Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! This week’s topic is going to be Part 1 of a two-part series, as we’ll be discussing our top sell-high targets followed by our buy-low targets next week. I’ll kick things off…
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Blake Griffin- He was on my busts list in the Draft Guide and I’ll be the first to admit that his hot start caught me off guard. He’s averaging 27.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists compared to 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 2017-18, and his FG% has improved from 43.3% to 49.3% despite taking a similar amount of 3-pointers. So why am I telling you to sell high? Take a look at his games played over the past five years — he’s played 67 or fewer games in five straight seasons. If you want to bet against history and ride him until the wheels fall off, you have a lot more guts than I do.
Nikola Vucevic- It’s not that I think he will slow down that much, it’s that I hate his late-season outlook. He’s returning top-15 value right now and is lighting up fantasy leagues, but the Magic are 2-5 and headed towards another lost season. That will give them even more incentive to give Mo Bamba an extended look down the stretch. Vucevic does have an expiring contract, so a trade is probably what his fantasy owners should be rooting for.
JaVale McGee- McGee has been the biggest surprise of the season and it’s not close as he’s currently the 18th(!) ranked player in 9-category leagues. He’s posting a league-leading 3.3 blocks per game, he hasn’t been awful from the line (61.9% on just 2.6 attempts) and he’s averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals on 63.2% from the field. The biggest surprise has been his workload, as he’s playing 27.1 minutes per game after playing 18 or less for seven straight years. I’m skeptical that these numbers are sustainable in his age-30 season, but stranger things have happened. The way he’s playing, you could probably ask for a top-50 player in return, but I understand if you want to keep riding him while he’s on fire.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
LaVine is off to an incredibly hot start. He’s scored at least 20 points in each of the Bulls first eight games is averaging a whopping 28.1 points, to go along with 5.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 treys. Yes, he’s logging more minutes and shot attempts, but part of the reason for his success has been his remarkable efficiency on the offensive end.
Last season, LaVine shot 38.3 percent from the field as he worked his way back from a torn ACL. Over his first two pro seasons, he never shot higher than 45 percent. However, in 2018-19, he converting 51.0 percent of his FG attempts. I think it’s safe to assume that there is a regression to the mean on the horizon. In addition, Lauri Markkanen is expected to return sometime in November. Markkanen averaged nearly 13 shots a night last season and will eat into LaVine offensive possessions once he’s back in action. In addition to his FG percentage, LaVine’s usage rate of 34.1 will also likely drop. I’d be happy to sell high on LaVine, assuming I got back the right package.
DJ currently ranks 19th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues. The majority of his current production is sustainable, with the exception of one key category. Jordan shot 44.6 percent from the from the free-throw line over the first ten seasons of his career. Thus far in 2018-19, he is knocking down 82.4% of his freebies. I’d be willing to wager that number starts to drop precipitously, sooner rather than later. And once it does, Jordan’s fantasy value will take a hit.
I’m very much intrigued by Bjelica’s upside. In some respects, the situation in Sacramento is ideal. They are second in the league in pace and committed to pushing the ball and creating extra offensive possessions. However, Sacramento also has a ton of depth of front. Marvin Bagley, Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles are all players we should assume they’d like to get a long look at this season. With a 5-3 record, the Kings have exceeded expectations early on, but will they lean on their first-round picks more heavily once they fall far below .500 over the second half of the season?
In addition, Bjelica is shooting a ridiculous 58.2 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from downtown. Those numbers are bound to come back down to earth in the near future. I’m not suggesting dumping Bjelica. I think he’ll maintain value going forward. However, he’s currently ranked 21st overall in nine-cat leagues. If someone is willing to offer you a proven commodity with a much higher floor, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger.
Steve Alexander (@Docktora)
Blake Griffin is killin' it and I'm sad I don't own him anywhere, but he won't shoot it this well all year and injuries have been his thing over much of his career. Don't give him away, but you have to think now's the time to sell on him if you're ever going to do it.
Danilo Gallinari will probably be on all our lists. He's on fire and perfectly healthy right now, but there's no way that lasts. If I knew he was going to play in at least 72 games, I'd never move him. But the chances of 72 games are slim, and his trade value is as high as it will be right now.
Wesley Matthews has been killing it and I slept on him, but he can't score 20-plus every night, can he? His value is high and I don't trust him, so I'm looking to move him if I can get a good player in return.
And after Jusuf Nurkic's bounce-back performance on Tuesday, I'd be looking to move him, but only if I'm good with other center options. Someone will overpay you for him right now.
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David Leggieri (@legsanity)
I'd look to sell-high on Danilo Gallinari. He's currently averaging a career-high 20PPG and a career-high 6.1RPG. He's coming off a season where he played just 21 games and he's only played in 60+ games in three of his nine seasons. I love Gallo, but you just can't count on him to stay healthy. See what you can get right now before something goes wrong.
Blake Griffin's usage is as high as it's ever been and he's producing career-high numbers all over the place. Still, he's another guy who's been plagued by injuries the last few years and is hard to trust long-term. I'm fine with hanging onto him because of how awesome he's been and projects to be going forward, but I'm the type of fantasy player that likes to "cash in" on performances like this. He should be able to fetch a monster return.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Near the top of my list of sell-high players is one Danilo Gallinari, who is currently 23rd in Basketball Monster’s 9-category rankings. To clarify, sell-high for me doesn’t always mean you suddenly go into a frantic state where you have to trade the player no matter what. What it means to me at bare minimum is testing out the trade market, so at least you aren’t mad at yourself for not trying once things go south. Chances are that you won’t get anything close to top 25 for Gallinari given his injury history. But I’d gladly take a more durable player in the top 50 range.
JaVale McGee is another player who jumps out, only because his season has gone so much more spectacularly than most of us expected (he’s 18th overall in the 9-category rankings, thanks in large part to 3.3 bpg). Ryan and Tommy mentioned on the podcast yesterday that chances are you won’t get a fair return for him, but you might as well at least see what’s out there. Worst case scenario you close up trade talks for a while and JaVale probably keeps producing — even if not quite at this same clip.
Maybe a more realistic sell-high option is Zach LaVine. He’s currently 31st in the overall rankings behind 28.1 ppg while shooting 51.0 percent from the field. Once that shooting comes down a bit, LaVine’s lofty turnovers (4.0 per game) could look a lot more problematic. I’m all for keeping him on the roster if you’re so inclined, and I think he’ll be valuable all season. But you might as well check the tire pressure on a player who’s been No. 138, No. 62 and No. 157 on a per-game basis the last three seasons (albeit in just 24 games last year).
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
Derrick Rose put up a 50-spot across 41 minutes yesterday with Jimmy Butler (rest), Jeff Teague (knee) and Tyus Jones (foot) unavailable, and I'm confident saying that that will be his best game of the season. He essentially has nowhere to go but down from here, and it's really only a matter of time until he goes down with a major injury, so owners would be wise to see what they can get for him while the headlines are positive. Rose does have some solid brand recognition, so try and unload him on someone who's still living the glory days of 2010.
The 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica has suddenly emerged as a top-20 player as a starter in Sacramento, posting averages of 15.1 points, 6.5 boards, 3.0 assists, 2.3 triples, 1.3 steals, 1.0 block and just 1.1 turnovers per game while earning 27.5 minutes a night. All of those numbers are career-highs by an insane margin, and I don't think anything that he's doing is sustainable. Prior to this season, Bjelica had never averaged more than 6.8 points per game, and he's never gotten through more than 67 games over the course of an 82-game season. He's currently knocking down a ridiculous 54.5% of his 3-point attempts, and despite being a career 45.9% shooter, he's someone connecting on 58.2% of his shot attempts. He's also starting ahead of Sacramento's No. 2 overall pick, Marvin Bagley, and there's just no way that will still be true after the break. Seriously, what he's doing is not at all sustainable; flip him.
Danilo Gallinari has gotten off to a hot start, flirting with top-25 value in 9-cat leagues behind averages of 20.0 points, 6.1 boards, 2.1 triples and 1.0 turnover per game on 46.4% shooting from the field and 97.2% from the charity stripe. For The Rooster, it's not that these numbers are unsustainable, it's that he hasn't had a healthy season since 2009 (which was the only time he's made it through over 75 games). It's always something with Gallinari, so owners should try and get rid of him before his appendages fall off.
Mike Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)
Nikola Vucevic - He’s been tremendous to start the year, but Mo Bamba is coming. Coach Steve Clifford said he wants to up Bamba’s pace of play, and on Thursday he said today was Bamba’s best practice. It’s pretty clear the Magic want to have Bamba, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac as their core, and Vooch is clearly the best trade chip they have. Plus, Bamba and Vooch have a -43.2 net rating in their 26 minutes together. If you can cash in on top-30 value, do it.
Marc Gasol - He already had a scary neck injury and I’d be a little nervous about the added pace affecting his ability to stay healthy. He’s going to be 34 in January and either way he’ll likely be getting rest later in the season.
Derrick Rose - Sure, Woj has said Rose had a great offseason with his trainer and that 50-point explosion will be a highlight of the year. However, I would try to flip him in a heartbeat for someone like Jonathan Isaac or another underperforming guy to start.