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Buy-Low, Sell-High, NBA Fantasy Basketball Playoffs

Dejounte Murray daily fantasy basketball NBA DFS lineup picks

All-Star weekend has come to a close, which means two things. One, and maybe most obvious, we're in the second half of the 2021-22 NBA season. Two, we're nearing the fantasy basketball playoffs, which is maybe not as obvious if you don't play the game, but that's likely why you're reading this article in the first place.

For the majority, the playoffs begin in Week 21 (March 14 - March 20) and end in Week 23 (March 28 - April 3). Subsequently, for consistency throughout the article, the advice given assumes the playoffs are between March 14 and April 3 (Weeks 21 - 23).

The trade deadline has passed and teams are fighting for real-life playoff spots. In fantasy basketball, we're doing the same thing, but there are certain advantages to be had as we head down the homestretch. One of those advantages is understanding who to acquire on the cheap and who to sell at their peak ahead of the trade deadline. For most, the trade deadline is typically in early March. Without further ado, let's see which players we should be buying low and which players we should be selling high. And as always, you can hit me up on Twitter @AdamKoffler to engage in further discussion.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Players to Buy Low

Evan Mobley, CLE, PF/C

Make no mistake about it, Mobley has been a revelation for the Cavaliers this season. Many were unsure how the big man out of USC would fit next to Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt, but those questions have been answered and some. Mobley is currently the heavy favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year award, and he's helped the Cavaliers to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break.

From a fantasy perspective, Mobley came out of the gates red hot. In the calendar year 2021 (his first 28 games), he ranked 46th on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues. This was in large part due to his efficient scoring (49.1% FG, 77.5% FT) and defensive metrics (0.8 steals, 1.8 blocks). But calendar year 2022 has been a bit different for Mobley, who turned the ball over much more (2.4 per game vs. 1.6 per game in 2021) and shot just 59.1% from the charity stripe. In fact, he ranks just 180th on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues since January 1. In college, Mobley shot nearly 70% from the line, so there's reason to believe he can settle in close to that number as the season progresses.

So while he's struggled a bit from a fantasy perspective lately, there are reasons to be excited about Mobley down the stretch. First, as mentioned previously, he's battling for Rookie of the Year honors on a really good Cavs team. That should be enough incentive right there. But wait, there's another great reason you should be buying low on Mobley right now for your playoff run. The Cavaliers have one of the most favorable schedules between Weeks 21 and 23, playing 12 games in that time span, including five games during many league championships in Week 23. They're one of just four teams to have 12 games during those three weeks.

Right now is the perfect opportunity to buy-low on Evan Mobley as you gear up for a deep playoff run in your fantasy basketball leagues.

Kristaps Porzingis, WAS, PF/C

Porzingis and Luka Doncic could never really figure out how to co-exist in Dallas, so the Mavericks finally decided to move on from KP at the trade deadline. He goes from sharing the court with a 37% usage guy in Doncic to sharing a court with Kyle Kuzma, the highest usage guy in Washington at just 27%. Porzingis himself had a 29% usage rate in Dallas this season so he should get every opportunity to be the centerpiece for this Wizards team with Bradley Beal out for the remainder of the season and Spencer Dinwiddie now in Dallas.

With Doncic off the floor this season, Porzingis saw his usage rate jump to 30.5%. He also averaged 5.7 more fantasy points per game. Additionally, the Mavericks rank dead last in possessions per game this season with just 98.9 possessions per game. The Wizards rank near the middle of the pack, averaging nearly 101 possessions per game this season.

Additionally, all signs point to Porzingis finally being fully healthy after suffering a bone bruise in his knee. It's possible the Mavericks were simply protecting their trade asset ahead of the trade deadline, holding him out in hopes of striking a deal.

When healthy this season, Porzingis has been a top-25 guy in 9-category leagues. Oh, and Washington (like Cleveland) is one of the four teams to play 12 games between Weeks 21 and 23. You can likely get Porzingis much cheaper than expected if his current fantasy manager is worried about the knee injury.

OG Anunoby, TOR, SF/PF

Anunoby currently ranks 52nd on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues. That's not bad considering his average draft position (ADP) was around 64 this season. But recently, Anunoby has found himself in a pretty big slump. In the month of February (nine games), he ranks just 140th on a per-game basis. This could simply be a result of taking a backseat to Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr., all of who rank in the top-31 since February 1.

He's still playing heavy minutes (35+ per night) and Nick Nurse will continue to run his starters into the ground so long as the Raptors are in the thick of the playoff race (which they are as the current 7-seed in the East). Toronto plays 19 games between Weeks 19 and 23, which is three more games than the Celtics, Clippers, and Grizzlies play (16) during that same stretch. Also, the Raptors play just one back-to-back despite having a favorable 11-game schedule during the fantasy basketball playoffs in Weeks 21 - 23.

Float those offers out for Anunoby, who should be considered a solid top-60 fantasy asset for the remainder of the season.

Christian Wood, HOU, PF/C

There's no denying the Rockets' big man has struggled of late, but so has Houston. They lost seven straight games heading into the All-Star break and lost each of the six games Wood played in by over 10 points. During those six games, Wood ranks just 187th in 9-category leagues. Prior to the last six games, he managed to post top-90 numbers as a result of his scoring, rebounding, and abilities on the defensive end of the floor.

So if we chalk up Wood's struggles recently to tough competition/blowouts, we should take a look at Houston's schedule during Weeks 21 - 23 to see if that issue might exist in the fantasy basketball playoffs. Thankfully, just four of their opponents during that time span currently have records over .500. One of those four teams is the Suns, who will almost assuredly be without Chris Paul for that game. Look for the Rockets to remain competitive down the stretch, which absolutely boosts Christian Wood's fantasy value.

And like the Raptors, the Rockets play a whopping 19 games between Weeks 19 and 23. You shouldn't even have to give up too much for Wood at this point. Maybe a guy like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, or Evan Fournier is enough to do the trick.


Players to Sell High

Dejounte Murray, SA, PG/SG

Before you yell at me for suggesting to trade away one of the biggest revelations in fantasy basketball this season, just hear me out. Sure, in the last two weeks (six games) he ranks second in 9-category leagues just behind Joel Embiid. Impressive stuff. Even more impressive, he ranks ninth overall over the course of the entire season. His ADP this season was around 42, so you can see just how much of a value this guy has been.

Sure, the departure of Derrick White helps solidify his value a bit, but maybe not as much as we'd like to think. His usage goes up to 28% (from 26.7% with White on the floor) and he puts up a couple more fantasy points.

Here's the thing, if you drafted Murray, there's at least a good chance you're doing very well in your fantasy league. You'll possibly even be securing a first-round bye in the playoffs. That's a great accomplishment, but what's not great is that the Spurs play just two games in Week 22 (the first week you'll be competing in the playoffs). That stings if you're a Dejounte Murray manager. Granted, you'll get four games in championship Week 23, but you'll have to get there first! So while I don't recommend selling high on Murray if you're still trying to get into the playoffs, I would consider doing so if you're well on your way to locking up a first-round bye in Week 21. Guys like DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Stephen Curry, and Luka Doncic all play four games in both Week 22 and Week 23.

Harrison Barnes, SAC, SF/PF

It's essentially been a tale of three different seasons for Barnes. He started the season white-hot, averaging 21.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, one steal, and 1.9 turnovers per contest while shooting 49.7% FG and 85.4% FT. That was good for the 21st ranking in 9-category leagues in his first 13 games of the season. For the next two months, he cooled off in a major way, averaging just 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.5 steals while shooting just 42.5% from the field. The minutes were still there, Barnes just simply wasn't producing during that stretch of 26 games and ranked 176th on a per-game basis.

Fast forward to the last month before the All-Star break, and Barnes once again finds himself on a heater. In his last 16 games, he's averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 0.7 steals per game while shooting 50% from the field. While he may have some more staying power now that Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton are with the Pacers, it's unlikely Barnes continues putting up top-50 numbers from here on out, especially considering there's a lot of downside to his game should the shooting percentages take a hit like they did midseason.

Couple the likely regression with the Kings' unfavorable playoff schedule (just 10 games total and just two games in Week 22), and Barnes is a screaming sell-high candidate at this point for those that feel comfortable with their playoff chances.

Desmond Bane, MEM, PG/SG/SF

"Sell high on Desmond Bane, are you out of your mind!?" That's the response I envision getting when I suggest such a thing. But yes, no player should be untouchable, especially down the stretch (as evidenced by my suggestion to see what you can get for Dejounte Murray). Undrafted in many leagues, Bane finds himself ranked 39th on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues this season. Impressive stuff for the second-year man, who as a result, finds himself in the running for Most Improved Player of the Year alongside teammate Ja Morant and Cavs guard Darius Garland.

In his last 10 games, Bane is ranked 31st overall thanks in large part due to his 3.0 3PM and his 1.5 steals per contest. That's been his calling card all season. The issue for Bane as we head into the fantasy playoffs is the unfavorable Grizzlies schedule. From Week 20 through Week 23, Memphis plays just 12 total games, three per week. They play just nine games in the playoffs. We've seen Bane go cold on plenty of occasions this season, and when that happens with a minimal number of games, you'll be in trouble. So, before it's too late, consider moving Bane for a guy like Evan Mobley, OG Anunoby, or Kristaps Porzingis, perhaps.

Good luck on your quest to win a fantasy basketball championship this season!

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