The NBA trade deadline saw more player movement than anticipated by moi. I was genuinely surprised by some of the moves (Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards), and pleasantly surprised by others (Marvin Bagley III to the Pistons, currently 39% rostered in ESPN leagues, could be worth adding if he’s available as he’ll most likely receive quite a long leash in Detroit). Tyrese Haliburton is now completely OFF the leash in Indiana, while Derrick White is now the fourth or fifth option in Boston. Portland blew it up, shipping CJ McCollum to New Orleans, and the Knicks and the Lakers did a whole lotta nada. Most teams will be rearranging their rosters over the next few weeks as the All-Star break arrives and the coaches get to know the new faces.
This coming fantasy matchup period will be two weeks long due to the All-Star Game, running from 2/14 to 2/27. I’ll list some good available players with pretty safe roles, in my opinion, below, but first, STREAMING WARNING! Three teams play only 3 games during this two-week stretch: the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Orlando Magic. It’s tough to not play some of the players on those teams, but if you’re streaming any open roster spots, the players below could be more helpful than some of the fringe players from the three teams above.
NINE teams play 5 games: Boston, Brooklyn, Denver, Detroit, Houston, the LA Clippers, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Washington (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be an excellent streamer, he’s under 10% rostered in ESPN leagues, and Bradley Beal is out for the season and recently en-Wizarded Kristaps hasn’t played for Washington yet). Take a look at these nine teams if you’re shooting for volume for this prolonged period.
JOSH HART, POR, SG/SF, 45% ROSTERED (ESPN)
Hart scored 23 points in his first game as a Trailblazer. Maestro Dame Lillard is out for the foreseeable future and CJ is in Nawlins. This team belongs to Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, and stellar wing Josh Hart. He’s averaged 13 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, and 4 assists per game this season, something only 17 players in the NBA are doing (in ascending order of points per game): Embattled Sergeant Russell Westbrook, New King Domantas Sabonis, Knick Lifer Julius Randle (lolz?), Dejounte Murray, LaMelo Ball, Pascal Siakam, Now Thinning James Harden, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George (out for the season, most likely), Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Joel Embiid. All those players are 90% rostered or more. EXCEPT Josh Hart.
Hart has been a top 125 player on the season, he’s been the fifth most valuable shooting guard for rebounds, and he’s averaged 14-8-3 with 2 steals per game and 1+ 3PM. He’s a starter for Portland and he’s got less competition for minutes and shots than he did in the Big Easy. Hart should be rostered in many, many more leagues. Consider adding him right away if he’s available on your waiver wire.
LU DORT, OKC, SG/SF, 33.1% ROSTERED
Dort’s been a top 75 player in fantasy the past month on a young Thunder team without much scoring punch. The past two weeks he’s averaged 22-4-2 with 1+ SPG and 3+ 3PM. He’s a solid player on a really bad team, so his fantasy value is due to his volume. Dort’s here to give you counting stats, including 20+ PPG, which I know you can use. He’s been one of the most consistent fantasy performers this year, and there’s no reason to think that will change in the second half of the season. Pick him up and keep him rostered and enjoy the counting stat production. He’s the opposite of a headache.
JAE-SEAN TATE, HOU, SF/PF, 26.6% ROSTERED
Another solid player on a rrrreally bad team, Tate’s been a top 100 fantasy player on the season, averaging 12+ PPG, 5+ RPG, 3+ APG, and a steal per game. He won’t give you threes, but he’s shooting 50% from the floor for the season, so he isn’t hurting your ratios. You probably don’t watch Thunder or Rockets games, and maybe you don’t know who Dort or Tate are, but trust me: these players have safe, predictable roles on their teams, and that isn’t going to change. Both these guys are solid wings IRL, and solid players in fantasy. If you can’t use 12-5-3 on your fantasy team, then you must be doing extremely well this season!
CHRIS DUARTE, IND, SG, 26.4% ROSTERED
Duarte’s been a top 75 player the past month, but he may be coming off the bench for the Pacers going forward. Regardless, he should still maintain a large role for a team that’s out of the playoffs and incentivized to play their youths. He’s averaged 15-4-2 the past two weeks, with more than a 3PM per game. I think that’s probably his future in the NBA: a guy who scores in teens and gives you a solid stat line. At this point in the fantasy season, finding solid footing is paramount in order to ascend to the playoffs.
JARRED VANDERBILT, MIN, PF, 23.8% ROSTERED
Minnie didn’t do much at the deadline, which means V8’s role should maintain. He’s a top 100 player on the season in fantasy, top 20 in rebound value, AND he’s the least-rostered player in that top 20. He’s averaged 7-8-1 this season, with 1+ SPG. That doesn’t sound like much, but here’s the entire list of NBA players who grab 8+ boards and 1+ thefts per game, and have a 55 FG% or better: Vanderbilt, Sabonis, and the Joker. That’s it! The PPG aren’t there for V8, but he’s been on the verge of a double-double all season, and he’ll get there if given the minutes. He’s young, he’s improved over the course of the season, and he’s widely available in fantasy leagues. If you need rebounds, take a look at V8. He’s a top 100 player for a reason.
HERBERT JONES, NOP, SF/PF, 17.3% ROSTERED
Speaking of top 100 players who nobody pays attention to, Young Herb’s been a top 40 fantasy player the past month! The rookie’s grabbed 80 total steals and 48 total blocks this season. NO ONE ELSE HAS DONE THAT (through Sunday’s games). Jones is an ELITE defensive player and the other counting stats and scoring, while modest, are his floor. What will his PPG look like next season, and the season after that? Jones should be rostered THIS season due to his defensive counting stats, but he should be rostered in DYNASTY leagues due to his potential. If he can keep his steals and blocks up while also improving as a scorer, then he’ll remain in the top 50 in fantasy.
AYO DOSUNMU, CHI, SG/PG, 16.5% ROSTERED
Ayo was out for a few games with a concussion, but he’s back, and he’s still playing like a top 30 fantasy player. The young Bull’s averaged 10+ PPG, 3+ RPG, and 8+ APG the past two weeks, with 1+ SPG and 1+ 3PM, on 52% shooting. He’s efficient and he’s providing desperately needed dimes on a team missing multiple guards. Until Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Zach LaVine are all back and healthy, Ayo’s role should remain unchanged. He’s an elite distributor who basically came out of nowhere, you should pick him up off the wire immediately if he’s available.
DARIUS BAZLEY, OKC, SF/PF, 16.2% ROSTERED
Another young player on the Thunder, Bazley’s been a top 100 player the past month, and he’s averaging 14-9-2 the past two weeks, with 1+ SPG and 1+ blocks per game, as well as 1+ 3PM. I’ll take a STOCKS guy any day, and since there’s not much competition in OKC, Bazley should keep up his minutes, shot attempts, and fantasy production. Good players on bad teams are fantasy gold, and the Thunder have several of them. Enjoy the anonymous and underappreciated counting stats from players on non-playoff teams.
DEVIN VASSELL, SAS, SG/SF, 11.6% ROSTERED
Vassel, a top 75 player the last month, is now starting for the Spurs, since they traded Derrick White to the Celtics. Vassell’s averaged 12-4-3 with 1+ SPG and 1+ 3PM the past two weeks, but those numbers could go up with more minutes. Vassell is definitely more of a dynasty pickup, but a starting player who could inherit a larger role on a team is always worthy of redraft leagues, especially for the second half of the season. If you don’t pick him up, at least keep him on your watch list to see if his minutes/shots/counting stats continue to improve. With more playing time, he could be a top 50 player.
CAMERON JOHNSON, PHX, SF, 10% ROSTERED
JONATHAN KUMINGA, GSW, SF/PF, 5.5% ROSTERED
Both of these young players may not be starters, but they could be due for larger roles down the stretch. Cam Johnson in Phoenix is one of the most prolific and efficient outside shooters in the NBA this season (he’s been a top 100 player in fantasy due to his 3PM), and Kuminga’s gaining minutes while Draymond Green is out for the Warriors. Neither of them are must adds, but they’re both useful players to stream (Kuminga’s averaged 13-4-1 on 54% shooting the past two weeks).
If you’re in a dynasty league and you’re searching for young players to roster as keepers for next year, you should also look at Cam and Kuminga. Johnson could repeat as an incredibly efficient sniper next season, while Kuminga’s development on the Dubs could turn the uber-athlete into a star some day.