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Entering Week 5 of the NBA season, concern is building for volume scorers failing to make a leap. There are 10 players in the league exceeding 14.0 shots per game while shooting under 41.0% from the field, with Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green standing out as examples at key junctures in their careers. Cunningham's versatility buoys him for now, but Green is a sell candidate featured below.
Trade Away: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
By all accounts, Green is stagnating in year three. His decision-making driving to the basket is still unreliable, and his efficiency isn’t improving. His turnover rate has climbed, and his shot-making has declined. His 39.5% clip from the field represents the worst shooting of his career. The silver lining is that Green remains a solid source of threes, hitting 35.4% of 5.4 triples per game.
With Houston ascending toward its goal of a playoff berth, it’s fair to question how heavily coach Ime Udoka will lean on Green down the stretch if he can’t improve. Determining his future remains an organizational priority, but that decision could simply conclude that Green is best as a sixth man, seeing 20-30 minutes off the bench in a pure scoring role.
Depending on fantasy roster spaces, if I could move Green for two high-floor assets, that would be my preference. A combination of players like Tyler Herro (ankle), Spencer Dinwiddie, Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington are fair targets for Green. He is still a scorer with booming upside and elite athleticism, and he’s earning 6.1 free throws per game, ranking 20th league-wide.
Entering Tuesday, Green has averaged 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 34.4% shooting over the last three games. A better sell-high juncture will emerge, but probing the market for Green, especially while a guy like Herro is still unavailable, can begin.
Trade Away: Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
I’m a believer in Sharpe, but he’s been a huge beneficiary of circumstance in Portland this season. Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) is on track to return this week and Scoot Henderson (ankle) could return by the end of the month, which will put a dent in Sharpe’s 23.3% usage, which ranks 25th among all guards thus far. Anfernee Simons (thumb) returning in 2-3 weeks looms on the horizon as well.
Even if his usage on a per-possession basis remains consistent, Sharpe is averaging a ridiculous 37.3 minutes per game through Portland's 13 contests, which is an unsustainable rate once the beleaguered backcourt regains form. Sharpe seems no worse for the wear, but the Trail Blazers getting him some rest down the stretch is likely in the organization's best interest.
Additionally, Portland has established a precedent in recent seasons to fully commit to tanking. While this may seem like hyper-analysis so early in the season, what is the point of having Sharpe on your team if he can’t contribute fully during the fantasy playoffs?
From a strict production standpoint, Sharpe’s breakout box-score production loses some luster in leagues where efficiency is a factor. Averaging 17.7 points on 40.5/33.8/82.0 is nice volume scoring, so I’m not hustling to move Sharpe. But his sell-high status is real. Sharpe's future is tough to measure because his efficiency could improve as his surrounding team context normalizes. He’s also drawing fouls on 12.8% of his shots and getting to the rim for an above-average 36.0% of his attempts, per CleaningTheGlass. He's evolving in year two, and his self-creation skills are impressive. Sharpe is firmly on the rise in the big picture, but if I can include him in a package for a star, I’m not hesitating.
Trade For: Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Still lacking a concrete return date amid an eight-game absence due to a left groin strain, Rozier is in a buy-low sweet spot since he’s expected to return in the short-to-medium future.
Veteran Ish Smith has stepped into a 20-minute role with Rozier out, which is a testament to how thin Charlotte’s backcourt is without him. Bryce McGowens, who is shooting 32.0% from the field, and two-way signee Theo Maledon round out the backcourt depth. Suffice it to say, Rozier will step back into an all-he-can-eat role when physically able.
Rozier’s sample size is limited to five games, but he’s one of just 23 players to launch at least 18.0 shots per game this season. Miles Bridges has returned to the rotation since Rozier last took the court, which will subtract usage, but Rozier has averaged 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 197 games with Miles Bridges in his career.
Rozier isn’t exactly a stabilizing presence due to his pure bucket-getting style, but Charlotte has been the 27th-ranked offense in the league over the past two weeks, so his scoring punch will be re-incorporated immediately.
Trade For: Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Coming off a season-low nine points Sunday, Johnson hasn’t found his scoring groove yet. His 40.3% clip from the field — including 33.3 percent from deep — is well below his 46.4/41.6/85.0% shooting across the past two seasons. Johnson averaged 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists over that span, but the 12.0 shot attempts he’s launched through six games thus far in 2023-24 is the largest volume of his career. He’s a very reasonable growth candidate based on his volume alone.
Johnson isn’t a versatile contributor outside of points, but he’s capable of chipping in as a rebounder and facilitator. It hasn’t translated to the box score consistently, but he grades as a slightly above-average two-way rebounder. He also has a 9.7% assist rate that ranks in the 62nd percentile among all forwards.
The biggest issue for Brooklyn’s offense is the lack of creation advantage. Spencer Dinwiddie is a quality shooter and floor general, but he isn’t a dynamic athlete at this stage of his career. In the same vein as Mikal Bridges being a non-traditional offensive initiator, there is still upside for Johnson to grow into a bigger part of the Nets’ offense.
Trade For: Jusuf Nurkic, Phoenix Suns
Nurkic is averaging 11.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 55.9% from the field in five games with Devin Booker. He is averaging 10.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists on 36.6% shooting in eight games without Booker.
Most notably, Nurkic ranks last among all centers with 51.7% shooting at the rim. Such shocking inefficiency is likely due to regress to the mean, but it’s the main reason why the 29-year-old has struggled.
Admittedly, Phoenix’s offense has been very dysfunctional without Booker, but it’s clear that Nurkic can’t be a difference-maker or a weapon himself. Booker seems to have overcome a sketchy toe/foot/calf injury, and if Bradley Beal (back) can be an impact player down the stretch, then the vision of Nurkic being a connective hub and quality rebounder should still yield good fantasy output. He's a sneaky addition who could reap benefits late in the season.
Trade Away: Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics
Holiday is having a fine campaign, but his volume is damagingly low. Averaging 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists over his last five games is underwhelming, and it comes despite hitting 37.5% of his threes over that span.
Holiday is attempting just 11.5 shots per game, which marks his lowest total since his rookie season in 2009. Given the durable and booming presence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a reduction in Holiday’s usage isn't overly surprising. However, Kristaps Porziņģis being durable en route to 11.9 shots per game makes Holiday the fourth option. Derrick White’s 13.6 points per game supersedes Holiday’s production as well.
Holiday’s 43.5% shooting overall is the lowest mark among all Boston starters, and Holiday isn’t the type to demand additional looks. I’m looking for an opportunity to move on immediately, although patience for a superior sell-high juncture is advised.