A sleeper article in February? Is this guy crazy?
Call them sleepers, buy-low candidates, or underperformers. I call them smart trade targets at this stage in the fantasy basketball season. Not all of these players should be evaluated equally. Therefore, I created different categories to identify the degree of risk in acquiring or holding these players.
Paul George – George owners might be losing a bit of patience with their star. In the past fifteen games, the Indiana Pacers’ small forward is shooting only 41 percent from the field and averaging about three turnovers per game. During that span, he is ranked #46 overall on Basketball Monster’s Player Rankings. George will surely gravitate back toward his top six status as the regular season comes to a close.
Damian Lillard – If you want to buy low on Lillard, now is the time. He has dipped in nearly every statistical category in the latter half of the season. With a five-game week (March 24-30) in the middle of your playoff schedule, it might be wise to acquire the struggling, young point guard.
Nicolas Batum – Batum’s finger has clearly affected his shooting. In the past ten games, Batum is averaging only 10 points per contest, but the rest of his line remains unaffected. An impatient owner that is blinded by his low scoring output might sell low. Remember, injuries heal, and Batum will return to form. Like Lillard, Batum plays for the blazing Blazers.
Marc Gasol – Gasol has shown signs of life in the past five games, but his owners could be wanting more. Gasol is clearly limited by his ailing knee, but he is finally rounding back into form as his rhythm and cardiovascular capability return.
Greg Monroe – After signing Villanueva and Gordon for double digit millions, Joe Dumars needed a redeeming cast, but it looks like he has constructed another dud. Monroe, Jennings, Smoove, and Drummond exhibit an occasional glimmer of hope, but their primary output has been painfully torturing to watch. If Monroe was a roller coaster, he would have a height requirement. He pieces together five great games followed by five terrible ones. If he wasn’t such a prominent name, you might find him on the wire at this point in the season. If you can get him for pennies, deal for the talented, big man, and hope that he plays his way out of this low point.
Arron Afflalo – Afflalo owners, do you remember the answers that other owners were giving you when you were trying to sell Afflalo earlier in the season? It turns out their skepticism was correct. However, Afflalo should be outperforming his recent numbers. Buy low, but don’t overpay.
Jimmy Butler – I have been pushing Butler all season long, so why should I back off now? Butler is clearly struggling as a primary scoring option on a depleted roster, but he isn’t a 34% shooter. If his field goal percentage climbs back to his career average, you are looking at a top 35 player and an absolute thief.
Eric Gordon – Gordon’s production tanked when Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson went down with injuries. Gordon has struggled creating his own shot in the weak New Orleans pick-and-roll offense. In the past ten games, Gordon is shooting just 37 percent. The Pelicans are severely banged up and offer no timetables for Holiday and Anderson, so acquire him at your own risk.
Trey Burke – According to Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, Burke has officially hit the rookie wall. I think it is safe to say that the whole Utah team has hit some type of wall this season. If you believe in the Michigan product, he should be available on the cheap side.
Evan Turner – Turner’s name continues to pop up in trade rumors throughout the league. The 76ers are as fantasy-friendly as a team can get, so in the event that Turner is dealt for draft picks, he could experience a significant drop off. He hasn’t been playing well recently, so gauge the risk before you exclusively analyze his season averages.
Dwyane Wade – Enough said, right? His trade value is as low as Allen Iverson’s jeans in his sagging prime. If you can get anything of value for him, take it, because the Heat will be conserving his minutes and games post All-Star Break.
Shots in the Dark
Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe has ramped up his workouts to include running. This is great news, but he is still weeks away from returning. Phoenix is still in the mix in the Western Conference, so they need a healthy Bledsoe to make a playoff push. If you can afford to stash him, he should pay dividends at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant – On one hand, the Lakers have no reason to play Bryant this season. On the other, it’s the Mamba. He is in the final years of his career, and he likes proving people wrong. If you are in first or second place and anticipate a bye in the playoffs, I’d roll the dice on Kobe because his upside is tremendous.
Jrue Holiday – The Pelicans are the worst organization for keeping the public informed. Disclosing player information in New Orleans is like a game that Anthony Davis doesn’t record a block — it hardly happens. Holiday exhibited top 40 numbers before he bit the dust. If he appears after the All-Star Break during the fantasy season, you might be kicking yourself for passing on him.
Let me hear from you at [email protected]. Good luck, and keep battling!