Special for Yahoo Sports
We’re approaching halfway through the season, and we’re halfway there in many fantasy leagues. Check your leagues’ trade deadlines so you don’t get caught trying to broker deals at the last second.
Below are a few players worth dealing with while you can, as well as a few players worth targeting if their managers get impatient.
It was difficult to determine where to draft Randle this season. After an impressive 2020-21 campaign, when he won the Most Improved Player award and took eighth place in MVP voting, he came down to earth last season. His improved shooting percentages normalized and his count stats dropped almost everywhere.
In his first 24 appearances this year, Randle was again underwhelming, averaging 21.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 46/33/78. However, he picked things up again in early December and has been scorching for the past two weeks. Over the past seven games, Randle has averaged 32.4 points, 12.9 boards and 4.9 assists on 51/41/69 shooting. What’s most encouraging is his improved efficiency from deep despite the increased volume, with Randle tossing 10.1 threes per game during that streak. Prior to December, he was shooting 6.5 threes per game.
But don’t be greedy. Randle did the most damage with Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett sidelined. Brunson has missed three of the last four games and Barrett has played just two minutes in that streak while recovering from a lacerated finger. However, he should be back soon. Once Barrett is healthy and on the floor with Brunson, the offense should normalize and Randle’s volume will likely decrease. Maybe the improved efficiency of three will stick around, but I think it’s just a hot streak, considering his free throw percentage has dropped sharply. Try to find him a top 40 player. Players love Rudy Gobert or Holiday Jrue come to mind, both of which provide harder-to-find defensive stats.
DeRozan started the year a little slow, with rebound and assist numbers lagging, but started to pick things up in mid-November. He looked more like himself since then, almost perfectly matching his output from last season. The Bulls are a mess, and DeRozan’s consistent production is key to keeping them afloat, even from a distance.
However, it makes sense to be wary of his production the rest of the season. We’re approaching the halfway point, and Chicago is 16-21, sitting in the 11th seed. Making the tournament play-in is possible, but it’s not the future the organization envisioned when building this squad. It would be a sunk cost to tank this season since Chicago owes its pick to Orlando, but what is the cap on this team going forward?
Nikola VucevicDeRozan’s contract expires this summer, and DeRozan is on a contract expiring next year. Paying them would be a mistake. I think Bulls management will strongly consider selling at the deadline. DeRozan should be one of them. Its value may be at an all-time high. And if it lands in a better situation, its use will likely decrease. It also makes me want to trade it preemptively in fantasy. Fantasy managers who field Vucevic should feel the same way.
Each of Banchero’s last five performances has been below his average GameScore (essentially an updated version of Player Efficiency Rating). He’s averaging 16.2 points on 36/28/71 shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists with 3.2 turnovers. The defense also needs to improve, with just 1.0 combined steals plus blocks, and he has 13 fouls in the past three games. It’s easily the worst part of his young career.
There’s no reason for fantasy managers to panic. Recruits often experience ups and downs. Banchero has been ranked on a curve since he was the No. 1 pick, and he started his career with a bang. He is still one of the top 100 fantasy assets if you make turnovers.
The most encouraging thing is that Banchero is not passive during this streak. He still shoots 15.4 shots per game, including 5.6 free throws. Some young players think too much about poor performance and crawl under a shell. Banchero tries to break his head first. If there’s a fantastic manager out there freaking out, take advantage of it.
Ironically, Ivey was playing better before Cade Cunninghamseason-ending shin injury. With less defensive focus on Ivey, he could be more effective. And the extra effort he exhausts in attack also affects his defensive numbers. Since Dec. 1, the rookie is averaging 13.7 points on 39/31/72 shooting, 3.7 assists for 3.1 turnovers, 3.0 rebounds and a total of 1.0 steals plus blocks.
That said, I’m still betting on him for a solid second half of the season. His 5.2 free throw attempts per game during that streak are encouraging. That’s a great rating for a rookie keeper, and his aggressiveness should make for huge performances when his shot starts to drop.
Additionally, the Pistons will likely trade veterans at the deadline and start resting those they can’t move. It will be a boost for Ivey if Bojan Bogdanovic is distributed since he is the team’s top scorer. The rookie sees a 10.8% increase in usage with Bogdanovic and Cunningham on the floor. Per 36 minutes in this scenario, Ivey is averaging 24.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals. Trade for Ivey now before the Pistons commit to introducing him.