Special to Yahoo Sports
With the NBA's real-life trade deadline approaching Thursday, now's a good time to offer some deals in fantasy basketball. Managers might be spurred by the mood of the real deadline and be more open than usual to trade. Below are some potential options that could be worked into deals over the next couple of days.
Trade for: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Cunningham is averaging a modest 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 43.8% from the field on 16.0 shots per game across four contests since returning from a left knee strain. He has rested for one game since returning, and periodic days of rest will likely be a theme for the remainder of the season, but Cunningham has the pedigree, talent, and opportunity to improve upon his recent production.
Across 71 players with 200 shots at the rim this season, Cunningham's 53.7% shooting ranks as the fifth-worst mark in the league. Only Jaren Jackson, Josh Giddey, Bennedict Mathurin and Jerami Grant have been worse. Poor interior finishing aside, Cunningham has been a solid self-creator this season. He ranks in the 97th percentile by running pick-and-roll for 45.5% of his possessions, and his 0.902 points per possession ranks in the 59th percentile. Comparing him to those of similar volume, he has been slightly less efficient than Fred VanVleet, but slightly more efficient than Jalen Green. Cunningham's environment does him no favors from a spacing or surround skill-level perspective.
Ultimately, Cunningham's value is derived from his volume. He is one of just 25 players in the league to be attempting at least 18 shots per game. He attempts just 26.0% of his shots from beyond the arc, which ranks in the bottom quarter for frequency among all guards and wings, but averaging a career-high 4.5 free throws per game is a good sign.
I don’t foresee Detroit splurging at the trade deadline, so the Pistons should benefit from continuity down the stretch if the core cast of contributors, including Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, can stay healthy. While most lottery-bound teams carry significant shutdown risk from a fantasy standpoint as the end of the season nears, Detroit battling to not finish as the worst season in NBA history is incentive to continue competing.
Trade for: Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
Suggs has started in all 46 of his appearances for Orlando this season. The third-year guard has ascended to 38.5% shooting on 5.2 triples per game, although his newfound success at volume is partially the byproduct of a new role. Suggs is operating off-ball much more frequently, evident through a decrease in assist rate, free-throw rate and rim frequency. Suggs is attempting 49.1% of his shots from deep, ranking in the 63rd percentile among all combo guards.
Nonetheless, he has scored at least 15 points on 17 occasions this season, but he is averaging just 8.6 points across his last eight contests. This sets up a strong buy-low juncture. Suggs’ defensive intensity and versatility as a hybrid guard who can hound ballhandlers is exhausting, so offensive volatility is understandable. The 22-year-old still showcases a strong handle, and his improved shooting has yielded the aforementioned 17 games of quality scoring.
Additionally, defense being his calling card has perks. Suggs' 2.3% steal rate trails only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dyson Daniels across all guards with at least 800 minutes played this season. His 1.2% block rate ranks sixth among all qualifying guards as well. Suggs has posted 10 games with at least three steals or three blocks. Suggs joins just 29 other players with seven games of at least four steals-plus-blocks this season.
He is capable of combining his defensive playmaking with scoring booms on occasion, and his season-long averages of 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists paired with his defensive production form a reliable rest-of-season outlook.
Trade away: Kelly Oubre, Philadelphia 76ers
There is serious subjectivity involved here, as I believe that Oubre will be Philadelphia's third-most important scorer down the stretch, but I expect his production to be slightly lower than his current hot streak. Consistency is always the issue with Oubre.
His sell-high juncture is strong in the context of Joel Embiid (knee) set to miss at least a month following a surgical procedure on his meniscus. Philadelphia is not deep or young. The 76ers will need shot-makers offensively. Robert Covington has missed the past month due to a knee injury, Nicolas Batum is amid a multi-game absence due to a hamstring issue. Embiid’s seismic usage will have to be allocated elsewhere.
Oubre has been a durable body on the wing, therefore earning eye-catching volume. Generating 19.3 points on 16.0 shots at 44.8% efficiency across his last six contests is valuable. There will be stretches where the 28-year-old produces at this level for the remainder of the season, but it's worth noting that three of those games came without Tyrese Maxey. Tobias Harris has battled a lingering illness throughout that stretch as well.
Extending the sample to his past 10 games, Oubre is averaging a lackluster 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks. He is also connecting on just 23.9% of 4.2 threes per game over that span. De'Anthony Melton (back) is set to return in the imminent future, although he has his limitations offensively as well — providing more consistency than Oubre as a three-point shooter, but profiling as a far worse rim finisher.
With Philadelphia's lack of other playmakers in mind, holding shares on Oubre is understandable, but there is more upside elsewhere. I expect him to regress to slightly above his season-long averages of 13.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game moving forward.
Trade away: Tim Hardaway, Dallas Mavericks
Hardaway’s production fell off a cliff Monday, posting a goose egg in the scoring column after averaging 22.4 points across his last 11 contests, fueled by raining in 41.0% of 9.5 threes per game. Monday marked the return of Kyrie Irving from a thumb injury, which appears directly correlated to Hardaway becoming a peripheral component of the rotation.
Dallas is incentivized to get better defensively. The Mavericks currently own the 11th-best offense and the 22nd-ranked defense league-wide. Hardaway’s energy and willingness to defend have been on display, as he ranks among the league leaders in charges drawn, but he simply does not have the anticipation or versatility to be impactful as an individual defender. This led to larger roles for Grant Williams and Josh Green alongside Irving on Monday, which could be the trend moving forward.
Selling Hardaway after he scored zero points is a tough pitch, but his production across two weeks prior could have enough credibility for him to be a relevant throw-in to a larger deal. Patience might be advised here, as Hardaway is a boom candidate on nights when Luka Doncic or Irving rest in the future. A better sell-high juncture will emerge, but this is a panic sell on Hardaway — I think his role will not be worthy of roster consideration outside of streaming.
Trade away: Lu Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder
Dort is coming off a 22-point performance in Sunday's win over Toronto, and he could have another opportunity to boom Tuesday versus Utah with Oklahoma City potentially being without Jalen Williams (ankle) and Cason Wallace (shoulder). Isaiah Joe (sternum) has already been ruled out as well.
Dort is an important member of the Thunder's rotation, but his fantasy portfolio is less admirable. Prior to his strong performance Sunday, breaking down Dort’s past two months in 10-game increments shows that his performance is fading and his shooting is regressing:
Dort from Nov. 30 to Dec. 26: 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 3PM on 49.4% shooting overall
Dort from Dec. 27 to Jan. 13: 10.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 3PM on 44.0% shooting overall
Dort from Jan. 15 to Feb. 2: 7.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 3PM on 35.5% shooting overall.
Dort is still amid a shooting breakout overall, hitting 39.0% of 4.8 threes per game this season. He entered the 2023-24 campaign with a career mark of 33.2% shooting from deep.
The 24-year-old is improving as a player across the board, with his rim finishing rising from a ghastly 42.8% last season to a slightly-less-ghastly 53.8% clip this season. His current clip still ranks 168th among 192 qualifiers this season. The frequency at which he attacks the basket has declined significantly, which makes sense in the context of a juiced Thunder offense that features Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren as three of the most efficient players in the league.
Ultimately, his status as the fourth option with more of a catch-and-shoot diet than past campaigns is losing fantasy momentum, especially in the context of his shot seemingly regressing to a more median figure.