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Fantasy Basketball Buy, Sell, or Hold: Damian Lillard, Jonas Valanciunas, and Kelly Oubre

Trading in fantasy basketball can help you improve your team in the short, as well as in the long term. More than that, it's just plain fun. Negotiating with your mate, going back and forth with offers, and hopefully reaching a mutually beneficial agreement in the end.

It's not always easy to find the right deal that both parties could agree upon, so using the current form to your advantage could be helpful for you to get a deal done, and perhaps even get the most out of it.

Here are our current Sell High and Buy Low candidates for the NBA season, right here at RotoBaller.

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!

 

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has been one of the best guards in the league since 2016. However, his run during the 2020 bubble and the 2021 playoff series against the Nuggets really cemented his place among the elite. Although Lillard missed most of last season due to an abdominal injury, he has constantly reassured reporters before the start of this season that he is ready to play at a high level again. Given these comments, fantasy managers highly anticipated Lillard’s return coming into the 2022-2023 season.

The Trail Blazers star, unfortunately, has not lived up to these expectations so far. Despite an amazing five-game stretch to start the season, Lillard has been lackluster since. In the month of November, Lillard has been averaging only 22.3 PTS on 35.3 FG%. Compare this to his averages of 29.4 PTS and 45.7 FG% during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons and it is apparent that his production has dipped this year.

Lillard’s decreased level of performance is not his only problem, though. Even more worrisome is that he continues to be plagued with injuries. Just five games into the season, Lillard strained his right calf, causing him to miss four games. Only two weeks later, Lillard reaggravated the same calf. His injury is expected to keep him out for about 2 weeks.

Fantasy managers who have Lillard on their team must be frustrated with his performance so far. However, it is important to be patient with him. Because it has been about a year since he last played an NBA game, he needs time to ramp up his conditioning and readjust to the fast pace. If you can afford to keep Lillard in the IR for the next couple of weeks, either hold him or try to buy low for him. The 6x All-Star will surely return to his usual form given enough time. 

Baller Move: Hold/ Buy Low

 

Jonas Valanciunas

Where do we even start with Valanciunas? Even though the Pelicans are only 19 games into the season, Valanciunas’ performance has just been erratic. Even looking at his past two games is evidence of his inconsistent play. On November 23, he put up an impressive 22 points on 9-11 shooting and 11 rebounds. Just two days later against the Grizzlies, he squeaked out just four points and three rebounds. He is currently averaging 13.2 PTS and 9.0 REB. What happened to the dominant center who was averaging 17.8 PTS and 11.4 REB last year?

His decrease in minutes is definitely a factor leading to his decreased production. After playing 30.3 minutes per game last year, his minutes have dipped down to 23.4 minutes this year. The reason for his decreased playing time is unclear, but there are two players who are competing for his minutes: Larry Nance Jr. and Naji Marshall. With the return of Jaxson Hayes, who averaged 20.0 minutes last year, Valanciunas may continue to see fewer minutes.

Another reason for Valanciunas’ struggles? The Pelicans’ star player, Zion Williamson. Last year, Williamson missed the entire season, allowing Valanciunas to control the paint and get easy feeds close to the basket. However, Zion’s return and reliance on slashing to the bucket means that Valanciunas must make way. This leads to decreased scoring opportunities for the team’s center.

Valanciunas’ current production barely puts him above players on the waiver wire. His inconsistent performance and lower playing time make him an unappealing asset in most leagues. While this kind of situation for a great player like Valanciunas will normally be a buy low, there is a low chance that he will put up better numbers as the season goes on, especially with the return of crucial players in the frontcourt.

If the Pelicans’ center is on your team, hold for now and see where he goes from here.

Baller Move: Hold 

Kelly Oubre

With the absence of Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball’s injury this year, many Hornets fans were expecting Terry Rozier to see a significant increase in scoring. While he is averaging a career-best 20.5 PTS this year, it is not a big improvement from his 19.3 PTS during the 21-22 season. Another player, on the other hand, has taken this opportunity to be the second scoring option the team needs: Kelly Oubre.

Last season, he averaged 15.0 points on 12.3 FGA. These numbers jumped up to 19.6 PTS and 17.1 FGA this year. While his efficiency has taken a slight hit, the trade-off for almost a five-point scoring increase is certainly worth it. Oubre’s defense has also greatly improved from last season. After only averaging 1.0 steals per game last year, he has been much more active with 1.7 steals per game this year.

Some fans may argue that Oubre’s rise is simply a result of LaMelo Ball being out, and once he returns, Oubre will perform similarly to last year. While this may be true, data from the games Ball has played this year shows otherwise. In the three games Ball participated in, Oubre has an average of 18.3 FGA, which is actually higher than his season FGA average. This is not nearly enough data to confidently say that his usage will continue when Ball comes back, but the data does give hope that Oubre will keep performing like this for the remainder of the season.

As of right now, fantasy managers should hold onto Oubre. He is finding his rhythm and providing great value in points and steals. And even if Ball does return, Oubre has the potential to sustain his current production. If you do want to trade him, try getting a player of a caliber similar to Jalen Green or Evan Mobley

Baller Move: Hold/ Sell High



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