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Throughout the season, we'll be looking at what to do with players who have been unusually hot or cold, and whether their current play has staying power or you should expect it to reverse. You can apply this to your decisions in the fantasy basketball trade market. "Buy low" and "sell high" have become a platitude in fantasy sports, but it really depends on the situation like anything else. Only "buy low" on a player if you expect it his current downturn to be a temporary thing, and only "sell high" if you don't think a player's hot streak is going to last. On the inverse, feel free to "buy high" on a hot streak if you think it's for real and the other manager still has doubts, and "sell low" on a player whose downturn could continue while you can still milk some value out of his past reputation.

Let's take a look at a couple of Western Conference players who are off to very different starts this season, and discuss how we should be valuing them in the trade market in fantasy basketball leagues.

Editor's Note: New users that sign up on FantasyAces, make a $20 deposit, and enter any game will receive our full season NBA (or NFL) Premium Pass for free (includes DFS Cheat Sheets). Just email info@rotoballer.com with your new FantasyAces username - and boom, that's it! We will email you with your Premium Pass.

 

Are You for Real, George Hill?

During our last column I mentioned selling high on Minnesota guard Zach LaVine, who at the time was ranked 18th overall in nine-cat leagues; a week later he sits at 43rd. In similar fashion, George Hill, newly minted point guard of the Utah Jazz qualifies as a great sell high candidate. Nobody expected Hill to be putting up value just shy of the first-round value (13th overall) through the early part of the season, and the skepticism surrounding if its sustainable is totally warranted. Lets take a look at what is bolstering Hill's value, and which aspects of his statistical output will trend more towards the norm as the season advances.

While it does look like Hill is in the midst of a career season, some expectations need to be tempered with regards to his scoring and efficiency. His current three-point output (2.3-per game) jumped significantly from his previous career high (1.7), but this is a trend that's likely to stick given Hill's career trajectory with regards to long distance shots. Over his last two seasons with Indiana, Hill attempted 4.5, and 4.2 three's while connecting on 35.8, and 40.8% of them respectively. Through the first seven games of the season Hill sits at 5.3 attempts on 43.2%; so his three-point shooting may have hit its peak. Although, it is not likely to drop significantly since Hill has shown steady improvement in that department over the years.

The big aberration with Hill seems to be just how hot his shooting from inside the arc is. Again looking at his two most recent seasons with Indiana, Hill connected on 54.4% (career high) of his two-pointers, and 46.6% last year. Both shooting outputs are above average for a point guard, but his current 2P% is a ridiculous 60.7%, which is resulting in another career mark of 20.4 PPG (previous career high was 16.1). An early season injury to Gordon Hayward, along with a slow start from Derrick Favors help to explain Hill's career high in field goal attempts (14 vs. his career average of 8.9). The ultra-efficient shooting and the return to form of Utah's other stars warrants the belief that he is due for a statistical regression in both efficiency and volume in the coming weeks.

None of this is to say that Hill is not an efficient point guard, because he has proven over the years that he is; but he isn't a top-20 fantasy player like his rank currently dictates. Similarly to the Zach LaVine situation, see if you can trade Hill for a safer choice who has demonstrated the capability of finishing in the top 20-30 players. The rest of Hill's statistical output isn't far off from his career averages, so it seems to be the case that Hill can carry his momentum as long as expectations for his scoring numbers are somewhat tempered.

Baller Move: Sell high.

 

Time to Panic on LaMarcus Aldridge?

The San-Antonio Spurs are a model for consistency, not only among the NBA teams, but in all of sports. The same can be said more-or-less of the players they either groom to fit their selfless system, or those they sign in free agency. Semi-new Spur Lamarcus Aldridge is off to a rough start in the post-Duncan era, currently ranking in at 77th overall in nine-category leagues. This is after having been drafted at an average position of 22 in Yahoo! leagues. A 50 spot rank drop-off should be worrying for any owner that used a second or third round pick on Aldridge, but this column will attempt to convince you to hold onto the ultra talented big man.

The first point to make is that through his first seven games during his inaugural season as a Spur, Aldridge was ranked at an even worse point, 95th overall, but ended up finishing 26th. Last year Aldridge was tasked to adapt to a new team, coach, system, and more importantly philosophy; this year the biggest difference is his new front-court mate Pau Gasol. A lot goes into the PF/C dynamic on the floor as both players need to learn each other's tendencies on both offense and defense to extract the optimal amount of usage between both big-men. So with time Alridge and Gasol, whom are both above average big-men, will learn to mesh on the court.

One glaring inconsistency in Aldridge's game so far is his career low FG%, currently at 44.7%. That's a number we'd expect from a guard, but certainly not a five time all star big man with a career FG% of 48.7%. While Aldridge has started the season hitting an impressive 0.7 3PM, that isn't anchoring his FG% down; what looks to be the issue is that his two pointers are not falling (43.6% this year vs. 49.2% career). His scoring attempts are all in line with last year, which should ease some panic among owners. If he can reclaim his efficiency from the 2015-16 season he should have no problem finishing inside the top-40 overall.

The one non-offensive statistic to look at is his rebounding numbers which so far have dipped to a meager 6.6 RPG (career low after his rookie year average of 5.5). Rebound percentage is the percentage of total rebounds a player obtains when they are on the court. Aldridge is currently strapped with a 12.4% rate. In his previous three seasons, his rebounding percentage was on average 16%. One could argue the drop off is due to a new center, but Gasol is averaging an 18% rate this. Duncan was at 16% during his lone season with Aldridge. The center switch is too minimal to account for the dip in rebounds, so its also likely that his boards will creep back towards his career average.

Aldridge owners who spent a high pick on him should ride the storm since San Antonio has always been a ultra consistent fantasy threat. Those looking to improve their team with an infusion of efficient scoring from the PF position should float some offers to nervous owners.

Baller Move: Hold or buy low.