March 27, 2021, 2:35 am
The NBA trade deadline acts as a shot in the arm, providing us a few anxiety-inducing hours during which the season is refreshed with new possibilities. In the span of a single tweet, a franchise’s future can be completely altered, the race for the championship can be turned upside down and season-altering fantasy players can be created out of thin air.
But now that the deadline has passed and the excitement dissipated, we are simply left to do the work to decide which of the changes made on Thursday afternoon will bear fruit on the court and in fantasy. We got our first real taste of post-deadline play on Friday night and while we’re still waiting on many players to make debuts with their new teams, we can already begin to see significant shifts in the fantasy landscape.
Add(s) of the Night
Chuma Okeke, PF, Orlando Magic
Tonight’s Line: 22 points / six rebounds / four assists / two steals / four threes
When the Magic decided to blow up their roster on Thursday, Okeke was the most obvious beneficiary. The second-year forward is the best (healthy) prospect the Magic have available and he should be getting all the minutes he can handle for the rest of the season. We saw that happen tonight as he played 37 minutes and logged a career-best performance. The caveat here is that the Magic had just eight players available in their rotation tonight, as they’re still awaiting the arrival of the five players they acquired at the deadline. But even when all those players are with the team, Okeke will remain at the forefront. He has more upside for the rest of the season than almost any other player on the wire right now.
Kenyon Martin Jr., SF, Houston Rockets
Tonight’s Line: Two points / seven rebounds / one block
Martin has totally cratered over the past two weeks but remains rostered in 23 percent of competitive leagues. That’s too high for a guy averaging 4.5 points, 0.5 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over the last week. He was nearly invisible tonight, despite the Rockets missing five rotation players. Outside his defensive averages, he’s just not doing enough elsewhere to justify a spot on 12-team rosters.
Damian Lillard (rest) sat out the second half of the Blazers’ back-to-back set tonight. His teammate Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) returned from a 31-game absence and was limited to 18 minutes, but still nearly double-doubled while contributing in every category across the box score. Don’t be surprised if the Blazers take their time ramping Nurkic back up to full speed, but he should get back to being a must-start player relatively soon.
Luka Doncic (low back injury) was ruled out ahead of the Mavs’ 94-109 loss to the Pacers tonight.
Collin Sexton (right hamstring) missed the Cavs’ 86-100 loss to the Lakers tonight.
The Grizzlies clarified today that Jaren Jackson Jr. (torn left meniscus) is expected to return by the end of April. This is terrible news for any managers who’ve been patiently awaiting his recovery. In playoff leagues, there’s no reason to continue stashing him and even in season-long leagues, his value takes a big hit with this news.
Bradley Beal (right foot) is questionable for the Wizards’ matchup with the Pistons on Saturday.
Julius Randle (right thigh) and Elfrid Payton (left hamstring) are both probable to play tomorrow while Nerlens Noel (right shoulder) is questionable.
Both Kawhi Leonard (right foot) and Marcus Morris Sr. (right calf) are questionable to play in the Clippers’ game against the Sixers on Saturday. If neither play, that could open up even more opportunity for Terance Mann, who has posted double-doubles in two of his last three games.
Lonzo Ball (right hip flexor strain) did not play tonight and has already been ruled out for Saturday. Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been excellent starting for Ball over the last three games and should be considered a must-roster until he returns to the bench.
Zach LaVine (right ankle sprain) is questionable to play on Saturday. The two-man game between he and Nikola Vucevic ought to be one of the most exciting products of the trade deadline, so hopefully he’s cleared to return soon.
De’Andre Hunter (right knee) sat out tonight as he continues to ramp back up after returning from injury just two games ago. The Hawks expect Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery) to finally make his season-debut near the end of the team’s upcoming road trip. He’ll likely take some time to ramp up, but if he’s able to return and produce anything close to the 2.0 steals per game he averaged last season, then he would be a pickup in close to all category leagues.
Goran Dragic (back spasms) did not travel with the Heat to Charlotte for Friday’s 110-105 win. Near the close of the game’s second quarter, Kendrick Nunn (right ankle) hurt his ankle and didn’t return.
Newly-minted captain of the Orlando Magic Terrence Ross (right knee soreness) sat out Friday’s loss to the Blazers.
Doug McDermott (right ankle) suffered the injury during the third quarter of the Pacers’ 109-94 win over the Mavs and didn’t return.
J.J. Redick (heel) has no timetable for a return, so it may be a while before he makes his Mavs debut.
Kevin Porter Jr. (right quad soreness) was ruled out tonight while Danuel House Jr. (personal) will be absent for at least the Rockets’ next two games.
P.J. Tucker (left ankle sprain) and Bobby Portis (health protocols) both sat out tonight’s 114-122 loss to the Celtics.
Norman Powell threw on a Blazers jersey and stepped right into the starting lineup for tonight’s 112-105 win over the Magic. He finished with 22 points on 7-of-13 from the field and a blistering 5-of-7 from deep. A move to Portland should herald good things for Powell’s fantasy value, as he projects to be the team’s third option on offense, whereas he would have been the fourth or fifth option most nights had he remained with the Raptors. His job as a scorer should be easier than ever, as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum attract more defensive attention than Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Averaging 20 points per game for the remainder of the season is certainly in the cards for Powell and if he does that efficiently enough, he should remain inside the top-70 in 8- and 9-cat leagues.
Gary Trent Jr. was Toronto’s prize for sending Powell to Portland. Like Powell, he started for his new team but wasn’t nearly as impressive. Trent played 31 minutes in the Raptors’ 100-104 loss to the Suns and scored just eight points on 4-of-11 shooting with one steal. His barren box score doesn’t bode well, but it should be encouraging that he was afforded 11 shots. Had he managed to hit one or two of his five 3-point attempts, the night would have gone a lot differently. Trent hasn’t ever been more than a fringe 12-team guy this season, even while starting for the Blazers, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on him as it seems Toronto intends for him to soak up almost all of Powell’s minutes.
Rodney Hood also debuted for the Raptors but put up just two points and one rebound in 18 minutes. He’ll continue to be as irrelevant in fantasy as he’s been all year.
The Pistons also fielded two new acquisitions for the first time tonight. Hamidou Diallo was traded to the Pistons on March 13th, long before the deadline, but has been sidelined with a right groin injury since then and was finally cleared to play tonight. Diallo flashed significant talent with the Thunder this season, though his playing time was often limited, so there was hope that a move to Detroit would grant him a larger, more consistent role. That could still play out, but tonight he was on the court for only 18 minutes and produced six points and two rebounds. Pistons coach Dwane Casey is known to be finicky when it comes to young players, but hopefully he will recognize there is no reason not to give Diallo significant playing time for the rest of the season. If Casey does allow the third-year combo-guard to play 30 minutes or more on a nightly basis, he would be a hot late-season pickup. The Pistons’ second new acquisition was Cory Joseph, who had nine points, two rebounds and two assists tonight. Joseph’s fortunes aren’t going to trend up any time soon and he should remain on the wire in all leagues.
Nikola Vucevic, Troy Brown, Al-Farouq Aminu and Javonte Green are all slated to debut for the Bulls in Saturday’s game against the Spurs. Vucevic remains the sole player among those four with any fantasy relevance. Daniel Theis (personal) would have also presumably made his debut tomorrow night, but will be attending to a personal matter instead. There will be far fewer opportunities for Theis to play 30-plus minutes in Chicago than there were in Boston, so his production should take a hit and he might lose his membership in the 12-team value club.
All of the Magic’s new acquisitions (Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Hampton, Otto Porter Jr., Gary Harris and Jeff Teague) were not yet available for tonight’s 105-112 loss to the Blazers. When they eventually don their new jerseys, keep an eye on Hampton and Porter Jr. They both have potential to produce 12-team value going forward and it’s perfectly acceptable to take a gamble on either player right now. Considering the Magic have just launched themselves into a hardcore rebuild, Hampton figures to have the most upside of the two.
Aaron Gordon didn’t play for the Nuggets in tonight’s 113-108 victory over the Pelicans, but he’s expected to take to the court in a Denver jersey on Sunday against the Hawks. Gordon has been held outside the top-140 per game this season in 8- and 9-cat leagues due to his horrible shooting efficiency (43.7 percent from the field and 62.9 from the line) but has still delivered valuable counting numbers. That production is likely to take a hit in Denver though, as his usage will be slashed playing alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. He should have the best period of his career with the Nuggets in terms of basketball success, but in fantasy, there’s a chance he becomes a droppable player in standard leagues going forward.
Neither Victor Oladipo nor Nemanja Bjelica were available to play for the Heat tonight, though it’s possible both will be available for Monday’s game. Bjelica probably won’t amount to much (fantasy-wise) in Miami, but it’s worth at least checking in on him when he debuts, as he’s posted standard-league value the past two seasons when given minutes in the mid-20s.
Evan Fournier didn’t play for the Celtics in tonight’s 122-114 win over the Bucks. Boston plays again on Saturday against the Thunder and then on Monday against the Pelicans. We can assume Fournier will take to the court in one of those two games. There’s no way he can replicate the numbers he was producing in Orlando while coming off the bench in Boston, so be wary of him becoming a droppable player in standard leagues soon. Moe Wagner and Luke Kornet were also purportedly available to play for the Celtics tonight, but the team opted to keep them on the sidelines. Presumably, they were just giving them time to acclimate to their new environment and will play in the Celtics’ game on Saturday. Tristan Thompson (health and safety protocols) will be out for at least two more games and Wagner could make for a solid streaming option during that time.
Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley were not able to make their debuts for the Rockets tonight. Both should be marginal figures on the roster, though it could pay to keep an eye on Olynyk’s first few games with the team.
Lou Williams wasn’t cleared to play in time for the Hawks’ 124-108 win over the Warriors. Atlanta’s lemon pepper wing industry might soon be in the midst of a boom, but the same can’t be said about Williams’ fantasy value, as it’s likely all downhill from here for him.
Nicolo Melli has yet to join the Mavs, but he should have a relatively minor role in the rotation once he takes the court for his new team.