This year’s NBA trade deadline did not disappoint, with more than half the league making roster changes over the past three days. Some deals were bigger than others – Marc Gasol to the Raptors! – but each will impact the DFS market.
Let’s break down the biggest winners and losers following a wild couple of days in the NBA.
Memphis Grizzlies Frontcourt
The Grizzlies officially ended the Gasol era yesterday, shipping him to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a second-round draft pick. Valanciunas should definitely benefit from a change of scenery. He’s averaged just 18.8 minutes per game this season, which is the lowest mark of his career. He’s still been really effective from a DFS perspective, averaging 1.34 DraftKings points per minute, and he should see a solid increase in playing time as a member of the Grizzlies.
Jaren Jackson Jr. also figures to see a bump in playing time. The Grizzlies traded away JaMychal Green yesterday, and he has been Jackson’s biggest competition for playing time this season. Jackson is a really promising young prospect, averaging 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 26.1 minutes per game, and he’s averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute with Gasol and Green off the court this season. He won’t exactly have a monopoly on playing time at the PF position with Ivan Rabb still in the picture, but developing Jackson should be the Grizzlies’ main priority for the rest of the season.
The 76ers decided to pull the plug on Fultz, sending him to the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of draft picks. It’s still unclear if Fultz will return to the court this season, but his fantasy prognosis is definitely better in Orlando than it was in Philadelphia. For starters, the Magic don’t have nearly the same talent as the 76ers, particularly in their backcourt. Instead of having to compete with Ben Simmons for touches at the PG position, he’ll have to compete with guys like D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant. Fultz was the first pick in the draft just two years ago, so he should have plenty of opportunities to produce when he ultimately returns to the court.
He should also face less scrutiny in Orlando. Everything he did in Philadelphia was placed under a microscope since the team is one of the strongest title contenders in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is still a long ways away from contending, which will allow him to just focus on doing the things that made him such a highly-regarded prospect.
Ivica Zubac emerged as a legit member of the Lakers rotation recently, but he will now be plying his trade for the other team in Los Angeles. The Lakers traded him and Michael Beasley for Mike Muscala, which opens the door for McGee to handle the majority of the minutes at the center position. He started yesterday vs. the Boston Celtics and ultimately tallied 28.5 DraftKings points in 29.5 minutes. McGee has averaged 27.46 DraftKings points and a +3.01 Plus/Minus through his first 30 games this season (per the Trends tool) and could return to a similar role following the trade deadline.
I touched on Doncic a bit when breaking down the Kristaps Porzingis trade, and his fantasy outlook has only gotten brighter since then. The Mavericks traded away Harrison Barnes on Wednesday in what was essentially a salary dump, netting Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson in return. Jackson may factor into the rotation at the SF position, while Randolph is expected to be bought out.
Doncic has been a fantasy monster with Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan off the court this season, posting a usage rate of 35.3% and averaging 1.45 DraftKings points per minute. Doncic posted 54.0 DraftKings points in his most recent game despite shooting just 5-of-20 from the field. He’s going to have massive upside for the remainder of the season.
The Cavaliers have done a wonderful job of acquiring future assets this season. They traded away Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood and George Hill earlier this season, netting seven draft picks, and they continued that process by unloading Alec Burks yesterday. They took on a bad contract from the Rockets in Brandon Knight, but doing that allowed them to grab another first-round draft pick. There is still a long way to go towards rebuilding the Cavs roster, but they’re going about it the right way.
In the meantime, Collin Sexton is going to have the opportunity to play huge minutes. He’s coming off just under 42 in his most recent contest, and that was with Burks playing 37 of his own. He scored 41.0 DraftKings points and led the starters with a usage rate of 27.7% in that contest and should possess a big ceiling moving forward.
Toronto Raptors Frontcourt
The Gasol trade gives the Raptors a lot of lineup flexibility for the playoffs but is going to make their production a lot tougher to handicap on a night-to-night basis. Valanciunas has been out of the lineup since the middle of December, and Gasol is going to have to play much more than he played when he was healthy.
That creates a bit of a logjam at the PF and C positions. Serge Ibaka has been a nice value since January 1, posting an average Plus/Minus of +2.69 on DraftKings. He averaged 30.4 minutes per game over that time frame, but his playing time will almost certainly decrease with the addition of Gasol. Pascal Siakam has a bit more flexibility than Ibaka given his ability to play both forward positions, but he seems due for a decrease in playing time as well.
Grabbing Mirotic was a nice addition for the Milwaukee Bucks. He should fit in really well in their pace-and-space offense, shooting 38.1% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers this season. The Bucks didn’t have to give up anything of real value either, trading away reserve big men Thon Maker and Jason Smith as well as four second-round draft picks.
Mirotic should have a major real-life impact on the Bucks, but his fantasy outlook isn’t nearly as rosy. He posted the highest usage rate of his career with the Pelicans this season, resulting in a career-best average of 41.82 DraftKings points per game, but he will almost assuredly see a reduction in value with the Bucks.
The Kings are all in on grabbing the 8th seed in the Western Conference and made a couple of moves to improve the talent on their roster before the deadline. Grabbing Barnes was the biggest addition, but Burks should be able to give them some solid minutes as well.
Unfortunately, he’s going from a situation where he had to be a key contributor in Cleveland to one where he will be more of a role player. Burks averaged 25.25 DraftKings points and a Plus/Minus of +5.41 as a member of the Cavaliers, but that number should go down as a member of the Kings. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Barnes are all locked into big roles, and Burks will have to compete with Bogdan Bogdanovic for minutes off the bench as well.
Houston Rockets role players
The Rockets have been extremely shorthanded for most of the season, leading to guys like Austin Rivers and P.J. Tucker having to assume massive workloads. The Rockets have done a nice job of trimming the fat on their roster at the deadline, shipping off James Ennis, Knight and Marquese Chriss. Their only real addition was Iman Shumpert – who should be able to give them quality minutes – but their biggest acquisitions are probably not even on the roster yet.
Opening up those extra roster spots will allow them to be major players in the buy-out market, and bulking up the roster should mean less minutes for most of the team. Even James Harden could lose some minutes; he leads the league with an average of 37.4 per game this season, and the team should do everything possible to ensure he’s fresh for the playoffs.