If you slept through this year’s NBA trade deadline, you didn’t miss much.
The snoozefest included a fistful of minor deals as teams stood pat in anticipation of the upcoming steep salary cap jump. Still, we quietly had significant fantasy value changes in a few spots.
THROUGH THE LENS
The Markieff Morris trade left the Suns with roughly zero established NBA scorers. That’s great news for highly talented Alex Len, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft. A true 7-footer with excellent scoring ability, Len is locked into a very high usage rate when he’s on the floor. And he’ll be there often, both in twin-tower sets with washed up Tyson Chandler and in some minutes at the vacated power forward spot. Len’s career per-36 averages of 11.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks show his ceiling.
The rising stardom of Aaron Gordon was starting to throw shade on Tobias Harris in Orlando. So the trade is a blessing for the 23-year-old Harris who is now part of the Pistons’ core. He’ll benefit from Stan Van Gundy’s consistently tight rotation in which the starters push well over 30 minutes on a nightly basis. Harris will be getting closer to 40 minutes in the short-term with Stanley Johnson (shoulder) and Anthony Tolliver (knee) both sidelined.
Mike Conley is the kind of player that annually slips under the radar in both real life and fantasy circles. He won’t be able to do that anymore. Not only is Marc Gasol (foot) out for the season, but wings Courtney Lee and Jeff Green were both traded at the deadline. It leaves a lot of the scoring and playmaking on the very capable shoulders of Conley, who is averaging just 31.7 minutes on the year but will now be asked to play around 35.
NBA PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
1. Mirza Teletovic,, F, Suns – A pure shooter and instant offense off the bench. Role is secure now that Markieff Morris is gone.
2. Al Jefferson, C, Hornets – Solid veteran will sustain top-100 fantasy value even in a 25-minute bench role.
3. Shelvin Mack, G, Jazz – It took less than a week for Mack to seize the starting point guard job from inept Raul Neto.
Heath Miller, one of the great Dad Runners of our time, has decided to retire at age 33. It creates a significant hole in one of the league’s truly elite offenses, as Miller caught 126 passes over the last two seasons. The in-house candidate to fill the role is “The Outlaw” Jesse James, a 2015 fifth-round pick out of Penn State. James has elite leaping ability at 6’7/261, making him a sneaky red-zone threat next season even if the Steelers add a tight end in free agency.