Almost any way you slice it, this year’s NBA trade deadline was a disappointment. The lack of big names on the move means that not much has changed from a fantasy owner’s perspective. Let’s face it, names like Randy Foye, Steve Novak, and Dejuan Blair don’t really even register as blips on the radar of the average fantasy owner. For the most part, the rumored big names (Howard, Love, Horford etc.) stayed put, but there were a couple of trades that still might make some ripples in the fantasy basketball landscape over time.
The first, and most obvious of these is the Tobias Harris deal. From a strictly basketball point of view, Stan Van Gundy made a brilliant basketball move in acquiring Harris from the Magic for two rotation players on expiring contracts (Jennings and Ilyasova). Van Gundy has proved time and time again that he knows what he’s doing in Detroit. But will it change the fantasy landscape? Short answer? A little. I think the key pieces here are Harris, of course, but also Stanley Johnson and Aaron Gordon. I think Harris’s fantasy value will go up for two reasons: Van Gundy will make him better (something he’s already proven he can do with other young players like Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Stanley Johnson, and Andre Drummond), and Harris will be energized by being on a team that’s better positioned for a playoff run.
Beyond Harris, the player most affected will be Aaron Gordon. He showed in the dunk contest recently why the Magic are so high on him (and by the way, I’m still angry at Shaq for that 9), and it looks like moving Frye and Harris opens up a clear path for him to become the man in Orlando. I don’t know if he’ll instantly turn into a fantasy stud, but given his raw athleticism, it’s hard to think he won’t get there eventually.
On the Pistons’ side, I’ve got to think Stanley Johnson is going to see his playing time squeezed. He’s still a good bet for the future, but with the Harris trade and Kentavious Caldwell Pope return, minutes are going to be a little tougher to come by this season. Still, I expect Johnson will have some moments where he performs well, just don’t expect them to come on a consistent basis.
In looking at the other trades, the only other one worth talking about is the Markieff Morris deal. Morris landed in Washington and Phoenix got some inconsequential players and a number one pick. It’ll be worth watching how Morris performs in Washington. He’s got a world of talent, and leaving the negative situation (albeit one he created) in Phoenix could energize him enough to see his numbers return to their former glory of a few years ago.
NBA Trade Deadline Recap
Players Who Will Improve Their Status
Tobias Harris, PF, Detroit Pistons
As I covered above, Harris looks to see a modest bump in fantasy value after landing in Detroit. The early results support this outlook.
Friday night against the Wizards, Harris came off the bench to score 21 points on 9-12 shooting.
Markieff Morris, SF/ PF, Washington Wizards
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 19, 2016
Morris struggled in his debut against the Pistons Friday night, and then followed that up with another poor performance against the Heat on Saturday. Don’t be discouraged though. He’s got the talent, and the setting is finally right. He’ll produce again. Sooner rather than later.
Lance Stephenson, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
Does anyone else remember when Stephenson used to be a triple double threat each and every night for the Pacers? Does anyone know what happened? I sure don’t.
However, I remember the old Lance well enough to be cautious about counting him out. The Grizzlies’ shooting guards are not exactly top tier (Tony Allen and an ancient Vince Carter), so I think Stephenson will get plenty of opportunities to prove himself in Memphis.
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