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The Dejounte Murray Trade: Fantasy Basketball Rapid Reaction

Dejounte Murray daily fantasy basketball NBA DFS lineup picks

Ladies and gentlemen, it's officially tank SZN in San Antonio! After weeks of noise and speculation, the Spurs officially agreed to send their 25-year-old All-Star point guard, Dejounte Murray, to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and a trio of first-round picks.

At face value, this is a puzzling move for the Spurs. Murray, who will be 26 years old in September, is fresh off the best season of his career. On the back of 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, he was voted in as an All-Star for the first time in his career and finished second for Most Improved Player of the Year. Murray's impressive play also made him incredibly popular in the fantasy community. After exiting draft season with a consensus third-round ADP, he finished with the seventh-best per-game value in 9-cat. He was truly a league winner. All in all, he's a dynamic two-way player with two years remaining on his contract. This was an impressive haul by the Hawks.

No matter how you slice it, this transaction is sure to have significant ripple effects across the fantasy basketball landscape this season. But how exactly? I will break it down for you here. Let's start by taking a peek at a few guys whose fantasy value will be impacted the most as a result of this trade.

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Trae Young - PG, Atlanta Hawks

Much like Murray, Young finished as a first-round value in fantasy this past season. The main reason? His usage. With no one else on the roster averaging more than 12.6 shots per game, Young was able to rack up a massive 34.4% usage rating, good enough for fourth-highest in the league. As a result, he had the green light to take as many shots as his heart desired and still managed to end up with a career-high 9.7 assists per game. That should change with Murray entering the mix as the ball will likely be taken out of his hands a bit more. But is that such a bad thing?

I don't think so.

Yes, spending less time as the primary ballhandler could actually boost Young's fantasy value. Instead of teams being able to solely hone in on him defensively, they now have Murray to worry about. As a result, he may see a slight decrease in assists, but his efficiency should improve, and his turnovers should go down. That would be huge for his value.

Considering he shot 48.1% on catch-and-shoot 3s last season, Young has a real chance to finish as the league's scoring champ on solid efficiency across the board. Don't be surprised to see his numbers look a bit like Stephen Curry's this season with a real shot to become the league's scoring champ. I know. That sounds very blasphemous. At the very least, his stock is certainly trending up as a result of this trade.

 

Dejounte Murray - PG, Atlanta Hawks

The important thing to realize about Murray is that usage rate doesn't tend to dictate his value as much as it may for other players. As a matter of fact, RJ Barrett, Tyler Herro, and Reggie Jackson all finished with higher usage rates than Murray last season, yet the latter finished as a top-10 fantasy asset. Because of this, we must factor this in when assessing his value next season. Sure, he may not eclipse his 18.3 FGA from a season ago, but truthfully, that shouldn't make a huge difference.

Why, you ask? His defense.

If one thing is true regarding Murray, it's that an enormous part of his fantasy value lies on the defensive side of the ball. As a matter of fact, he was one of only three players last season to average at least 2.0 steals per game. Nothing about his move to Atlanta is going to change that. Because of this, he will still come with a super safe fantasy floor. Factor in an increase in offensive efficiency from sharing the court with Young and you have a bonafide fantasy superstar.

Given Murray's skillsets and fit in Atlanta's scheme, it would be unwise to fade him into oblivion as a result of this trade. If anything, sharing the court with Young should accentuate his talents. For me, Murray was a top-10 asset prior to the trade and his ranking will remain unchanged until further notice. While that may sound like a hot take at the moment, I will simply sit back and take advantage of the consensus panic come draft day.

 

Devin Vassell - SG, San Antonio Spurs

Murray's departure will leave just under a 27% usage rate up for grabs in San Antonio. A huge beneficiary of that will be none other than Devin Vassell. The third-year guard actually had a sneaky good sophomore year with averages of 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and just under two threes per game. While that's certainly nothing to write home about, he managed to produce those numbers on a 19.3% usage rate. When Murray was out of the lineup, however, it was a different story. His usage rating jumped the highest on the team to 22.8% (+3.8%) and his numbers increased to 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.9 threes on 45% from deep. Now we're talking.

Looking ahead to this season, the Spurs will need production from someone. While Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV remain on the roster, rumor has it that they both might be on different teams in the near future. Johnson is popping up in trade rumors and Walker IV is not expected to return to the Spurs. Sure, Danilo Gallinari comes over in the trade but you're on crazy pills if you think a rebuilding Spurs club is giving a 33-year-old forward meaningful minutes.

So, where does that leave us? Oh yeah, right back to Vassell! He should see a massive increase in playing time and that has boded well for him in previous seasons. Take a look at Jacob Dunne of RotoWire's tweet detailing how Vassell's numbers have fared when given more playing time.

Given his well-rounded game and impressive stroke at the charity stripe (career 84% FT), all signs point to him being a fantastic fantasy contributor who can probably be drafted within the last couple of rounds this season. Vassell was always a breakout candidate, but this trade simply solidifies it.

 

Bogdan Bogdanovic - SG, Atlanta Hawks

Bogi is coming off of an up and down season but still managed to post 15.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals on 43/36/84 splits. He played well serving as the Hawks' sixth man and actually finished with the second-highest usage rating behind Young (22.3%). Unfortunately, this doesn't seem sustainable with Murray now in the picture. Both guys thrive off the dribble and excel with the ball in their hands. If Bogi cedes those opportunities to Murray, his numbers will take a direct hit.

With that said, Bogi is expected to assume the role of the sixth man again, so he should have plenty of stints without one of Murray or Young on the floor. This should certainly help him hold onto some value, but it will seemingly be difficult for him to eclipse the 12.6 field goal attempts he saw on a nightly basis last season.

At the moment, this trade appears to hurt Bogdanovic's fantasy value more than anyone else in Atlanta.

 

De'Andre Hunter - SF, Atlanta Hawks

While the addition of Murray will likely pull some usage away from others, it's imperative to remember that Danilo Gallinari is no longer in the picture as well. Believe it or not, his departure actually frees up 9.1 shots per game. And who was it that benefitted the most in Gallo's absence last season? You guessed it, De'Andre Hunter.

Hunter had a nice year with averages of 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 threes per game but really elevated his play during the postseason. In five games against the Miami Heat, he averaged 21.2 points and 3.8 rebounds on 55/46/80 shooting splits. In eight regular-season games without Gallinari, his play increased as well, posting 16.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 threes.

In terms of fantasy, his lack of defensive stats tanks his value, as he's failed to average more than one block or steal per game in each of his first two seasons. With that said, there is a place for him in fantasy and the departure of Gallinari may help. On the flip side, the presence of Murray should help him garner better looks on offense and raise his percentages.

Let's face it, if you're drafting Hunter in a category league, you're in need of scoring. He's not going to give you much else. Because of this, he remains more valuable in points leagues.

 

Joshua Primo - SG, San Antonio Spurs

Figured I'd have a little fun with this one! Primo was far from the fantasy radar during his rookie season last year, but that wasn't all due to limited playing time. In 50 games, he averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in just over 19 minutes per game on 37/30/74 shooting splits. While those numbers are pretty poor in terms of fantasy, it will be interesting to see how much he can improve heading into Year Two. And with the Spurs obviously tanking, he may receive more playing time than expected.

For what it's worth, Primo played 14 games without Murray last season and his usage rate saw the second-highest spike on the team (+3.7%).

All that to say, he's only 19-years-old and won't turn 20 until December. This is not someone to draft outside of Dynasty leagues but rather someone to keep an eye on heading into the radar. If he can see upwards of 25 MPG and improve his efficiency across the board, he'll likely serve as an excellent streaming target to open the season. Take a look at what his current teammate Joe Wieskamp had to say regarding Primo's ascending game:

Do with that information as you please but whatever you do, keep this young man's name in the back of your fantasy hoops cranium as we inch closer toward the season.



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