NBA Fantasy: The Nuclear Trade Deadline

The aftermath of the atomic event on Thursday, February 9th, 2023 will be remembered for years to come; one tweet by LeBron revamped the Laker’s whole roster, KD joins another already great team, and the Clippers continue to add every wing possible to their switchy rotation. Woj Bombs nuked your Twitter timeline and ran Shams into a military-grade bunker by lunchtime. Picks were dealt at an unprecedented rate, stars were re-aligned, and James Wiseman may continue to disappoint Warriors fans everywhere pending the despicable GP2 investigation. The East looks weaker, but the West is potentially gearing up for the most entertaining finish to an NBA season we’ve ever seen. Theoretically, the eleventh seeded OKC Thunder (27-28, second easiest schedule remaining) can jump the fifth seeded PHX Suns (31-27, fifth hardest schedule remaining) by.. *checks calendar* next week. Health is more important than ever.  Let’s dive into what this arms-race means for your fantasy team.

Baggage Claim

Mason Plumlee (C) averaged 12 and 10 for the underachieving Hornets, and most could have predicted his jettison to a contending team. Fantasy-wise, it’s a shame he will likely be slotted behind another top 20 center in Ivica Zubac, who sees upward of 29 MPG and also averages a double double. They’re both below subpar free-throw shooters and not switchable wings, the archetype Ty Lue gives minutes to in crunch time. Expect Plumlee’s numbers to drop. Package him in a trade while you can.

Mikal Bridges (SF, SG) and Cam Johnson (SF,PF) were packaged for KD and sent to Brooklyn in an attempt to inject valuable youth and hardnosed defense onto a team should’ve contended for years to come. Mikal will definitely start and continue being the NBA’s premier Iron Man while making his presence felt on either side of the floor. Bridges has scored 20 or more points in his last five outings, but expect his season average of 17 PPG going forward as the Nets are not short by any means on firepower. If you’re in a points league that emphasizes defensive stats, then sticking with Bridges is a no-brainer. Johnson should start alongside him, as arguably the best 3&D option on the roster.  He will however likely be the fifth option due to Claxton’s emergence. Look to the waiver wire to replace him soon.  

Bones Hyland (PG) was a fan favorite in Denver. For whatever reason, the dynamic between his former teammates and front office was uneasy to say the least. The Clippers obtained a player selected to his second straight Rising Stars game for basically nothing. Bones is an exciting, shoot-first point guard that warrants a look in deeper leagues. He can shoot the three, and will be surrounded by weapons in the Clips’ second unit. Jamal Murray’s alleged gripe with him is that he doesn’t pass, but he’ll have a hell of a lot of space to let it fly in LA.  Add him to your watch list.

Same Faces, Same Places

Chris Paul (PG) & Devin Booker (SG, PG): There’s not much to write here. It’s cheating, and I’m sorry. But two of the league’s most efficient scorers will be playing next to one of the league’s most efficient scorers in history. You’d be crazy to drop either one, as CP3 turns the ball over less in a week than you go to the gym and Book’s polished arsenal of offense will only benefit. Neither of them may have huge fantasy weeks anymore, but efficiency cannot be overlooked in H2H leagues.

Cam Thomas (SG) & Nic Claxton (C): I may have mentioned ‘firepower’ and ‘Claxton’ already. Well, here they are. It’s a crying shame it took this long for Nic Claxton to get reasonable minutes, because the Deandre Jordan experiment during the KD/Kyrie/Harden era was excruciating to watch. When Claxton subbed in, you just knew. Now he’s deservedly higher on the Nets’ pecking order and a nightly 20-10 threat. Don’t you dare entertain trades for him. Thomas, on the other hand, enjoyed himself a legendary week thus far, putting himself in GOAT company. His dearth of playing time is another of the many blunders Brooklyn has committed in the last two seasons. When he plays, he’s a bucket. His season averages disagree, but he’s shown the aptitude to rebound and dish at capable levels. The newest additions to the Nets, however, may bring down his overall fantasy value. I would keep a close eye on his shot attempts, playmaking and impact on the boards if you have him rostered.

Mark Williams (C) is the immediate beneficiary of Mason Plumlee’s departure from Charlotte. He registered 11 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes the day after the trade deadline, almost twice as many minutes as he’d seen in a month. He hovers near the rim as a protector and roller, and he’s a decent free-throw shooter. Williams is the poster boy for low risk, high reward right now. Go and get him while you can.