One of the best parts of any trade deadline isn’t just seeing which players get moved where; it’s about seeing which players now have an opportunity for more of a role on their current team.
Step right through the curtain, Dario Saric.
We wrote about why you should hold on to Saric a few weeks ago in the midst of Joel Embiid’s eight-game absence. With Embiid’s status uncertain – going forward this year, really – and now the trade of Nerlens Noel, Saric is in line for some major minutes and increased production in Philadelphia.
Heading into Friday, Saric scored 25, 25, 39, 35, 33 and 30 Fantasy points in each of his past six games. In those games, his minutes fluctuated between 21 and 33, and he recorded two double-doubles. What’s more, Saric was promoted to the starting lineup in the first game back after the All-Star break. Saric should regularly see 30-plus minutes per night, and his numbers – especially his 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on the season – should improve drastically.
In nine games in February – all without Embiid – Saric’s usage rate climbed to a season-high 26.2. Expect it to go up ever so slightly going forward, making him a must-own in 10- or 12-team leagues.
As of Friday morning, Willie Cauley-Stein’s ownership climbed up to 68 percent in CBS leagues and 35 percent in ESPN leagues. After his 29-point, 10-rebound performance Thursday against the Nuggets for 37 Fantasy points, it’s safe to say those numbers will only continue climbing.
Since being drafted in 2015, Cauley-Stein has been limited with the presence of DeMarcus Cousins in Sac-town, having a career usage rate of just 15.4. With the Kings seemingly in another rebuild, Cauley-Stein will continue to get all of the run he can handle for the Kings.
His 35 minutes Thursday will be something of the norm for him going forward, making him a must-start in all formats. If someone beat you to the waiver wire on him in non-weekly leagues, the asking price for him will be high. Usually, you should fade buy-high players, but with Cauley-Stein’s role and skill set finally at the forefront for the Kings, it’s worth paying up for him.
Another player that got transitioned into the starting lineup Thursday was Jusuf Nurkic. After a 21-minute debut for Portland before the All-Star break, Nurkic filled the box score in his first game as a starter for Portland Thursday against Orlando. In 34 minutes, he posted 12 points, 12 boards, five assists, two blocks and three steals for 36 Fantasy points.
Like the Kings, the Blazers really have no reason not to ride Nurkic the rest of the way with heavy minutes. Players who get dealt leading up to the deadline instead of at the deadline seem to get forgotten about. If you can land him off waivers or in a deal at a reasonable price, take him and ride him to a playoff run.
The likelihood that you’re going to trade either Anthony Davis or Cousins is extremely low, but if there is someone in your league that is super excited to see them both on the same team for Fantasy purposes, throw some feelers out there and test the market.
Both will still be great going forward, but as we see with super teams all the time, it can take time for the stars to develop the chemistry right away.
Right now, on ESPN’s Player Rater, Davis comes in at No. 6 overall, while Boogie is at No. 8. If someone is willing to pay those prices for either – we’re talking James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry or Isaiah Thomas – pull the trigger. Or if you can get Nikola Jokic and a Top 25 player, you should probably pull the trigger on that, too, despite usually preferring the best player in the deal.
Davis and Cousins will both get theirs, as they showed Thursday night, but there will be bumps and they’ll be forced to defer to someone else for really the first time in their careers. If you’re getting anything less than an overpay, though, hold on to them.
Struggling with your stance on LeBron James for the rest of the season? You aren’t alone. Sure, he’s having an absolutely great season so far, but man, the minutes are starting to worry me. He’s played at least 37 minutes in five of his past seven games, and with Kevin Love sidelined, will they decrease, or will he continue to player Superman?
In years past, James would get some rest down the stretch, keeping him fresh for the playoffs. With the Cavs just 5.5 games up on third-place Washington entering Friday, can Cleveland afford to rest James? I’m not so sure.
In the past, when owning James, I’ve usually looked to flip him or other guys with consistently high minutes who are either in danger of being rested or just breaking down at this point in the season.
James owners are at the fork in the road right now, where they can either go right and take the approach that they are going to rest him to preserve him and look to move him; go left and take the approach that his body is going to wear down on him and look to move him; or they can go straight and hold on to him hoping that he sustains his current rates in his most productive season since returning to Cleveland.
If you own James, you need to take the straight path and hold on to James to lead you to a Fantasy title.