January 2, 2021, 7:25 am
2021 started with a bang as 20 teams took to the floor to open the new year. The Pistons upset the Celtics in the first game of the night, while the Grizzlies finally won a game, rolling the Hornets to the tune of 15 points. Atlanta got some revenge by thumping the Nets in a lopsided affair, confirming their status as perhaps the dark horse team to watch in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Wolves are struggling mightily right now and the Suns continue to quietly go about their business. All in all, it was another fun night with a few standout performances including Paul George who racked up six steals, Mike Conley who continues to turn back the hands of time, and Keldon Johnson who showed why he is a player to watch this season.
Add(s) of the Night
We are now far enough into the season that the majority of players are starting to settle into some rhythm. The early season flurry is almost over and so finding gems on the waiver wire is starting to be a little troublesome. That said, there are usually a couple of sneaky value adds, especially if you are targeting certain categories or positions.
Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Miami Heat – Olynyk has put together a couple of strong performances after a terrible start to the season. As has been the case throughout his career, Olynyk could be set to go on a nice run before it will almost certainly come crashing back down. We know what he can do when afforded significant playing time and so if you have a spare roster spot, he is worth picking up to see if you can squeeze out a couple more games of value.
DeAndre Hunter, F, Atlanta Hawks & Cam Reddish G/F, Atlanta Hawks – Hunter continues to play well for the Hawks despite their incredible depth. He shot 90 percent from the floor in Friday’s victory, ending with 23 points on only 10 shot attempts. Of course, he is not going to shoot like this every night but the playing time is there and his role appears at least somewhat secure. Reddish has also managed to carve out a meaningful role, having now played in excess of 30 minutes in three of the last four games. His upside is limited to around the top-100 but that certainly makes him a viable asset in 12-team formats.
It is still early in the season and dropping any player needs to be done so with an element of care. As always, the fear is that any player that is dropped could be done so prematurely. There remains ample time for said player to turn things around, something that could haunt your dreams for the remainder of the season. That being said, we cannot always rest on our laurels and occasionally, tough decisions need to be made.
DeAndre Jordan, C, Brooklyn Nets – Jordan may not even be rostered in your league by now and it appears as though that is the way it should stay. Steve Nash went on record, talking about the future plans for both Jordan and Jarrett Allen, the latter of which seems destined for some additional playing time. Jordan is likely to remain the starter but the minutes are not there and his aging body is certainly catching up with him.
Lonnie Walker, G, San Antonio Spurs – Walker had a nice run to begin the season but managed just eight points in 24 minutes on Friday. Derrick White is back in the lineup and his playing time should begin to ramp up over the coming games, leaving Walker on a downhill slide. You may elect to give Walker one more game as it is unlikely White is back to full speed just yet. However, if you spot a remotely appealing free agent on the waiver wire, you should be inclined to make the move.
Blake Griffin remains out with a concussion
Killian Hayes played 24 minutes despite battling an ankle sprain
Grayson Allen was unable to take his place in the lineup due to a sprained ankle
Jimmy Butler played after missing two straight games due to ankle soreness
Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo both missed Friday’s game and should be considered questionable moving forward
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left the game with an ankle injury and was unable to return
Derrick White played 23 minutes in his first game of the season
LaMarcus Aldridge was a late scratch, missing his second straight game
Chandler Hutchison has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss at least the next two weeks
Lauri Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono are all self-isolating
Russell Westbrook sat out Friday’s game due to rest purposes
Josh Okogie missed his second straight game with a hamstring strain
Dario Saric was rested for Friday’s game against the Nuggets
Michael Porter Jr. is self-isolating for contact tracing purposes
Marcus Morris was out with his ongoing knee injury
Rodney Hood left the game with an apparent cramping issue
Gary Trent Jr. was unable to play due to a calf strain
James Wiseman injured his ankle but sounds as though he will be fine
Who Can? Conley Can.
Mike Conley was incredible for the Jazz on Friday, leading them to an impressive victory over the Clippers. He has played at least 30 minutes in all five games thus far, scoring at least 20 points in three of those five games. He is averaging 5.2 assists and 3.8 triples over that period, numbers that currently have him as a top-30 player in standard leagues.
Coming off what was a relatively successful season in 2019-20, Conley has apparently discovered the fountain of youth. He is putting up numbers reminiscent of his fantasy glory days for the Grizzlies. While this does feel like a sell-high moment for Conley, he does have a proven track record and there is certainly a world where he keeps this up for an extended period. That said, he has been troubled by numerous injuries over the past few years and so while the production could be sustainable, the games played, or lack thereof could become an issue.
The ball is certainly in your court when it comes to making a decision but if trading him away is your preferred option, I would be targeting a third-round guy where possible.
Buying And Selling
A hot topic right now is whether to buy-low or sell-high on certain players. This season we have seen impatience taken to another level in terms of fantasy managers being ready to move on from their players after one or two poor performances. Taking advantage of this can be key to improving your overall chances of winning.
When attempting such a trade, the key is to not be too obvious and to know your opponent. If you know which players they like or which categories they might be targeting, straight away you have an in. Keep your emotions in check at all times and try not to be too greedy when making an offer. It needs to appear as though you are helping the other team, at least from afar.
A couple of examples could be Myles Turner and Devin Booker. Turner is currently the sixth-ranked player in 9-category leagues, a spot that seems unlikely to hold. If you have Turner on your squad and you are considering trading him away, who should you target? First thing is to have an idea in your head of where you think he might finish for the season. Let’s say you envisage him ending as a top-40 player. Does that mean you try and get a top-40 player back? No, it doesn’t. However, it is also unlikely you are going to be able to get a first-round player back in exchange. You need to find the creamy middle here, targeting a player who you think will finish above Turner but is yet to hit their straps, such as John Collins or Nikola Vucevic.
In the case of Booker, he is currently the 186th ranked player, far below where he will finish this season. In this situation, you want to be offering a player who is overperforming right now but will likely regress to a point where they end up below Booker in the rankings. A perfect example might be CJ McCollum or even Jaylen Brown. Both are inside the top-15 currently but seem destined to end as top-40 players.
No matter your strategy, buying low and selling high can be crafty maneuvers when it comes to strengthening your fantasy squad. Keep your ear to the ground and listen for managers who seem disgruntled. It could be your time to shine.