The Fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint. However, as we approach the Fantasy trade deadline and the final stretch of the season, we are now reaching a point where the contenders have separated themselves from the pretenders. In the final installment of the trade chart, I want to focus on getting the most out of your players as you race towards the checkered flag.
In most standard leagues, the playoffs last from Week 23-25, normally three rounds, although some owners prefer to extend the final round to about a week and a half. For those still seeking last-minute trades before the start of the postseason, it's worth noting which teams will play the most in the last three Fantasy periods and which teams have favorable schedules.
Teams will play anywhere between seven and 10 games during the Fantasy playoffs, so it's crucial to maximize the value of your players. Atlanta, Brooklyn, Minnesota, Houston and Miami all play 10 games in that final stretch. Owners should target players from those teams.
But here's where it gets tricky:
By now everyone should be familiar with Dwyane Wade?s maintenance program, and how I once considered him a great buy-low candidate earlier this season. But now, it may be time to consider him a solid sell-high trade candidate. Wade played in three of the final four games of the 2012-13 season, only because he missed eight of the previous 10 games before that, so head coach Erik Spoelstra wanted him back in game condition in time for the playoffs. The previous season, Wade missed six of the last nine games, and only played three minutes in one of those three appearances.
We all know that LeBron James will likely get some rest before the first round of the playoffs as well. In 2012-13, he missed the last two games, and in 2011-12 he missed three of the last four. Although Chris Bosh could be a candidate to sit out some guys near the end, he is probably the only player from Miami worthy of trading for. Miami will probably be resting everyone, and we could be in for a Bosh or Michael Beasley takeover if James and Wade sit out a chunk of those final games. Our colleague Joe Polito predicted Beasley would be Fantasy relevant during our mid-season special broadcast, and he may be right after all. Although he?s not a trade candidate, Beasley could be worth stashing, especially if you're injury-free with an extra spot on the bench.
Fantasy owners may want to stay away from Portland and Cleveland players, as their teams will play only seven times in the final three periods, and just once in the final half-week of the season.
I was never on the Spencer Hawes bandwagon this season, and just when I thought about hopping on board after the Cleveland trade, the schedule makers pulled me away again. Hawes has 24 double-doubles this season, including five with the Cavs. He's averaging 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, and 49.0 percent from downtown in his first 11 appearances for the Cavs (nine starts). He's a sell-high candidate, along with Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng, although Deng has been pretty mediocre since being dealt. In his first 30 games with the Cavs, Deng is averaging 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds, significantly lower numbers than his first 23 games with Chicago. Irving will likely be the biggest trade chip, as he leads the team in points (21.5), assists (6.3) and steals (1.4) over 63 games. ÿAnd still, you'll probably have to trade him for someone that's less valuable, which is fine just as long as you're getting the most games out of the players you receive in exchange for Irving.
Another team that may be intriguing to target is Golden State, as they play nine games in the final three Fantasy periods of the playoffs. They play the Nuggets twice and the Lakers once. ÿThe Spurs are the only opponent that has yielded less than 100 points per game this season. Outside of the Nuggets, Lakers and Spurs, the Warriors will face the following teams: Dallas, San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, Portland and Minnesota.
I'd be willing to package a player like Wade and Irving for Stephen Curry and another starter, just based on how the schedule is shaped. That said, we know it'll be incredibly difficult to create a adequate package for an elite caliber player like Curry at this point in the Fantasy season, so owners should target guys like David Lee and Klay Thompson. The problem with Thompson is that he won't give you much else other than points. He's averaging 17.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 66 games this season. Lee has seen a slight dip in his rebounds and assists this season, but based on the schedule, he could be on track for a strong finish. He doubled up in 13 of the final 15 games last season, averaging 16.8 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor over that span.
If you're in desperate need of assists in a categories league, it may be worth trading for someone like Ricky Rubio. Minnesota is one of those few teams that have 10 games in the final three periods. Rubio, when healthy, had 10-plus assists in four of his final 10 games last season. ÿOwners targeting low-risk, high-reward players should keep an eye on Charlotte and Boston. Both the Bobcats and the Celtics will play Philadelphia twice in the final three Fantasy scoring periods. Players like Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger are all worth targeting before the trade deadline. Philadelphia, a team that already has its sights on the NBA Lottery, has allowed a league-worst 111.0 points per game this season.