NBA Trade Deadline: Winners & Losers (2020 Fantasy Basketball)
This year’s free-agency period started off slow but ended with a bang, as the final hours before the deadline included a frenzy of moves that carry some significant fantasy impact for a number of players. Atlanta added the center it’s been after, Houston snagged a 3-and-D forward, Minnesota and Golden State made much-needed moves, and Cleveland took a chance on a world-class rebounder. The 2020 NBA trade deadline has officially passed, so let’s gauge the winners and losers.
Andrew Wiggins (G/F – GSW)
The high-volume scorer has come back down to earth after a fantastic start to the season, though he’s still shown plenty of improvement in his sixth NBA season. The Kansas product has averaged 22.4 points to go with career highs in rebounds (5.2), assists (3.7) and threes (2.2) in 2019-20, and he figures to be the focal point of Golden State’s offense to close out the season, due to a dearth of playmakers currently on the roster. Wiggins could be a Harrison Barnes 2.0 once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get healthy, so his trade is a win for both the short-term and the long-term.
D’Angelo Russell (G – MIN)
Russell finds himself in an improved situation Thursday, taking over Minnesota’s starting point guard position in a move that should prove beneficial from a fantasy standpoint. Just like Golden State, there’s plenty of young talent in Minnesota’s backcourt, but unlike Golden State, there’s not a lot of scoring to go around in Minnesota outside of Karl-Anthony Towns. Expect Russell to handle a heavy workload for his new team and provide even more value with the Timberwolves.
Christian Wood (F – DET)
Wood has been impressive on a per-minute basis this season, though his playing time has been largely inconsistent. That should change moving forward as Andre Drummond became the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. Wood has league-winner written all over him, slotting in as the starting center on a rebuilding team that’s in free-fall. He’s a must-add in all formats if somehow still available and a viable trade target for the final stretch of the fantasy basketball season.
Robert Covington (F – HOU)
Fast-paced offense, check. Bombs away strategy on offense, check. Lack of depth in the frontcourt, check again. RoCo figures to settle in as a starter for Houston immediately, where his 3-and-D skills will be utilized effectively and should translate to increased fantasy production.
P.J. Tucker (F/C – HOU)
The Rockets are obviously committed to playing some small-ball lineups, and the 6’5 Tucker will likely be the starting center moving forward. Expect increased minutes and production without Clint Capela in the fold.
Damion Lee (G – GSW), Ky Bowman (G – GSW)
With Russell and Alec Burks shipped off to new locales, Bowman and Lee will likely comprise Golden State’s starting backcourt for the rest of the season, and Bowman reached a multi-year deal with the Warriors on Thursday. Both players have displayed plenty of fantasy upside this year and should be owned in 12-team leagues. In 23 starts this season, Lee has averaged 12.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest, while Bowman has gone for 14.6 points, 4.6 assists, 4.6 boards and 1.6 swipes in eight games with at least 30 minutes of action.
Ish Smith (G – WAS)
Isaiah Thomas‘ trade to the Clippers doesn’t move the needle much for Smith (especially considering the Wizards acquired Shabazz Napier the same day), though Smith should see a small bump in usage and production as the team’s presumed starter moving forward.
Clint Capela (C -ATL), John Collins (F/C – ATL)
Capela’s move to Atlanta looks like it will be much better from a real-world perspective than from a fantasy one. No longer the unquestioned lead dog in Atlanta’s frontcourt, Collins will have to cede some rebounds and points to the newcomer, while Capela faces a similar dilemma on his new squad. Both should remain strong plays and will likely have no problems co-existing, but the value of each of these guys takes a hit.
Andre Drummond (C – CLE)
Drummond will move from a bad team to a worse one, as he joins a flailing Cavs’ team that has been getting its doors blown off with regularity this season. Cleveland’s average margin of victory sits dead-last in the Association at a putrid (-8.8) — 6.5 points worse than Detroit. There’s a chance Drummond sees less playing time to close out the season as the Cavs have not been competitive in a lot of games and frequently sit starters in the fourth quarter.
Tristan Thompson (C – CLE)
Thompson will head to the bench in the middle of his career year, as Andre Drummond should immediately take over as the starting center for Cleveland. Thompson’s role in the second unit is unlikely to yield much useful fantasy production, and he’s no longer a must-own in 12-team leagues. The acquisition of Drummond sinks his value significantly.
Alec Burks (G – PHI)
Burks has been a primary scorer for the bottom-barrel Warriors this season, though the times they are-a-changin’ with his move to Philadelphia. Burks will now be a reserve, and while he should slot in as a consistent source of offense off the bench, he won’t have nearly the same opportunity to shine as he did with Golden State. It’s possible he starts until Josh Richardson returns, but after that, he won’t be startable outside of deep leagues.
Marcus Morris (F – LAC)
Thursday’s trade to Los Angeles was a huge boon to Morris’ real-life basketball outlook, as he jumps from arguably the worst-run franchise in the league to a title contender. His fantasy value, however, takes a big hit playing alongside the likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Morris should be a starter for his new team, but he’s highly likely to see a decline in the career-high 19.6 points per game he’s averaged in 2019-20.
Shabazz Napier (G – WAS)
It was nice while it lasted. With Jeff Teague out the door, Napier was setup nicely to finish the season as Minnesota’s unquestioned starting point guard. Not so fast. He’ll now head to Washington by way of Denver and join a roster already featuring Ish Smith at point guard. Napier has proven to be a useful fantasy asset, though his role in the nation’s capital is yet unknown.