When it comes to fantasy basketball, minutes matter. One could argue playing time versus opposing second units yields better returns, but in the end, volume is king.
Of the top-75 fantasy players in the 2019-20 season, only two started in less than half of their team’s games and only one played in less than 24 minutes per game (Mitchell Robinson).
With three weeks of the 2020-21 NBA season already in the books, coaches have had enough reps to evaluate their current rosters and won’t be afraid to adjust lineups accordingly.
Here are a few players whose trade value could substantially change in the coming weeks:
They’ve Earned Their Minutes:
Tyrese Haliburton (ADP: 100.6, Rostered: 81.5%) – Of the 2020 draft class, Haliburton is currently the second-ranked fantasy player and has plenty of room for upside. He draws many comparisons to Donovan Mitchell, who was a surprise fantasy contributor in 2017-18. Both of them were drafted at the end of the lottery (12th and 13th), played two years in college, and had multiple guards selected over them by teams with scoring needs. The Iowa State standout is 69th in ESPN’s Player Rater on the back of All-Star level shooting (52/50/89). While you can argue that’s unsustainable, you can’t ignore his 5.5 apg which leads the Sacramento Kings and his 1.4 spg which is tied for 24th in the NBA. He started last game due to a Richaun Holmes injury but considering his production, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the starting five. Value him in trades as a top-75 player.
Chris Boucher (ADP: 136.5, Rostered: 65.9%) – After starting 2-7, Toronto Raptor fans want to hear more ‘Bonjour Boucher.’ In 191 minutes played, Aron Baynes and Alex Len have combined for a -51 net rating while Boucher has gone +27 in his 190 minutes on the court. Even though he’s averaged 14 minutes per game less than Pascal Siakam, Boucher is just one offensive rebound behind him on the year. He’s the only effective rim-protector on the roster and sits third in the NBA at 2.6 bpg (in just 21 mpg). Last but not least, he’s emerging as an analytics darling. Of 45 shot attempts over the last five games, zero have come in the mid-range (40 per cent from beyond the arc, 60 per cent in the paint). Considering his lack of competition, Boucher has the upside to finish as a top-50 player by season’s end.
DeMarcus Cousins (ADP: 133, Rostered: 49.5%) – When you look at Cousins’ list of injuries (torn Achilles, torn quadriceps, torn ACL) it’s shocking to even see him on the court. Now in his age-30 season, he plays second fiddle to Christian Wood, Houston’s No. 2 scoring option. As it stands, he’s averaging 12.7 mpg with two ejections baked in. While he might never play side-by-side with Wood, he deserves more minutes considering his production. In just 76 minutes played this year, he’s second on the team in +/- and has some glowing per 36 stats (16.5 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 3.8 blocks). Even though minutes are king, Cousins ranked 34th in 2018-19 playing just 25.7 mpg on Golden State. If he falls somewhere between 20-25 mpg with the Rockets, he could return top-100 value.
Time To Reconsider:
Devonte Graham (ADP: 89.8, Rostered: 83.6%) - An MIP candidate in 2019-20, Graham shocked fantasy managers finishing the year ranked 78th overall. After averaging 18.2 ppg last year, he’s failed to score more than 17 points in any of his 10 contests this year. The additions of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball have realigned roles on the Charlotte Hornets and Graham’s usage rate has plummeted from 24.4 to 18.5. Considering he’s shooting just 26 per cent from the field thus far, it would not be shocking to see Ball jump into the starting lineup. The third overall pick is coming off a record-breaking triple-double performance in Atlanta and gives Charlotte true upside they haven’t had in years. Graham is a sell-high candidate; pull the trigger before he’s relegated to the bench.
Josh Richardson (ADP: 102.4, Rostered: 62.7%) – There was good reason to be optimistic drafting Richardson this year. He was leaving a dysfunctional situation in Philadelphia and had a defined role playing beside Luka Doncic in Dallas. In the two seasons prior, he finished 70th and 53rd overall in fantasy on the back of strong defensive production. Unfortunately with the Mavericks, he’s struggled to reproduce those stats having played eight games thus far without registering 2+ steals and blocks. At the moment, his shooting is near career-worst and with Kristaps Porzingis back this week, his role on offence will be even further reduced.
Marvin Bagley (ADP: 138.3, Rostered: 45%) – The 2018 second overall pick continues to pain Sacramento fans with his mediocre production. Getting drafted ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, there were 20/10 expectations placed on him with hopes he’d be a fit with De’Aaron Fox. Sadly he’s been underachieving everywhere: scoring, rebounding, and defence. In fantasy, you typically want at least one of two things from your frontcourt: solid percentages or above-average defensive stats. With Bagley shooting 41-36-60 and averaging less than one combined steal and block per game, it’s time to sell high before the Kings make drastic changes.