You drafted Kawhi Leonard. Then you lost Gordon Hayward. Paul Millsap. Blake Griffin. Maybe Stephen Curry. Or Rudy Gobert. And Nikola Vucevic. Not to mention Dewayne Dedmon! And now Victor Oladipo?!?! At some point it just becomes too much.
So how do you bounce back from a demoralizing stretch of bad luck? Stay patient? Well yes, that’s one option. Or you could take the proactive approach and get out there and try to win some trades. And it is that approach I plan to discuss today with eight of my favorite trade targets — listed numerically in no particular order whatsoever.
Trade Target #1: James Johnson
It’s easy to forget because it was kind of a while ago now, but early on this season, Johnson was doing precisely what you hoped for if you drafted him (13.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.1 3s on 53.7 percent from the field through his first 10 games). Since then, however, he has put up a far less exciting 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.7 3s in 19 games, and has recently been slowed by ankle trouble (which looks like it will continue through the weekend). All of this makes him an appealing trade option, especially considering that in the five games before messing up his ankle, he appeared to be back on the upswing, posting 11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg and 0.4 3s.
Trade Target #2: Nikola Vucevic
This is not the right course of action if your team has been hammered by a ton of injuries (see paragraph #1, above). However, if you’re sitting in prime position in the standings and can afford to plan ahead, trying to get Vooch right now is an excellent idea. At this exact moment, his 6-8 week absence seems pretty daunting, but you’ll still get him back in plenty of time for the fantasy playoffs, and an injury to his non-shooting hand should in theory carry considerably less residual rust than other locations on the WebMD chart. Also, just a reminder: Vucevic was going absolutely wild before he got hurt, putting up 22.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.8 bpg and 1.4 3s in the 10 games prior to the injury. His loss is pretty devastating to those teams that had him, but don’t underestimate what a big-time lottery ticket he has now become.
Editor’s Note: Nobody hit FanDuel’s Golden 5 jackpot this season, meaning the prize has grown to a massive $340,000. And this week, regardless of whether or not someone hits a perfect lineup, they’re giving away that $340K to whoever wins this week’s final contest. Play FREE for your shot at $340,000!
Trade Target #3: Ricky Rubio
This is simply a gamble in hopes that history might repeat itself. To refresh your memory: Last season, Rubio put up just 7.1 ppg through his first 32 games (with 4.0 rpg, 7.2 apg and 1.7 spg). Then, from Jan. 9th onward, he posted 14.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 10.5 apg, 1.7 spg and 0.9 3s to close out the season. He has been a disappointment this year, no question (11.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 3s, 38.7 percent shooting, 3.0 turnovers and a No. 145 ranking in 9-category leagues), but far crazier things have happened than him suddenly and without much warning heating up.
Trade Target #4: Nicolas Batum
The scoring isn’t there right now as he continues to recover from his elbow injury (9.0 ppg over his last 10 games), but the playing time (33 minutes per game over the same stretch) and overall production (3.9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.1 3s) are pretty much right where you want them to be. The bottom line is that fantasy managers are probably frustrated, and Batum may not be that far away from taking off.
Trade Target #5: John Collins
This is slightly different than some of the other names mentioned so far because he’s not injured or slumping, but may be someone you can land in a trade because his playing time remains pretty low (and somewhat frustratingly so). Whatever the case, it’s not a reach to say that Collins could turn into a flat-out fantasy monster if/when the Hawks finally decide to let him play 30-plus minutes regularly. In seven games since returning from shoulder trouble, the 20-year-old has averaged 11.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.4 bpg (on 70.8 percent shooting) in just 23 minutes per game.
Trade Target #6: Chris Paul
If you have him on your squad, you’re probably frustrated at how fragile he’s been this season, and you’re worried about other injuries that may pop up. Understandable, but that makes CP3 an excellent trade target for managers who are in a position where they need to gamble. Averaging 21.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 8.0 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.6 bpg and 3.0 3s over his last eight games, he is a bona fide top-10 fantasy option when healthy, and right now — after he has missed three straight — it should be at least a little bit easier to get him in a trade.
Trade Target #7: Kris Dunn
Again, you’re not buying low here. But would you believe me if I told you that over the last month, Dunn (No. 52 in 9-category leagues) has been better than Otto Porter (55), Kristaps Porzingis (56) and Marc Gasol (58)? Yes, that’s partially because those three have been underachieving a bit lately, but it’s also a comment on just how well Dunn has played. After starting out the season shooting poorly (39.4 percent the first month), over the last 30 days (16 games), he’s averaging 15.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 7.6 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.4 bpg and 0.8 3s, shooting 46.2 percent from the field. He has had a couple shaky shooting games lately (including a 1-for-12 and a 6-for-18 the last week), so maybe that helps your chances of getting him. Either way, I would bet on Dunn performing more like the last month than his first month, so if you can acquire him while sending back something less than the last month’s cost, I would strongly advocate doing so (assuming that last sentence actually made any sense).
Trade Target #8: Marquese Chriss
Should be relatively easy to get in a trade, and as I said at the Rotoworld Roundtable on Thursday, as maddening as he’s been so far this season, I like his chances of being a force in fantasy leagues down the stretch.
Other Random Thoughts: In the opposite spirit of this week’s column, I would casually explore the possibility of trading away Tyreke Evans. I have no concerns about him continuing to put up big numbers while healthy, but I do worry about a player with his history of knee issues playing on a team that’s going absolutely nowhere this year. And with Evans having averaged 22.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.8 3s over his last 13 games (including a 32-7-7 line on Wednesday), I’m not sure his value can get much higher. … Ersan Ilyasova has scored 20 or more points six times in his last 10 games, averaging 17.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.7 spg and 2.5 3s during that run. … Somewhat quietly, Tyler Johnson is playing really well right now (15.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.0 3s on 50.4 percent shooting his last 10 games), and now Dion Waiters is out multiple weeks with an ankle injury. … Denzel Valentine (who I’m guessing was dropped in a lot of leagues during a rough stretch from late November to mid-December) has now posted 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.0 3s (on 60.5 percent from the field) over his last five games.