Breaking down the transactions leading up to Thursday's trade deadline:
Denver looked at a future that included paying the oft-injured Nene Hilario $52 million over the next four years and didn't like what they saw, so they'll instead take a chance on the oft-unfocused JaVale McGee, who is playing in the final season of his rookie contract. This should at worst be a lateral move for Nene, but it's not out of the question that he'll be more featured with the Wizards and takes out some new-found frustrations that come with playing for one of the league's worst teams on his opponents. If he can get and stay fully healthy, there is no reason to dislike this move for Nene's fantasy prospects. Neither Trevor Booker nor Andray Blatche's roles are affected here, the former as an underrated source of big-man stats, the latter as first big off the bench.
McGee, through his ups and downs, has remained a stellar per-minute performer (27 minutes, 11.9 points, 8.8 boards, 2.5 blocks on the season) and now joins a stable organization in the thick of the playoff race, loaded with heady players and led by a respected coach. Most of McGee's problems can only be solved from within, but this does seem like a situation that could limit the bad and bring out more of the good. McGee doesn't have to creep up closer to 30 minutes to have a substantial impact, but it's not going to hurt matters, and the opportunity should be there with competition only coming from Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos. This move also means the Nuggets have faith in Kenneth Faried holding down his starting role moving forward and in the future - his minutes are currently capped by the presence of Al Harrington, but Faried is 87th in per-game rank over the past two weeks with just 25 minutes (11 points, 63% FG, 8 boards, 1 steal, 1.3 blocks, 0.4 turnovers).
Young has to be thrilled to be leaving the cellar-dwelling Wizards for a Clippers team with sights set on the playoffs. Even if a starting gig isn't in the cards, there will be opportunities to contribute regularly for the Clips - Randy Foye, Caron Butler, and Bobby Simmons have combined for 24.2 points on 35-percent shooting in 79 minutes over the past month, and the Clippers are likely hoping that a change of scenery inspires a return to 2010-11 form for Young (44% FG, 39% 3PT). He'll be in the rotation in any case, so it will be up to him to capitalize. Both Butler and Foye's shaky fantasy values figure to take a hit here. Mo Williams seems a bit safer, but he may have trouble maintaining his recent 30-plus minute pace with Young on board. Jordan Crawford is now locked in as the starting shooting guard for the Wizards, and his averages in nine starts on the season include 14 points on 37-percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 2.9 assists, 2.3 turnovers, and 1 steal in 29 minutes. Crawford's massive drag on your team's field goal percentage typically makes up for any positives he provides - he's a poster child for high perceived value versus low actual value. Roger Mason and Maurice Evans are now locked into the rotation behind Crawford.
The Lakers get their point guard and give up that first-round pick they previously balked at offering, thanks to the Cavs taking back Walton's bad contract. The Lakers' subsequent trade of Derek Fisher assures Sessions and his fantasy owners that he'll play big minutes the rest of the way, and per-minute production has never been a problem. Of course, Fisher and Steve Blake combined to average just 9.6 shot attempts in 48 minutes over the past month - that's due in part to their own limitations and in part to how little the Lakers have asked of their point guards in recent years. But Sessions will be a huge change (and upgrade) at the position, and they certainly didn't bring him in to ignore his talents. Sessions excels at getting to the foul line and will play enough to compile assists and steals, but what will be key for his fantasy impact is his three-point shot. He entered the season having made just 13 of 71 career attempts (18%) but has successfully converted 26 of 62 (42%) thus far, including 18 of 38 (47%) since February 1. He'll spend more time than he's used to off the ball, so his catch-and-shoot opportunities should rise exponentially relative to his overall usage. With all this in mind, 13/6 with solid percentages and over one three/steal are reasonable estimates for production, numbers that warrant universal ownership. Sessions' departure from the Cavs frees up minutes for Daniel Gibson, and he should have deep-league relevance, provided he can lift his shooting percentage (36% on the season).
TOR trades Leandro Barbosa to IND for pick
Jerryd Bayless is the real winner in this exchange. Barbosa's departure frees up enough minutes that he'll play regularly through the end of the season whether Jose Calderon is healthy or not. Bayless' per-30 minute averages on the season include 14.3 points, 3.5 free throw attempts (87%), 1.7 threes, 4.8 assists, 2.2 turnovers, and 0.7 steals. Those are useful numbers, indeed. The Pacers add some scoring punch and don't sacrifice cap flexibility by taking on Barbosa's expiring deal. The questions for the Pacers now center on the specifics of the guard rotation. Darren Collison's numbers have been bad and there has been plenty of talk of George Hill taking over as the starting point guard, but nothing specific has come from the team as of yet. In any case, this doesn't figure to help Collison's minutes, although there is essentially room for everyone (Collison, Hill, Paul George, Barbosa) if Frank Vogel chooses to remove A.J. Price and Dahntay Jones from the rotation going forward. That's a half-hearted attempt to justify rostering Collison, and it's nearly impossible to make a case in his favor at this point. All in all, things are crowded enough here that you shouldn't have grand expectations for any of the group beyond George.
The Blazers signal an end to the competitive portion of their current season, acquiring draft picks and ensuring that Wallace can't opt in for $9.5 million in 2012-13. They followed up the trades with the firing of Nate McMillan. Clearing out G-Wall allows Nicolas Batum to slide to his natural small forward position and moves Wesley Matthews back to the starting shooting guard spot. The Blazers kept both Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, and the top five players in their rotation (LaMarcus Aldridge, Batum, Matthews, Felton, and Crawford) are all but guaranteed massive minutes the rest of the way. The rotation otherwise consists of Joel Przybilla (the default starting center), Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Craig Smith, Shawne Williams, and Kurt Thomas (Okur's back problems will keep him out for the rest of the season). Perhaps the Blazers will find some playing time for Thabeet - they won't have much to lose, given the other options. You have to like this trade for Batum and Matthews in terms of playing time, but it's going to be a bumpy ride if they can't solve their production problems while on the road. Going back 10 games, Batum has averaged 21 points on 52-percent shooting and 2.3 threes at home, and 9.3 points on 36-pecent shooting and 0.8 threes on the road.
Houston gets a legitimate backup for Samuel Dalembert in Camby, just when Dalembert was trending up again (31 minutes, 12.5 points, 9 boards, 2 blocks over the past eight games). That said, Camby isn't going to play more than 20 minutes on most nights, and Dalembert's season averages of 8.2 points, 7.7 boards, and 1.9 blocks have come in just 25 minutes. This isn't a big knock on Dalembert's fantasy impact here, but rather an upgrade of his backup from Patrick Patterson to Camby for reality purposes. Camby remains on rosters in 52 percent of leagues, but than number can certainly come (way) down.
Wallace should find playing alongside Deron Williams to his liking and could see his fantasy impact improve, even if only slightly, given that he's averaging just 13.3 points on the season. He's immediately near the top of the Nets' usage hierarchy, meaning a few less touches for MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries, but this doesn't represent a major downgrade for either player. Brooks has already been fringy for standard leagues, however, and fantasy owners can feel a bit more comfortable swapping him out for a desirable free agent in the wake of the trade. Anthony Morrow is going to get his minutes pinched just a bit, as well, and the majority of the deep-league potential that Gerald Green had amassed while averaging 21 points over the past three games is now gone.
The Spurs wager that Jackson can give them a bit more than the ineffectual game Jefferson has provided, and S-Jax has one less year remaining on his contract. For the Warriors, they go all in with Klay Thompson as their starting shooting guard. While anything qualifies as an improvement for Jackson's fantasy impact, I'm not going to get effusive when it comes to potential. The Spurs like what they've been getting from Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, so the soon-to-be-34-year-old Jackson isn't going to improve much on the 26 minutes Jefferson averaged over the past month. Factor in his always-terrible efficiency (current 36% FG, 28% 3PT, 2.5 turnovers) and we're talking about only so much upside, even with some threes and steals mixed in. Could Jackson surprise and prove me wrong? Maybe, because he's got to be thrilled to be back with the Spurs. For that reason, you do have to think just a bit less of Leonard and Green, but Gregg Popovich is going to remain free with his substitutions everywhere but point guard. R-Jeff heads to the crowded wing in Golden State but at least will be a rotation regular with Monta Ellis gone and Stephen Curry looking doubtful to play in many games moving forward. Jefferson is already owned in 37 percent of leagues, however, so I don't see him warranting further adds. His line is thin enough these days to limit his overall impact, even when his threes are falling with some regularity. Jefferson's presence can't be a positive for Dorell Wright, given that it presents Mark Jackson with another substitution option when Dorell starts slow, but he's still the starter for now and has strung together a few solid games. I'd roster the wing options from the two teams involved in the trade in this order: Thompson, Wright, Leonard, Rush, Jackson, Jefferson, Green, McGuire.
Other trades with little-to-no fantasy impact:
LAL trades Derek Fisher and pick to HOU for Jordan Hill
MEM trades Sam Young to PHI for rights to Ricky Sanchez
Click here for analysis of the previously completed trade between the Bucks and Warriors