Fantasy Mailbag: Kemba's impact and Devin Booker's slump

Josh Lloyd
·5-min read
Boston's Kemba Walker is yet to play a game this season, while Phonenix's Devin Booker has been stuck in a slump in the early part of the season. Pictures: Getty Images
Boston's Kemba Walker is yet to play a game this season, while Phonenix's Devin Booker has been stuck in a slump in the early part of the season. Pictures: Getty Images

How’s your fantasy basketball season going? It’s going great for some, not so great for others, but everyone has questions, so I scoured Discord, Instagram and Twitter to find some good ones for this week’s NBA Fantasy Basketball Mailbag. So, let’s get to it.

@ivermoon (Discord) - How valuable is Kemba Walker going to be for the fantasy basketball playoffs?

I’m pretty worried about Kemba.

In Monday’s game, the Celtics’ announcers said he may not return until February, and even when he does, I don’t expect him to be at full strength immediately.

Now, that doesn’t fully answer the question about the fantasy playoffs, but it does illustrate how precarious Kemba’s knee is.

With Walker out, Jaylen Brown has elevated himself to the number two option, if not number one at some points.

When Kemba returns, I don’t see him taking that role from Brown, and the Celtics are going to be cautious with Walker all season, sitting him games and keeping his minutes under wraps until the real NBA Playoffs.

If Walker isn’t a top 100 player in the fantasy playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised.

@Arsene (Discord) - Can we assume Dillon Brooks will have this level of production throughout the year?

Last season, Brooks averaged 25 fantasy points per game. This year, he is up to almost 33 fantasy points per game.

We have to remember though, that we haven’t seen Jaren Jackson Jr. play. Nor have we seen Justise Winslow, and now Ja Morant is out for about a month.

Brooks is taking all the usage (up to 29% from 25%) kast year, and that just isn’t likely to continue when two superior players will be returning to the lineup.

@Boots (Discord) - How do you evaluate trades to see if they are even? What things do you keep in mind?

My immediate answer to this is you don’t. You want to win every trade that you execute, but there is nuance to it.

You can’t go out there throwing out lopsided trades because you will just frustrate the opposing manager and probably limit the level of discourse between you, making a trade tough to consummate.

You still want to win every trade, and you don’t need to make it fair, but you need to have a semblance of fairness or at least the appearance of fairness.

Have a look at your opponent’s team.

Is there is a position they are in desperate need of? Do you know the manager personally? What team are they are fan of? Is their team named something like ‘See Red SZN’ because they are huge Bulls fans? Do you like particular players?

This isn’t ‘fair’, but if you can play to an opponent’s proclivities, you can make things seem more equitable, while still getting the better side of the deal.

The most important thing is to have a conversation and present a trade that the other person can see benefits them.

@joshua.lim7 (Instagram) - Will Devin Booker pick it up or is he a trade option right now?

Booker is only averaging 30 fantasy points per game, down from 40.6 last season. That’s a big hit.

I want to discuss this not to prognosticate about Booker’s future value (he will improve), but, to discuss trades in general.

Booker is in a slump. But, when someone is in a slump, with his scoring and assists way down, it is the worst time to trade that player.

Your opposing fantasy managers know he is a slump. You know he is in a slump. Trading now is selling someone when their value is close to the lowest it will be.

You have to ride out the low points and if you want to trade, trade him later when he has improved.

On the flip side, if you don’t have Booker or a slumping player, try to target them in deals with other managers.

@andr3wfj (Instagram) - When do you think Jusuf Nurkić will pick it up?

It’s been a rough start to the season for Nurkić.

He is averaging just 24.6 fantasy points in under 25 minutes per game - a far cry from the 45.8 he averaged in the bubble.

Nurkić lost a family member to COVID in the offseason and talking to Blazers’ people, his mind wasn’t on basketball.

His conditioning is also way off where it needs to be, and that is impacting his play and playing time. But, we saw a glimmer on Saturday against the Warriors.

Nurk played just 18 minutes, but that’s because he had five fouls, but his energy level was up, and he looked more engaged. It may take a few more weeks, but I believe Nurkić will be back at close to his best very soon.

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