Terrence Ross (Owned 49 percent on Yahoo!/23.9 percent on ESPN) is the biggest winner from the Serge Ibaka trade. Yes, Aaron Gordon gets to start at his natural power forward position now but Ross just gets to start . . . in general! Ross has never averaged more than 26.7 minutes per game in any season with the Toronto Raptors. It’s only been two games with the Magic but he’s started both and is playing 34 minutes a night.
Ross has never been shy about shooting, as evidenced by his 18.8 percent career usage rate. He’s carried that over as a starter in Orlando now too, having attempted at least 15 shots in each of his first two games. His performance in those games is very telling of what to expect from Ross moving forward. In his first game, he was very inefficient, making just 4 of 17 shots for 13 points. In his second game, however, he did a complete 180, scoring 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting, and he was 4 for 7 from beyond the arc.
Ross certainly has a reputation as a dunker from his days in the dunk contest but now he is more of a shooter. What is one thing we know about shooters not named Steph Curry? They are streaky. His offensive performance will be inconsistent but based on his minutes and usage, he is a must-own player in 12-team leagues or deeper. Don’t sleep on his ability to rack up steals in bunches either. He’s averaged 1.2 steals per 36 minutes throughout his career and already has five in just two games. Ross will contribute points, threes and steals in category leagues while providing inconsistent shooting percentages.
Cory Joseph (Owned 31 percent on Yahoo!/17.6 percent on ESPN) is certainly not a sexy pickup but anytime there’s a starting point guard available this late in the season, he is a must-add. Joseph will be the starting point guard moving forward because Kyle Lowry is set to miss the rest of the regular season with a wrist injury. If you have any of that FAAB left after the Trade Deadline, now’s the time to use it.
Since becoming the starter, Joseph has done exactly what we’d expect him to do: score some points efficiently while racking up some assists and steals. In three starts, he’s averaging 10.3 points on 45.2 percent shooting with 5.3 assists, two steals and just 1.3 turnovers in 34 minutes a night. He certainly doesn’t have much upside because DeMar DeRozan and the big men will dominate usage but he does provide stability and consistency.
Unfortunately, despite being a guard, Joseph will not shoot all that much from the outside. He’s never averaged more than 0.5 3-point makes per game, so that isn’t going to change. The steals are legitimate, however. He’s averaged 1.2 steals per game per 36 minutes throughout his career and that’s close to the actual minutes he will see as the starter. Count on Joseph for low-end points, good shooting percentages, assists, and steals in category leagues. He’s a must-add in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Players to drop: Nick Young, Josh Richardson, Brandon Knight
T.J. Warren (Owned 63 percent on Yahoo!/37.6 percent on ESPN) is once again becoming the player he was earlier in the season, who can score efficiently in bunches while contributing some steals. Warren got off to a blistering start, averaging 20 points on 47 percent shooting over his first 11 games. Warren’s production would falter until recently but there were reasons for that.
Warren’s lack of production is directly tied to the fate of Eric Bledsoe. With each passing month, Bledsoe’s usage rate has improved, which led to fewer opportunities for Warren. Not only that, Warren was dealing with some sort of head injury, which kept him out of the lineup for quite some time. Warren is healthy now and the Suns have also committed to a youth movement. They opted to trade P.J. Tucker and remove both Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler from the rotation. The team has been handed off to the likes of Bledsoe, Warren, Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss and the rest of the pups.
With more responsibility, Warren has returned to being the player he was early in the campaign. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 19 points on 65.9 percent shooting with 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 37 minutes per night. Warren has always been a great scorer, dating back to his college days, so that is where he will help most. He will also contribute in the rebounds and steals categories consistently. He should be owned in 10-team leagues or deeper, regardless of format.
Skal Labissiere (Owned 4 percent on Yahoo!/1.7 percent on ESPN) has an excellent opportunity to make some noise with the Kings as a rookie. Following the DeMarcus Cousins trade, there are a ton of minutes and usage to go around in the frontcourt. Willie Cauley-Stein has already taken advantage of his minutes and now it’s Labissiere’s turn.
Like the Suns, the Sacramento Kings are looking at a youth movement and want to see what they have in Labissiere. Yes, Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos are still on the roster but they aren’t much competition for minutes. Labissiere has already earned more playing time since the Cousins trade too, and has flashed his potential. In three games since the break, he’s averaging eight points on 52.4 percent shooting with 7.3 rebounds in only 17 minutes per night. As the minutes increase, his production will follow.
Labissiere has a ton of potential because he can move like a guard but he’s nearly 7-feet tall. As evidenced in videos here via Draft Express, he has a great mid-range jump shot with incredible athleticism. The quick footwork and moves in the paint will allow him to blow past other big men trying to guard him. The aforementioned shooting ability will also make him a tough player to guard. His wiry frame will likely get him in trouble on defense so that is the knock on Labissiere. If he’s available in 14-team leagues or deeper, however, he should be owned for his upside. He can provide efficient scoring and rebounds as his minutes increase.
Players to drop: Kevin Durant, Channing Frye, Taj Gibson, Ben Simmons
Richaun Holmes (Owned 25 percent on Yahoo!/7.4 percent on ESPN) has always been productive on a per-minute basis but his problem, like many others, is playing time. Well, Joel Embiid has been shut down for the season and by deduction, Holmes is the next man up. I do realize Jahlil Okafor is still on the team but everybody already knows the 76ers are not enamored with him. It’s time to see what Holmes can really do.
Since the All-Star break, he’s certainly passed the eye test. He’s averaging 11.7 points with 5.3 rebounds, a whopping 3.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in 23 minutes per game. He’s quite the opposite of Okafor in that he doesn’t demand many shots and he’s a very gritty player in the post. Holmes is not afraid to get his hands dirty, whether it be rebounding or playing defense. He’s not going to average three blocks per night but 1.5 or better is a possibility.
I’m sure Okafor will still play but aside from him, they don’t have much depth at power forward and center. Expect Holmes to see close to 25 minutes per night, during which he will approach a double-double with a ton of defensive upside. He should be added in 12-team leagues or deeper if you’re in need of a big man.
Alan Williams (Owned 15 percent on Yahoo!/7.8 percent on ESPN) aka “Big Sauce” is another big man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He is bit undersized at 6’8 but he has a thick frame, which helps him when boxing out and guarding those bigger than him. Like Warren of the Suns, Williams is a part of that youth movement we’re seeing down the stretch.
In three games since the break, Williams is averaging 14.7 points on 66.7 percent shooting with seven rebounds and one steal in 23 minutes a night. That includes a monster performance against the Bucks in which he scored 17 points with 15 rebounds! The aforementioned shooting percentage might not be sustainable but it will certainly be a high mark. Williams understands his role as a garbage man and he will only take shots in the paint. In fact, 92 percent of his field goal attempts this season have come from within 10 feet of the basket.
Right now, there are mainly three big men playing consistent minutes, Williams, Alex Len, and Marquese Chriss and each player’s minutes should be safe. Like Holmes, Williams will contribute efficient points and rebounds although he doesn’t have as much defensive upside. If you were a Tyson Chandler owner, Williams makes for a fine replacement.
Players to drop: Joel Embiid, Mason Plumlee, Tyson Chandler