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We’re about a month away from the NBA’s real-life Feb. 8 trade deadline. Hopefully, that means managers in your fantasy leagues are thinking about deals as well. If you’re in the middle of the standings, now is the time to make a swing to vault yourself into playoff contention.
Fresh off a 42-point explosion in Sunday’s loss to Portland, Bridges dominantly bounced back from a subpar six-game stretch of averaging 15.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 38.8% shooting. It’s fair to wonder if his first full season at the helm of an offense is wearing on him. Connecting on just 35.0% of 5.8 threes per game is his worst efficiency since his rookie season, and his steal rate has dropped to just 1.0 per game, ranking in the 23rd percentile among all wings and easily representing his career-low mark.
Even then, trading a 20-point scorer who never misses games and plays a position conducive to rebounding and defensive production is rarely a good idea. He’s a two-way stud and a good foundational presence on a championship-winning fantasy squad, but using him as a key bargaining chip to go after the injured Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) is the type of transaction that moves the needle.
Volume and opportunity are king, and Bridges helps run the show in Brooklyn. He’s logged at least 36 minutes in six of his past eight games, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be treated as a sell-high candidate if you view the world as your oyster.
Grant outdueled Bridges with a booming performance of his own on Sunday, dropping 27 points (11-24 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT) in 42 minutes to help Portland beat Brooklyn in overtime. Similar to Bridges, Grant carries a reputation of being a versatile, two-way forward, but his 27-point outing Sunday featured just two rebounds and one assist despite his mammoth workload in a high-octane affair.
That game represents a microcosmic example of declining production elsewhere in the box score for Grant this season. A look at Grant’s player page on CleaningtheGlass.com portrays the underwhelming rebounding and defensive contributions Grant has averaged throughout his career, which isn’t shocking given that he is a perimeter-oriented defender with a skinny/lanky frame, but his statistical output is approaching rock bottom in numerous categories this season.
Despite these trends, prodigious and consistent scoring carries his fantasy portfolio. He is averaging 21.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists across his last 12 games. The 29-year-old has failed to hit double-digit scoring just once all year. He has also exceeded 25 points on 12 occasions thus far, which is a feat he only accomplished 17 times last year across 63 starts. Grant’s shot diet is concentrated, and he is performing at a solid level in the mid-range, but it’s worth noting that his 38.5% shooting at the rim ranks in the 15th percentile among all league-wide qualifiers this season. He is a volume-based jump shooter with free reign on a rebuilding team, which is conducive to regular-season success, but I’ll mention the downside momentarily.
For dynasty/keeper managers, Grant’s scoring has remained consistent, and the shooter he has blossomed into over the past six seasons is one of the greatest developmental stories in recent NBA memory (Grant shot 64.1% at the free-throw line across two seasons at Syracuse without a three-point stroke).
A final note on the aforementioned downside, Portland’s precedent for tanking has prompted me to feature Trail Blazers in this column at a higher level than other teams throughout the year. So far, I’ve been right on selling shares of Shaedon Sharpe but wrong on selling shares of Scoot Henderson, who is showing historically impressive facilitation for a rookie. Grant is easily the most stable commodity in Portland, but nobody on that roster is safe from load management and strategic tanking down the stretch. This is shaping up to be the third consecutive season when Portland shutting down its veterans periodically is plausible, and the new league rules on collective nights off have rarely been enforced, with the benefit of the doubt remaining strongly in the team’s favor as long as real injury designations exist.
Allen’s rest-of-season value is interesting because Evan Mobley (knee surgery) will likely return in February, at which point he will supersede Allen to become the more versatile, focal point of Cleveland’s frontcourt, at least in the eyes of the Cavaliers.
However, Allen has shown significantly more growth than Mobley this season, as the latter is taking fewer jumpers while posting a similar assist rate to last season. Meanwhile, Allen’s 14.0% assist rate has skyrocketed to nearly double that of any previous season in his career, while his personal usage also resides at an all-time personal high of 16.8%. The downfall of Cleveland’s offense in the playoffs last season was a lack of versatility and shot creation from this frontcourt duo. Allen is already a high-floor fantasy player because of his rebounding and efficiency, but if he continues playmaking in the short-roll and being conducive to good offense for Cleveland, he could maintain his higher-than-normal usage via staggering minutes with Mobley.
Mobley’s knee requiring maintenance or being an issue down the stretch of the season is also very possible, so striking on Allen this far in advance could yield benefits for the fantasy playoffs. The eventual return of Mobley likely looms in the back of minds for Allen fantasy owners. His value is insanely high at the moment, but monitoring for a time to strike or trying to incorporate him into a larger blockbuster is a target for me. Allen is averaging 18.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 30.8 minutes across his last four games.
There are only 68 players in the league launching at least 14 shots per game while pulling down at least 6.0 rebounds per game as well. Johnson hits the thresholds, supplying 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 made threes per game on 14.1 nightly shots. Even while being demoted to the bench across his last seven games, Johnson has delivered 18.5 points on 40.4% shooting. The efficiency is an issue, which makes Johnson more appealing in points leagues, but his usage has been unfazed despite his role fluctuating.
At the end of the day, San Antonio is extremely devoid of talent behind him, Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama. Cedi Osman is a trade candidate come the deadline, and the Spurs rank 25th in defensive rating, so offensive opportunity abounds. An ongoing storyline this season has been San Antonio bringing in outside help. This constitutes veterans and upside players to better enable an environment for Wembanyama to become accustomed to winning at the NBA level. That being said, I would be shocked if any meaningful reinforcements – Collin Sexton, perhaps? – were acquired mid-season, and wings are the most difficult commodity to come by. So Johnson’s role should be extremely safe.
Green has been a sell-candidate in this column before, but with the Rockets firmly in contention for a playoff spot and the perception of Green continuing to decline, I think that adding a scorer with good nightly volume and three-point specialization can be a floor-raising move for most fantasy squads.
Green is still plateauing as a player. There is no breakout coming this season. That being said, he has started all 35 games for the Rockets thus far, which is inherently valuable to his fantasy credibility, and he is firing 14.1 shots per game.
Despite his top-tier athleticism and bounce, Green has always lacked the composure and decision-making to convert and playmake at the rim. Green is shooting 52.7% at the rim and getting there for 35.6% of his shots, which ranks in the 21st percentile for efficiency and 47th percentile for frequency among all players. Although no improvement is truly meaningless, Green has barely climbed from the 51.0% rim finishing he posted at a similar volume last season.
For managers in standard points leagues or seeking a boost in threes, this is a scenario where I’m looking to move two of my fringe rotation guys for Green, clearing a roster spot in the process while adding a player with some boom appeal.