Fantasy Basketball Focus: Saddling Up for the Stretch Run


After weeks of trade deadline talks, rumblings and grumblings, what was supposed to be a feverish 11th hour ended up passing with very little, to almost no fanfare.

The biggest news was in fact that there WAS NO NEWS.  Of all the big names mentioned, Josh Smith, Jazz big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Eric Gordon, Kevin Garnett and Eric Bledsoe, all ended up staying put with their current teams.  The Nets pretty much offered Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks to every team on the planet, save maybe Greek Olympiacos and the Prospect Park Pee-Wee Tigers, and I heard the latter even balked at negotiations unless they would throw in a case of Capri Suns and a bag of orange slices.

The trade that landed J.J. Redick in Milwaukee was the one big name to switch cities, but many other “smaller” trades occurred which may have an impact on the fantasy basketball landscape.  Here is a brief breakdown of what to expect in terms of fantasy value for some of the players that were traded this past Thursday.

Feb 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick (7) drives against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Redick (Bucks):  This trade definitely helps the Bucks in “real life”, but does a great injustice for his fantasy owners.  In Orlando he came off the bench, the same role Bucks coach Jim Boylan said he’d play in Milwaukee, but the difference here is that he’ll be backing up Monta Ellis (and at some times Brandon Jennings).  With the Magic he was less of a backup and more of a 6th man, meaning he was the spark off the bench rather than a second unit replacement.  The 31.5 min/g he was seeing this year for the Magic was easily a career high as were his 11.6 field goal attempts.  With Ellis’ 17.3 shots per game and Jennings’ 17 shots per game you’re looking at a lot less possible looks for Redick.  Exchanging blue and black for hunter green and red shouldn’t prevent him from hovering around 2 three-pointers made per game as well as supplying owners with solid free-throw percentages and a very good assist rate (4.4/g) for a shooting guard, but if there’s any chance of selling high you better do it quick.


Thomas Robinson (Rockets) & Patrick Patterson (Kings):  Even though there were six players involved in this trade, Robinson and Patterson are the most high-profile and have the only significant fantasy value so I will focus on them

Sacramento drafted Robinson out of Kansas with the No.5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, so the mere fact that they traded him without even having a full year to evaluate him either speaks volumes for the turmoil in Sacramento, the knucklehead style of Kings coach Keith Smart or could even point to the fact that they realized they made a mistake with their draft pick and he was not the player they thought he’d be (they have to be a little regretful they passed up on Damian Lillard, who went one spot later to Portland).

From watching him play there is no question he is still very raw, and a No.5 pick seems a bit high, but at this point the kid is still only 21-years old and has room to grow and with Houston he’ll be given that chance.  By trading Patterson and Cole Aldrich to the Kings and shipping Marcus Morris off to Phoenix, the Rockets left Robinson as the only true power forward on their roster.  He’ll have some off nights, but in the run-and-gun offense that they play he’s bound to put up some points as well as rebounds.  Up to this point he has displayed no shot-blocking ability and his free throw shooting has been putrid, but if he’s given a shot at 26-30 minutes a game, he could post 12-14 points and 8-10 rebounds a night on average.  If you can deal with the fact that the Rockets have only one 4-game week remaining on their schedule he should be a decent pickup.  Robinson is owned in 13% of ESPN leagues and 36% of Yahoo! leagues.

Patterson is a guy that you’d think would garner a lot of minutes on a team like the Kings, who are going nowhere, but what Smart does with his lineups on a daily basis is anyone’s guess.  The former Kentucky product has sort of a “Bargnani syndrome”, where at 6’9” he’d rather shoot threes than rebound or play defense.  When given minutes he’s proven that he can score at a pretty consistent rate, but for fantasy owners that’s all you should expect.  He had an insane 6-game clip from Nov. 21 until Dec. 1 where he averaged 19.6 points (1.3 3’s per game) and 5.3 rebounds, but those aren’t numbers you should count on.

More realistically he will put up numbers like the 14 points (0.7 3’s per game) and 5.5 rebounds he achieved on a recent 6-game stretch from Feb. 5 to Feb. 20.  Sacramento is another team that does not have a favorable fantasy schedule the rest of the way (4,4,2,4,3,3,3,2), but if you’re in need of a guy who fills in a forward spot for you there are worse to choose from.  You can’t complain too much about his 51% FG and 75% FT and if you’re lucky Smart will realize that his current starting power forward, Jason Thompson, has reached his ceiling and he’ll give Patterson more minutes, but we’re about as likely to know if that will happen as we are predicting the results of a Maury Povich Show paternity test.  Patterson is currently owned in 14% of ESPN leagues and 22% of Yahoo! leagues.

January 18, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford (15) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Wizards won 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports


Jordan Crawford (Celtics):  This was actually the move I liked the best out of all the trades that went down.  The Celtics pretty much stole a 24-year old talent from the Wizards and have a year and half to play him at a $1.2 million salary before he becomes a free agent.  Crawford has been highly regarded as a great volume shooter, but his knock has been his lack of defensive prowess as well as his immaturity.  In Boston he’ll be thrust into a backcourt that already features guards Avery Bradley, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, which may not look appealing for his fantasy value, but my belief is that this is a player Doc Rivers can mold and he should be able to tighten the reins on his childishness antics.

If he can do so, Crawford could become a valuable asset and with that will come minutes.  Gambling on this as well as a possible injury to another backcourt-mate could have your fantasy team flying high for the playoffs.  He’s been a sixth man most of the season, but he’s definitely shown signs of succeeding in a lead role.  From Dec. 11 to Dec. 22 he was put into the Wizards starting lineup and took full advantage, averaging 18.3 points, 6.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 three-pointers in 8 games.  Crawford is owned in 25% of ESPN leagues and 44% of Yahoo! leagues.

Others to keep an eye on:

Beno Udrih (Magic):  With Jameer Nelson seemingly always hurt and E’Twaun Moore not entirely ready to make the jump to a feature role, Udrih could be a nice PG plug-in.  While playing with Sacramento from 2007-10, he averaged 12.6 points, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.3 minutes per game.  (1% owned ESPN, 4% Yahoo!)

Marcus Morris (Suns):  Now in Phoenix, Marcus has been reunited with his twin brother Markieff, and I think this should boost his confidence and benefit his game a fair amount.  He has displayed some good shooting skills while with Houston, connecting on 1.4 three-pointers per game thus far this season.  New coach Lindsey Hunter seems inclined to let the younger guys play as Luis Scola, Michael Beasley and Marcin Gortat have fallen out of the rotation.  Morris should steal away a lot of those minutes and if you’re in need of 3’s and some scoring go ahead and grab this guy.  (0% owned ESPN, 3% Yahoo!)

Follow me on Twitter:  @SethDaSportsMan