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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 prominent shooting guards 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.

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Are You For Real, Zach LaVine?

Third year combo guard Zach LaVine has been blazing hot to start the NBA season, fielding ridiculous averages of 23.7 PPG, 3.7 3PM, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, while shooting 52.2% overall, and 50% from long range. Those are exceptional numbers from a young player with massive amounts of upside, but unfortunately his offensive production is somewhat unsustainable, even with the unpredictable timetable for Ricky Rubio's return, making him a sell-high candidate. The goal of any trade in fantasy basketball is to improve your team, while at getting value for the swap (with relation to where your player was drafted, as well as production). This makes LaVine one of the better sell-high candidates early in the year because he is currently sitting at 18th overall in nine-category leagues; meaning if you can flip him for a more secure top-50 talent, then do it.

Lets take a look at why his rank might drop in the coming weeks. First off, his scoring is sitting at a career high (past career mark was 14 PPG) all while arguably the best young big man in the NBA, Karl-Anthony Towns, is averaging a meager 15.7 PPG. Towns' scoring is definitely overdue to rise and should be somewhat at the expense of a slight decline in the production of LaVine and Andrew Wiggins (currently at 23.7 PPG). It goes without saying that shooting 50% from three point range is also an unsustainable mark, so his 3.7 makes from downtown and his overall FG% will also be dropping.

Guards like Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Kemba Walker, and C.J. McCollum are all currently ranked below LaVine, so if an owner in your league misinterprets the hot start and is willing to part with a top tier player for LaVine it would be a tough bargain to pass up. Over the last two months of the 2015-2016 season LaVine played in 28 games and put up averages of 16.4 PPG, 2.4 3PM, 2.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, and shot 47.9% from the field (Over that stretch he was ranked in the mid 60's). Those averages look to be a good starting point for projecting LaVine's rest-of-season value; there will be an uptick in scoring and efficiency which will ultimately leave him ranked anywhere from 35-55 in nine-category leagues. Lastly, it is good to reiterate that LaVine should only be a sell-high where circumstances dictate that you'd receive a safer/more established player in return. If no one in your league wants to bite then feel confident about keeping the 21-year old high flyer, and enjoy the ride.

Baller Move: Sell high.

 

Time to Panic on Klay Thompson?

Not every fantasy team owner is created equally. Some of us panic at the sense of turbulence, others are patient and ride out any slump that comes their way. Let's take a look at a player some owners might already be looking to trade because of a rough start to the year. We all expected Klay Thompson to take a statistical hit with the arrival of Kevin Durant, but his current output (ranked 143 in nine-category leagues) is nowhere near where he is likely to finish at year's end. Through the first four games Thompson has seen around a 4% decrease in usage from last year (22.9 vs. 26.4) which is normal when a four-time scoring champion joins your team. But there seems to be deviations from his career averages that have been anchoring him to sub-par ranks, and it's reasonable to assume that Thompson will eventually pull himself out of the ranking depths into a more acceptable position that coincides with where everyone drafted him.

Three categories are currently hurting Thompson to the point that his current rank is the lowest its ever been in his career (Klay finished 124 in his rookie year, and then was 58, 47, 9, and 19th overall in subsequent years). The biggest aberration for Thompson through four games is his 0.8 3PM, as his three-point percentage is currently sitting at a comical 10.7%. You can certainly book the fact that it will jump significantly to around last year's rate of 3.5 makes on 42.5%. The same argument can also be made for his overall scoring numbers, which took a fall from 22.1 PPG in the 2015-2016 season to 16.8. It looks to be the case that Thompson's shot is just not falling through the first two weeks of the season. This is clearly evident with his True Shooting percentage (TS%), which is designed to take into account all facets of scoring, including three pointers and free throws. Last year his TS% was 59.7, so far it is 43.2, so another reasonable assumption can be made that he will bounce back in that regard. Take this into account as well, last year through his first five games, Thompson was ranked 94th but ended up finishing 19th.

The final caveat to note with Thompson is that he won't finish the season as a top-25 player (barring a major injury), so don't go overboard and offer one of your top two players for him, but a top-40 finish isn't out of the question given his talent offensively. He might even still be a safer bet to remain in the top 40 than LaVine. So if there is an impatient owner in your league, float him a few offers. If you currently own Thompson try not to sell as he is certainly due to improve his present numbers.

Baller Move: Buy low.


By popular demand, RotoBaller has aggregated all of our fantasy basketball NBA waiver wire pickups into a running list of NBA waiver options, so bookmark the page and check back often for updates.