Trade deadline deals can create tremendous opportunities for fantasy NBA players. But this year, the odds of any major franchise-altering trades seem slim.
The biggest name - and best player - thought to be on the move this year is Dwight Howard. But I suspect he'll be staying in Orlando through the end of this year. His preferred destination seems to be New Jersey - but the Nets don't have a whole lot to offer Orlando in a deal. And unlike Carmelo Anthony last season, who arrived at training camp with one foot out the door, it doesn't seem that Howard has ruled out any possibility of returning to the Magic after this season.
If there's any possibility of keeping Howard, I think the Magic will keep him.
And I never really believed the rumors about Rajon Rondo being shopped, either. I don't care how moody the guy is - he's significantly younger and cheaper than any of Boston's other stars. He's the guy you build around. While this may seem like heresy, dealing Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen would make a lot more sense.
On the other hand, Pau Gasol might not want to unpack after the Lakers' next road trip. The Lakers know that Kobe Bryant is coming close to the end of his stellar career, and that they need to re-tool a bit if they're going to make another championship run. Gasol is an excellent player, but he's also the commodity that could bring the Lakers the most in return.
But don't forget - this year's trade deadline - March 15 - is a lot later than usual. That means teams making deadline deals won't have much time to incorporate the new guys into their systems. Say the Lakers acquire Ramon Sessions - a player Cleveland is more than willing to trade, and who would fit an immediate need in Los Angeles. Such a deal would be a massive upgrade for Sessions' fantasy value - but not as much as it would be if he had more time to get acclimated to his new situation and teammates.
Picks for the Week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
I'll give percent owned stats for both Yahoo! and ESPN/NBA.com leagues with each pick - first number is Yahoo, ESPN/NBA is second. If you play some other league/format, let me know in the comments and I'll do what I can to accommodate.
Nikola Pekovic (69%/98.7%) - Ankle injury that held him out of last night's game might have scared off a few players, which could be an opportunity for the rest of us.
Carlos Delfino (63%/38.6%) - Delfino is a better player than he's shown of late - a terrible shooting slump may become a good "buy low" opportunity.
James Johnson (44%/32.8% ) - Second-year forward is developing into a valuable fantasy "garbage man" with significant contributions all over the box score.
Kenneth Faried (30%/29.2% ) - Averaging over 12 points and nine rebounds in his last seven games... though his playing time could take a hit when (if?) Denver's frontcourt is back at full strength.
Steve Novak (27%/23.5% ) - Apparently some players still don't believe Novak will get enough run to be a good option - but it seems that Mike D'Antoni is committed to running a deep rotation, and as long as that's the case, Novak will be a significant part of it.
Mike Dunleavy (13%/3.3% ) - Delfino's poor shooting has created an opportunity for Dunleavy to win a larger role in the Bucks' offense - he has played 30 minutes or more in his last four games (not counting the one he missed on March 2 for the birth of his son).
Gustavo Ayon (17%/6.3% ) - Continues to be a very solid rebounds/steals/blocks option.
Ekpe Udoh (17%/5.6%) - Mark Jackson says Udoh is his starting center for the rest of the season, barring a major drop-off in play. He won't score a lot, but he should be a good source of defensive stats.
Courtney Lee (7%/0.1% ) - Lee had a really nice game at both ends of the floor against the Clippers on Sunday. He hit four of his five shots to tally 13 points, and his defense on Chris Paul prevented CP3 from getting a clean look at the buzzer. That sort of thing will really impress the coaching staff - and maybe win Lee a more prominent role going forward.
Nikola Vucevic (3%/1.8% ) - Replaced Lavoy Allen as Spencer Hawes' primary fill-in - and Hawes is expected to miss another two weeks.
Danny Green (9%/0.9%) - A reasonable option for as long as Manu Ginobili is sidelined, and quite possibly beyond that.
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