Fantasy Impact of Nikola Mirotic and Blake Griffin Trades
Several Blockbuster Trades Happen Well Ahead of Deadline
The NBA is arguably the most exciting league in sports right now. Credit must be given to Lebron James for not only “taking his talents to South Beach” eight years ago, but for playing at a high level and setting the tone for high-profile players to be passed around like real-life trading cards. Blockbuster trades and free-agent signings are what we have come to expect from the NBA, and it surely delivered this week, as Blake Griffin is now in a prime position for a playoff run in the Eastern Conference.
Former Bulls stretch-forward Nikola Mirotic was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans this week for Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and a first-round pick. After it was first reported that the deal was finalized, the two parties could not complete the deal because Mirotic would not approve a transaction that would not include guaranteed cash next year, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The two sides eventually worked it out as New Orleans’ pursuit of Mirotic became desperate after DeMarcus Cousins went down for the season with a torn Achilles.
Let’s take a deeper look at what this means for Fantasy owners who have ownership of players from the four teams connected in the trades- as well as options for daily Fantasy plays going into next week.
Detroit Trades for Blake Griffin
Nothing really changes for Blake Griffin in terms of value right now. As we saw Thursday night, Blake can get a bucket whenever he wants. In 35 minutes, Griffin was six of 12 from the field, including one of three from beyond the arc, for a total of 24 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists. This is nothing new for the eight-year veteran as these numbers fall in line with his season averages. However, the Pistons will all benefit from Griffin’s ability to draw double teams, leaving shooters wide-open.
Reggie Bullock is now a must-own player in all formats. Do not worry, he is only owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues as this article is being written. With the absence of Avery Bradley, Bullock has stepped into the starting shooting-guard role and received no less than 29 minutes in the past four games. In those four games, Bullock is 14 of 29 from three-point range and averaging 16.75 points per game, which translates to 33.6 Fantasy points per game. Bullock has tremendous value going forward in season-long Fantasy, and he was only $4700 on DraftKings as of Thursday night.
Like Griffin, everything stays the same with Andre Drummond in terms of Fantasy value. However, with Griffin this team will be competing for playoff seeding deep into the season, which will certainly keep their production sustainable. Other players that should be on the Fantasy radar for Detroit are forward Stanley Johnson (averaging 34.8 MPG over his last three games) who no longer has to compete for minutes with Tobias Harris - and point-guard Ish Smith, who has an opportunity to see an uptick in assists with two All-Stars in Detroit.
LA Trades for Avery Bradley and More
Avery Bradley’s first stint with the Pistons has been riddled with injury, as the eight-year vet has been dealing with a severe groin issue this season. Bradley has left Fantasy owners with a lot to be desired, as the excitement of being with a new team diminished after a hot start to the 2017-2018 campaign. Bradley owners have something else to be excited about now, as the two-way swingman looks to make his Clippers debut on Saturday. If the groin injury can be put behind, Bradley's Fantasy numbers have a good chance of returning value for owners that drafted him.
Bradley’s usage rate, which is currently at a career-high 24.1 percent, should increase slightly as he may share ball-handling duties with backcourt mate, Milos Teodosic. When Bradley shares the floor with Lou Williams, his usage rate could decrease slightly, but Bradley is a committed defender and has the ability to make up for that with multiple steals. Look for Bradley’s price in dfs to be cheap as he comes off injury, which will make him a nice value on Saturday night against a banged up Bulls squad.
Bradley will also be sharing starting duties with Danilo Gallinari, who will be a primary scoring option for the Clippers for the rest of the season. With Griffin gone, Gallinari’s value skyrockets if he remains healthy after missing time since December 9 due to a glute injury. In his first game back on January 30, Gallinari logged 25 minutes and scored 15 points with five rebounds. He is certainly a buy-low candidate right now, as his production will only increase with the opportunity in front of him.
New Orleans Trades for Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic is quietly a Top-50 Fantasy player this year (currently 45th overall in standard Yahoo leagues) which is a testament to the former first-round pick’s ability to thrive under adverse conditions as his minute-distribution has been tremendously inconsistent. Mirotic has averaged only 24.52 MPG but has exceeded production with 34.3 FPPG on the season. Mirotic was essentially used as the sixth-man in Chicago since the starting role was given to rookie standout, Lauri Markkanen, as part of the Bulls’ youth-centered movement.
Excited to join the New Orleans @PelicansNBA organization as I begin my next chapter in my NBA career. I’m ready to get started, join my new teammates and most importantly help the team bring some playoff wins to #NOLA this season. #DoItBig #Pelicans #MiroticWay☦
— Nikola Mirotic (@threekola) February 2, 2018
With “Boogie” Cousins now out for the year, the Pelicans have a need for a stretch-four that can play alongside Anthony Davis, and Mirotic is the perfect fit. While Dante Cunningham had his moment as the starting power-forward, Mirotic will have no problem replacing him in that role. With this role seemingly firmly in place, look for Mirotic’s minutes to increase by a good margin, giving owners confidence moving forward.
Nothing changes too much for the rest of the Pelicans. Davis and Jrue Holiday will continue to have solid 2017-18 campaigns. Davis has seen a slight uptick in rebounds and blocked shots since Cousins went down and that will not change with Mirotic entering the lineup. Holiday has a chance to increase his assist numbers slightly as well, now that he will have Mirotic as a three-point threat. Mirotic is shooting a career-high 42.9 percent from long distance and draining almost three treys per game.
Chicago Trades for Spare Parts
Chicago did not receive any player that can contribute from a Fantasy perspective in this trade. However, Denzel Valentine is the most interesting player on this Chicago team now that the Bulls are firmly established as rebuilding unit. Only 26 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, Valentine is currently ranked 99th overall. The versatile Valentine can be thought of as a poor man's Draymond Green, as he can fill up the stat sheet every night. With Kris Dunn missing time, Valentine has gotten minutes at the point-guard, which certainly increases his value as a Fantasy option. The 24-year-old multi-positional player will only get better and should be on the radar as a trade target in dynasty leagues. In the past three games, Valentine is averaging 29 minutes, which has translated into 39 FPPG. He should be added in 12-team season-long leagues, and he provides great value on DraftKings as he was only $4900 in his most recent contest.
Lauri Markkanen’s Fantasy impact does not change. He is the starting power-forward for this young Bulls team and he’s a three-point machine, putting in 2.3 a game while attempting a lovely 6.4 from downtown. The seven-footer provides Fantasy owners with double-double potential every night to go along with the potential of going off from beyond the arc. With Mirotic gone, he may see an uptick in minutes, but he is already averaging 30 MPG.
Markkanen, however, missed the last game after the birth of his child and will most likely be out for Saturday’s contest. This will create value for Bobby Portis, who stepped into the starting role against Portland and logged 28 minutes, 10 rebounds, and eight points for 24.85 Fantasy points. At just $4700 on DraftKings, Portis will surely return value against a struggling Clippers unit on Saturday. Portis is now the primary backup to Markkanen for the rest of season and is worth a look for 14-team leagues going forward.
Nikola Mirotic Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Marton
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