Taking a look at trade targets, trade block candidates, and players to hold on to at this stage of the season.
Buy Low – Currently undervalued players
• David Lee(notes), FC, GSW (Season Rank: 93)
In terms of return on investment, Lee has been an unequivocal bust so far this season. Concerned owners might see Lee’s recent throwback game in Madison Square Garden (28 points, 11-17 FG, 10 rebounds, 4 steals) as an opportunity to cash out. And rightly so, as the days of David Lee the first-rounder are likely gone for the immediate future. However, savvy managers can take advantage of the realization that Lee will vastly underperform relative to his draft position (ADP of 14th). Lee should easily improve upon his current per game ranking of 100th overall, meaning there is an opportunity for gain.
• Gerald Wallace(notes), F, CHA (Season Rank: 59)
The Charlotte Bobcats as a whole have struggled this season with a record of two wins and six losses. As a result, Wallace’s numbers have been a bit down, especially on the defensive end. Over the past three seasons, Wallace has delivered a per-game value of 17th overall. In particular, Wallace’s steals (1.0) are down this season from a high water mark of 2.5 per game in 2005-06 and a career average of 1.5 steals per game. Crash is still only 28 years old, so expect Wallace to improve from his current rank of 62nd overall.
• Brook Lopez(notes), C, NJN (Season Rank: 96)
Like his brother Robin, Brook has been struggling in the early going this season. However, Brook is one of the best young big men in the game and should definitely recover. Lopez’s poor shooting (38% FG on 15.8 attempts) and foul trouble has been a bitter surprise for fantasy managers and is probably as much mental as it is anything else. There is no reason to doubt that Brook’s field goal percentage will normalize (career 51% FG) and that he’ll resume his efficient ways.
• Al Jefferson(notes), FC, UTA (Season Rank: 75)
The window to buy low on Al Jefferson is rapidly closing. Al Jeff owners likely spent an early third round pick to draft him (ADP of 27th), and he has failed to justify that draft position – yet (currently posting seventh round value). However, his numbers are creeping up as he acclimates to Utah’s system, showing glimpses of the 20-10 Jefferson we used to know (21 points and 8 rebounds in Utah’s game against Orlando). With the Jazz starting to roll, make an offer for Big Al before it is too late.
• Nene Hilario(notes), C, DEN (Season Rank: 102)
Despite the fact that the Nuggets are desperately thin in the middle, Nene has failed to fully capitalize this season (90th in per game value this season). The reason is that Nene has been limited by a groin strain. However, the limitations on his on-court activity are in the process of being lifted and head coach George Karl has been heaping praise on the Brazilian big man. With proven top 30-upside, Nene is a solid buy low target before he really gets it going again this season.
• Andris Biedrins(notes), C, GSW (Season Rank: 89)
The Latvian big man is hovering just inside the top 100 less than three weeks into the season, showing a marked improvement over last season (finished 132nd in per game value). This year he is playing 27 minutes per game and averaging 7.0 points, 54% FG, 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 turnover. His block percentage (2.1% this season) has been artificially low so far this season compared to his career average of 3.8 percent, so regression to the mean tells us that he is due for an uptick in blocks, and therefore overall fantasy value.
• Andre Miller(notes), PG, POR (Season Rank: 41)
Let’s face it, the Andre Miller experiment in Portland has been mediocre at best. The Blazers missed out on Hedo Turkoglu(notes) and Paul Millsap(notes) and signed Miller because he was one of the best free agents available at the time, not the best fit next to their franchise player. When healthy, Roy is undoubtedly the alpha dog in the Rose Garden. But if Roy misses significant time or shuts it down, Miller becomes the dominant guard for Nate McMillan’s Trail Blazers. Roy’s pain figures to be Miller’s gain.
• Carl Landry(notes), F, SAC (Season Rank: 295)
Honestly, Landry has played some of the worst basketball of his professional career to start this season. Perhaps it is his ill-defined role in Paul Westphal’s crowded frontcourt; perhaps it is just a fluke. Either way, Landry has nowhere to go from here but up. Landry also has a better than average chance of being traded, as he has built a nice reputation for himself around the league and the Kings could give more minutes to DeMarcus Cousins(notes), Jason Thompson(notes) and Hassan Whiteside(notes) if they moved Landry. Frustrated Landry managers will likely move Carl for next to nothing at this point, making now an excellent time to float lowball offers.
• Evan Turner(notes), GF, PHI (Season Rank: 165)
The rookie had about a bad of a start to his professional career as you can imagine. Terrible summer league. Terrible preseason. Rocky start to the regular season (well, besides his first regular season game). Suddenly, Andre Iguodala’s(notes) injury has allowed Turner to move into the starting unit and Turner has regained some of his confidence. Doug Collins has noticed. Turner is starting to flash some of the stat-stuffing potential and his stock is certainly on the rise.
Sell High – Currently overvalued players
• Elton Brand(notes), FC, PHI (Season Rank: 6)
Elton Brand is one of those players you have to be very careful with if you are planning on moving him. Since he is currently putting up top five value, you want to make sure you are getting back a first round player in return. No ifs, ands or buts about it. The fear with Brand is that he might suffer another serious injury or that his steals are a statistical fluke, since he is currently averaging 2.1 steals per game despite never once averaging more than 1.1 in the eleven prior seasons.
• D.J. Augustin(notes), PG, CHA (Season Rank: 42)
The Bobcats are struggling after losing their starting point guard, Raymond Felton(notes), to the Knicks during the offseason. Expect either Boris Diaw(notes) or Stephen Jackson(notes) to take a more assertive role in Charlotte’s offense, relegating Augustin to the role of a spot-up shooter. Or, the Bobcats might opt to make a move to upgrade their starting point guard. Either way, Augustin’s value is probably going to take a hit at some point this season, making him a decent guy to sell high.
• Lamar Odom(notes), F, LAL (Season Rank: 48)
Like Gibson, Odom’s cumulative potential will be limited by the return of his teammate from injury/offseason surgery. Bynum is currently targeting a return around Thanksgiving, which means Odom’s minutes, and touches, might take a hit soon. Unlike Gibson, however, Odom still stands to maintain solid fantasy value when Bynum returns, as Bynum will play limited minutes and there is also a decent chance that Bynum will experience a setback or another injury based on recent history.
• Devin Harris(notes), PG, NJN (Season Rank: 50)
The concerns surrounding Harris are strictly injury-related. Assuming full health, there is no reason to doubt Devin’s continued production for the balance of the season. However, the problem with Harris has always been figuring out a way to stay on the court for 82 games. Part of the problem is really that Devin’s style of play itself makes him vulnerable to injury because he aggressively (and sometimes recklessly) drives amongst the trees. For a guy who is not very durable to begin with, it is a recipe for disaster.
• Taj Gibson(notes), FC, CHI (Season Rank: 66)
Carlos Boozer(notes) is going to rain on Gibson’s parade in a big way sometime in the next month. The best way to attempt to move Gibson and get good value back in return is to add him as a second player in a two-for-two deal, as most savvy managers won’t want to trade for him straight up knowing that his production window is limited by Boozer’s return. At a certain point (likely in the next week or two), the window to trade Taj for any decent value will be foreclosed so the time to explore potential trades is now.
• Andrew Bogut(notes), C, MIL (Season Rank: 77)
Without a doubt, Bogut’s injury last season was scary, and the after-effects have been serious. However unfortunate it may be for Bucks fans to admit, Bogut remains in a relatively fragile state. He’s had a decent start to the season (13.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks), so it may make sense to move him if you can get a commensurate player in return.
Keep – Count on continued production
• Rudy Gay(notes), F, MEM (Season Rank: 1)
Rudy Gay is currently the number one player in fantasy basketball, hands down. The problem is that Gay is one of those players that is almost impossible to trade if you own him this season. Almost without exception, you will not be able to get full value for him, otherwise he’d be a no brainer sell high. Do I realistically expect him to finish the season as the best player in fantasy basketball? No, at this point I expect Chris Paul(notes) to usurp those honors. That being said, Gay is only movable if you are getting back another top five talent.
• Pau Gasol(notes), FC, LAL (Season Rank: 2)
Gasol is without question the best big man in basketball and the best big man in fantasy basketball. Sorry Dwight Howard(notes). That much is clear this season. He has provided a great return on investment from his ADP of 11th overall and should continue to produce at an elite level all season long. Expect Pau to finish in the top five when it is all said and done.
• Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (Season Rank: 4)
Beast mode. That is the best way to describe the Millsap’s early-season production. This is precisely why the Jazz opted to keep Millsap over Carlos Boozer and why you should reject any and all offers for Millsap (unless the trade involves Kevin Durant(notes) or Chris Paul). He has first round upside, which is an extremely rare and invaluable attribute to possess. If you drafted Millsap, congratulations and enjoy the ride.
• Francisco Garcia(notes), GF, SAC (Season Rank: 28)
It is has been difficult to read Paul Westphal’s rotations during his tenure as Sacramento’s head coach. As a result, there have been plenty of false alarms regarding waiver wire pickups. However, there is reason to believe that Garcia is legit this time. Garcia’s defensive production (1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks) has been excellent considering the fact that he is playing just under 27 minutes per game. Should Garcia receive more minutes, he would be a lock for second round value this season, making him a worthwhile waiver wire pickup to hang onto.
• Nicolas Batum(notes), GF, POR (Season Rank: 32)
With the alarming and rapid developments surrounding Brandon Roy’s(notes) knee, Batum stands to gain tremendously should Roy be forced to sit out for an extended period as one of Portland’s three most important players (Roy, Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge(notes)). A Roy injury/shutdown moves Batum up the offensive food chain to become Portland’s secondary option. Withstand the urge to move Batum until the B-Roy drama plays itself out.
• Serge Ibaka(notes), C, OKC (Season Rank: 35)
Ibaka’s efficiency this season has been very impressive. He has shot 60 percent from the field while also shooting just under 90 percent from the free throw line. The only reason he doesn’t have a much larger impact on the free throw percentage category is because of his low number of attempts (2.7 attempts per game). Ibaka’s efficiency plus his counting stats (10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 0.4 turnovers) have led to him posting second round value in the first three weeks of the season, putting him amongst elite company.
• Luis Scola(notes), FC, HOU (Season Rank: 37)
With Yao Ming(notes) struggling with an injury again, Scola looks like he is going to be the Rockets most consistent player all season long. He has taken the momentum he built over the summer in Turkey and converted it into his best fantasy performance to date. Unless you get blown away by an offer, hang onto the Argentinean forward for the long haul.
• Jrue Holiday(notes), PG, PHI (Season Rank: 45)
The trade offers are pouring in for Jrue Holiday, as owners are beginning to sense the fact that Holiday is breaking out for good this season. Over the past three games, Jrue is averaging 21.7 points, 2.3 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.7 steals. The scary (and awesome) thing is that we haven’t even begun to see the sophomore guard’s ceiling yet.
• Roy Hibbert(notes), C, IND (Season Rank: 46)
Hibbert is shaping up to be this season’s true breakout player. Roy was hyped quite a bit last off-season as well, but nothing could have prepared us for what he has delivered this season. Hibbert currently ranks 16th overall in per game value, with season averages of 15.8 points, 47% FG, 83% FT, 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 3.3 blocks and 2.7 turnovers. Most notably, Hibbert’s foul rate has dropped from 7.7 fouls per-36 minutes in his rookie season, to 5.0 last season to only 3.8 this season, allowing him to stay on the floor and continue to produce.
• Toney Douglas(notes), G, NYK (Season Rank: 49)
Granted, he has had some rough shooting nights recently, but Douglas has earned a spot in the Knicks’ short rotation as instant offense off the bench. Douglas is carving out a Leandro Barbosa(notes)-esque role (circa 2006-07, that is) in coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. His 2.1 steals per game should help weather the poor shooting nights (38%, 33%, 33% FG in his last three games). Expect Toney Douglas to finish somewhere near the top ten in steals at the conclusion of the season.
• Daniel Gibson(notes), G, CLE (Season Rank: 78)
One thing is clear is that coach Byron Scott is a fan of Boobie Gibson. Coach Scott has given Gibson just under 30 minutes per night and Gibson has responded by being one of Cleveland’s most reliable scorers for the post-LeBron James(notes) Cavaliers. With Mo Williams(notes) suffering another groin injury recently (Williams alarmingly has quite the history of groin injuries), you get the feeling that this might be shaping up to be a lost season for Mo. Gibson stands to maintain his top 80 value for the near future, but could easily improve upon it if Williams continues to struggle or be hobbled by injury.
Photos via Getty Images