With ESPN’s fantasy basketball trade deadline rapidly approaching on Friday, Feb. 17, our experts pinpoint the players they are looking to trade for before it’s too late.
Here are André Snellings, Eric Moody, Jim McCormick, John Cregan and Steve Alexander with the players they have their sights on.
I look for situations where a player is clearly good enough to start but comes off the bench for a team with a surplus at his position, playoffs aspirations and holes to fill at other positions that could be improved in a trade. Three names that fit that bill and come immediately to mind are Russell Westbrook, Caris LeVert and Bogdan Bogdanovic. But, Westbrook has been in trade rumors for two straight seasons and he’s actually thriving in his sixth man role, so I’ll look more to the other two.
LeVert is a combo-wing with enough talent to have once been traded as the feature piece in a multi-team deal in exchange for a young, multiple-time All Star in Victor Oladipo. He is only averaging 12.5 PPG in his sixth man role for the Cavaliers behind Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, but in the three seasons between 2019-20 and 2021-22, LeVert averaged 18.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.6 3PG and 1.1 SPG in 30.6 MPG. Still in his 20s, LeVert has the upside to improve on those numbers if traded to a team where he could start. The Cavaliers have young stars at four of their five starting positions, and if LeVert could be the centerpiece of a deal to bring back a building block at small forward it could be worth it for all involved.
On the Hawks, Bogdanovic comes off the bench behind their star backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. The Hawks were in the Eastern Conference Finals as recently as two seasons ago, but rumors have them as a team in turmoil this season. If either Murray or Young were to be traded, or if they were to package Bogdanovic in a deal to bring back help at other positions, Bogdanovic has proven productivity and upside. Bogdanovic has averaged more than 15 PPG in four straight seasons, typically in a sixth man role, but his per-36 production in that span — which represents his upside as a starter — reads: 18.9 PP36, 4.4 RP36, 4.0 AP36, 3.5 3P36 and 1.3 SP36. — Snellings
Even as Houston hunts as many chances at lottery success as a primary goal, fantasy mangers shouldn’t overlook the ascent of second-year center Alperen Sengun. It’s likely overboard to call him “Baby Joker” but I guess I just did; no he’s not a one-man offense but he is the key distributor for Houston and will see plenty of minutes and touches even as losses mount. Another name to pursue is Desmond Bane. Injuries have sidelined Bane for much of the season, overshadowing significant leaps in scoring and assist production. You might net nearly prime Klay Thompson results at a discount. — McCormick
If I’m a middle-of-the-pack team looking to make a medium-risk, high-reward swing. Jaren Jackson Jr. is my No. 1 target. We know his floor at this point: around 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 3s, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals. But Jackson’s ceiling is way higher. It’s one of those vaulted ones where you need a ladder to change a lightbulb. Is it his line against the Pacers Sunday? 28 points, 8 rebounds, 3 3s, 5 blocks, and a steal? That’s too high. I’d go more that line against Phoenix back on Jan. 16: 18 points, 8 rebounds. 6 blocks, 2 steals and a 3. The issue, as always: foul trouble. But that’s why JJJ remains so tantalizing… and a compelling big swing for your trade deadline.
PS: The Phoenix Suns. They’re getting healthy but have a lot of work to do. I can’t see much load management until they’re assured of a top-6 berth. — Cregan
I’m targeting the guys with the best playoff schedules whose price tag in a trade won’t be too steep. I’ve come up with three options, even though we were only asked for two.
Maxey and the Sixers have a perfect playoff schedule (4-4-3-4-4) and now is a good time to make an offer for Maxey, given the fact he’s only scored eight and 13 points in his last two games. He’s averaging 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 3-pointers in January and is officially over his fractured foot. And the Sixers may ramp him up before the real playoffs, where he’ll play a key role for Philly.
The tank is on in Houston but Martin appears to be a guy who could play a ton of minutes down the stretch. He’s double-doubled in two of his last three games, has played at least 27 minutes in 10 straight and the Rockets go 4-3-4-4-4 in the fantasy playoffs. And once the Rockets start shutting guys down, he should really take off.
Eason is coming off back-to-back double-doubles and is just 21 years old. When they shut down the “stars,” Eason should see a boost in minutes and play until the end of the season. The fantasy playoff schedule is perfect and he could turn into a monster in March and April. He could also average a steal, a block and a 3-pointer while also scoring and rebounding for the Rockets. — Alexander
Bogdanovic is one player who comes to mind since he’s on the few bright spots offensively for a Pistons team that ranks 29th in points scored per 100 possessions. This season, Bogdanovic has averaged 30.2 fantasy points per game while shooting 48.7% from the field. Think about what his fantasy ceiling might be if he played for a team that provided higher quality looks. Bogdanovic is in the midst of a career year and he’s capable of making an immediate impact on any team he joins. — Moody