Time to buy low on Bagley, Ayton & Collins

Steve Alexander
Rotoworld

Buy Low

Marvin Bagley (thumb, re-evaluated at end of week), Deandre Ayton (PED suspension, due back Dec. 17) and John Collins (PED suspension, due back Dec. 23) are all on their way back and are all solid targets right now. Owners who have been holding on since Week 1 may be reluctant to let go, but if you can move a guy like Draymond Green or someone else you don’t really trust for one of these guys, now is the time to take action. Gordon Hayward (broken hand) is also within a month of returning for the Celtics and might be available at a super-low price right now. 

Joe Ingles Jazz – Mike Conley suffered a hamstring injury and left early on Monday night while Ingles had one of his best games of the season. I had an epiphany while writing the Daily Dose Tuesday morning: Conley and Jingles can’t play together, probably don’t like each other, and possibly can’t survive together. I’m not in the Jazz locker room and have no idea of the personal or player relationship that exists between the guys on the team, but I feel like if Conley weren’t in the picture, Ingles would be going off. I almost picked him up and played him in a few leagues this week and now that Conley is hurt and Jingles had a big night (13-8-8-2 with 2 triples), I’m actually regretting the decision to leave him on waivers. But the Jazz only have two more games this week and then go 3-3-3-3-4-3-3 after that, so it’s going to be tough to take a complete flier on Ingles. All I know is the guy’s a much better player than he’s shown this season and the only reason I can come up with is Conley, as well as Jingles’ new role off the bench. If the schedule was better, I’d be much more excited about him.

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Wendell Carter Jr. Bulls – All we heard about WCJ was his injury history leading up to the season, but he’s been healthy and effective for most of it and had a double-double on Monday night. I feel like owners undervalue WCJ and if he can stay healthy, he’s only going to get better. And the Bulls go 4-4-4-4 from Jan. 6 through Feb. 2, meaning Carter should put up some big numbers along the way. 

Mitchell Robinson Knicks – I took him way to early in several drafts and between the brutality of the Knicks, the sketchiness of the coaching staff and front office, and Robinson’s foul trouble and lack of minutes, it’s been a pretty rough ride. But coach David Fizdale simply has to be on his last legs and there’s still some hope that the next Knicks’ coach (please, not Isiah Thomas) will fully turn Robinson loose. Even if that happens, foul trouble will always be a concern, but we’ve seen Jaren Jackson Jr. seemingly right the ship (fingers crossed) and Robinson might be next. There’s almost nothing appealing about the Knicks weekly schedule for the rest of the season (4-3-3-3-4-3-4-3-4-1-1-4-4-3-3-4-3-3-2), but I still think Robinson is going to go on a tear the second half. He had 14 rebounds, a steal and three blocks in Monday’s disaster. 

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Jason Tatum Celtics – Tatum’s in the midst of a two-game week and then the Celtics go 3-3-3-3 for the next month. He’s one of the best players in the NBA and I think the poor schedule this week, as well as for the month of December, could work in your favor if you sell that angle to a Tatum owner. If you can use the games-played schedule to swing a deal to land Tatum, I doubt you’ll regret it, regardless of how many games he plays per week. 

Nikola Jokic Nuggets – Perhaps no player has been more perplexing and mildly frustrating than Jokic this season. Draymond Green has been a complete buzzkill, but Jokic has just been a subtle disappointment. As I’ve been saying, Jokic simply has to play better than he has up to this point and it’s going to happen sooner than later. I don’t know about you, but a deal that would send Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal to a fellow owner for Jokic should end up working out in the end. His value won’t be lower this season than it is right now. Jokic is currently down in the mid-40s in Basketballmonster.com rankings and he can only go up from there. 

Blake Griffin Pistons – His body tends to break down and the Pistons are an extreme longshot to make the playoffs. Griffin’s only played in eight games this season and is shooting it really poorly from the field over his last three. But he’s also scored in double digits in all eight of his games. He’s the ultimate shut-down candidate and has appeared to be fairly healthy since mid-November. The Pistons would love to give Christian Wood a full slate of minutes and Griffin being shut down would give them the perfect opportunity to do just that. He feels like a sinking ship and if I owned Griffin, I’d be making offers to every owner in my league. 

Jeremy Lamb Pacers – Lamb’s having a nice season for the Pacers and is offering fourth-round fantasy value thus far. Victor Oladipo is nearing a return from knee surgery and while I don’t believe the Pacers are going to ride him very hard until the real playoffs arrive, someone’s going to have to take a hit. I doubt it will be Malcolm Brogdon or T.J. Warren, which leaves Lamb possibly being fed to the lions. He’s not a must-sell player, but now looks like the perfect time to try to move Lamb for an equally-hot player. 

Sell High

Great players on bad teams – Draymond Green (clearly not a sell-high player, but his name still holds value in some people’s eyes), Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Kevin Love and Bradley Beal. The Warriors are 4-18, the Pelicans are 6-14, the Blazers are 8-12, the Thunder are 8-11, the Cavaliers are 5-14 and the Wizards are 6-12. 

Green is a mess, apparently has no desire to play and his trade value is basically a fantasy dumpster fire. But things aren’t going to get any better and anything you can get for Green at this point should be considered a win. Whether it be a case of Naturdays, Zion Williamson, a banged up Ja Morant, or even a mediocre player like Taurean Prince or Glenn Robinson III, we’ve reached the point where anything you can get for Green is better than dropping him. 

The Pelicans don’t appear to be going anywhere and the farther they fall out of playoff contention, the better the chances are of Holiday starting to miss games. And no, I don’t think Zion Williamson is going to suddenly come back and rescue the one-winged Pelicans. Holiday could easily finish out the season, but given the Pelicans’ bad record, I could see him shutting things down early and getting ready for next year, when he’ll hopefully have a healthy Williamson ready to roll by his side. 

Lillard’s back issue is a concern, regardless of the Blazers’ record, and when you add in the fact that they just can’t seem to figure it out, he becomes even more of a fantasy gamble. I own Lillard and haven’t really thought about moving him, but the more games the Blazers the lose the better the chances are that he starts missing more games. Having said that, the resurgence of Carmelo Anthony, the reigning WC Player of the Week, has led the Blazers to three straight wins and it’s possible they make a run and sneak into the playoffs. Especially considering that the Suns are currently the No. 8 seed in the West. But I suspect the ‘Melo-effect’ will eventually fade and the Blazers just don’t look like a playoff team right now. If you trade Lillard make sure you get something really good in return. But as a fellow Dame owner, I think we need to take a hard look at moving him before his back injury and the Blazers’ struggles catch up to us. 

The Thunder don’t look like a playoff team to me and Paul is constantly being pushed by both Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. His knees have a ton of miles on them and once the Thunder are out of the playoff hunt, they may officially turn the keys over to SGA and Schroder. CP3 feels like a sinking ship to me and it’s time to look into jumping overboard before it’s too late. And the good news is that he’s playing well enough to bring some good stuff in return. 

Love is a little trickier. While the Cavaliers aren’t going anywhere, Love is one of the top trade targets in the league. I can honestly see him ending up in Dallas, allowing the Mavs to start a lineup featuring Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Love and Kristaps Porzingis, which could, in theory, win a championship. Then again, if Love were to be traded to the Mavs, or anywhere else, he likely won’t be a focal point of the offense. But the longer he stays in Cleveland the more his gimpy back will likely keep him out, and he has absolutely no reason to suit up for the Cavs if he’s not feeling 100 percent. Love’s had some big games this season and may still bring you something back in return. While there’s some risk in moving him, it still sounds like a better option than sitting on him until the All-Star break while he misses a ton of games because his back is causing him some pain and his team stinks. 

Beal is a beast and doesn’t like to take days off, but this Wizards team simply isn’t going to get it done. And in this age of load management you have to think the Wizards will take it easy on Beal in order to have him healthy and ready to go next season. He’s not nearly on the level of Lillard as far as sinking ships go, mainly because Lillard’s back issue has me very concerned, but once the Wizards are playing for a lottery pick, you have to think days off for Beal will become more and more common toward the end of the season.

Anthony Davis & LeBron James Lakers – Davis is constantly listed as day-to-day on Rotoworld, yet he’s still out there every night and playing at a very high level. The Lakers are 17-3 and appear to not only be a lock for a playoff spot, but the favorite for the No. 1 seed in the West, as well. And once that vision becomes closer to reality, you have to think that both AD and LeBron start getting nights off. There’s no need to panic and have a fire sale for either player, but if you can move one of them for a guy like Luka Doncic, who is going to have to play at a high level all the way through the end of the season in order to get the Mavs the best seed possible, you should do it. 

Fred VanVleet & Norman Powell Raptors – Both of these guys have been playing really well, especially FVV. I love him, and am an owner of Powell in several leagues, but they’re flourishing with Kyle Lowry on the sidelines with a thumb injury. Lowry’s due back any day now and while Powell’s more likely to take a big hit than FVV once Lowry is back, both of them should see a drop in production once it happens. And given that FVV’s currently a Top 20 player based on the numbers, he could bring a windfall in return. 

Spurs – Dejounte Murray has been highly disappointing, just like his team, and LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan play just twice this week, and twice next week. Maybe they should be on the buy-low list for that reason, but if you can dump them on Tuesday in exchange for solid players with a better short-term schedule, it could make a big difference to your team’s head-to-head record over the next 13 days. And even when the Spurs’ two-game week slide is over, they go 3-3-3 for the next three weeks. If you then add in the fact that the Spurs are 7-14, you have to think that Gregg Popovich will get really creative with his lineups once the playoffs are out of reach. I feel like Aldridge and DeRozan are two of the strongest fantasy trade candidates out there and I really don’t want anything to do with anyone on the Spurs for the rest of the season. 

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