Fantasy Basketball: Five players to buy or sell, including trying to trade Josh Hart
By Henry Weinberg, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
In this week’s fantasy trade tips article, we’ll be looking to gain some value on the margins and extract some value from players with cloudy outlooks. Let’s dive in.
Sell high: Josh Hart, Trail Blazers
Hart is seeing more playing time than ever (35.2 MPG) but operating with the smallest offensive workload (7.4 FGA per game) of any stretch when he’s been a full-time starter. What happens if the playing time decreases?
The return of Gary Payton II is looming, which will dent Hart’s heavy workload. Payton II is an elite defender, and Portland will undoubtedly want to align him with Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. Hart is the odd man out. However, this isn’t a panic sell on Hart, as he remains a quality two-way hooper. It’s merely a warning that his 9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game could dip.
Selling Hart should be easy. Payton II is a pretty underrated player, so many fantasy managers may not be accounting for his return. Hart’s current usage, rebounding dominance and respectable efficiency make him a valuable asset. If you can move/package him for a higher-ceiling player, I’d do it.
Buy low: Ayo Dosunmu, Bulls, (27 percent rostered)
Teams around the league are watching Chicago's direction leading up to the NBA trade deadline. The Bulls could host a fire sale or attempt to begin retooling the roster. It’s a roster that is going nowhere. The Bulls' ceiling is low, and given their 11-15 start, the floor isn’t exactly high.
One player doubtful to be traded is Dosunmu. Chicago can retain the 22-year-old in restricted free agency this offseason, and he’s displaying quality growth in his second campaign. This season, 252 players have logged at least 100 offensive possessions. Among them, Donunmu ranks 109th in points per possession at 1.032. While that may seem like a middling ranking, it puts the second-year pro just below Anfernee Simons and just above Tyrese Haliburton. Obviously, those two players operate excellently with huge volume/responsibilities, but Dosunmu is nonetheless performing well on a per-minute basis.
Currently averaging a modest 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists through 25 games this season, Dosunmu’s key strength is getting to the bucket and finishing. At 6-foot-5, he’s capable of overmatching opponents and earning high-quality looks. He’s also multi-dimensional on offense, showing accuracy from everywhere across his two seasons.
Chicago’s most desirable trade candidates are likely Alex Caruso and Coby White, with the expiring contract of Nikola Vucevic and the recently extended/overpriced Zach LaVine on the table if Chicago can find a blockbuster. Goran Dragic is more realistically a buy-out candidate. Any of these transactions would open the door for Dosunmu to step into a prominent role. He’s worth stashing if he's available on the waiver wire or making a low-level fantasy deal in case Chicago makes trades and a new role emerges.
Sell: Jaden Ivey, Pistons
I certainly won't classify this as a sell high. Trading Ivey requires pitching his pedigree/upside. The metrics are concerning, and while I’m a long-term believer, I don’t think Ivey's rest-of-season fantasy outlook is peachy.
Ivey is shooting 34.2% from the field and 25.0% from beyond the arc, with a poor 0.97 AST/TO ratio across Detroit's last six games. Overall, Ivey's 40.4% clip from the field is underwhelming, but it's understandable for a rookie, and his 4.3 free-throw attempts per game are great. Most alarmingly, he's struggled without Cade Cunningham, who is now done for the season and slated for shin surgery. Alongside his co-star, Ivey hit 44.3% of his shots, but he's shooting just 37.5% from the field in 14 games without Cunningham.
The 20-year-old shouldn’t be on the trade block in keeper formats, but I’m not a fan of his rest-of-season outlook. The rookie is averaging 13.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds across his last 10 games.
Buy: Lonnie Walker, Lakers
Just 83 players are averaging 16.0 points per game this season. Walker is one of them, yet he’s being slept on in fantasy circles. Rostered in just 49% of Yahoo leagues, Walker is amid a career-best season. Although he won’t offer much peripherally, his scoring volume, three-point proficiency and consistent usage make him an appealing bench asset.
If available in your league, he’s the type of player that would incentivize me to swing a two-for-one trade. Look to acquire a marginal upgrade in the deal, then add Walker with your cleared roster spot. If he’s rostered in your league, he’s a decent throw-in to trade talks.
Since Nov. 1, Walker owns a 50.0/45.1/91.7% shooting slash en route to 17.6 points a night. Across the Lakers' last six games, Walker is shooting 46.9% from deep. Overall for the season, Walker is connecting on 39.0% of 5.3 three-point attempts per game. That is elite efficiency. At just 23 years old, Walker is blossoming — a la Malik Monk in a nearly identical Lakers’ role from last season.
Buy low: Jonathan Isaac, Magic
Huge news on Isaac’s recovery timeline emerged when he was assigned to Orlando’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, to get live reps. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Isaac showcased elite defensive versatility before an ACL tear and subsequent setbacks in a lengthy recovery.
That context should temper expectations, but he’s an exact fit for the type of personnel Orlando has successfully utilized this season. His ridiculous length, athleticism and multi-dimensional two-way game profile well. For that reason, he could also be a trade candidate if Orlando isn't factoring him into future plans. The 76ers have been a speculative destination. Anything of the sort could unlock a more prominent role if Isaac proves to be healthy down the stretch.
In his last NBA action, Isaac averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. With a looming return, the 25-year-old is worth stashing (currently available in 73% of leagues) for those with the luxury to.