Guys, after two wild months it finally happened! The Wolves have been in disarray with management and president/coach Tom Thibodeau clashing over what direction to take the franchise, but they finally found a trade partner for Jimmy Butler in Philly. Here are the details of the deal:
I’ll break down what all this means for your fantasy team with a quick glance at the waiver-wire following Saturday’s 10-game slate, and be sure to click here to follow me on Twitter for any questions you might have!
Fantasy Fallout from the Trade
Jimmy Butler has been dominating the headlines for months and is the centerpiece of the deal, so it makes sense to start right here. First off, I absolutely love the landing spot because he’s going to a contender and this means the random DNPs for “general soreness” will stop. He’s not going to be run into the ground like he was in Minnesota (he was averaging over 40 minutes in his last three games!), but I’ll trade that for a lighter workload and a better chance of staying healthy all day.
Butler’s usage rate has gone down in three straight seasons and it was sitting at just 22.3% before this trade, but that shouldn’t be an issue for fantasy. He was the 10th best player in 9-category leagues in 2016-17, 11th in 2017-18 and is currently ranked 8th this season, so there’s no reason he can’t post another top-10 finish as his game is built on an efficient 20-5-5 stat line with sexy defensive numbers (2.4 steals and 0.9 blocks currently) and plenty of triples (1.7).
The real-life implications are just as good, as Butler is going to give Philly a reliable closer — the 76ers rank 29th in offensive rating during the 4th quarter. Barring a disaster, this sets Butler up to receive a maximum extension from Philly during the offseason.
As for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, I don’t see their value changing too much. Embiid has the MVP award in his sights with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in eight games, and he’s on pace for career-highs across the board. He’s been the 4th best player in 9-category leagues and I like his chances of staying around the top-5. Simmons’ game is built on assists, rebounds, defensive stats and efficient scoring, and Butler taking the ball out of his hands on occasion could help him cut down on his 3.3 turnovers. He’s going to be fine.
Wilson Chandler might have some low-end value when he’s healthy, but he didn’t even crack the top-125 last season in a 31 minute role in Denver. I’ll pass on him for now. Mike Muscala is sidelined with a broken nose for a week, but he’s worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues because he’s a career 37.6% shooter from deep and could space the floor next to Embiid. There’s a lot of opportunity at the four spot in Philly, but it might make more sense for the 76ers to just play smaller with more minutes going to J.J. Redick.
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Speaking of Redick, Philly traded away two of their top four shooters, so they should seriously consider plugging Redick back into the starting five at the expense of Markelle Fultz. He was already getting over 30 minutes per game, but I think the Butler trade makes him so much more important to this team. He’s basically locked into mid-round value the rest of the way.
Fultz has been a percentage killer (39.5% from the field and 62.1% from the line) and doesn’t do enough elsewhere to compensate, and the Butler trade could end up hurting him the most. I’m cool with leaving him on the wire and it’s a buzzkill that the jumper that he “rebuilt from the ground up” hasn’t been working for him.
Landry Shamet is a sneaky player that might get a big bump as well, but he projects as just a 3-point specialist in an expanded role (1.7 triples in 19.8 minutes). He played 42 minutes on Saturday, so it's not a bad idea to take a flier on him anyways.
Moving onto Minnesota, Robert Covington should slide ride into Butler’s vacated minutes. An All-NBA defender, coach Thibodeau should quickly fall in love with the wing and there’s no reason to expect his value to change much. His steals (1.7), blocks (0.9) and triples (2.5) are the bedrock of his fantasy appeal and he’s returning top-25 value on the season.
As for Dario Saric, it’s important to note that Thibodeau is a Taj Gibson fanboy, but I don’t see how he can keep Saric out of the starting five. I think Saric will have a shot at top-100 value now that he’s found his rhythm over the past week, while Gibson should probably be dropped to the wire. A timeshare may not be out of the question either, but this will definitely be the position battle to watch over the next week.
I had high hopes for Josh Okogie as a stash for whenever the Butler trade went down, but this move didn’t do him any favors with Covington coming to town. Derrick Rose will continue to see plenty of minutes as a combo guard and fantasy owners can ride him until the wheels fall off, but the two biggest winners in Minnesota are Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Teague’s nearing a return from his knee injury and his usage rate jumps from 17.0 to 21.8 with Butler off the floor. As for KAT, his usage rate jumps from 22.0 to 27.1 with bumps to his assist percentage, rebounding rate and true shooting numbers as well. If you can get either at a discount, I’m all for it.
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander time!
My favorite rookie point guard approached must-own status on Saturday night, scoring 16 points with six rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers against the Bucks. He has a +7.0 net rating on the season and he’s now averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, 0.5 steals, 2.0 triples over his last two games, and coach Doc Rivers confirmed that he’s going to continue starting. He has multi-category upside and a shot at mid-round value, so make sure he’s not sitting on your waiver wire.
Caris LeVert ok after knee scare
In the early stages of a breakout season, Caris LeVert dodged a bullet when he landed awkwardly on his knee Saturday. While he didn't return to the game, LeVert did go to the scorer's table only for coach Kenny Atkinson to wave him back because of the score. He also said after the game that he's going to be fine, and coach Atkinson echoed those comments as well.
“It feels OK,’’ he said. “I just fell on it a little bit, but I’ll be fine for the next game" The Nets called it a "precautionary" move, so for now his fantasy owners can plan on having him in their lineup on Monday vs. the Wolves.
Houston, we have a Melo problem
Carmelo Anthony missed Saturday’s game with an “illness,” but it sounds like the Rockets are covering up something bigger. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Rockets and Melo are "discussing his role and how they might still be able to proceed together for the rest of the season,” while Shams Charania of The Athletic said Melo is “seriously weighing his roster situation.”
Melo hasn’t been a great fit so far and is averaging 13.4 points on 40 percent shooting, and he’s probably not thrilled about coming off the bench either. It’s hard to believe that this is happening after just 11 games in Houston, but it sure sounds like the Rockets are contemplating a buyout. P.J. Tucker already has mid-round fantasy value for his hustle stats and is available in more than 50% of Yahoo Leagues, and he may have more shots coming his way following this news. As for Melo, even optimistic owners should move on at this point.
Brandon Ingram tweaks ankle
No need to panic yet, as Ingram was able to finish the game. Maybe it swells up overnight and the Lakers do play again on Sunday vs. the tanking Hawks, so I could see them sitting the forward as a precaution. With that in mind, make sure Josh Hart isn’t available in your league — Hart would likely start if Ingram sits and would become a must-start player.
Quinn Cook shows his worth
Stephen Curry (groin) is “feeling better,” but he still remains without a timetable. The Warriors have a five-game week coming up, so Quinn Cook could be in for a big week if the Warriors continue to play it safe with Curry. Cook had a monstrous 27 points with three rebounds, five assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes against the Nets, and while this will surely be an outlier, Cook was a mid-round play when Curry missed time last season with 11.6 points, 3.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 1.8 triples.
Collin Sexton goes off
Cleveland’s rookie point guard hasn’t had a great start to the season, but he had his best game yet with a career-high 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes on Saturday. He’s going to have a long leash as the starter for at least the next couple weeks, but I’m hesitant to add him right now with Cleveland only playing twice next week. His stats aren’t the greatest either, but the minutes will definitely be there.
Derrick White bounces back
After a terrible debut, Derrick White showed why so many people have been hyping him up on Saturday. He scored a career-high 14 points with four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one 3-pointer, and you have to love that he played 30 minutes in just his second game back. He has enough talent to emerge as the third best fantasy asset in San Antonio behind their two All-Stars, and I think he has a pretty good shot at obtaining top-100 value. I’m sure I’ll get asked, so here’s how I’d rank all the point guards I mentioned tonight:
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- Can play multiple positions which helps his floor, and he has the highest upside out of all three as a true 9-category player.
- Derrick White- San Antonio’s rotations can be messy at times, but White is perfect for their offense because he’s just as good off the ball as he is on.
- Quinn Cook- He’ll probably have the best week with five games on the schedule, but he’ll be buried once Curry gets back.
- Collin Sexton- Would be No. 3 on this list if not for the 2-game week.