Trade season has started in the NBA.
The best times to find value in the Fantasy Basketball world happen during periods of great change.
Trades are an excellent time to find guys in new roles, and calculate where new usage comes from.
If you pay attention to the NBA, it's pretty clear which guys are more likely to get traded. While it can be difficult to know exactly WHEN guys get traded, thinking a month or 2 ahead is always a good thing...
The Rondo trade was very predictable, and it wasn't too hard to see that Josh Smith's Piston days were numbered...
But before you try and figure out those winning lottery numbers, let's take a look at a couple trades that have already happened this season - and how it's changed the value of some of the players involved...
Josh Smith being waived:
While not technically a trade, it's almost like he was traded for nothing. As winners of 7 in a row since J-Smoove was purged though, this example really illustrates how removing one key player can completely change a team.
The team wins are a pretty clear indication that Josh's absence is very helpful to the Detroit Pistons.
Let's look at some advanced stats to answer this question...
Josh Smith has a career PER of 17.7... On the Pistons, his PER was 14.1 last season. Very significant drop-off. His true shooting % of .463 last season (and a pathetic .417 this season) was also way lower than his career TS% of .506
Think the Rockets can turn this kid around? Check out some key stats from his handful of games on Houston:
PER: 11.1 (career low)
USG%: 26.2 (among the highest in his career)
TOV%: 19.6 (highest of his career)
Now admittedly, it's only been 8 games on Houston. But in those 8 games, Josh Smith is the least efficient of his entire NBA career, shooting about the same rate as his horrible year in Detroit last season, dominating the ball as much as any year of his career and turning the ball over at the highest rate in his entire career.
Think the Pistons miss this cancer?
The Pistons have basically been the best team in the NBA since giving Josh Smith away for free. So glad I'm not Josh Smith's agent...
Currently in the final year of his contract, everybody knew that Rondo was getting moved.
Having recently won 6 in a row (until being shocked by the Josh Smith-less Pistons), the trade has clearly worked out for Dallas.
But is the trade good for Rondo's Fantasy value?
As expected, a trade to the loaded Dallas roster has led to decreases in some key counting stats. His rebounds have fallen to 5.8 from 7.5, and his assists have fallen to 8.2 from 10.8
What's even more surprising: Rondo's assist % of 37.4 is the lowest since his sophomore season on the Celtics. This is even more strange when you consider his USG% of 23.0 is the highest of his entire career.
What is likely happening here: Rondo is a strong piece of a contending club, but is being asked to do way less than he has since... basically the time of the Big 3 in Boston. He's very much part of the team - and is generally performing in an effective, efficient manner (also evidenced by his career high .444 3PT%) - but his Fantasy God days are over.
While Rondo's scoring has increased slightly to 12.0 PPG, I predict Rondo's counting stats will all decrease even further.
I don't believe his usage is sustainable on a team with so many offensive weapons, and does anyone really think Rondo will keep hitting 3s at a 44.4% clip?
Rondo is still a quality Fantasy Basketball player, but he's slowly becoming less and less of an elite asset. Probably worth a trade - if you can convince another manager that Rondo's brand name is worth acquiring.
We call this "selling high", friends.
Cleveland's flurry of trades:
With LeBron injured for awhile, Cleveland has made a couple of key trades. I'll talk a bit about the contributions J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov are likely to make.
Of all these moves, I like the Mozgov acquisition the most. He should slide into the vacancy created by Anderson Varejao's injury quite nicely, and should likely put up similar big man numbers to the blocks/rebounds he got in Denver. It's a very familiar role for Mozgov, and his advanced stats in the rebounding % and block % cats haven't really changed much the last 4 years. It's even possible his counting stats could INCREASE slightly in the defensive cats - as Cleveland is pretty thin here.
As for Shumpert, he's more of a real life contributor than a Fantasy contributor. Great defensive player, but only really ownable in deep leagues.
The big loser of this trifecta is J.R. Smith. After shooting a career worst true shooting % of .487 this season (since his rookie year anyway), it's safe to say J.R. will likely have the lowest usage of his career as well. He'll have a few big games here and there in the Dion Waiters role, but he'll also have games where he barely gets on the score sheet.
His first game with the Cavs, he went 0/5 in 18 minutes off the bench. And that's with LeBron James not even playing.
You can hold out hope for more, but it's probably best to simply cut Smith for a FA with more upside. I do think Smith's scoring prowess will give him a few big games here and there, but there are simply too many offensive mouths to feed on this loaded Cavs roster. He'll help the real life Cavs win games, but he'll help your Fantasy team lose them.
Do as the Pistons do: and give J.R. the Josh Smith treatment.
So there is some analysis from the mini flurry of trades/expulsions that have hit the NBA recently.
There are more to come, so you might want to start reading daily updates on the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
Change is coming, and you gotta make sure you change with it...
Pretty sure that's a Ferris Bueller quote.