By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
It’s certainly been an unpredictable start to the NBA season with COVID-19 impacting several teams. It’s added a wrinkle to managing a fantasy basketball team as things seem to change by the minute. Three games have already been postponed on Wednesday night’s slate alone. Nevertheless, the fantasy basketball season trudges forward, and, in fact, took another wild turn on Wednesday with James Harden reportedly getting traded to the Nets in a blockbuster deal.
With making moves on the brain, let’s discuss some players who are off to surprisingly good or bad starts and how to take advantage of that on the fantasy trade market.
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Fox was limited to 51 games because of injury last season, but he was excellent when he was on the floor. He set a new career high by averaging 21.1 points per game, thanks in large part to shooting 48 percent from the field. He also continued to be a steady source for assists, averaging 6.8 dimes a night. If he could improve his three-point shooting heading into this season, he had the potential to be a fantasy force.
Unfortunately for the Kings and those who drafted Fox in their fantasy leagues, he’s taken a step backward this season. His three-point shooting has remained largely underwhelming and his averages in points, rebounds, and assists are all down. Even his field goal percentage is down at 44.1 percent. However, part of that can be attributed to the Kings being involved in so many lopsided games, which has limited his playing time. He also had one game in which he only logged five minutes before leaving with an injury, which certainly didn’t help his averages. If you can find a fantasy manager who is frustrated with Fox’s slow-ish start, now might be the time to pounce with a trade offer.
Yahoo trades involving Fox: Jaylen Brown was traded straight up for Fox; Jamal Murray was also traded straight up for Fox.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Gordon is probably a better real-life basketball player than he is a fantasy option. He has a versatile skill set, but he generally struggles with his percentages, which puts a cap on his scoring numbers and value in roto leagues. Last season, he averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.2 three-pointers, but he shot just 43.7 percent from the field and 67.4 percent from the charity stripe.
He’s been even worse from the free-throw line this season, shooting just 60.5 percent. However, he is shooting 48.2 percent from the field. His assists are down to 2.8 a night, but look for him to bounce back in a big way in that area now that point guard Markelle Fultz (knee) is gone for the season. Due to early season restrictions, Gordon has only averaged 27 minutes per game thus far, which is a number that should climb given that he’s averaged at least 33 minutes in three straight seasons. While he hasn’t been a total flop out of the gate, the best might still be yet to come.
Yahoo trades involving Gordon: Victor Oladipo was traded straight up for Gordon; in other leagues, a package featuring Collin Sexton, Larry Nance, and Tim Hardaway Jr. was traded for Gordon.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
Last season, the Wizards were hammered by injuries and lacked scoring options behind Bradley Beal, which created an opening for Bertans. He responded with a breakout campaign that saw him average 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a whopping 3.7 three-pointers a game. He was able to parlay that performance into a hefty extension with the team, although he entered this season under very different circumstances.
As long as Russell Westbrook is on this team, Bertans probably won’t have as high of a scoring upside as he did last season. Through 11 games, Bertans is only averaging 11.8 points and 2.8 three-pointers. With that being said, there is plenty of room for him to increase his production. First, he’s only shooting 37.3 percent from the field. He’s never shot worse than 44 percent during his career, so that number should be on the rise. Second, he’s only averaging 24 minutes a night. That number could increase with Thomas Bryant (knee) now out for the season. If three-point shooting is what ails your squad, now might be the time to try and grab Bertans.
Yahoo trades involving Bertans: Kyrie Irving and Terrence Ross were packaged for Bertans and Jrue Holiday; D'Angelo Russell and De'Aaron Fox were paired to acquire Bertans with Trae Young.
Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Rozier makes this list for the second straight week. For the season, he’s averaging 19.5 points and shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Those would both be the best marks of his career. However, over the last five games, he’s averaging 15.2 points and shooting 42.9 percent from the field. Considering he’s never shot higher than 42.3 percent from the field during his career, expect his numbers to continue to decline. Time might be running out to try and capitalize on his hot start.
Yahoo trades involving Rozier: Rozier was traded straight up for Lonzo Ball and Tyler Herro; he was also traded straight up for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Rozier and Jimmy Butler were packaged together in a trade for Kevin Durant.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks
Between injuries and an outbreak of COVID-19 on the team, the Mavericks have really needed Hardaway to step up. He hasn’t disappointed, averaging 18.4 points and 3.9 three-pointers per game. His usage rate sits at 24.1 percent, which ranks third on the team behind Luka Doncic (37.3 percent) and Jalen Brunson (25.5 percent).
The concern with Hardaway is that Kristaps Porzingis (knee) is scheduled to make his season debut Wednesday. With Porzingis in the fold last season, Hardaway averaged 15.8 points and 2.9 three-pointers to go along with a 21.1 percent usage rate, so expect his scoring opportunities to take a step back moving forward. A decline in the scoring department would deal a significant blow to Hardaway’s fantasy value given that he contributes very little in terms of rebounds, assists, and defensive stats.
Yahoo trades involving Hardaway: Hardaway was traded straight up for Anthony Edwards; in another league, he was dealt straight up for Aaron Gordon; Hardaway and Elfrid Payton were traded for Kyrie Irving.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
The Kings have been fully committed to Barnes after acquiring him from the Mavericks during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 35 minutes a game last season and has averaged the identical amount of playing time through 11 contests this season. While he might be listed in this category of players to consider trading away, it’s not because he will be in line for a decrease in minutes anytime soon.
The reason Barnes might be a player to consider dealing is that he’s shooting 53.1 percent from the field, which has helped him average 17.9 points a night. He hasn’t shot better than 46 percent from the field in each of the last three seasons and has never even topped 49 percent throughout his career. His pedestrian 18.6 percent usage rate likely won’t be able to sustain him averaging so many points when his field goal percentage begins to normalize.
Yahoo trades involving Barnes: Barnes was traded straight up for Jamal Murray in one league; in another, he was packaged with Jarrett Allen to acquire Paul George and Andre Drummond. In other words, trade Barnes while you can.