I quit smoking a few years back, but man, I needed one today. The NBA trade deadline came and went, and it was akin to the first night I ever stepped into a club. Look left. Look right. Left. Right. LeftRight. LeftRightLeftRight. So much eye candy that my head was spinning, before I even sat down to enjoy some liqs. Below is a recap of the transactions on trade deadline day, with the corresponding impacts for fantasy.

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Look ahead—Trade Deadline Edition

Now we are just past the halfway mark of the season and into the annual fun that masquerades as the trade deadline.

Teams are either hoping to find the one additional piece to move them into championship contention, ensure that playoff slot which has eluded the home fans for several seasons, or offload some contracts to save a few bucks and better the future.

The interesting thing is figuring out who the sellers and buyers are. More intriguing for us fantasy hoop heads is how it affects/changes/improves/negates the numbers of current players and what kind of new opportunities can now be found for players in new situations.

We will take a look at the Eastern Conference first – identify some trade targets and discuss what that might mean.  Then we will do the same with the West.

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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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Man…I really feel for Markelle Fultz. He was the #24 recruit out of high school and received scholarships from over 20 colleges, participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, was a member of the Team USA Under-18 squad, First-Team All-Pac-12 and Third-Team All-American in college, and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. On top of the world, as they say, at the tender age of 19 years old. But then the yips surfaced. “The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation…It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.” The most well-known athletes to succumb to the yips are Chuck Knoblauch, Nick Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, and Rick Ankiel. Is Fultz about to join them?

It’s looking likely, as TheAthletic wrote an article yesterday saying that Fultz is dealing with wrist and shoulder issues AND would prefer to move to another team. I’ve been a mental midget at times in my life and have dealt with depression as well, so I empathize but understand some of the realities of the shituation. I was able to hunker down in my cave and deal with my demons, but he’s in the public sphere with everyone all up in his business. The pressure and attention must be debilitating. I feel for you Fultz and wish the best.

This is a fantasy website, though, so I must address the implications from a fantasy perspective. The Fultz stops here. Do not use the Fultz, as the issues seems to be mental. He took an entire season off to deal with it, yet it’s only gotten worse. If he’s having trouble with this, imagine Draymond Green yapping about the yips in his ear. He’s a drop in most formats. I guess in the deepest of leagues, you could stash him as a lottery ticket, but that’s about it.

Did the Boston Celtics sabotage him? I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is that one should always be cynical when a team is willing to pass on the consensus number one overall pick in the draft.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Taking a different approach than my norm, I would like to dedicate the usual introduction of the article to the Washington Wizards. Boy, has it been an interesting season in the nation’s capital. After an atrocious start to the season, John Wall and Bradley Beal called out their teammates (heavily implying Otto Porter Jr.) for caring only about the number of shot attempts. Meanwhile, their combined shots attempted from the field this season were 34.6. Hmmmmm.

Furthermore, Scott Brooks continues to frustrate with his rotations, Dwight Howard is usually on the sidelines, Beal called out management, and Wall dropped the F bomb on his coach in last week’s practice. So, what is the next logical step? But of course, to come from 20 points behind in last night’s game for a win against the Clippers in LA. I have a feeling that one of Wall, Beal, or Porter is going to be traded away sooner than later. It’s going to be a very interesting season in Washington.

Taking a look at last week’s suggestions, both Mike Muscala and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are starting to see more opportunities and Jeff Teague had one awful and two good games, but his value will increase with Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia. As for the sell suggestions, both Taj Gibson and Tyreke Evans have done nothing to warrant ownership in standard leagues and Evans particularly was uninspiring with Oladipo missing two games due to injury.

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Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician and politician, who expanded the Roman Empire. He got greedy, though, when he declared himself dictator. As a result, members of the Roman Senate conspired and stabbed him in the back, both literally and figuratively. Julius Randle is a no-nonsense player who bullies defenders down low. Bull in a china shop is an apt description, especially since he’s 6′ 9″ and 250 pounds. After he spent the first four years of his career in Los Angeles, he took his talents to New Orleans and didn’t mess around. He was the same bull that he had been with the Lakers. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 10 1 0 0 0/1 9/13 3/3

….Julius did mess around, notching his sixth career triple-dub. In only 25 minutes! There’s been nothing but love for Julius in New Orleans, as he provides the team with a physical presence down low, who can also be a playmaker in the third-fastest team in the NBA for offensive pace. Ain’t nobody stabbing this Julius in the back. From a fantasy perspective, though, don’t go slicing and dicing your team to acquire his services. He’s a fine player, as he’s currently the 87th player according to Basketball Monster. The issues are the limited minutes, lack of threeecolas, low assists, and miniscule defensive contributions. Hopefully no one comes and stab me in the back now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Last night was interesting because we had some surprise performances and inefficient scoring. One performance stood out, though. Both in statistics and in how he just took over the game. Remember on opening night when everyone was freaking out about Jayson Tatum? Kyrie Irving was being called washed up and there were a lot of reactionaries out there saying that this was now Tatum’s team. That take proved to be dumb. Watching Irving and Kawhi Leonard battle in an overtime affair was a pleasure to watch. Last night’s game became a classic and will help build anticipation for a potential showdown in the playoffs.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
18/26 4/6 3/6 43 2 11 3 1 3

Irving has been electric this season and was the sixth-ranked player in fantasy heading into last night’s game. He ended with a double-double (43 points and 11 assists). Add in three 3’s and three steals and you have an incredibly dynamic performance. The icing on the cake was the super efficiency on high volume. Boston is his team and they go as he does. For fantasy teams that roster Kyrie, your team goes as far as he can lead you, which is looking pretty far.

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Kevin Durant is a polarizing player, due to his off-the-court decisions and shenanigans. There was the decision back in 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors that put many into a tizzy. I was fine with his decision, but I understand why people had issues with it. After being Mr. Nice Guy in OKC, Durant took on a blase, laissez-faire attitude. Some appreciated the rawness, while others wanted a more calculated, LeBron-esque persona. There was the burner account incident. Lame, but I kind of get it, as it’s tough for any celebrity to truly speak their mind. KD just be messing around. What can’t be questioned, though, is his production on the court. Over the past four years, Durant has finished as the 3rd, 1st, 2nd, and 5th player for fantasy according to Basketball Monster. Currently, he’s 3rd as he’s posting 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.5 threeecolas. He’s shooting 54% from the field and 91% from the line. So good. Anyways, last night he truly messed around:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 11 10 1 2 4 2/4 10/24 11/13

That was his 11th career triple-dub. A surprisingly low number, but he wasn’t always the most willing passer early in his career. With Steph Curry expected to miss a few more games, KD should continue messing around. Shoot, even when Curry returns, KD should continue messing around because that’s what he does.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Welcome back Otto, we greatly missed you. After a painfully slow start to the season, and a missed game due to a toe injury, Otto Porter Jr. finally broke out yesterday with a 19/5/6/4/2/2/0 roto gem against the Mavericks. He was featured in the Buy column last week, so I hope you capitalized on the buy-low opportunity and got him at a discount. I have valid hope that he can continue improving due to the attention the P&R between Howard and Wall demands. As for the other suggested players, LaMarcus Aldridge predictably started making more shots and improved his value, Rodney Hood hasn’t really done anything great with his opportunity in Cleveland yet, and Josh Okogie has been OK, but I expect greater things from him with Butler set to miss more games. Finally, regarding the sell candidates, DeAndre Jordan continues making his free throws but I think that will eventually stop, and Wesley Matthews seems determined to prove me wrong because he continues scoring even with Harrison Barnes back. I still believe he is a sell high candidate because Barnes will eventually get back up to speed.

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(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

We live in crazy times, when nothing can be trusted. That tweet? Better check for the blue mark and read the name AFTER the @. That picture or video? With photoshop and other editing software, it can be very difficult to distinguish what is real and what is fake. The boobs or the butt on the girl from across the room? How about a free trial period? Oh geez, that didn’t come out right. A certification of authenticity perhaps? The news? It’s always been used as a tool to further agendas and “inform” the people, but the lack of objectivity and amount of Hollywood-esque manipulation these days make my head hurt. Thank goodness for sports and De’Aaron Fox.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
31 10 15 1 0 3 3/4 9/13 10/11

Fox messed around last night, but it was all good. Entering last night’s game, the Kings were 5th in offensive pace. Fox has been a huge reason why. Anyways, he can score, grabs a good number of rebounds for a guard (4.6), is dishing out 7.8 dimes, and is shooting 50% from the field. Holla! Not all is good, though. The free throw percentage is only 67%, no threeecolas, and the turnovers are high at 3.3. Fox did shoot 72% from the line last year, so there’s reason for optimism. He’s only 20 years old and this is his second year in the league, so improvement should be expected. Fox is currently the 79th player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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