Feel the gust of wind whipping? That would be the incoming NBA trade deadline storm, which will make its impact on Thursday afternoon. While Tuesday afternoon’s swap that sent talented, yet somewhat underused, swingman Tobias Harris from the Magic to the Pistons in exchange for PG Brandon Jennings and useful F Ersan Ilyasova to much warmer climates, the feeling is that this deal will pale in comparison to the potential F5, which will change the landscape for Fantasy hoops owners.
Each hour brings fresh rumors, with top-shelf names like Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Jeff Teague and even Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell. As the Warriors and Spurs have played themselves to a level light years from the rest of the Association, others are either aspiring to go all-in for a possible playoff run or pondering whether their poor chemistry (we see you down in Houston…) should lead to blowing things up and using the summer to begin redeeming themselves from their failing grade. Even with the jolt of an expanded salary cap, the next 45 hours or so will present at least one blockbuster, of this I promise.
While we’re waiting for our iPad/iPhone/Mac (OK, I admit it: I sold out bought into Apple and its evil toys) to alert us to begin remaking our Fantasy rosters or begin looking at players in a different light in DFS formats, let’s break down this Tuesday treat.
What the Pistons get
Harris averages 13 points and seven rebounds per game, numbers that should get a bit of an uptick. While PG Reggie Jackson and C Andre Drummond remain the focal point of the Detroit offense, Harris should see more attempts than the 11 he was averaging in Orlando. Even with the $64 million extension he signed in the offseason, Harris’ role shrunk considerably following the 17.1 points he averaged in 2014-15. He’ll offer the Pistons another long-range threat, although he’s shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc.
Rookie Stanley Johnson stands to be the biggest loser in the deal. He had been averaging 12.7 points, 5.2 boards and three assists while playing nearly 32 minutes per game over his last 10 outings, yet the arrival of Harris will cut into his minutes at small forward. Marcus Morris will also see his attempts reduced but will remain entrenched at power forward. Harris, who has been hampered with ankle and eye injuries the past couple of weeks, will continue to be a useful option for standard Fantasy leagues, albeit one with some upside. I would wait for a few games to see how Harris meshes with his new teammates before considering him in a DFS format.
What the Magic get
Aaron Gordon wasn’t rewarded for proving he can sit on air, yet this deal proves that all things tend to balance out. With Harris gone, Gordon will continue to see his minutes climb higher than the 29.4 he averaged in the five games before the ASB. His three-point shooting (28.8 percent) remains an adventure in futility, but he will continue the rebounding tear he was on before breaking a host of Canadian air laws last weekend. Gordon has four double-doubles in his last 10 games while averaging 10.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, which explains why he has a near-solid 16.75 PER despite a shooting percentage that is bad as Kanye West is annoying. If you think his Slam Dunk Contest performance made his owners less likely to move him, then this deal only raises the asking price.
Until he shows better shooting judgement, Gordon is a risky proposition for DFS formats. While the boards and blocks are tempting, keep in mind he has five games of single-digit scoring, including his four-point effort against the Spurs last Wednesday.
Jennings has little trade value outside of deeper leagues and will now sit behind starter Elfrid Payton. Ilyasova should still remain on your roster, and while coach Scott Skiles can be unpredictable with how he distributes minutes, keep in mind that Skiles favors veterans. That should be good news for Ilyasova, who averages 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while also giving the Magic another stretch forward who can knock down treys at nearly 37 percent.
Rookie Mario Hezonja averaged 13 points and 5.5 boards in the Magic’s last two games before the break, while also averaging 22 minutes per game this month. The door is now open for Hezonja to become more Fantasy relevant down the stretch.
Hunker down, kids. The winds will get more fierce.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE!