Breaking Down the Clippers/76ers Trade (Fantasy Basketball)
Wednesday saw another blockbuster trade take place in the NBA. The Los Angeles Clippers sent star forward Tobias Harris along with center Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forwards Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, guard Landry Shamet, two first-round picks (2020 protected, 2021 unprotected via Miami Heat) and two second-round picks (2021 and 2023 unprotected via Detroit Pistons). This is another huge trade with a lot of moving pieces, following up last week’s massive Knicks/Mavericks deal.
The move makes sense for both teams. The 76ers may have given up a horde of picks, but it’s no guarantee that any of them will turn into a player of Harris’ caliber, especially right away. Philly did have to part with some depth, but losses of bench players Muscala and Shamet are minimal, at least in the short-term. Wilson Chandler will be replaced by Harris at the four in what will be one of the most dynamic lineups in the entire NBA. After acquiring Harris, the Sixers now boast a starting five of G Ben Simmons, G J.J. Redick, F Jimmy Butler, F Tobias Harris and C Joel Embiid. That lineup will compete for a championship now as part of an aggressive plan from first-year GM Elton Brand.
The Clippers came away from this trade on the complete opposite end of the “win now” 76ers mindset. Los Angeles gives up its star, but Harris will hit free agency this summer and likely command a max deal. The Clippers still retain some valuable pieces, such as F Montrezl Harrell and G Lou Williams. They receive a budding prospect in Shamet, the rookie from Wichita State, a veteran role player in Chandler and a possible starter in Muscala. Most importantly, the Clippers have four additional future picks with which to develop a new team in a semi-rebuilding phase. Jerry West has a long-term plan in place for this team.
The new additions to both teams will certainly create an impact for other players. Let’s go player by player and dive into the fantasy impact of this trade on those directly and indirectly involved.
Tobias Harris (PF – PHI)
Harris’ NBA outlook is all roses as he heads to a title contender, but his fantasy value will take a hit when he joins the 76ers. Harris is having his most productive and efficient season to date, averaging career highs in points (20.9) and rebounds (7.9) while shooting a stellar 49.6 percent from the field. His scoring and rebounding are a result of his high usage on the Clippers, but his usage will certainly dip while playing alongside so many capable scorers and playmakers in the starting five. Harris should still be regarded as a starting option in all fantasy basketball leagues — although his usage will decline, he has been highly efficient this season, and he should get more open looks in Philadelphia. Harris is currently Yahoo’s 18th ranked player on the season, and even in his new surroundings, he won’t fall out of the top-40.
Ben Simmons (PG/SF – PHI)
As the primary facilitator for the 76ers, Simmons should see a boost to his assist totals with another scorer on the team. Simmons is not much of a shooter, and much of his game is predicated on getting to the rim and drawing contact. Harris is a more pure scoring option capable of hitting jump shots, so his game shouldn’t have much of an impact on what Simmons does for the Sixers.
Joel Embiid (C – PHI), Jimmy Butler (SG/SF – PHI) and J.J. Redick (SG/SF – PHI)
The addition of Harris will be a slight ding to the value of all of the members of the 76ers’ starting five, as he will look to get involved on offense. All members of Philadelphia’s new starting lineup have averaged at least 17.0 PPG this season, so a little decrease in production won’t dramatically alter the fantasy value of any of these players in theory. It’s been well-publicized that Joel Embiid wasn’t happy after the team acquired Butler and the center saw his role decrease. Butler has a big ego himself, but unless egos and personalities get out of control, this will be one of the best rosters in basketball and one that features multiple top-50 fantasy players.
Now that Philly has cleared out some of its bench depth, remaining players will have a chance at playing more minutes. These players include T.J. McConnell and newly acquired Boban Marjanovic. McConnell has been a fantastic backup guard behind Ben Simmons this season. He’ll see a slight bump in minutes, but he has been a deep-league starter all season — this move won’t make him much more valuable than that right now. Marjanovic is a huge center who can play solid minutes with the second unit and provide mismatches due to his size. His fantasy value stands to benefit most out of Philly’s bench players, especially given his inconsistent and limited role with the Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams (PG/SG – LAC)
The former Sixth Man of the Year should be increasingly active on offense in the wake of Harris’ departure. His two highest-scoring seasons have come in his two seasons with the Clippers, averaging 22.6 PPG last year and 19.4 this year. Williams averages 26.1 minutes per game off the bench, but he’ll certainly see the court more as the Clippers’ new focal point on offense. He’s quietly been a top-50 over the last 30 days, vaulting into the top-30 over the last week with a couple of huge scoring totals and some extra work handing out assists. Currently ranked 89th in Yahoo leagues, Williams should certainly end up in the top-75 by season’s end, but he has the ceiling to finish as an overall top-50 player.
Montrezl Harrell (PF/C – LAC)
Harrell should be the biggest beneficiary of this deal, as he’ll likely slide into the starting PF role for the Clippers — a role he’s performed well in this season. He’s currently Yahoo’s 40th ranked player on the season, and he should make a push for a top-30 overall finish. He’s averaging career highs in points (15.7), rebounds (6.7), assists (1.6), blocks (1.4) and steals (0.9) over 26.1 minutes per game. If he can consistently average 30 minutes per game, those averages should only rise. Harris’ departure opens the door for the further growth and development of the fourth-year forward from Louisville.
Mike Muscala (PF/C – LAC)
Muscala may be the answer to the Clippers’ problems at center, and he could soon supplant the ineffective and aging Marcin Gortat in the starting lineup. Younger and more athletic, Muscala is also more versatile at the center position, able to step out of the paint and make some outside shots if needed. The center position has featured an unproductive and unpredictable rotation of Gortat and Marjonavic, but Muscala could provide some stability and solid scoring for this team. It’s unclear if Harrell will play more at PF or C, but the logical move would be to play him at PF and Muscala at C, a pairing that would create better spacing on the floor and provide a boost to the offense. He should be added immediately where available.
Landry Shamet (PG/SG – LAC)
Shamet has proven to be a promising asset to the Clippers’ rotation of the future, but his role may be limited to 10-15 minutes off the bench this season with so many active players in the Clippers’ backcourt rotation. His future looks bright, and he’s shooting 44.1 percent from the field, 85.1 percent from the line and 40.4 percent from three making him a dangerous marksman. He’s a player worth keeping a close eye on — if he can carve out 20+ minutes per game role in Los Angeles, he’ll be a valuable waiver wire add. If you have space, he’s a great speculative pickup, especially in deeper leagues.
Wilson Chandler (SF/PF – LAC)
Chandler wasn’t a reliable producer in a starting role in Philly. He’ll most likely be relegated to a bench role in Los Angeles, and you can leave him on the waiver wire outside of very deep leagues.
Marcin Gortat (C – LAC)
He’s been largely ineffective in his limited action the season. The addition of Muscala will likely push Gortat to the bench sooner than later.