By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether you’re in first or last place in your fantasy basketball league, this early part of the season could provide opportunities to improve your squad on the trade market. Two ways to do so are either making a small deal for a player who is off to a slow start or moving a player who has exceeded expectations.
Let’s discuss a few players who fit these descriptions and what to possibly do with them moving forward.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
After scoring 22 points in a season-opening win over the Nuggets, Hield has gone quiet. He’s only averaged 15.9 points per game overall, although his 3.7 three-pointers per contest are right in line with his average from last season. The reason for his muted overall scoring numbers is that he’s shot just 36.3 percent from the field. On top of that, he’s only shot 78.6 percent from the free throw line.
To put those struggles into perspective, he’s shot 44 percent from the field and 86.4 percent from the charity stripe during his career. If you can find a fantasy manager who is frustrated with him tanking their field goal percentage, now might be the time to pounce and try to grab Hield in a trade.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
Like Hield, Aldridge came out of the gate strong with 20 points in his first game against the Grizzlies, However, that was followed by two poor outings and then a knee injury that forced him to miss three games. The good news is that he returned Tuesday against the Clippers, although he was eased back into action with just 25 minutes.
When he becomes further removed from this injury, Aldridge should see a significant increase in his current average of 12.5 points a game. He’s only shot 40.7 percent from the field, which is a significant anomaly given that he has shot at least 49.3 percent in three straight seasons. The continued development of Dejounte Murray and the emergence of Keldon Johnson may somewhat hamper Aldridge’s upside, but there’s no reason to believe that he can’t at least average his usual 17 points and seven rebounds, while also chipping in with valuable contributions in three-pointers and blocks.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz
We have another player here who is struggling with his shot in the early going. The problem with Bogdanovic is that if he’s not scoring and hitting three-pointers, he’s not a valuable fantasy option since he doesn’t provide much in other categories. His ugly 36.9 percent field-goal shooting through seven games has left him to average just 12.6 points a night.
Bogdanovic has never shot worse than 43.3 percent from the field during his career, so improvement in that area is coming. Even with his current issues, he’s still averaging 2.3 three-pointers a night. If you are on the hunt for triples, floating an offer out for Bogdanovic could be a wise move.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Golden State Warriors
Even after averaging 1.9 three-pointers a game last season, Oubre is nowhere near the potent three-point shooter like either Hield or Bogdanovic are. Still, no one expected him to start this season by shooting 2-for-30 from behind the arc over his first six games. That has contributed to him averaging a lackluster 10.9 points.
The good news is that Oubre might have broken out of his funk Monday against the Kings, nailing four of six triples on his way to 18 points. Another aspect of Oubre’s game to consider is his ability to contribute on the defensive end. He’s averaged at least one 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks in back-to-back seasons and is currently averaging 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest. His playing time is secure on this thin Warriors’ roster, so expect his numbers to improve as he gets back into the swing of things on three-pointers.
Mike Conley Jr., Utah Jazz
Conley has had health issues in the past, playing 56 games or fewer in three of the last five seasons. But he’s healthy right now and is rolling for the Jazz, averaging 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and five assists. What really stands out is his average of 3.4 three-pointers and his 46.4 percent shooting from the field.
Not only does Conley’s shaky injury history make him a sell-high candidate, but he’s never averaged more than 2.5 three-pointers a game during his career. Also, he’s shot 43.8 percent or lower from the field in four of the last five seasons. So far, it’s looked like a nice bounce back after a disastrous 2019-20 season, but some regression could be coming.
Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Don’t be fooled by Rozier averaging 21.6 points through seven games. There are some significant red flags here. First, he had two performances of at least 35 points, which significantly impacts averages over such a small sample. Secondly, he’s shooting 48.1 percent from the field. Last season, he reached a career-high by shooting 42.3 percent. Prior to that, Rozier had never even topped 40 percent in any season.
Rozier has seen his playing time decrease by three minutes per game this season with LaMelo Ball now in the fold. Outside of the scoring department, his averages of 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 0.9 steals are nothing to write home about. Once his field goal percentage normalizes, Rozier’s scoring average could be in for a steep drop.
Otto Porter Jr., Chicago Bulls
Porter is in the same boat as Conley in terms of players with a checkered injury history. He played 56 games two seasons ago and only took the floor 14 times last season. When he’s healthy, he can provide significant value. Case in point: He’s averaging 15.4 points, seven rebounds, 1.9 assists, one steal, and 2.4 three-pointers through eight games.
Porter has been partly aided by Lauri Markkanen (COVID-19) missing the last four games. He also still isn’t playing quite as much as fantasy managers hoped, as he’s averaging 28 minutes across his four starts. There is also a chance that the Bulls trade him if they fall out of the playoff hunt since he has a hefty expiring contract and probably isn’t a part of their long-term plans. There is plenty of risk that comes with rostering Porter, so if you’re looking to mitigate risk in an already volatile NBA season, now might be the time to move him in a deal.