Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! Fantasy owners will be getting a week off from regular season action during the All-Star break, but the hardcore owners will be actively looking to make deals and improve their team for the fantasy playoffs. That inspired this topic, as we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite trade targets that could give you an edge when it matters the most.
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Malik Beasley and Monte Morris- Here’s two players that are breaking out before our eyes and that have one of the best fantasy playoff schedules with a 3-4-4 from Weeks 22-24 (the standard setting for Yahoo Leagues). Things are going to get tricky in Denver real fast as Isaiah Thomas makes a case for a role on one of the best teams in the West and with Gary Harris (adductor) likely coming back soon after the All-Star break, but I still think Morris and Beasley are going to have big roles on this team. Over the last two weeks alone, Beasley has been a top-35 player with 20.9 points and 3.4 triples on 54.5% from the field, while Morris has been inside the top-60 with 15.0 points, 5.1 assists, 0.3 turnovers(!) and 1.3 triples on 57.1% from the field.
Coach Malone has talked about going to smaller lineups down the stretch when asked about his crowded backcourt, so that tells me that he knows Morris and Beasley have been too valuable to take more than a handful of minutes away from them. I think you can acquire both players for cheap if their owners believe they are just short-term solutions, so it’s a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay off when it matters the most.
On a side note, Nikola Jokic is going to be arguably a top-5 fantasy asset for the fantasy playoffs, so if you want to flip someone like a Joel Embiid (3-3-3) for the Joker to boost your games played I’m on board with that idea.
Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox- The Kings and Wizards are the only teams in the NBA with a 4-4-4 schedule from Weeks 22-24, one of the many reasons why I have a lot of stock in Fox and Hield this season. Fox is sitting just inside the top-70 and has become one of the most promising young PGs in the NBA with a 17/7/4 line to go with 1.7 steals and 1.1 triples, and his improved efficiency has raised his ceiling considerably. As for Hield, he’s shooting an absurd 44.9% from deep with 3.4 makes per game to go with 20.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Those are top-45 numbers, and with the Kings looking to sneak into the postseason, I’m expecting both players to finish strong for their franchise and for their fantasy owners.
Raphielle Johnson (@Raphiellej)
Jordan Clarkson, Cleveland: Clarkson has been one of the league’s most productive sixth men this season (he scored a career-high 42 Wednesday night), and the push for the Sixth Man of the Year award could result in some stat padding down the stretch. Cleveland will play 11 games between March 11-31, and it isn’t as if the Cavaliers have a plethora of proven scorers on their roster. If Clarkson were a bit older maybe he’s a candidate to have his minutes “managed” down the stretch, but he isn’t and to do that would mean that an awful lot of the perimeter workload would be given to Collin Sexton.
Bobby Portis, Washington: The Wizards go into the All-Star break three games out of the last playoff spot in the East. Who knows where the Wizards will be come March, but Portis sets up to be a solid pickup either way. He’s played well since being acquired from Chicago, and that “contract year” can be quite the motivator for players regardless of where their team stands in the playoff chance. And from a scheduling standpoint Washington is one of two teams that will have 12 games to play between March 11-31, with Sacramento being the other.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
It took a looooong time, but it looks like Isaac is finally delivering on his preseason hype. Over Orlando’s last eight games, he is averaging 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 triples, 1.3 steals and 2.6 blocks, while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 95 percent from the charity stripe. During this current eight-game stretch, he ranks 18th overall in nine-category fantasy formats, one spot ahead of Joel Embiid. I still think he’s a bit undervalued due to his injury history and inconsistent play this season, and he can be a real difference-maker down the stretch. So I’m targeting Isaac in all leagues, especially in dynasty formats.
Capela has been sidelined since early January, but don’t forget just how well he was playing before he suffered ligament damage in his right thumb. On the season, he ranks inside the top-20 in nine-cat leagues. And it sounds like CC has a good chance to return in the Rockets' first game after the All-Star break on Feb. 21 against the Lakers. He’s expected to practice with the team this week and next. Assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, he should be good to go. Mike D'Antoni referred to Wednesday's loss to the Wolves as the last game "before Clint comes back," implying that he'll be cleared for the first game after the break.
Steve Alexander (@Docktora)
Teams with nice playoff schedules (Weeks 20-23) include:
Golden State: 4-3-2-5
I totally agree with Raph on Jordan Clarkson. He's hot and the Cavs go 4-2-4-4 weeks 20-23, right in the heart of the fantasy playoffs. So Clarkson, Kevin Love (who I don't trust), Larry Nance, Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton are all solid trade targets due to the playoff schedule.
For GSW, Kevon Looney could get some extra action as the Warriors rest stars down the stretch, and Andre Iguodala could benefit from some stars resting. But these guys are more waiver adds than trade targets. That five-game week is big for GSW in Week 23, but that's the only one I'd mess with the GSW scrubs in.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis look like they have a new lease on life now that they’re in Washington. Parker has put up strong all-around numbers in three of his four games with the Wiz, and is averaging 12.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.5 bpg for his new squad (in 28 minutes per game). As for Portis, he started to get hot just before leaving Chicago, and has put up 22.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg and 3.0 treys over his last six. It’s almost like (and I know this sounds crazy) a new coach is putting them in a better system to succeed. Adding to the appeal for both of these guys is that the Wizards have an outstanding playoff schedule, going 4-4-4 in games played from Weeks 22-24. I wasn’t that interested in the law firm of Parker and Portis for most of the season, but I would more than happily add them to any of my fantasy teams right now.
Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)
Much depends on when your fantasy playoffs fall, assuming head-to-head matchups, of course. Jonas mentioned that the Kings go 4-4-4-4 in Weeks 22-25 and I'll happily take on more Sacramento shares in most situations. This is a team that's currently No. 9 in the West and one game out of the playoff race, but just three games out of No. 5. They want to end their postseason drought, which means DNP-rest days shouldn't be a big issue. I love bubble teams for that reason -- you can have a great schedule, like the Cavs, but if your team is tanking that won't benefit veterans like Kevin Love. I'm also skeptical we'll see Tristan Thompson (foot) for very long after the break.
Bubble teams also include the Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Jazz, Pistons, Hornets, Heat and Magic. I'd be fine pursuing Marvin Bagley (role keeps expanding), JaVale McGee (one of the deadline's biggest winners), Reggie Bullock (nice spot with 32+ minutes as a starter in L.A.), Pat Beverley (impressively lately and staying with the Clips was huge), Landry Shamet (likely to be unleashed), Rudy Gay or Patty Mills (legit playoff chase works wonders for Spurs veterans), Nicolas Batum (steady root value after a rough start this year), Marvin Williams (ditto), Evan Fournier or Terrence Ross (both top-100 the past few weeks)...to name some less-obvious guys whose roles should be safe.