If you look at some of the names that were dealt on Thursday — Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, P.J. Tucker, K.J. McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, Marcelo Huertas, Mike Scott — you could easily consider this year’s trade deadline some sort of sick joke.
But even if the names flying around (aside from Nerlens Noel) weren’t all that spicy on Thursday, there are quite a few intriguing developments as far as fantasy leagues are concerned. Here are a few of my big takeaways:
Fun times have officially been reinstated in Dallas. Their opening night lineup included a point guard (Deron Williams) and center (Andrew Bogut) with very little upside and shaky durability. Now, after Thursday’s moves, the Mavs will roll out the following starting five:
PG - Yogi Ferrell: 14.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.2 3s, 1.8 TOs in his last 10 games; now has virtually nothing to stop him from dynamic production the rest of the way.
SG - Wesley Matthews: His work in the 3-point contest was pretty agonizing, but Mantooth has been rolling lately in officially sanctioned NBA games. Last 10: 16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.0 3s.
SF - Harrison Barnes: More 3s and steals would be nice, but Barnes’ breakout year shows no signs of slowing down. Last 12 games: 19.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 3s (48.2 FG / 81.4 FT).
PF - Dirk Nowitzki: Last five games: 20.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.2 3s. Turns 39 in June.
C - Nerlens Noel: The piece de resistance. And a tip of the hat if you’ve patiently held him on your roster all year. He had a handful of bad games earlier this month, but is still averaging 11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 spg and 1.2 bpg in his last 13. And in his last three starts before the break, Noel posted 15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.3 spg and 1.0 bpg, shooting 75.0 percent from the field.
A couple other takeaways from Thursday…
Speaking of Nerlens Noel, don’t overlook Jahlil Okafor. I mentioned this at the Rotoworld Roundtable (also due to be released on Friday), but with Noel gone and Joel Embiid (knee) out the next four games, there’s a legitimate chance for a mini breakout from Okafor. He wasn’t exactly sizzling before the break (12.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg in the last seven games he was active), but that was in just 23 minutes a night. Per-36 minutes, he’s at 17.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.6 spg and 1.7 bpg this season. The big variable for me is whether or not the Sixers are finally ready to let his minutes fly. Okafor has only played 30-plus minutes four times this season. In those games, the numbers are more or less what we should expect: 17.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.8 spg and 1.8 bpg.
Meanwhile, we may be on the brink of a T.J. Warren breakthrough. P.J. Tucker, traded to the Raptors on Thursday, was limited at the start of the year coming off back surgery. So much so that in Phoenix’s first three games back in October, he logged just six minutes per game. It’s no coincidence that in those first three, T.J. Warren went somewhat nuts (23.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.0 spg and 1.0 3s, on 52.8 percent from the field and 91.7 from the line).
After that, Tucker — durable human being that he is — saw his minutes increase. And though Warren continued to produce (17.6 ppg over his next nine games), he hit the sidelines with a head injury in November. He returned in December, and has had some good stretches, but has also been wildly inconsistent. For example, during one five-game stretch before and right after Jan. 1st, his points scored went like this: 23 - 4 - 0 - 24 - 2. Tucker alone wasn’t the reason for Warren’s erratic play, but P.J.’s now-departed playing time — 31 minutes per game in his last 40 games — was no small thing. The reliable veteran is out of the picture, so the Suns have even less of an excuse not to uncork Warren. He was already on a pretty decent run before Tucker’s departure (12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.1 spg, 0.9 bpg in his last eight games, with only two single-digit scoring duds), and I expect even better things in the immediate future.
Other Random Thoughts: The Terrence Ross debut in Orlando included some very good developments (a starting job, 33 minutes, 13 points, two treys, three steals), and one notably bad one: 4-of-17 shooting. Overall though, I remain really excited about Ross. With a big role right away, some explosive games should soon follow. … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, last five games: 8.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.4 bpg. … Gary Harris is at 18.0 ppg, 1.6 spg and 3.3 treys in his last seven. … I discussed the outlook for Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans before their successful Sacramento debuts on Thursday. You can check out those videos below…