So it begins. We saw our first major trade of the 2016-17 season on Thursday, as the Hawks traded away sharpshooter Kyle Korver in exchange for Mike Dunleavy and Cleveland’s 2019 first-round pick. However, the Hawks have only just begun and Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is reporting that Paul Millsap will likely be the next to go. We already knew the Hawks were “listening” to offers for Millsap, but Woj said they are now motivated to move him “sooner rather than later.” There is so much to talk about around the league, so I’m going to skip the usual game recaps and break down the stuff that matters for your fantasy team. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!
Time to pick up Kyle Korver?
Absolutely. Per my colleague Tommy Beer, Korver has shot above 50 percent on “wide open” 3-pointers in three out of his last four seasons, and LeBron James is one of the best players in the league at finding the open shooter. J.R. Smith (thumb) isn’t coming back any time soon, so Korver should slot into the starting shooting guard role and could realistically play over 30 minutes per night.
Korver was only a top-120 player in standard leagues as a Hawk with averages of 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.0 triples in 28.0 minutes per game, so his numbers should get a small bump across the board and his efficiency should rise as well.
On the other hand, the Korver trade opens up a lot of opportunity in Atlanta, and no I’m not talking about Dunleavy (he’s likely going to be moved again.). On paper you would think that Kent Bazemore would get the biggest boost, but he’s been the most inconsistent player for the Hawks this season and it’s really not close. He’s coming off a two-point dud in 21 minutes on Thursday night, and that’s without Korver in the rotation. The Hawks are committed to him and signed him to that massive deal over the summer, so he still has time to turn things around and is the favorite to gain the most value.
In addition to Bazemore, Tim Hardaway Jr. is another name to watch. While not loaded with upside, THJ has been used at three different positions for the Hawks this season and has looked solid in three straight games, averaging 18.3 points, 4.3 boards, 1.0 assist and 4.0 triples in 26.0 minutes in that span. That’s not sustainable, but you can’t ignore it either. Keep an eye on him.
Paul Millsap likely to be traded?
As previously mentioned, the Hawks have been “listening” to offers for Millsap for a while, but the Korver trade confirms that they’re going to start rebuilding which was long overdue anyways. Millsap can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and could potentially walk for nothing just like Al Horford did last summer, so the Hawks are looking to get as much in return as possible for the All-Star PF because they probably aren’t confident about their ability to re-sign him. So far, Millsap has been linked to five different teams in the Pelicans, Nuggets, Raptors, 76ers and Kings, but there doesn’t appear to be a frontrunner just yet.
The Raptors are going for it this year and should be considered a favorite, as they could offer a draft pick(s) and a young asset like a Norman Powell. Sacramento doesn’t really have the pieces to make a deal work and the same can be said for the Pelicans, but the Nuggets and 76ers are interesting. Both teams are loaded with young talent and draft picks, two of the things that the Hawks will likely go after in any deal for Millsap. In terms of fantasy, Millsap’s value will be relatively safe on all these teams, but his production could slip on a team like Toronto as he would compete for touches with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
While Millsap’s owners shouldn’t be panicking, his departure could open the door for a young player like Mike Muscala, unless of course the Hawks bring in another power forward. Muscala has been excellent all season as the first big off the bench, and he has per-36 minute averages of 13.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 blocks and 1.4 triples on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 75.0 percent from the line. That’s solid upside and Muscala should be firmly on your radar moving forward.
Thabo Sefolosha is another veteran on the Hawks that is likely to be dealt, though that is just my speculation. He’s on the final year of a deal that is paying him just $3.85 million, so the Hawks could potentially get a young player or second-round pick in exchange for his services. If Sefolosha is moved, keep an eye on intriguing rookie Taurean Prince. He hasn’t played much this season, but he has per-36 averages of 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 blocks and 1.3 triples.
Tyreke Evans plays through back spasms
Evans was considered questionable to play on Thursday vs. the Hawks with back spasms, but he managed to give it a go and logged seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with three assists, two rebounds and one triple in 13 minutes. The Pelicans obviously monitored his minutes in this one, but assuming he came out of the game without any setbacks, he should be back up to the 18-20 minute range on Monday vs. the Knicks — he’s not cleared for back-to-back sets yet, so don’t expect to see him on Friday vs. Boston. His minutes should trend up every week and he’s looked solid for the most part, so stick with him through the frustrating limitations.
Brandon Knight (wrist) is back in the rotation?
Knight played less than 10 minutes in three straight games before missing Tuesday’s game vs. the Heat with a “wrist injury,” but he was back in the rotation on Thursday vs. the Mavericks and scored 17 points (6-of-11 FGs) with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one triple in 26 minutes. The Suns aren’t going anywhere this season and Knight is expected to be moved before the trade deadline, so maybe this was a showcase game and it’s possible this trend continues. He’s not going to be fun to own while he’s in Phoenix, but he’s a solid stash because a trade can only help his value. You can probably leave him on the wire for now unless he does this again.
Terrence Jones, quit playing games with my heart
For those of you who don’t know, Jones was one of my favorite late-round sleepers entering the season, but he’s been a mixed bag with many monster games and many duds as well. Coach Alvin Gentry apparently doesn’t know that the Jones-Anthony Davis lineup combo has a 6.0 net rating, easily the best frontcourt pairing on the team. Jones once again showed his upside with 12 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and three blocks in 30 minutes vs. the Hawks on Thursday, but Dante Cunningham picked up a minor injury in the game and Jones was coming off a quiet four-game stretch. He’s been worth owning in standard leagues through the ups and down, but whether or not he breaks out is really up to Gentry.
Jusuf Nurkic is trending up
The Bosnian Beast didn’t have the greatest game on Thursday vs. the Spurs, but to be fair the matchup was brutal. Nurkic played 21 minutes with Kenneth Faried (back) out for the third straight game, and he’s now averaging 12.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.7 blocks in 20.0 minutes per game in that span. He’s a per-minute monster and should remain relevant in standard leagues if can hold onto this workload moving forward. As for his teammate Nikola Jokic, he continues to be a fantasy superstar and put up 19 points with 11 rebounds, five assists and one steal in the loss.
Lucas Nogueira starts next to Jonas Valanciunas
With Patrick Patterson (knee) out for his third straight game, the Raptors mixed it up and started “Bebe” next to Valanciunas against the Jazz. While Nogueira played well for the most part, the lineup combo had a -22.9 net rating in 10.1 minutes and clearly wasn’t working. Nogueira finished with four points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in 26 minutes, but feel free to pick him up if he continues to start. For what it’s worth, Patterson is only day-to-day and a potential Paul Millsap trade or the return of Jared Sullinger (foot) complicates Nogueira’s outlook.
As for Valanciunas, he finally snapped out of his funk and went off for 18 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes, so hopefully he’s using coach Dwane Casey’s recent comments as motivation. “If your big guys don’t dominate, you have to go small,” Casey said. “I tell Jonas Valanciunas: ‘Oh you want to play more? Then Dominate. I don’t want to see fadeaways over 6-8 guys. Get to the rim. Get every offensive rebound. If not, you’re coming out.’” If tonight was any indication, J-Val could be ready to go on a run (h/t Zach Lowe of ESPN).
Nicolas Batum (knee) goes down
Nicolas Batum suffered a hyperextended right knee on Thursday and did not return after 25 minutes, but we don’t know many details about the injury just yet. This could be a minor injury, but it’s still worth looking at the potential fantasy implications if Batum misses time. Kemba Walker would obviously get more touches, but you already knew that. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s minutes would likely be locked in the 30s, but he doesn’t have the greatest upside in standard leagues. Marco Belinelli will play more as well but he’s boring, but Jeremy Lamb is certainly a name to consider.
Lamb hasn’t been handed a ton of minutes this season, but he has delivered when give the opportunity. He has impressive per-36 minute averages of 19.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.2 triples, so I’m not sure why we haven’t seen more of him this season. If Batum is looking at a lengthy absence, I expect that to change in a hurry.
Damian Lillard (ankle) returns from injury
Lillard successfully returned from a five-game absence on Thursday vs. the Lakers and didn’t miss a beat, scoring 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting with 10 assists, five rebounds and four triples. He looked phenomenal tonight and his ankle issue is behind him, so look for him to be a top-15 fantasy option going forward as the Blazers pursue the No. 8 seed out West.
D’Angelo Russell on the verge of breaking out
The second-year PG only hit 6-of-18 shots on Thursday vs. the Blazers including 0-of-8 from deep, but still managed to finish with 22 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 35 minutes. His playing time has finally settled in the 31-35 minute range and I don’t see that changing as the Lakers prioritize his development moving forward. He scored 18 and 28 points in his previous two outings with a combined 12 3-pointers(!) in that span, so his buy-low window is likely all but shut.