There are things the NFL does better than the NBA. The trade deadline is not one of them.
There’s sure to be action when the NBA’s Feb. 18 deadline hits, so it’s time to start thinking about potential fantasy ramifications. At last year’s deadline, the Jazz traded Enes Kanter to the Thunder and cleared the path for Rudy Gobert. After the trade Gobert saw a huge minutes bump to 34.1, allowing him to bust out for 10.9 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.0 steals. Stashing Gobert prior to the deadline was a key to many fantasy titles.
Understanding who is likely to be traded and who could benefit is often a difference-making play.
CHIEF KIEFF CLEARING OUT
The Suns are arguably the worst team in the league right now and they’ve gone south on Markieff Morris. It’s possible they’ll take pennies on the dollar for him. That would be great news for Alex Len, who has per-36 minute averages of 12.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks this season. With 33-year-old Tyson Chandler withering down as well, Len projects as the featured player for the Suns over the final couple of months.
LOVE TO HAVE LOVE
There are rumors swirling around Kevin Love as he becomes a scapegoat for any struggles the Cavs encounter. Moving a player who just signed a $112 million contract is never easy, but GM David Griffin has made some big deals at the deadline before. If Love were to move out of the shadows cast by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, his usage rate would spike dramatically. Just two years ago, Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.5 treys for the Wolves. He’s capable of those numbers as a go-to guy. Hang on tight.
HIBBERTY HOP ALONG
Roy Hibbert’s 25.1 minutes per game as the Lakers starting center are a waste. There’s a decent chance they use his expiring contract to pick up some kind of assets as they prepare for the post-Kobe era. If Hibbert goes, Julius Randle’s minutes should finally be secure on a nightly basis. He’s only averaging 26.7 on the season so far, but should be playing closer to 32. If that becomes the case, Randle will be a nightly double-double. Among qualifying players, Randle ranks 12th in the NBA in rebounds per-36 minutes at 12.9.
Dennis Schroder has the ability to be a plus starting point guard in the NBA. In 16 career starts, he’s averaged 13.9 points, 6.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds while guiding the team to a 10-6 record. He’s mostly outplayed the struggling Jeff Teague this year, so it’s not a surprise trade rumors are starting to swirl. There’s little doubt Schroder would be a top-50 player if handed the keys to the Hawks.
NBA PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
1. Willie Cauley-Stein, PF, Kings – The perfect complement to DeMarcus Cousins. Will grind out rebounds and blocks every night.
2. Jeremy Lin, G, Hornets – Linsanity is back while Nicolas Batum (toe) is sidelined. Even when Batum is back, Lin will play around 25 minutes.
3. Aaron Gordon, PF, Magic – Starting over Channing Frye now. The monster eruption hasn’t happened yet, but it’s coming for this athletic freak.
At least the Eagles didn’t let Chip Kelly get rid of Zach Ertz. The uniquely gifted tight end made it through Kelly’s wild talent purge and came out the other side, landing a $42.5M contract that includes $20M guaranteed. Meanwhile, blocker Brent Celek got a meager 3-year, $13M extension. Ertz is the one that showed eruption signs late in the year, averaging 8.7 catches for 112.2 yards with one TD across the last four games. New coach Doug Pederson can’t let Ertz’s skill set go to waste, especially after this contract.