The NBA trade deadline is upon us! There are already some deals that have been finalized and more are sure to be done by tomorrow, so this week’s article will be structured in a different format than usual. Instead of looking at Buy/Sell players individually, we will review each trade for fantasy winners and losers, in chronological order. But first, as per usual, let’s take a quick look at last week’s suggestions.

Patrick Beverley has been a steady contributor for the short-handed Clippers and only stands to benefit without Tobias Harris (more on this trade later). Another trade influenced Trey Burke’s value but unfortunately, he takes a huge hit in Dallas and is an easy cut candidate. Shabazz Napier and Jerryd Bayless had good performances this past week and will continue to produce until their respective teams get healthier. Finally, I still maintain that D’Angelo Russell is a prime sell candidate and his shooting this past week only reinforced this belief.

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I don’t particularly believe in second chances. It is usually hard for me to forget the disappointment and give someone another shot. But boy, I’m glad I gave one to Jahlil Okafor last week, despite the letdown from the previous season. He has been on fire since getting the starting job with 21.2/0/11/0.4/0.4/2.6/2 on 74.6%/63.2% shooting and is therefore ranked 17th during that span. The most encouraging stat is the blocks and he has looked rejuvenated and more mobile than ever, surfacing as a feel-good story this season. Anthony Davis’ return will hurt him (I will talk about his potential trade probably next week when the dust has settled a bit and we have a clearer picture) but until that happens….JAH RULE !!

Apart from the obvious success of Okafor, the other big man from last week’s article, Mitchell Robinson, is providing blocks (2.8) and steals (1.2) and has been a top 50 player. Despite Fitzdale’s comments about finding more minutes for him, he is only averaging 16.9, so watch out if he can increase those closer to 25. Finally, Rajon Rondo has been doing Rondoian things (I claim this word as mine) with 5.7 rebounds and 11.7 assists and will continue to provide standard league value until Lonzo Ball returns. On the contrary, the Lakers’ Sell candidate from last week, which was Kyle Kuzma, got hurt and the impeding return of LeBron James won’t do him any favors.

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LeBron James has missed 12 games due to injury. Entering last night’s game, the Lakers had four wins and seven losses without their king. After an overtime ordeal in Oklahoma City, the Lakers made it five wins and seven losses, thanks in part to the play of Kyle Kuzma.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
32 8 4 3 0 4 7/12 11/20 3/3

The seven threeecolas tied a career-high. Without LeBron on the floor, Kuzma has been the offensive leader, sporting a usage rate above 30. He’s averaged 34.2 minutes, 21 points, 7 boards, and 2.9 dimes. He’s jacked up 18.4 shots per game, with 7.2 being from downtown. Now, the efficiency hasn’t been good (41% from the field and 24% from downtown) and he provides little in the D cats. As a result, he’s not the best fantasy asset, which sucks because this is a fantasy website. Just let me enjoy a Lakers victory on the road in OKC with Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz leading the way.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Once a decade or so, a rookie comes into the league and, not only is it extremely obvious that they are special, they immediately hit the floor running. Not since LeBron has a rookie demonstrated All-Star level production, keeping up with and often times dominating seasoned pros in the best basketball league in the world. Luka Doncic provides matchup issues for opposing teams and is such a dynamic offensive force for the Mavs, making every teammate better. While making serious waves in the NBA, in fantasy he still has plenty of areas he can improve. Currently, he’s been hovering around the top 80 in standard category leagues. The main culprits of keeping his fantasy value anchored are his percentages and turnovers. He also has room to grow in the steals department. For now, he’s an exciting, yet flawed player to roster on your fantasy squad, but he’s already one of the most fun players in real life and fantasy.

Luka Doncic

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
10/23 7/10 2/9 29 8 12 2 0 1

Luka was 2 boards short of messing around and was just a savage in this one. He scored at all 3 levels and was the obvious leader of the Mavs. When the percentages start to creep up, look out, because the sky’s the limit for Doncic.

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Back in 2008, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM changed the landscape of radio. Listeners could customize their listening experience, had access to out-of-market stations, and were given a cornucopia of options (podcasts, news, sports, and channels for specific genres). Options equal versatility which enhances a product. That concept isn’t just for the radio world, though, as it has become the defining characteristic of the modern day, positionless basketball that has taken root. Last night, Josh Hart was a perfect example:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
14 12 6 5 0 2 1/5 5/13 3/3

Hart played a team-high 44 minutes. At 6′ 5″ and 215 pounds, Hart can play the 1, 2, or 3. He’s strong enough to handle himself down on the block, but possesses the agility to guard on the perimeter. He does get burned from time to time, but more often than not plays sound fundamental defense. Hart can shoot from beyond the arc or finish strong at the rim. He’s a willing passer and is able to rack up steals. Now, since LeBron James went down with an injury, Hart has been given an opportunity and has not disappointed. He’s been a top 50 player and has averaged 34.6 minutes, 12.4 points, 1.8 threeecolas, 6.8 boards, 2.1 dimes, 2.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks. The only bugaboo has been the 38% shooting from the field. When LeBron does return, Hart will likely shift back to the bench and lose 7-9 minutes of run per game. With that said, because of his versatility, he will still contribute across the board and provide top 125-ish numbers.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There was a lot of crying going on yesterday. And it started at precisely 12:00:01 am, as cries of joy echoed for the start of the new year. At the same time, there were countless cries of disappointment, as guys (too many to be honest) tried to kiss their NYE dates and got denied. There were cries of the sexual passion variety, and cries to the Porcelain God. Cries of pain for trying to get back into shape, and cries of elation from the millions of couch potato football fans. But, the biggest Kawhi came from Toronto, as Kawhi Leonard did this to the Utah Jazz:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
45 6 1 0 0 2 0/3 16/22 13/17

A career-high! Over the past six games, he’s averaged 31.3 points, 1.2 threeecolas, 7.5 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.2 steals, and been the #15 player in fantasy. He’s had a usage rate of 33.5! I was so wrong about Kawhi in the offseason, as I had my doubts about his health and mental motiviation. Well, I just want to scurry to the corner and sit on the stool with a dunce cap and Kawhi. The only blemish has been the decrease in blocks. Currently, he’s averaging 0.5 per game. The last four seasons, Kawhi has averaged 1, 0.7, 1, and 0.8 blocks per game. I think that number ends higher, but even if it doesn’t, I won’t shed a tear for his owners, as (outside of injury) he will still likely be a top 10 player for fantasy.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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The Division of the Up and Comers
The Atlantic Division consists of up-and-coming teams, with the Toronto Raptors at the top of the league in wins, yet they are still learning how to incorporate Kawhi Leonard into their mix.  The Sixers are also integrating a new player in Jimmy Butler.  Boston struggled with offensive effectiveness early on, but they have started to figure things out, including an overtime thriller on Christmas against the 76ers.   The Nets have done well, winning nine of their last 10 games, a streak of success not seen in Brooklyn in many a day.  The Knicks, though, are going in the opposite direction, as they have lost nine of their last 10, but are still considered in the up and coming conversation because they have a stable of young players gaining valuable experience while their Latvian superstar, Kristaps Porzingis, mends.

Many feel the NBA season really doesn’t start until Christmas, as teams have now played about a third of the season with the strengths and weaknesses of each being exposed.  In addition, players are available as trade targets and teams that look to be lottery participants will begin to look toward the future and acquire draft assets. 

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Ok, last night’s game between the Lakers and Pelicans didn’t have the drama and importance of Jordan’s classic flu game. In fact, if you watched the nationally televised game featuring a sick LeBron James facing up against Anthony Davis and leading his team to victory, it might be tough to tell James was even sick. He played with greatness and did everything that was needed to win. Now he has another Jordan-themed event he can check off his list.

LeBron James

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
8/20 6/9 0/4 22 12 14 2 0 2

LeBron had his version of the flu game. It wasn’t efficient, but he managed a triple-double and led the Lakers to victory. The old man is ranked #15 in standard cat leagues and helps fantasy GMs even more if you’re punting FT percentage.

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I loved Biggie. Being born and raised on the West Coast, that may be viewed as blasphemy, but whatever. Even though I went to school in NY and worked in the City for many of years, the simple fact of the matter was that he was a smooth, lyrical genius. He was Unbelievable. “Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one…Representing BK to the fullest.” Indeed he did, which is exactly what Spencer Dinwiddie did last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
39 2 5 1 0 4 4/6 11/18 13/14

All in 30 minutes off the bench. He was Unbelievable. The 39 points were a career-high and, over the past four games, he’s been a top 40 player with an insane usage rate of 34.1!!! Now, he’s not going to start and will likely average a tick under 30 minutes per game, but Dinwiddie is a professional getter of buckets and will chip in 2 threeecolas, 5 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game, which will place him in the top 110 range. But, as last night showed, he will Hypnotize from time to time.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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