For everyone but the Philadelphia 76ers, it was a relatively quiet trade deadline. Outside of a last-minute major addition by the Indiana Pacers, most teams either stood pat or did just minor tinkering to their rosters. Philadelphia, on the other hand, continued their tank-fest this season by acquiring as many draft picks as possible for an amateur draft that many experts predict will be one of the deepest in some time.
After the trade deadline, I wrote a RotoBaller piece analyzing the fantasy winners and losers, but the more research I did, the more I realized that there was so much fantasy fallout with the Philadelphia 76ers that there needed to be an article devoted solely to the deadline deals that they made. Despite being one of the worst teams in the NBA, in terms of fantasy basketball, the Sixers have been a fantasy goldmine this year. Their up-tempo style of play and lack of bona fide superstars have led to some career-best numbers for both young players and veterans who may have been fantasy afterthoughts in the past.
Where do the major players in all of these deals go from here for the remainder of the fantasy season? Let's sort through the aftermath, starting with a little more about the guys I wrote about in the previous article.
NBA Trade Deadline & Fantasy Implications
Danny Granger - SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Let's start with the guy who intrigues me the most out of all of the deals made by the Sixers recently, Danny Granger. Granger has been a borderline superstar in the past, but constant knee injuries have kept him off of the court for much of the past two seasons. After writing the last piece in which I declared Granger a "winner" after the trade, there have been rumblings of a potential buyout of Granger's contract by the Sixers. If that happens, Granger's value will remain similar to what it was in Indiana, but I still think he is worth a speculative add in most leagues, and here's why:
First, tanking or not, the Sixers need players, so I don't think Granger gets bought out, at least not right away. Granger's resume is just too good to throw away without at least kicking the tires. Philadelphia is playing with house money with the Granger acquisition, so I see no reason why he wouldn't at least get a shot. Next, if he stays healthy, and that's a big if, Danny Granger can still play. At first glance, his stats for the season do not scream "must-add," and if you are looking for the guy to be a 25-point-per-game scorer again, it's not going to happen. When you look a little deeper, however, there are some signs for encouragement here.
Granger has been playing a solid amount of minutes for some time now, and was averaging around 22 minutes per game in an Indiana offense that is very crowded at the wing positions. In that time, Granger had still been able get up a solid number of shots (7.2 per game) and offer up close to double-digit scoring (8.3 PPG), and more than a three made per contest. If Granger can get to 25 minutes per game in the fantasy-friendly Philly offense, with little competition for minutes, there is no reason why he can't be a productive asset going forward.
Danny Granger has become more of a jump shooter now, so he may not see a huge increase on his career-low shooting percentage of 35.9 percent. That number is pretty bad, but when you consider that almost 42 percent of his shot attempts are from beyond the arc, it's a number you can live with. I really feel that Granger's numbers in Indy are his floor, and if his knees can handle the fast-paced Philly offense, I see no reason why he can't offer the Sixers a solid line of 12 PPG, 5 RPB, 1.5 threes per game, with close to a steal and a block per contest as well. Regardless of how far he has fallen, he is still one of the better offensive players the Sixers have.
Michael Carter-Williams - PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Despite being in last place, Philly has boosted some fantasy studs this year, and two of the best in forward Thaddeus Young and rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams will remain with what is left of the team. Carter-Williams's future with the team was never in doubt, and he looks to be one of the talented young players the Sixers plan on building around. His rookie campaign has been a good one so far, as his per-game line of 17.1 points, 5.3 boards, 6.3 assists, 2.1 steals, and a penchant for getting to the line that isn't seen in most rookies has easily made him one of the more valuable late-round gambles this year.
Of course no rookie is perfect, and Carter-Williams is no different, as his poor field-goal and three-point shooting percentage of 39.5 and 28.7 percent, respectively, and 3.6 turnovers per game have kept him out of the top 50 in most leagues. The rookie has also missed time here and there with minor injuries, and when looking at the dip his numbers have taken in the month of February, including a terrible 4.9/5.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, it's easy to fear that Carter-Williams has hit the dreaded "rookie wall."
With the ninth-highest usage rate of any rookie, and the ninth-highest of any fellow point guard in the NBA at 25.8, Philly has already been leaning heavily on Carter-Williams, and after their trade barrage on Thursday, will surely have no choice but to give the rookie all he can handle. That is not necessarily a good thing, as an increase in cumulative production will surely be offset by terrible shooting and eye-popping turnover totals, and that's if the increased usage doesn't lead to more fatigue and missed time with injuries. If you don't think that has a real possibility of happening, take a look at what's going on in Atlanta with Jeff Teague.
If you want to roll the dice with Carter-Williams the rest of the way, I'm not going to call you crazy, but it wouldn't hurt to listen to a few offers from other owners who might be blinded by cumulative stats.
Thaddeus Young - F, Philadelphia 76ers
Young also seems in line for a much increased usage rate going forward, but unlike Carter-Williams, the veteran forward should be able to handle the load. Already having a breakout campaign, Young's fantasy owners had to be thrilled when he was the only one of the big three trade targets of Spencer Hawes, Young and Evan Turner to remain in the city of brotherly love. The non-move could be a boon for Young's owners.
While Young also has a relatively high usage rate at 21.2, the veteran forward has looked healthy all year, and could easily handle an increased workload, much in the way that Paul Millsap has been able to do with the Hawks after Al Horford went down with an injury. Without the worries of a poor field-goal percentage or tons of turnovers, an increase in Young's 17.4 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, and 2.1 steals per game could make him a top-20 performer going forward (currently top 50 in both eight- and nine-category leagues).
There are a few concerns with Young, however, albeit minor ones. First, in the midst of a career year, it could end up being a stretch to expect even more production from Young, especially since he will be the focal point of a team's offense for the first time. There is also is poor free throw shooting, which could become more of an issue that it currently has been this year (currently only going to the line 2,8 times per game) with increased usage. That aside, between Young and Carter-Williams, I think Young is the guy who will benefit the most from an increased role going forward. He's a must start player the rest of the way.
The Cleveland Frontcourt
It's been known for some time that Spencer Hawes's breakout season had a significant chance of coming to a screeching halt the minute he was dealt, and while I've seen plenty of other fantasy experts calling Hawes "droppable," I'm not only advising his owners to hold on and be patient, I'm going to go as far as saying that Hawes could end up hurting the value of the other members of the Cavs front court.
First, let's examine Hawes's game. Getting his first real starting gig, and without some of the injuries that have plagued him in the past, Hawes has proven to be a very skilled big man. This year he has offered a rare combination of points, boards, assists, threes, and blocks that very few other big men can offer. In terms of fantasy, Hawes is one of only two players this year (the other being Paul Milsap), who is giving owners at least 14 points, 8 rebounds, a three, and a block per game. That's a pretty unique skill set, and pretty select company.
Now, let's examine the rest of the players in Cleveland's front court. Quite honestly, this group is a mess. Tristan Thompson can rebound, but is a terrible shot blocker, worse free throw shooter, and has little to offer offensively. He's serviceable, but he's basically a poor mans JJ Hickson. Cody Zeller and Anthony Bennett are lottery picks who belong in the D-league. Newly acquired Luol Deng is not happy with the way the Cavs organization is run, was being shopped at the deadline, and is a constant injury risk. Cleveland's most valuable big man is undoubtedly center Anderson Varejao, who has played only 81 games total the past three years. In fact, the Cavs have made it no secret that they want to limit his minutes as much as possible, as they try to make a playoff push in the very weak Eastern Conference.
With apologies to the experts I disagree with on this, what is it about that group of bigs that could lead anyone to believe that Spencer Hawes's numbers are going to take a huge hit? Sure, he may not be your traditional 20-10 post center, but when you look at all of the front court players that the trade rumors linked to Cleveland, guys like Pau Gasol, Channing Frye, and even eventually Deng, they all are big men who stretch the floor and offer a similar skill set to that of Hawes.
Guys like Cody Zeller and Anthony Bennett should be on waiver wires. I'd even drop Tristan Thompson, who I think will lose the most value going forward, unless you are desperate for rebounds. Anderson Varejao and Luol Deng are still must own players, and I'd bet on Hawes retaining much of his value.
Evan Turner - SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
I spoke in depth about Evan Turner in the winner and losers article, so I will keep this brief. Evan Turner's fantasy value takes a tremendous hit here, and barring an injury to Paul George or Lance STephenson, there is no way he comes close to the numbers he was putting up in Philly.
One thing I will touch on, is the fact that some experts believe that Turner, who handled the ball quite often in Philadelphia, could find some time playing point guard in an effort to get him minutes. Maybe that happens, but even if it does, I don't think it will matter much.
First, the Indiana point guard position has put up modest numbers at best no matter who has played there, be it DJ Augustine, Darren Collison, or George Hill. Second, while Turner did handle the ball plenty with the Sixers, he did so in an effort to get his own shot, not to facilitate the offense or get other players looks. In the end, I think Turner helps the Pacers depth tremendously in real life, but in a crowded group of wings, his fantasy production is going to take a huge hit.
If owners want to wait and see what happens, I'm all for it, but don't be surprised if Turner ends up on plenty of waiver wires unless the leagues are very deep.
The Remaining Sixers
Here is a quick rundown of the rest of this band of misfits in Philadelphia going forward.
Small forward James Anderson and guard Tony Wroten have both been offering top 200 value in most leagues, and could see an increase in minutes and production now. Wroten has been really good when filling in for Carter-Williams, and while it wouldn't surprise me if Carter-Williams ends up needing rest from fatigue and/or nagging injuries down the stretch, the arrival of Eric Maynor could also cut into his production. Anderson also played much better when not playing alongside Evan Turner, and should be able to put up solid scoring, rebounding, and defensive stats, especially if the Granger reclamation project fails or he is bought out of his contract. Both Anderson and Wroten were borderline ownable in 12 team leagues, so I see no problem with giving them a shot if they are on your waiver wire.
Veteran Jason Richardson could also be a dark horse for playing time, but I'm not adding him until I see what kind of time he will get.
Arnett Moultrie may get to start at center for the Sixers, but I wouldn't add him until I see if he sticks in the starting five. With their similar skill set to Spencer Hawes, I think it's just a matter of time before newly acquired Byron Mullens takes the reigns of starter. Even if that ends up being the case, I'm not sure Mullens becomes a must own player. LAst year in Charlotte, Mullens was extremely inconsistent as a starting center. He'll offer the same nice combination of points, rebounds, and threes that Hawes did, but he'll also shoot worse, and have nights where he disappears. If I had to chose between the two, I'd say Mullens is more worthy of a pick-up if you need a big man.
Hopefully that helps you get through the confusion of all of Philly's moves at the trade deadline. Don't forget to check out RotoBaller.com for more fantasy basketball articles, and our basketball chatroom for any on demand advice you may need.