We went from a slow start to the week to a massive Big Wednesday, with 12 games, a major trade, a major injury in Laker-land, and plenty of fantasy value shifting across the association. The trade deadline is starting to heat up, and we’re probably looking at the beginning of a month-long storm that will decide fantasy leagues. Buckle up.
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The Rudy Gay Trade
Rudy Gay was finally traded and it drew the usual ‘stat guy’ versus ‘eye test’ discussion on the Twitter box, and with stat guy symbol John Hollinger in the mix in Memphis it quickly became a referendum on Gay’s inefficiency, fair or not. He goes to Toronto where Bryan Colangelo is fighting for his job, and this is the cornerstone of his Hail Mary. Gay is great friends with PG Kyle Lowry, and Gay should slip right into things with plenty to prove for everybody and no real competition for minutes. I’m comfortable with saying he has a good shot at added value in Toronto, where he won’t be nearly as prone to grind-it-out games and dump-offs to Zach Randolph. If the Raps play their cards right, they’ll immediately install an up-tempo scheme that relies on their athletes to match up in small lineups against their opponents. If all works well, they’ll have playmakers at multiple positions and everything will click. At worst, the sticky-fingered perimeter players will struggle to find each other off the ball.
I feel like it’s a waste of ink to tell you that Lowry should be owned, since I can’t imagine anybody dropping him with all that upside. DeMar DeRozan and Gay are a mixed pairing, with plenty of athleticism but similarly situated skill-sets that are highlighted by a lack of range. The bottom line for Double D is that he’s probably going to lose touches.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is expected to return “later this week or early next week,” and now that the Raptors have acquired Rudy Gay they will be under a good amount of pressure to move Bargnani and the remaining $22 million on his contract over the next two seasons. This means it’s time for an audition, so the stretch big man should be owned in most if not all formats. This isn’t a guarantee that he will be a consistent fantasy asset, as he needs to both do his part and avoid the typical pitfalls of being on the trade market (sudden DNPs, conservative deployment). With Ed Davis gone and Jonas Valanciunas on the mend as well (returning as soon as Feb. 2), there should be ample minutes over the short-term for Bargnani. From there, owners are hoping for a trade into a good situation and prolonged health. There is just enough upside to justify taking on all of that risk, and it’s your job to figure out who at the bottom of your roster you can part with.
Double Double Toil and Trouble, Calderon Burn in Detroit Rubble
Jose Calderon landed with the Pistons’ (theoretically) rebuilding excavation and to me that was a clear sign that the team isn’t comfortable with Brandon Knight (seven points, 3-of-12 FGs, four assists, 28 minutes) running the point full-time. Knight has struggled to run the team, and now that he’s likely to slide over to the two it gives one potential reason for Rodney Stuckey and Lawrence Frank to get into a dust-up. It’s possible the writing on the wall said something like ‘we’re not planning around you.’ I wouldn’t bail on Knight in response to this news just yet, as he has functioned like a shooting guard and held value in the past, and the Pistons probably want to develop him. The key to his value will be how many threes he can hit, and whether or not he can toss in enough assists and points to keep him above the cut line. The good news is that he’ll be playing with a willing passer in Calderon, but the chance a timeshare kills his value is equal or greater news here.
Memphis Clearing Cap Room
Ed Davis was the best piece acquired by the Grizzlies in yesterday’s trade, but his fantasy value took a deadly hit as he’ll play behind Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and also compete against Darrell Arthur. Maybe he can steal some minutes at the ‘3,’ but I doubt it.
Tayshaun Prince also goes to Memphis and profiles as a pretty good fit. He’s old enough to stay in his lane, and his versatility should be a nice compliment to Randolph and Marc Gasol. Austin Daye also came across in the trade, and it’s possible that the Grizzlies decide to use the disappointing youngster more than the hard-nosed Frank did in Detroit. That said, there are way too many players ahead of Daye in the pecking order to get excited. Just watch him from afar. As for Prince, he will need a sizable bump in production from his Detroit days to make any real difference in most leagues. There’s a chance he can do it, but I’d peg it at about 10-30%.
Free Andre Drummond
For the masses out there hoping that Lawrence Frank will free Andre Drummond, the rookie big man saw 24 minutes compared to Jason Maxiell’s 17 minutes and finished with four points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks. I can’t imagine letting him lay around on the waiver wire in any format, even with low-volume free throw shooting concerns.
Greg Monroe (18 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) took a shot to the head but stayed in the game. Rodney Stuckey started with all the mayhem going on, scoring 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting with two assists and two steals in 34 minutes. I gave up on him recently and I see no reason to get optimistic about his value at this time with Jose Calderon on the way in. Kyle Singler moved over to small forward and with little competition he should stick there. He scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 30 minutes, and a change from his overall pedestrian valuation isn’t likely.
Sir Lance or Not
Lance Stephenson was having a career game with his first double-double, including 12 points, a career-high 11 boards, five assists, one steal and one three. He hurt his left ankle, however, and could not finish the game. Given the opponent and his body of work this year, there’s no real reason to add him in most reasonably sized formats while he’s hurt and questionable for Friday’s game. Roy Hibbert (18 points, 11 rebounds, one steal, one block, 7-of-14 FGs) has picked it up lately but owners will want to note the Pistons’ lack of overall defense tonight.
It’s All In The Wrist
Bradley Beal visited a specialist in New York for his ailing shooting wrist and did not play last night. It’s always going to be a tricky maneuver, but if owners can time a sell-high offer at the onset of these injuries they can avoid total loss situations like this. Unless one is stacked they’re looking at an injured fantasy asset playing on a bad team that will likely want to play things safe. When he returns he’ll jump into a crowded backcourt. Even with tremendous upside the temptation to drop Beal will be great, and just weeks ago he probably could have returned a late mid-round value guy fairly easy. There is no exact science to this, but if you can get the right pulse on future situations you can turn a profit.
Jordan Crawford (three points, 17 minutes) is playing like a guy with a really bad ankle injury, though we have no information that the ankle is definitely the culprit. Whatever the case may be, he’s not playing well enough to be owned even with Beal going out. If you want to take a full court shot in hopes that he gets a potential ankle injury under control, just remember that it’s exactly that.
It’s time to give some real love to Emeka Okafor (15 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks), who I have pretty much pooh-poohed all year long. His knee issues and prior inconsistency were the basis for much of my Kevin Seraphin (eight points, two rebounds) love, and I got that all mixed up. I don’t want to say that Okafor’s durability is suddenly a safe bet, but the effectiveness issues can be tabled until he shows signs of slowing down.
Andrew Bynum (knees) could return to practice next week and return as soon as February 20, and with things progressing he should be owned in all formats that permit stashing. In daily leagues without games played limits, the decision to add or not comes down to one’s personal situation, and we’re at the point where somebody in your league will be able to afford the missed games. Jason Richardson traveled to Vail, Colorado to get a second opinion on his knee, which is pretty much as bad as news can get for a player with his history and mileage.
The Richardson news changes my outlook on Nick Young (18 points, 7-of-17 FGs, three treys, four rebounds, four assists, two steals). I’m still not convinced that Young can keep his value above the cut line in standard formats, but a long-term absence for Richardson puts him in that ballpark. Dorell Wright played just 16 minutes but had seven points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a three, but that’s more a function of playing the Wizards than anything. With two DNPs in the two games prior, owners should watch this action from the wire, but Richardson’s absence could theoretically open up some deep league value off the bench. Spencer Hawes hit just 4-of-13 shots but managed 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and a three in 38 minutes, so he should be owned in standard formats in my book. Owners should deal with the Bynum issue when it lands on their plates.
Turning the Page in Toronto
As for the actual on-court Raptors action, they lost a tight one in Atlanta by one point. DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points (2-of-3 3PTs, 5-of-6 FTs) with four rebounds and two steal and this would definitely be a sell-high moment for the aforementioned reasons. Kyle Lowry scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, five assists, and two threes, and hopefully owners continued to treat him like the early round asset that he has always been.
Aaron Gray put up eight and 11 with a block and is worth a look if you need a short-term center while the Raptors get their frontcourt in order. Amir Johnson (six points, 3-of-12 FGs, 14 rebounds, four blocks) didn’t shoot well, but he should be locked into lineups at least until Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas return.
Alan Anderson hit just 3-of-12 shots for 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 35 minutes in the starting small forward slot, and while I generally like what he brings to the table he’s going to have a hard time carving out consistent value in standard formats. If you’re staring at an average to above average free agent, I wouldn’t be afraid to make a move. If the wire is looking bare, maybe you stick around and see if his 3-point shooting can help you. John Lucas (19 points, three treys, 24 minutes) is on the fantasy radar now that he is the backup PG playing behind injury-prone Lowry. He has shown the ability to produce when given the minutes in the past, though we need to see more numbers like this before we’ll assign much standalone value to him.