Fantasy Basketball Trade Analyzer: Deals to consider before the default deadline
By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Players have come out of the NBA All-Star break fresh, leading to one of the wildest weeks of the NBA season. Damian Lillard goes for 71 points, the Lakers come back from 27 points down, the Bucks win 14 straight, the Clippers are part of two overtime thrillers, and much more.
However, we were also hit with two major injuries. LeBron James is expected to be shut down for multiple weeks with a foot injury suffered Sunday, and LaMelo Ball's season is over after he fractured his ankle Monday.
This isn't a fantasy waiver wire column, but Dennis Smith needs to be rostered from Charlotte, and Rui Hachimura gets a boost in LA. You can try to swing a trade for guys like Terry Rozier, D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis, but their managers know the boost is coming and likely won't make a deal. Some AD managers may budge, given injury concerns, but that's always been the case.
If you want to make a deal, you'll need to do so soon — Yahoo's trade deadline is this Thursday, March 2. So, evaluate your roster to find your needs, and see which managers have something worthwhile.
At this point in the season, the best players to target are key pieces in stable situations (teams gunning for the playoffs) and speculative pieces on unstable teams (potential tankers). This strategy pays off more the longer your league lasts. If your league ends on the last day of the NBA season, those types of players become extremely valuable since the phantom injuries usually start popping up in April.
Trade Away: Jakob Poeltl, Raptors
It was shocking when the Raptors traded for Poeltl, as it was assumed the center would head to a contender and be a high-minute reserve. Admittedly, we fantasy analysts who advised trading Poeltl away were wrong.
The 27-year-old has completely changed the Raptors' lineup optionality, as he allows a team that previously ran small to throw in some jumbo looks that feature OG Anunoby at shooting guard. It's only been 163 possessions with Poeltl, but Toronto is +19.2 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor.
So, why am I advising you to deal him away? Two reasons. First, his defensive production is not sustainable. He's started the past five games, averaging 2.4 blocks and 2.0 steals in 29.2 minutes, along with 15.8 points, 11.0 boards and 2.4 assists. On the year, he's averaging 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals in 26.2 minutes. Regression is coming.
Second, the Raptors haven't had their full rotation available since Poeltl joined. OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. returned from absences three games ago, then Fred VanVleet missed three straight. But everyone is finally healthy for Tuesday's game against the Bulls, so we'll see how involved Poeltl is.
Trade For: Jalen Williams and Lu Dort, Thunder
While I remain unconvinced that the Thunder are executing a late-season tank, the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander triple injury (ankle, abdomen, health and safety protocols) raises suspicion. But if you're more convinced than me, it makes sense to target Williams and Dort.
I'll address Dort first since his inclusion may be surprising. I was initially going with Josh Giddey, but upon digging into the numbers, he only gets a +1.3 USG% bump with SGA off the floor and actually produces fewer fantasy points. The sample is too big to be misleading. Giddey thrives off of the attention SGA draws.
Anyway, Dort. Would you believe he leads the Thunder in usage (26.5 USG%) with SGA off the court? Per 36 minutes, he averages 23.2 points, 5.3 boards and 2.7 dimes in that scenario. The usage increase is +7.5% compared to when his teammate is on the floor. It's an opportunity for a sneaky fantasy trade if he's not available on waivers (he's currently 50 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues).
The argument is similar for Williams, though opposing managers are more aware of that boost and are less likely to deal him away. He sees a +5.9 USG% with Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor, resulting in 17.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 dimes and 1.1 steals per 36. Rookies often catch fire in April as well, when opposing teams start caring less.
Trade Away: Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, Suns
With Kevin Durant expected to debut Wednesday against the Hornets, it's fair to expect some changes to the Suns offense. Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton have been carrying a heavy load since the trade — that'll end soon.
CP3 and Ayton, especially, have seen significant boosts lately, and their season averages are a bit elevated from all the time Booker missed after Christmas. Over the past 15 games, Paul is averaging 15.1 points and 9.9 dimes, while Ayton is averaging 22.5 points and 11.0 boards over his past 13 games. Before Christmas, CP3 averaged just 12.0 points and 8.7 assists, and Ayton averaged 17.6 points and 9.5 boards.
Durant's arrival should take away a lot of scoring responsibility from those two, and I imagine Paul will be focused on distributing. Some rest days could be in store, too. The Suns clearly have title aspirations, and when they were in the finals two years ago, Ayton averaged just 14.4 points per game. However, I imagine his field-goal percentage increases, so managers in category leagues don't have to panic.
Trade For: Jaden Ivey, Pistons
Ivey has made this column at least twice before, but I need to hammer the point home.
The rookie has taken on more playmaking responsibilities since the New Year, averaging 15.7 points and 5.7 assists. While his shooting percentages have been shaky since then (43/37/72), his aggressiveness (5.0 FTA) is great.
Just as importantly, Bojan Bogdanovic was diagnosed with bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and didn't play Monday. This feels like the beginning of the end for the 33-year-old's season. I won't go as far as to say he won't play another game for Detroit, but what tanking team is pushing a veteran with tendinitis in both his Achilles tendons to play in meaningless games?
Ivey should thrive in games Bogdanovic misses, especially with Saddiq Bey no longer on the team. With those two (plus Kevin Knox and Cade Cunningham) off the court, Ivey has a 31.0 USG% and averages 22.7 points, 6.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes. That's enough for me to buy in.