Welcome to the Week 3 edition of Buy Low/Sell High as we look to discover which players you should be looking to acquire through trades and others who should be jettisoned away. With most NBA teams having only played between 8-11 games, small sample size can likely be explained as the reason behind some fluky hot and cold starts, but we’re getting much closer to the point of the season where values start to stabilize.
It’s of the upmost importance to take advantage of the trade market while opportunities present themselves as you should definitely be trying to buy low on stud players who have underwhelmed thus far, while owners should also actively be looking to identify players whose production or playing time are unlikely to continue to keep up at their current pace. The other added advantage for trading early on in the season is it gives the acquired player(s) a larger opportunity to supply meaningful value and help you out in the necessary categories over the long haul. Don’t be afraid to make a bold trade for players you believe in, but at the same time be very careful of grossly overpaying or taking on players with major durability issues as those are often recipes for failure.
Without further ado, why don’t we go ahead and get started with Chris Paul as the opening act.
Chris Paul (65) – 15.7 PTS – 3.6 REB – 8.0 AST – 1.3 STL – 1.0 3PM – 41.9% FG – 81.6% FT – 2.9 TO
CP3 was a consensus first-round pick this year who was often going in the top half based on his 6.2 ADP, but he’s been playing more like his on-screen duplicate of Cliff Paul than the “Point God” version of himself we’re so used to witnessing. All one must do is take a gander at his statistics below compared to last year to see his production is down across the board.
His averages in minutes played, points, rebounds, steals, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage would all be career-lows while his assist rate would be his worst mark since his rookie season in 2005. Notoriously stingy when it comes to limiting turnovers, Paul has been uncharacteristically careless with the ball as his turnover rate would also be the second-worst mark of his stellar career. While his slow start is definitely a little disconcerting for owners, he literally has nowhere to go but up from this point on and this is why owners are advised to buy low on the 30-year-old age. Paul is career 47.3 percent shooter from the field, 86.1% from the charity stripe, and 36.3 percent from 3-point range (28% this year) so owners can confidently expect him to find his shot sooner rater than later and once he does, his points will rise as well.
In addition to his lousy shooting so far, Paul has been fighting through a groin injury that has already caused him to miss two games and likely a third tonight as he’s doubtful to suit up. He played in 82 games for the first time in his career so owners shouldn’t have been expected him to replicate that feat anyways, but his nagging groin injury has certainly been an inconvenience so far. With no indications the injury is serious though, owners shouldn’t be overtly concerned about his health at this point. You won’t be able to obtain the best point guard in the game for this cheap much longer. If you’re looking for guard help, this would be the best place to start trade negotiations.
Goran Dragic (154) – 10.6 PTS – 3.0 REB – 4.0 AST – 0.8 STL – 0.7 3PM – 42.4% FG – 85% FT
The artist known as the Dragon hasn’t been slaying much fire with the Heat in 2015 as he’s been one of the biggest busts in fantasy basketball so far. With a 57 ADP, it’s safe to say owners haven’t been thrilled with their return on investment so far. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that there’s no way a player as talented as Dragic can continue to be this poor. After being traded to the Heat from the Suns last year, Dragic averaged 16.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 3PM on 50.2 percent shooting from the field (80.8% FT) in 26 games. He may not score as much with the presence of a healthy Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Hassan Whiteside to share touches with, but the rest of those numbers are certainly still attainable.
The 29-year-old Slovenian has shot over 50 percent from the field the last two years and is the owner of a career 46.9 percent mark from the field and owners shouldn’t fret over his current 42.4 percent mark so far. Dragic lives around the basket with 44.7 percent of his field goal attempts coming from 8-feet or less which he is converting at a 60.5 percent clip. The main root of his shooting problems have come from distance as the career 36 percent 3-point shooter is only 6-23 (26.1%) from deep this season. In other words, small sample size. Once he irons out his shot, owners should feel comfortable slotting him in for 13-15 PPG with great percentages with around a three per game.
It should be noted that Dragic’s upside clearly isn’t as high as it once was when he was with the Suns, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to trade for a top-65 guy when things are clicking. The Heat also have some injury-prone players in Luol Deng, Whiteside, and Wade which will undoubtedly create opportunities later in the season when Dragic is relied upon more with the likely absences from the lineup. This is especially true as it relates to Wade as he’s the primary ball-handler on offense but is also the least durable guy on the team. If, or should I say when he goes down, Dragic will be the player who benefits the most. Plan accordingly.
Markieff Morris (214) – 13.0 PTS – 5.0 REB – 1.3 AST – 0.8 STL – 0.9 3PM – 36.8% FG – 72.2% FT
As Chief Keef would say, that’s the **** I don’t like in reference to Markieff’s output so far in 2015. His off the court issues and disdain for the Suns handling of trading his brother Marcus Morris to the Pistons created what seemed like a nice opportunity to select him at a bargain if his 94.2 ADP was any indication based on him finishing as the 72nd-ranked player in 9-cat formats last year, but it hasn’t panned out so far. This is in large part due to his ability to not being able to hit the broadside of a barn at the moment with a 36.8 mark from the field to go along with a lousy 42.7 TS%. In 2014, Morris shot a tidy 46.5 percent and averaged 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. All those marks are down considerably in 2015 but owners shouldn’t expect that to be the case for long. The 26-year-old is only shooting 25 percent on mid-range jumpers and 33.3 percent in the paint in 2015, while those marks were at 44.5 percent and 45.6 percent last season. Those numbers will assuredly rise in the coming days and weeks ahead.
Additionally, the Kansas product is averaging a career-high 14.3 shots per game and once his percentages start to normalize, it wouldn’t be surprising if ‘Kieff ends up averaging a career-high in points for a Suns team that desperately needs his scoring. In fact, Morris has a 27.9 percent usage rate in 2015 which is the 20th-highest mark in the NBA, and substantially higher than the 23.4 usage rate he had last season. You might be surprised to learn that Kieff’s usage rate tops studs Eric Bledsoe (27.8) and Brandon Knight (24.8) in that department. While Morris is dealing with a left knee sprain at the moment, indications from the Suns suggest the injury is minor and shouldn’t keep him out for more than a game or two. Taking all those factors into account and you have a prime opportunity to buy low on Markieff and you likely won’t even have to send much away to obtain his services.
Honorable Mention: Rudy Gobert (53), Klay Thompson (60), Kyle Korver (71), Trevor Ariza (74), LaMarcus Aldridge (76), Khris Middleton (77), Rudy Gay (96), Monta Ellis (118), Tyson Chandler (119).
Dirk Nowitzki (24) – 17.8 PTS – 7.2 REB – 1.7 AST – 0.4 STL – 1.9 3PM – 52.6% FG – 87.5% FT
Let me preface this segment by saying that Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest players in NBA history and has remained a fantasy stud for 16 years running. He continues to remain fantasy-relevant in the 18th season of his brilliant career and is well on his way to providing another fine season for his owners. With that being said, it’s unlikely the 37-year-old will sustain top-25 value for the entire season due to a couple of important factors. Excluding his rookie campaign, Dirk is averaging the fewest minutes per game (27:45) of his career and it’s nearly two minutes less per game compared to 2014 (29:37). Fewer minutes played will inevitably lead to fewer counting stats and shot attempts. The 7-foot German is averaging the second-fewest shot attempts (12.9) of his career yet is currently on pace to tie his career-high rate in 3PM thanks to knocking them down at a 50 percent clip. In other words, it’s unlikely he keeps that figure up. 1.3-1.6 3PM would be a much more reasonable projection. He’s also unlikely to continue to pull down 7.2 boards per game considering he hasn’t averaged over 6.8 rebounds the last four years and has only averaged 6.0 rebounds the last two seasons when he was playing more minutes.
Additionally, his current 52.6 percent mark from the field would be a career-high and while he’s unlikely to suffer much of a drop-off since he’s hit 47.6 percent of his shots in his career, he’s only cleared the 50 percent threshold twice (2006, 2011). I wouldn’t put anything past him, but the odds are against Dirk clearing that threshold this year. There’s also the issue of whether the Mavericks being playoff contenders or not could impact his games played down the stretch. It’s obviously too early to say how their playoff pursuit will turn out, but it’s something to file away for the future. We all know Dirk won’t be providing much in the way of defensive stats, and that limits his upside a bit. He should be a cinch for top-60 value, but if you can unload him for a player with more upside for the ROS then by all means try to do so.
Eric Gordon (41) – 20.0 PTS – 3.0 REB – 2.9 AST – 1.0 STL – 3.3 3PM – 41.7% FG – 82.8% FT – 1.9 TO
If there was ever a time to sell-high on Eric Gordon, it would be right now considering his recent run of performances. Gordon is coming off a season-high 30 points last night as he shot 11-22 (4-11 3PM) and had 26 points in the game before that. Over his last five games, Gordon is averaging 23.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.6, assists, 4.0 3PM, and 1.2 steals on 45 percent shooting. His hot start and top-50 value have been buoyed by the lengthy absence of Tyreke Evans (knee) along with the recent absence of Anthony Davis (hip) and occasional missed game from Jrue Holiday (leg) as he works his way back. If he keeps up the pace in the scoring department, it would be his highest average in points since 2010 when he averaged 22.3 points per game with the Clippers.
His 3-point output looks a little fluky at first glance considering his career-high in 3PM coming into this year was 2.3, but he’s always been known for his shooting prowess and the underlying statistics suggest he might actually be able to keep it up. The 26-year-old is averaging a career-high in 3PA (8.6) which dwarfs his previous career-high in that area (5.2). If you’re in need of a willing and able scorer who will provide a boatload of threes with an excellent free throw percentage then it may be hard to part ways with him, but beware of his extensive durability issues coupled with a lousy FG% and lack of defensive stats to boot. Gordon hasn’t played over 64 games in any of his last six seasons and has missed 38.3% of regular season games over that time, amounting to an average of 30 missed games per year. Even if you exclude his right knee injury which limited him to 9 games in 2011-12, he’s still missed an average of 25 games in the other five years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Honorable Mention: Greg Monroe (14), Marvin Williams (36), Marcus Thornton (44), Kent Bazemore (48), Manu Ginobili (61), Deron Williams (62).
Thanks to Rotoworld, ESPN, Yahoo, and NBA.com/stats for the statistical information. Be sure to comment below with any questions or remarks. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy and I’m more than willing to answer any questions.