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NBA Market Watch – Chicago Has One Alpha

The halfway point of the NBA season is almost here, which means that your fantasy league has already separated the contenders from the pretenders. The following is a list of players you should either target in trades or try to dump as we gear up for the second half of the fantasy basketball season. Here’s our previous list in case you were wondering how that turned out.

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Jimmy Butler, Chi SG,SF

Any talk of there being three alphas in Chicago has been quelled by Jimmy Butler’s play. Butler raised his scoring from last year’s 20.9 PPG to 25.3 this year, thanks mostly to him taking 9.7 free throws a game and knocking them down at an elite 88.2% rate. The most impressive factor is that his minutes per game have decreased a slight tick, meaning that he’s doing his damage more efficiently than ever before. With Dwyane Wade starting to miss games here and there, Butler is a great target to carry you for the rest of the season with a 25/7/5 line.

Zach LaVine, Min PG,SG

We didn’t expect LaVine to make such a big jump right away. LaVine has nearly doubled his three point attempts from last year and is making 42% of his 7.1 tries per game. More importantly, he has done so while increasing his field goal percentage to 47.6% and raising his free throw percentage to 85.6%. If you are in need of threes and help in percentage categories, this is the guy you want to target. LaVine has 8 games with five or more made threes this year, a stat that is surpassed by only Stephen Curry.

AL Horford, Bos PF,C

Horford got off to a slow start this season, but all signs are pointing to him having a big second half. He’s finally healthy and out of his biggest shooting slump of the season. Over his last five games (which includes a six point dud), he has averaged 15/5/5 with 1.6 threes, 1 steal, and 1 block. Expect a 15/6/5 line the rest of the way with elite percentages and 2 BPG. He’ll probably finish the season with top 20 roto value, so the buy low window is closing fast.

James Johnson, Mia SF,PF

If you have been playing fantasy basketball the last few years, you know that James Johnson was always a fringe option who was capable of putting up numbers when given the minutes. With the uncertainty and inconsistency of Miami’s wing rotation, Johnson is a pretty attractive pick up for the rest of the season. He has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and is averaging 15/6/4 with 1.5 STL and 1.5 BLK during that stretch. Johnson may not be a must play every night, but whenever Winslow misses games Spoelstra is forced to either give him big minutes or turn to the likes of Luke Babbitt and Derrick Williams, so he’ll get plenty of run.

 

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LeBron James, Cle SF,PF

I guess even The King gets tired. LeBron’s numbers are still great, but his free throw percentage has dropped to a paltry 68% on the year. For a player that takes seven free throws a game, that type of inefficiency is a sinker in roto leagues. Don’t get me wrong, 25/8/8 is still great to own, but with LeBron’s blocks dropping to just 0.6 a game, he just isn’t what he used to be. The good news is that LeBron still carries great name value and is still dominating games in real life. This means that even though he isn’t that good for fantasy purposes anymore, you can trade him and reach for a better option, like Paul George or Jimmy Butler. The people you’re playing against probably won’t be smart enough to tell.

Andrew Wiggins, Min SG,SF

At first glance, Wiggins doesn’t look like he’s having that disappointing of a season. He’s averaging 21.7 PPG and 1.3 3PT. However, that’s just about where the positives end. Wiggins does almost nothing defensively (0.8 SPG and 0.3 BPG) and has slightly negative percentages (44.1% FG and 73.8% FT). These stats are nowhere near where fantasy owners had projected him to be in the draft and he is almost doing more harm than good in roto leagues. If you can garner any interest in Wiggins it would be wise to unload him as he’s on pace to return bottom 120 value this season.

Devin Booker, Pho SG

Like Wiggins, people had penciled Booker to make a significant leap during the preseason. And like Wiggins, Booker is showing that he is currently nothing more than an inefficient source of points and threes with no defensive stats. Booker is shooting 82% on free throws but only 40.2% on field goals. Add to that his 3 RPG, 3 APG, 1 SPG, and 0.2 BPG, and you have a bottom 150 player who is still being owned and started across nearly all formats. His minutes and opportunities are there but Booker needs one or two more seasons to round out his game, so unless you are in a dynasty league you should try to trade him for more well-rounded assets.

Rajon Rondo, Chi PG

This is rock bottom for Rajon Rondo. After being labeled a cancer and pushed out of both Dallas and Sacramento, Rondo has met a similar fate in Chicago. Rondo has been awful this season, shooting 37% from the field and averaging around a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Any owners who thought he could become a productive player again were wrong. He’ll probably get traded at some point and pull a similar stunt with his new team, so there is absolutely no reason for him to be owned in nearly 88% of leagues. Trade him to a sucker living in 2012 or cut him because he’s worthless.

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