Every week, we’ll be pitting our two die-hard Larry Bird fans in a duel to the death on a fantasy debate.  Hopefully this will become as infamous as Burr vs. Hamilton.  Look what it did for Broadway!  This week, we’re debating the buy or sell merits of slow-starting Victor Oladipo, and [going into last night] red hot Devin Booker.  Buy!  Sell!  Make millions on Frozen Orange Juice Futures that I still don’t understand!  Here’s what our dueling Birds feel on the issue this week:

Adam:  Why to buy Oladipo:

Currently, Victor Oladipo‘s FG% is a bit low, but not significantly lower than his career average. That should fall back in line once he is fully comfortable with the OKC system. His FT% is 10 points lower than normal, and that will no doubt bounce back as well. We are dealing with a small sample size right now, and that is a clear buy low indicator. Clearly, Oladipo is under-performing in multiple categories, however, these can all be explained through adjusting to a new team and his lower usage rate. So the big question is, will his usage rate go up? The answer is a resounding yes. If the Thunder want to win, Oladipo needs the ball more with the second unit once he gets used to the system. Westbrook is currently at a usage rate significantly higher than the highest all time – that won’t hold up, and Oladipo is next in line. This seems to be a clear buy low situation since we all know that Oladipo is a talented player, and there is no possible way that Westy can maintain a usage rate of that magnitude.

Why to sell Booker:

Devin Booker is coming off of games of 39 and 38 points. While these are exceptional scoring performances, that is quite literally all they are. The man is a pretty clear thragnof and thus his value appears higher than his stats dictate. In his last game, it took him 29 shots to get to those 39 points, and he only made 3 treys in those last two outings as well. Prior to those games, his stats were quite blah. On top of all that, he played 45 and 41 minutes apiece in the last two… Maybe that’s just me, but that doesn’t seem to be sustainable. Booker is a mediocre thragnof option with 1.7 3s per game on the season. 3 boards, 3 assists, and a measly .3 steals and no blocks. The cherry on top is the 3 turnovers that he is averaging… Yahoo has him at 158 on the season, and I think it is clear that Booker is not a top 100 player. The scoring is quite flashy, but the fantasy substance just isn’t there.

Billy:  Why to sell Oladipo:

I am of the belief that unless Westbrook gets seriously injured, he will maintain his usage rate, or very close to it. Simply put, I think he is a transcendent player, and the Thunder will force feed him, whether that is the right move or not. Oladipo will continue playing off the ball more than he ever did in Orlando. As an off the ball player, he simply is not as valuable. He isn’t a great spot up shooter, so he doesn’t add any value through that. He’s a solid defender, but not a world-beater there. Everyone knows Oladipo’s name, and everyone was expecting big things when he was traded to OKC; I just think the expectations got too high. If people still have those expectations, I’d trade Oladipo. I recognize his talent just as much as you do; I just don’t think his situation allows him to fulfill all that talent, and if someone else thinks that, I’d be totally happy with trading him.

Why to buy Booker:

I will acknowledge Booker’s relative lack of peripheral stats right now. However, I also need to point out that this kid is 20 years old, and was considered somewhat raw when he came out of college last year. I think that these big scoring nights can be the tip of the iceberg. He might be emerging as a star before our eyes, and I don’t want to miss out on that coming-out party. Last year, when pressed into point guard duties, he showed he can distribute well enough; if teams decide to overplay him now, he should be able to replicate that distribution. Could I be wrong, and we just have a streaky shooter on our hands? I guess so… I just don’t ever want to miss out on the next big thing, and a couple of games scoring in the high thirties by a 20 year old sound like the next big thing to me.

Adam:  Why to buy Oladipo:

Westbrook is certainly a transcendent player.  05-06 Kobe Bryant was also transcendent and is the historical usage rate leader at 38.7%.  It seems foolish to assume that Westbrook will maintain that 42.7% usage rate… Either it will go down or he will break down.  Even if that rate does not go down, Oladipo could still return value if he plays more with the second unit.  His playing time with that unit has increased as he gets more comfortable, so even if you want to sell, it would be unwise to until he gets acclimated to the system.  At that point he will return proper value.  This is no time to panic on Oladipo, but it is certainly the time to take advantage of a panicking owner.

Why to sell Booker:

Even if Booker is an incredible scorer, this still does not negate the terrible peripheral stats.  He was never projected to develop as more than a shooter in college or when he was drafted, so there’s no reason to think that will change.  His ball handling and defense are sub-par, and when his usage rate does rise, he turns it over.  Youth is on his side, but skill set isn’t.  The ceiling just isn’t high enough to justify keeping him if you can get a top 75 player for him.  Frankly, with all of the hype around the last couple games, you could probably get a top 50 player.  I would target recently returned Gordon Hayward if I were a Booker owner.  I could see taking a wait and see approach in dynasty, but for seasonal leagues, Booker is an obvious sell.

Billy:  Why to sell Oladipo:

The reason I think Westbrook can maintain the rate is that he’s his team’s true point guard. While Kobe had the ball a ton in those years, he didn’t normally have it to distribute, while Westbrook not only takes a high volume of shots but also passes the rock around. I don’t think the second unit gains Oladipo a ton of value, because he still won’t dominate the ball the way he did in Orlando. OKC is too high on Cameron Payne to have him play off the ball; he’s probably a better point guard than Oladipo anyways. Essentially, I think that Oladipo had the highest usage he will ever have when he played in Orlando, and going to a “better” team will not make up for that. Plenty of people still think highly of him (like you), and I’d go after a more solid commodity instead of the high risk that Oladipo ever reaches expectations.

Why to buy Booker:

Even for seasonal leagues, I think Booker is starting to figure it out. I personally think he is a good ball handler, and I think the turnovers are a pill you might have to swallow. On a team that will be embracing its youth movement in Phoenix, along with playing fast, a guy that knows how to put the ball in the hole and distribute some can be hugely valuable. I guess even I wouldn’t turn down Gordon Hayward for him, but that is selling extremely high, and I’m guessing 95% of owners wouldn’t ever offer that trade. Anyone less than Hayward is not worth giving up on the upside of Booker for.

Who wins this round?!  And if you have any ideas of what the Birds should fight over next week, shoot your comments below!
  1. Threekola says:
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    A huge portion of Dipo’s value lies in his D stats. 0.8 /0.3 stl/blk on the year so far… that is PATHETIC for him. Those will both skyrocket in no time. He was 1.6/0.8 last year at 33 minutes, including 2.2/1.1 post-ASB.

    Even if his fg%, ft%, scoring, dimes stay where they are now, his D stats rising back up to the 1.8/0.7 range alone will boost his value dramatically. It’s bound to happen. Basically, it makes no sense not to buy low because his value can only go up from here, as long asyou’re not giving up too much. However, I doubt anyone is gonna ask for a top 35-40 guy back at this point. That’s by it’s called a buy low!

    I think Oladipo’s floor is top 50 once his ft% normalizes with the d stats. With his upside in increased fg%, scoring, and dimes from where they are now, he can hit top 30 value.

    I’ll take the medium here and say his value right now is around top 40, so I’d be glad to give up someone I project to be ranked in the 50s for him. Would I trade, like, Hayward for him? No. Parons? Probably not. Tobias Harris? Yes.

    Also, Booker. I never liked what he brought to the table too much. He’s the definition of a Thragnof, but he has upside in dimes, however it’s countered with extra TO. So, personally, I’m not a guy that would look to buy Booker in general, let alone when he’s coming off 38 and 39 point games. What’s the point of buying now even if you like him?

    But yeah, I’m with Adam on this.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Threekola: Definitely agree with the D stats coming back. I think the only thing the move really changed is dropping fg% a bit and upping 3s a bit. Outside of that, he should be fine

  2. Scott says:
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    I’m split. Turnovers are more common for very young players and very old players. I’m confident Booker’s will improve. Plus, upside.

    However I also support Oladipo. His usage will improve as he continues to adapt to his new team, plus his efficiency.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Scott: Upside for what with booker? No question he’s a great shooter, but I’m not sure what stats he can actually improve in. Possibly added assists could help, but his ball handling ability has to improve.

  3. VamosErik88 says:
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    I have both Booker and Dipo on my “Terrible Baby Freaks” roster. What should I do with them?
    My idea before the start of the season was waiting for Dipo to put up huge numbers and then try to trade him for a younger prospect with more or less his potential ’cause I’m in a Dynasty (suggestions are more than welcome ).
    As for Devin I love him and I more than eager to take the gamble with I’m being a Supernova in the next seasons.
    Looking forward to your precious advice.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @VamosErik88: I’d hold both, but obviously it depends what you could get in return for either one.

      • Adam

        Adam says:
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        @Adam: They’re both plenty young.

  4. Justin says:
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    I have Booker and was wondering who you think I should try to trade him for please? Thanks!

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Justin: Oladipo would actually make a great target with him, or possibly someone that has recently returned like Hayward. Off the top of my head, I’m not quite sure, but I’m sure there’s somebody in your league who’s enamored by the scoring and the youth.

  5. Zinger says:
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    I think many people have mentioned this, Billy Donovan needs to stagger Westbrook and Dipo’s minutes, which I believe he will. They still want to win and get into the playoffs, Dipo can make work running PnR with Kanter in the 2nd unit.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Zinger: Like I mentioned in my post, I think that will come once he is more familiar with the offense. He’s still functioning as a role player until he adjusts fully. There’s no reason to think he won’t turn it around.

  6. Rocky says:
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    Bird(s),

    Great debate and one that pertains to me in that I own both players, albeit in two separate leagues. Want to focus on Booker though for a second. I agree that the peripherals just never might get there for him to be a viable top 50 play in fantasy. My roster as currently constructed in this active 12 team/9 cat roto…

    Harden, Blake, Irving, Dieng, LaVine, Pau, Booker, Ryno, Taj, Capela, Danny Green, Marv Williams, Covington, Delly, Jrue(INJ)

    I feel like Booker is a slightly poor man’s LaVine and a homeless man’s Kyrie in that you wish the peripherals matched up better with their explosive potential. I also feel I’m covered in points and 3’s elsewhere, so he is a bit redundant on my squad. Looking for big man help and would love some advice… Would you make any of the following trades?

    Booker for Jokic
    Booker for Valancunias
    Booker for Favors
    Booker for Gortat
    Booker for Vucevic
    Booker for Nurkic
    Booker for Gobert
    Booker for Adams
    and swinging for the fences… Booker for Horford or Brook

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @Rocky: Obviously the last two would be great. Wouldn’t mind the swap for Gobert, because you don’t look too strong in the blocks area. Not sure most of these deals would happen straight up – depends how into Booker the other owner is.

  7. draco21 says:
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    Adam wins this one. Booker is like your guard version of ZBO.

  8. G says:
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    Agree that Adam wins this one.

    Hol’mydbro is about to go into crush-mode.

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @G: Thanks man, but the play on words is way too cringey haha.

  9. DT says:
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    YO ADAM!

    would you trade TJ Warren for a buy low guy like Dipo?

    • Adam

      Adam says:
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      @DT: In a heartbeat!

      • DT says:
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        @Adam: AWESOME! mind if i pick your brain one more time?

        drop taj gibson for t. jones in a 10team h2h 9cat?

        jones is frustrating, but he’s actually getting some run. other drops would be knight or c.j. miles to pick up jones?

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