Wooooooooo, the NBA trade deadline is cookin’ now!
Wednesday night shook up the landscape of the league, as D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt are now Lakers, Mike Conley is a Timberwolf, Josh Hart is a Knick and Russell Westbrook is playin’ the blues in Utah (for now). But more on that later. First, let’s get into our regularly scheduled programming: My Wednesday fantasy recap.
Zing! Porzingis Zaps the Hapless Hornets
We don’t get to say too many nice things about the Washington Wizards this NBA season, do we? Well, Wednesday night brought about a little bit of change, as the always-enigmatic Kristaps Porzingis made his presence known in a 118-104 victory over the unimpressive Charlotte Hornets. Porzingis was the undisputed fantasy star of the game, racking up 36 points, nine rebounds and two blocks – lookin’ like Washington’s alpha dog even with Bradley Beal (17 and 10) on the floor.
Tying into our trade deadline topic tonight, the Wizards already moved Rui Hachimura to the Lakers a short time ago. That said, there’s a nice little boost for Porzingis’ usage there. Beal and Kyle Kuzma remain the top dogs for now, but I’m not too afraid of these other guys and their minutes: Delon Wright (30 minutes, two points), Corey Kispert (19 minutes, four points) and Jordan Goodwin (17 minutes, four points). That means – barring any other trades – Beal, Kuzma, Porzingis and Deni Avdija provide the vast majority of Washington’s overall fantasy production. Predictability is always good.
BAM! Cue Emeril Right Now
The young Indiana Pacers have been fighting their hearts out all season, but sometimes you simply run into a veteran team and learn a stark lesson. The Pacers hung around Wednesday night – but the veteran Heat closed harder behind their formidable 1-2 punch: Jimmy Butler (25 points, seven assists and five rebounds) and Bam Adebayo (38 points and nine rebounds) the runaway star of the game. The Pacers – though young and inexperienced in most spots – do happen to have some size and length inside with the very talented Myles Turner. That didn’t seem to matter in this one though, because Adebayo got whatever he wanted on Miami’s way to a hard-fought 116-111 victory.
For the Pacers, well, things have changed. Earlier this season I was all about Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin in fantasy circles, but Turner, Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell ended up doing the damage against Erik Spoelstra’s Miami squad. Haliburton (only 11 points) gets an obvious pass coming off injury – he’s still one of the best overall fantasy assets in the game right now – but Mathurin (two points in just 13 minutes of action) appears to be losing confidence as Hield, Haliburton, Turner, McConnell and Andrew Nembhard all contribute. Some players thrive within a team setting – like McConnell – while others want their teammates to get out of the way while they dominate usage. Mathurin appears to be in that latter group, there. There was a lot more fluidity and confidence to his game when he and Haliburton were taking all the shots and making all the plays. Keep monitoring the minutes and touches on this team.
See ya, Siakam? Nahhhhh
The Toronto Raptors could very well be in tear-down mode right now – O.G. Anunoby has come up in a number of trade talks, and of course every team with cap room is asking about Pascal Siakam‘s availability – but they are still winning the games they are “supposed” to win. As the young San Antonio Spurs fade into the darkness of a lost season, the Raptors snatched an easy Wednesday win by the score of 112-98.
Siakam had the scouts from opposing teams going wild, as he dropped 37 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on the unseasoned Spurs who had no answers for his multi-faceted attack. Ultimately, I think Toronto will hang on to its current franchise player, though I could still see Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher, Gary Trent and/or Thaddeus Young getting moved. It’s been a down year for the Raptors and something’s gotta give.
On the other side, “top dog” Keldon Johnson led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds. These Spurs are going nowhere fast.
The Fox runs free in the Green, Green grass
Last week I had a section entitled “Players I Seem to Talk About Every Week” – and here we are, again!
Jalen Green (41 points) and De’Aaron Fox (31 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and two steals) have been weekly kings of Wednesday night (no pun intended for once). Seeing this matchup on paper beforehand – the Kings have been FAR superior to the young Rockets this season – you wouldn’t have expected this spectacular showdown we ended up with. It was back-and-forth all night – seemingly nobody could miss – but the better team prevailed with the winning moxie it’s been developing throughout this surprising season. Sacramento snatched a 130-128 win here, and the other Wednesday night studs were next in line after Fox: 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Domantas Sabonis, while Malik Monk chipped in 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 28 minutes of action off Mike Brown’s pine.
Green – doing his best Cam Thomas impression – controlled the usage and dominated the ball for Houston. Alperen Sengun – one of the hottest players in fantasy in recent weeks – continued his stat sheet domination with 18 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds… damn! One more board for a triple-double and bonus points in DFS. What you see is what you get, here: Green and Sengun are the all-around fantasy leaders for the Rockets, especially with Eric Gordon being a serious trade candidate prior to the deadline.
Fast-and-Furious Fantasy Analysis of Traded Players
D’Angelo Russell (now back with the Lakers): I don’t think much changes here for D-Lo in terms of usage and touches. LeBron James and Anthony Davis remain the top dogs in Los Angeles, while Russell was already dealing with Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert ahead of him in Minnesota. I like the trade for the Lakers in terms of upgrading their roster, but I don’t see this rocking the fantasy landscape in any sort of major way.
Malik Beasley (also Lakers): There could be a little boost for Malik here because he was dealing with a lot of similar-type players in Utah. Here, with the Lakers, he could stand out in his role if Darvin Ham leaves him alone and lets him shine. Coaching and oversight have a lot to do with Beasley’s relative success. He thrives if you just say, go out there and do your thing – chuck away.
Mike Conley (Timberwolves): Clear boost for Conley, here. His minutes came and went at different times with the Jazz, but here it appears that Gobert has “made the call” for Conley’s veteran services as a floor general. The Timberwolves mortgaged some of their future to get Gobert, so now it appears he has a bit of front office clout. Conley and Gobert had great chemistry in Utah, so it’s awfully interesting that Russell is gone and Conley is now in for Minnesota. Much better fantasy situation for Conley now, especially in terms of minutes, assists and steals.
Russell Westbrook (Jazz): Likely to be bought out, given Utah’s young coach, roster and rebuilding situation. Then what? Is there a chance that Westbrook’s career in the NBA is over? Will anyone actually want the headache and distraction?
Josh Hart (Knicks): I don’t think much changes for Hart from a fantasy perspective – he’ll clearly be behind Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson and R.J. Barrett in New York – but I like the move for the Knicks on the whole. This team needed more energy, wall-to-wall effort and athleticism, and they got it here in Hart. I hope it helps them in their playoff pursuits.
I’ll see ya right back here next week!
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NBA for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy basketball and football.