Fantasy Basketball Risers and Fallers: Who should you target or move at the trade deadline?
As we approach Week 20 of the fantasy basketball season, fantasy managers are nearing the home stretch, with the playoffs starting for some as early as next week. The trade deadline ends tonight at 11:59 pm ET, so if you're still in the hunt or looking to bolster your roster for a deep run, time is of the essence. With certain players emerging as dependable sources of production and others falling out of favor, I'll break down targets I'd be looking to acquire and two names I'd trade away before their value becomes even further diluted.
Let's dive into this week's risers and fallers.
Cameron Johnson, SF/PF, Brooklyn Nets
Current per-game rank: 70
Johnson is heating up (NBA Jam voice), and it's right on time for fantasy managers as he's getting used to his burgeoning role with the Brooklyn Nets. Johnson's attempted three more shots per contest since joining the Nets seven games ago, and he's netting 5.1 more points per game (19.0) while also shooting a higher percentage from the field (50.5 percent). Johnson's coming off a 33-point performance on Wednesday and tied his season-high with 7 triples. He admitted a couple of games ago that he's still acclimating to the Nets' defensive principles, but he seems to be catching on quickly, racking up 14 stocks (11 steals and 3 blocks) in his first seven games with his new squad.
His rebounding and assist numbers have remained relatively the same, but his usage is up 3.3% since coming to BK. And his role as a creator could also be maturing, as HC Jacque Vaughn expressed his confidence in Johnson offensively.
He's a player I'm actively targeting at the deadline because the Nets have a great schedule throughout the fantasy playoffs, and there's minimal risk of Johnson being load managed. The same goes for Mikal Bridges — he's just going to cost a lot more in a deal.
The Nets have lost six of their last eight games, but they'll need to right the ship at some point if they want to avoid missing the playoffs and entering the lottery — which would leave the door open for the Houston Rockets to swap picks with Brooklyn in this year's draft. But that's not a concern for fantasy managers who should be looking for opportunities to cash in on an ascending player like Johnson before he fully breaks out to end the year.
Jalen Williams, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Current per-game rank: 94
I wrote about Williams' ascension four weeks ago, and I'm back at it because he's gotten even better since then. At that time, he was only 52% rostered (he's at 72% now), and I can't say I'm surprised, considering he's leaped into top 100 status and has been the 36th-ranked player over the past 30 days. The rookie combo guard has feasted in seven games without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the lineup this season, averaging 19.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 triples and 1.9 steals with 54/36/72 shooting splits. SGA is dealing with an abdominal injury and entered the health and safety protocols on Tuesday.
History tells us this is the time of the year when the Thunder usually give him a break anyway. The Thunder are only two games back of the 10th spot in the West, so there's a chance OKC still has a decent shot at the playoffs. But let's be honest — what's better for the franchise, an early play-in tourney exit with a potential mid-round pick or yet another chance at landing a high-valued asset at the top of the draft board? I'll take the latter.
Jalen Williams is well on his way to securing All-Rookie first-team honors (he's fourth on the NBA's rookie ladder list) and is playing his best basketball of the season at the perfect time for fantasy managers. In February, he averaged season-highs in points, rebounds, assists, 3PM, 3PT % and steals per game. He's one of only five rookies who have played at least 30 games this season that is shooting better than 50% from the field this season (and one of two guards — shoutout to Christian Braun, too).
He offers a bit of everything, and over his last two games, he has 15 assists to only three turnovers. Yeah, he's for real, and I'm bullish on him keeping this up in the fantasy playoffs.
John Collins, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks
Current per-game rank: 79
At this point, it would've been best for everyone that he was traded at the deadline. He's down in almost every offensive category this season and is steadily heading in the wrong direction at the most critical point. He's ranked 130th in per-game value over the past month, and the only reason he's still within the top 150 is that his shooting splits remain solid. However, he's averaging a disappointing 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.7 3 pm across nine games in February.
That's not going to cut it, and even though he's recently dealt with a concussion and lower back tightness, I'd be looking to offload him now.
I know it's early in Quin Snyder's tenure as the head coach for the Hawks, and I don't want to jump to too many conclusions, but Trae Young seeing a 42.7% usage rate in Tuesday's loss to the Wizards has me fearing the worst for Collins' involvement in the offense moving forward.
Some players ranked lower than Collins that I would throw out some trade offers for are: Spencer Dinwiddie, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Williams, Kyle Anderson and Keegan Murray. His name still carries some weight, and while these may seem like downgrades, all of the aforementioned players are performing better than Collins right now.
Bojan Bogdanović, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons
Current per-game rank: 104
You have the quintessential sell-high moment right at your fingertips, as Bogdanovic just went off for 34 points (11-21 FG, 4-4 FT) along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and a season-high 8 triples in a loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night. It's widely known that the Pistons are competing for the worst record in the league. There's no logic in playing a soon-to-be 34-year-old amid a tank job plus, he's been dealing with a sore Achilles (in both legs), and Pistons HC Dwayne Casey expressed wanting to monitor his minutes.
Funny enough, Bogdanovic's minutes definitely weren't monitored on Wednesday as he played a team-high 39, but the message is clear. The Pistons want to adhere to Bogie's competitive nature and let him play without restrictions. However, remember they also scoffed at any offers near the deadline that didn't include an unprotected first-round pick.
Bogdanovic is having a career year, averaging the most points (21.6) and assists (2.6) per game while shooting 49% from the field. By all accounts, the Pistons missed an opportunity to trade him for future draft capital and ultimately decided it was better to extend him through the 2024-2025 season — making him an essential piece of their rebuild. Still, it doesn't make sense to have him play meaningless basketball when there are younger players on the roster that the coaching staff can evaluate to close out the season.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see a path where Bogdanovic's workload isn't scaled back as we enter the final weeks of the season. Do yourself a favor and move on now to avoid future headaches dealing with missed games and fluctuating minutes.