if you can get anything for him in a trade, do not hesitate.
Adams is losing minutes to Willy Hernangomez, which is a huge surprise considering Adams signed a two-year, $35 million extension in November while Hernangomez makes just $1.7 million. It’s hard to envision Adams earning more minutes. In two games this month, Adams is averaging a lowly 2.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, failing to even record a block per game. If you can find an owner who likes Adams for the strong rebounding he did earlier this season, now would be the time to send him on his way.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
Since Brooklyn acquired their “big three,” Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant have rarely shared the floor due to injuries and personal issues. Nonetheless, Brooklyn clearly has one of the most explosive trios in the NBA. Although Irving has been playing well recently, Durant has been out for more than five straight games. Once Durant comes back, Irving’s numbers could take a significant dip, especially since Harden has become the de-facto point guard. Harden is averaging 11 assists over the previous 14 games. And once Durant comes back, Irving will likely see dips in his assist and scoring production. Now would be the perfect time to ship Irving off to a new owner. He has the skillset and name recognition to land a huge star for the second half of the season.
Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls
Over the last 17 games, Young has been a stud for Chicago, averaging 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 61.6 percent from the field. If you care about free throw percentage, Young isn’t doing you any favors, but if there is an owner in your league punting that category, now could be the perfect time to see how much Young is worth to your fellow owner.
The reason that Young has played so well as of late is because Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Otto Porter have all missed lengthy periods of time. Carter has already returned and the other two won’t be far behind them. Not to mention, the Bulls’ offense clearly runs through Zach LaVine.
Although Young has been on a hot streak, it is very unlikely that he will continue to shoot over 60 percent from the field. And once the injury bug ends in Chicago, Young will see far fewer minutes and be less involved on the offensive end of the floor. He still will probably manage to get his defensive stats, but that’s about it.
Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers
Kanter has been a great resource for the Blazers since Jusuf Nurkic went down with an injury, however, Nurkic could be returning sooner than many may think. Although Portland will ease Nurkic back into action, he is clearly the stronger option than Kanter. There is a reason that Kanter began the season as the backup.
Since Nurkic went down in Portland’s twelfth game of the season, Kanter has started 22 games for the Blazers. Over that span, the big man is playing around 30 minutes and averaging 12.5 points on 56.6 percent shooting from the field and 72.9 percent from the charity stripe. He is also chipping in 13 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.5 steals per game.
Fantasy owners who were able to pick Kanter up after Nurkic’s injury must be incredibly stoked by the journeyman’s play thus far. However, Nurkic’s return is imminent and Kanter will go back to the bench where he put up 10 points and 8.9 rebounds in just under 19 minutes per game.
The former No. 3 pick of the NBA Draft is still worth holding onto, but if you can trade him right now for someone producing similar numbers, it would be a great move considering Kanter’s numbers are about to slip after the All-Star break.