NBA: 5 Fantasy Trade Candidates

Nov 4- 11 min read

5 Fantasy Trade Candidates

In-season roster management is the cornerstone to a championship fantasy basketball team, and you better believe trades are a crucial component to that.

It’s easy to suggest trading guys like Kelly Oubre or Precious Achiuwa who are likely to see their minutes reduced due to incoming healthy players, but there’s no real strategy attached to those names. You won’t find a trade partner in your league ready to sell the farm for Oubre or Precious because those guys are not elite and your league mates aren’t fools.

In today’s article, rather than bore you with players who will obviously see a decrease in value or just don’t hold much trade value at all, I’m going to suggest some guys who may not be as obvious but who you should be putting on the trade block.

Carmelo Anthony

Melo’s new locale has done wonders for his production early in the season, though the good times can’t keep rolling like this for long.

Thus far, he’s shooting lights out with averages of 16.5 points and 3.4 triples on 51.6% shooting from the floor and 52.9% from deep. The points are his most since 2016-17, and his shooting percentages are well above his career marks of 44.7% from the field and 35.3% from beyond the arc.

Anthony is attempting just 11.4 field goals per contest (second-lowest of his career) and when his shooting takes an inevitable dip, so will his points and triples. His primary value lies in shooting and scoring, and his unsustainable numbers have him ranked No. 55 in 9-cat leagues. Take advantage of his red-hot start and the narrative that a veteran is reviving his career in LA with his best friends, and sell high.

Ja Morant

You’ll likely be able to get a boatload of talent for Ja Morant, so why not consider your options? Morant has gone ballistic to open the 2021-22 season, averaging 27.0 points, 7.5 dimes, 5.5 boards, 1.9 triples, and 1.9 swipes while shooting 52/37/75 splits on 19.9 attempts.

His efficiency has increased dramatically, as have his rebounds, threes, and steals. Maybe this is a third-year breakout, or maybe Morant is off to an unsustainably-hot start. I’d go with the latter.

His monstrous first three games have bolstered his overall production to this point, and the Murray State product can’t maintain his current pace all season. In addition to the ridiculous jump in efficiency, Morant is also without Dillon Brooks (hand), who has averaged 15.0 field goal attempts and 5.6 three-point attempts over the last two seasons.

Lonzo Ball

The jack-of-all-trades point guard has posted quality numbers across multiple categories to start the season, highlighted by his whopping 3.1 combined blocks/steals. Currently ranked 32 in 9-cat leagues, he’s due for some regression.

Ball can be a top-60 guy with some dips in defensive stats, but projecting him to finish the season inside the top-35 is unreasonable. His points and dimes are down from 14.6 to 12.4 and 5.7 to 4.5 respectively. He’s attempting 6.8 triples compared to 8.3 a season ago. If his career-high 40.7% shooting from beyond the arc slips, so will his valuable threes.

The former Laker and Pelican is only seeing an 18.1% usage rate, which is well behind DeMar DeRozan (30.0) and Zach LaVine (29.5). His scoring and dimes aren’t likely to surge back up. Ball can realistically average 2.0 steals this season, but doing so with 1.1 blocks on top of it isn’t sustainable. His 83.3% FT shooting will likely regress as well.

There are a lot of red flags for Ball’s season-long value, and fantasy managers should sell high. He’s certainly not going to fall off a cliff or fall outside the top-75, but there’s no way he finishes as a top-35 player.

Boston Celtics’ Al Horford during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Al Horford

Horford is off to arguably the best start of his career, and he’s doing it at age 35. Horford ranks No. 7 in 9-cat leagues thus far, though that first-round ranking is unlikely to hold all season.

Through six games played, Horford has averaged career highs in rebounds (10.7), blocks (3.2), steals (1.2), and FT% (93.3). The last time he averaged as many as eight rebounds was when he pulled down 8.4 in 2013-14. That was the same season he set his single-season high in blocks (1.5), and one season after he set his career-high in steals (1.1). Horford’s career-high in FT% for an entire season is 82.1, a distant percentage away from the 93.3 he’s shooting this season.

Horford’s 14.4 points, 3.7 dimes, and 44.9 FG% are sustainable, but declines in the categories mentioned above- particularly the highly-valuable defensive numbers- will significantly drop his value. If you can find a manager willing to pay a top-40 or top-50 player for the veteran big man, it would be a wise move to make.

Damian Lillard

It’s not always advisable to trade a guy when he’s playing his worst basketball in years, but at this point, fantasy managers need to consider moving on from Damian Lillard.

Despite his poor play, Lillard’s name alone still carries a ton of weight on the trade market. Fantasy managers holding out hope for a bounce-back should be willing to pay a premium for Portland’s premier point guard.

Lillard is averaging a career-high 8.5 assists on the season, though his scoring and shooting have taken significant hits. His 19.5 points are the lowest since his rookie campaign, his 3.9 boards are his lowest since 2013-14, and his shooting has been dreadful.

An uptick in efficiency is likely coming, but it would take a huge uptick to get Lillard into the realm of first-round value where he was drafted. The longer he struggles, the more his value falls. Cut ties now and get a haul based on name value.

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