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RotoBaller NBA Recap: The Effects of the Jimmy Butler Trade


Welcome to the RotoBaller NBA Recap. In this feature, we highlight three fantasy basketball takeaways from last night's slate of NBA games. While Saturday provided some exciting contests, the story of the day belonged to the blockbuster trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota was finally able to move on from their Jimmy Butler disaster, trading Butler and Justin Patton for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 2nd round pick.

The trade itself is an interesting one, but one can't help but wonder how the Timberwolves viewed this as being a better offer than Houston's apparent proposal of four future first-round selections? I realize all those picks were going to most likely fall somewhere inside the 20s, but there's a lot of talent still at that part of the draft, and you would have to think that Minnesota could have figured out a way to find value with those picks.

Regardless, the trade is what it is, and both teams are currently happy with their haul, so that is all that matters. Minnesota will be acquiring two players that most likely will be starting for them; it just comes down to figuring out how they want to assemble their lineup. Andrew Wiggins, who is currently injured, starts at small forward for the Wolves, but it seems likely that he will shift to the shooting guard position to allow Covington to play his natural spot on defense. There is a chance that Covington could start at shooting guard also, but the minutes will be there regardless for the skilled wing threat.

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Saric, on the other hand, isn't guaranteed to start. Current starting power forward Taj Gibson is one of Thibodeau's favorite players, but Saric is a supremely talented basketball player and should eventually carve out the role. The Croatian had been struggling for much of the season but had turned it around in the previous three games before the trade was announced on Saturday. This is an excellent opportunity for 24-year-old to have a fresh start, and he is worth grabbing in any league that he is currently on the waiver wire. Whether he comes off the bench or starts, Saric will have an active role in Minnesota.

Then we have the Philadelphia 76ers. The acquisition of Butler helps to move a little star power back East and makes the conference much more difficult. I am still not sure if the 76ers are the best team in the Eastern Conference, but they have found themselves a three-headed monster of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler and have to be ecstatic to be able to pull off a deal that nobody saw coming. The 2018 free agency taught them that nothing is a given and they are going to try and control their own destiny with a trade like this. Our three main takeaways of the night are still to come, so without further ado, let's dive a little deeper into Saturday's recap.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - Has Entered Must-Own Territory 

Montrezl Harrell is equally deserving of this post and warrants being picked up in standard leagues himself, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a cleaner path to minutes and has already been named a starter, according to head coach Doc Rivers.

On Saturday, Gilgeous-Alexander put his full repertoire on display, scoring 16 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks and two three-pointers in 40 minutes of action against the Milwaukee Bucks. With the effort, the 20-year-old becomes the first Clippers rookie to have a game of at least 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three blocks since Lamar Odom on April 19, 2000.

The issue for Gilgeous-Alexander always appeared to be that Patrick Beverley was never going to lose his usual allotment of minutes because of his immense upside on defense. But with Avery Bradley hurting his ankle and missing the team's previous three games, Doc Rivers decided to try Beverley and Gilgeous-Alexander together, and the team has looked much better offensively.

The 11th selection in this year's draft is improving every game, and it didn't take him long to earn a starting spot in the Clippers rotation. There will still be some bumps in the road for Gilgeous-Alexander because he is so young, but he needs to be owned in all standard leagues because of his upside. He is still floating around in an astronomical 97.9 percent of ESPN leagues and 75 percent of Yahoo leagues. However, both of those numbers will look drastically different in the next 24 hours. While he should be owned everywhere, he is an even better add in category leagues. His ability to produce nine-category production gives him a higher ceiling and will limit some of the stretches of inconsistency he may possess. Check your wire and see if you can grab him!

Pascal Siakam- Emerging As Most Improved Candidate

Pascal Siakam continues to grow as a player for the Toronto Raptors. On Saturday, the 24-year-old scored a season-high 23 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists and three three-pointers in 28 minutes of action. Siakam's three three-pointers were a bit out of the blue, but he has been attempting 1.7 per game and found himself with a hot hand for the night.

Saturday's effort marked Siakam's eighth consecutive double-digit scoring effort, which includes an offensive explosion over the past week. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 13.3 points on the season with 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals, but over the past four games, Siakam has increased his scoring output to 19 points per contest.

The 27th selection in the 2016 draft is blossoming under new head coach Nick Nurse and has seized control of the starting power forward position. It is possible that Siakam may cool off ever so slightly over the next few weeks, but he has the looks of a player that should be worth owning all year long. He is still available in a shocking 67.3 percent of ESPN leagues and 28 percent of Yahoo leagues. You are unlikely to find him in any competitive groups, but he is a name that is worth going out and trying to acquire. Siakam is emerging as a Most Improved Player candidate and is putting up mid-round value in just 27.9 minutes per game, although that number appears to be steadily rising, averaging 32.2 minutes this week.

Dennis Schroder - Value With And Without Westbrook

Very few players have their value tied to someone quite the way Dennis Schroder does with Russell Westbrook. On Saturday, Schroder got the backcourt to himself with Westbrook being out due to an ankle injury, and he was able to run the offense.

The 17th selection in the 2013 draft didn't execute one of his best performances, scoring 19 points on 8-for-21 shooting from the floor, but the 21 attempts show that the Thunder are more than willing to let the 25-year-old operate when Westbrook isn't active. There are a handful of interesting splits between the two men, but the most noticeable may be the following. When Schroder is in the game and Westbrook is off the court, the German is averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 22.8 minutes. But when Westbrook is on the court with him at the same time, Schroder's averages drop to 3.7 points, 0.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 11.3 minutes.

When we dive a little deeper, we see that Schroder's usage rate falls from 28.7 percent to 15.9 percent, his field goal percentage drops by 5.6 percent and his percentage of points from three-point territory increases by 32.4 percent. Essentially, he becomes a spot-up shooter with Westbrook on the court with him.

So what does that mean we should do with him? For starters, I wouldn't be going out of my way to acquire him. Westbrook will return soon enough, and Schroder's value will take a big hit once he does. If I owned him, that is another story. He only averages 11.3 minutes a game with Westbrook when the two are playing together, so there will be a lot of solo second-unit production possible when the seven-time All-Star is on the bench. During those minutes, Schroder should be able to produce enough to make up for his time that will inevitably be shared with Westbrook on the court. I don't mind the idea of selling him high if you can, but it isn't the end of the world either if he stays on your team. Westbrook doesn't have the cleanest history of health, so you are always just one injury away from having a superstar sitting on your bench. The best example I can give is this: consider Schroder a quality handcuff running back that also possesses some standalone value.

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