While the All-Star break creates a respite from the daily grind of trying to put your fantasy basketball team on top of your league, it also presents the perfect opportunity to spend some extra time taking your squad to the next level with a good trade or two.
With that in mind, we asked our savvy fantasy hoops experts to provide one key player to trade for and one to trade away. As we head into the second half of the season, these players could make or break your fantasy basketball title chase.
Players to trade for
Drummond, more than anyone else in the NBA, can be a fantastic fantasy player even while being more of an average real-life player. He puts up numbers, even if those numbers don't necessarily translate to wins on the court for his team. The Cavaliers seems to understand this, but the manner in which they handled it was somewhat shocking, deciding to shut him down more than 40 days before the trade deadline while looking for trade suitors.
He hasn't played since Feb. 12, and after three weeks of this mess, you can bet that any fantasy manager rostering him is willing to part with him for just about anything at this point. It's a roll of the dice that Drummond ends up on a team where he can play 30.0 MPG, but if you need to swing for the fences to make the fantasy playoffs, this is a route worth pursuing in the coming weeks; the NBA trade deadline is March 25. -- Joe Kaiser
The full-season numbers for this precocious rookie are fantastic enough, but Ball continues to improve in so many ways and, at this rate, there is top-20 potential for fantasy managers. No, really, there is!
Still merely a teenager, Ball is one of eight players averaging six or more rebounds and assists per game, but lately he has been far more confident and aggressive as a scorer, as he averaged 20.1 PPG in February, then hit for 30 points in his opening March game. The Hornets are already his team, and Ball has his team primed for a playoff spot too.
OK, so full disclosure: I was not all aboard the LaMelo Ball caravan entering the season, foolishly comparing him to his older brother and worried about the shooting, but this Ball really is tremendous, and he shoots well enough. Things will only get better. -- Eric Karabell
Found just behind James Harden and right ahead of Kyle Lowry at 15th in the NBA with 3.1 made 3-pointers per game, Lonzo is confirming that last season's spike in shooting efficiency wasn't an outlier, but rather a trend.
During his past 10 games, Ball has become the clear top distributor for the Pelicans with a team-high 65.4 passes made per game, 25 more per game than any other teammate. This empowered creation role has led to Ball averaging a team-high 6.4 dimes during this sample, all while providing helpful scoring, shooting and defensive rates.
Once a key NBA trade candidate, it now appears Ball has played his way into the team's core collection of young talent. With Ball's ascendant statistical stock and likely still-reasonable trade price in fantasy leagues, he's a strong target to consider. -- Jim McCormick
Under similar circumstances, I wouldn't be so high on Rose. I always dislike the idea of trading for a player who was readily available on most waiver wires a couple of weeks prior. And Elfrid Payton was playing reasonably well before he was lost to a hamstring injury. But I'm getting swayed by the coach Tom Thibodeau factor.
Knowing the historical connection between Rose and Tibs, plus Thibodeau's proclivity to ride his favorite players whenever possible, I get a feeling Rose will continue to build momentum. And if he's just been taken off the wire in your league, Rose could still be had for cheap, as a solid low-risk/medium-reward target. The perfect kind of player to ask for as a throw-in within a larger transaction. -- John Cregan
Walker missed the first month of the season after having a procedure on his knee, and when he returned, it took him quite a while to play himself into form. He's also been periodically sitting out games for load management and had his minutes monitored. As such, both his perception and his production are at a relative nadir.
But Walker has quietly played himself into form, averaging a robust 23.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.8 3PG, 3.7 RPG and 1.2 SPG in 33.7 MPG in his past six contests. He still missed a game in that stretch, and that may be something he deals with all season, but when he's on the court, he's reached the level of the top-40 player that used to be his norm when healthy.
He's a risk, but if you can get him on your team at a bargain price, he could be a game-changer. -- André Snellings
Players to trade away
If I drafted Irving at the beginning of the season, this is the moment I've been waiting for. Irving's played six out of his past seven games. 10 out of his past 12. His past two games: 51 points, 13 assists and 10 3s.
Maybe Irving is past his latest injury (shoulder). Maybe he's going to start shooting more efficiently as he rounds into form. Maybe he's going to be a reliable, night-in, night-out contributor headed into the fantasy playoffs. But I'm not waiting to find out. There are just too many questions regarding Irving's health and reliability. And because when he plays, he produces, I'm finding out what I can get for him ... immediately. -- John Cregan
New coach Nate McMillan didn't play Collins in the final quarter of the team's recent win over the Miami Heat. This is merely a one-game sample, but it was also the coach's debut with the team. Not playing a starter in the final quarter of a competitive game against a superior opponent is a relatively loud signal to send.
With Collins already somewhat compromised statistically this season with the presence of stretch forward Danilo Gallinari as competition for shots, and with Clint Capela pacing the entire league in rebounding, Collins' impending free-agent status this summer and the looming trade deadline later this month only add to the potential for him to experience a subpar second half.
I wouldn't want to move Collins at too low a price, but I think his reputation as an efficient young volume scorer could still get you a nice haul on the fantasy market while divesting of the aforementioned risks present in his profile. -- Jim McCormick
What a dominating, marvelous season this MVP candidate is having, with tons of points, rebounds and awesome shooting! Now comes the challenging second half of the season, with not only a compressed schedule filled with myriad sets of back-to-back games, but the 76ers have to actually face a healthy portion of good teams.
So far, the 76ers have skated by with one of the easiest schedules around, and perhaps they really are a championship contender, but this team still has issues. One of them is that Embiid is not exactly the Cal Ripken Jr. of his sport to start with, so you know there will be missed games for clear -- and some unclear -- reasons, and that always frustrates fantasy managers.
Sure, plenty of star players freely miss games and the race for playoff seeding could be rather irrelevant this weird season, but with Embiid, there simply is more risk than with other fantasy stars. -- Eric Karabell
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
This advice is predicated on your mouthpiece as a negotiator. Ball has been electric on the court of late, drawing national media attention as the runaway Rookie of the Year favorite who is a staple on both SportsCenter and NBA analysis shows.
Above, Karabell did an excellent job illustrating his upside and prodigious recent production. The 20.8 PPG (46.0 FG%, 86.0 FT%), 6.8 APG, 6.1 RPG, 2.9 3PG and 1.9 SPG Ball has averaged during the past month rank him 25th in fantasy points production over that time window. The Hornets have needed a superstar, and he's it.
But, it has to be mentioned that the Hornets' next three top players are all high-usage perimeter players, and between them, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham have missed 14 games during the month in which Ball has exploded. If you can trade Ball away now at top-25 value, you could solidify your team while reducing risk moving forward. -- André Snellings
Yes, the Grizzlies have one of the most favorable schedules over the second half of the season, but Anderson's trade value has never been higher than now, and with Jaren Jackson Jr. nearing a return, one has to believe Anderson's production is due to slip.
It's easy to forget about JJJ, who hasn't played all season while recovering from surgery for the torn meniscus he suffered while in the bubble last season. But the Michigan State product averaged 17.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG as a 20-year-old last season, playing 28.5 MPG, and as he works his way back, the opportunities for minutes and touches won't be as high for not only Anderson but also Brandon Clarke. -- Joe Kaiser