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Fantasy basketball trade analyzer: Moves to consider for the second half

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By Mike Barner, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The NBA All-Star break provides an opportunity to take a breath and assess where your fantasy basketball squad stands for the stretch run. If you’re looking to make some moves on the trade market, here are a few players to consider acquiring, as well as a couple to maybe think about trading away.

Trade for: Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors

VanVleet is having a stellar season, averaging 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.7 steals, and 3.4 three-pointers. He plays a ton and he has a career-high 23.9 percent usage rate, so don’t expect his production to decline anytime soon. With that being said, he is in a bit of a shooting slump, hitting just 35.5 percent of his field-goal attempts over the last nine games. Given that he averaged 16.9 shot attempts during that stretch, he was certainly a drain in the category.

If you’re in a points league, then VanVleet’s recent shooting woes don’t really matter. He still averaged 19.2 points per contest during that stretch. However, those who roster him in leagues in which field goal percentage does matter could be a little frustrated. If you can stomach the hit in that department, and you have someone who shoots a better percentage who you can trade away, you might be able to acquire VanVleet at a slight discount over the break.

The market: In one fantasy league, a manager dealt away Kawhi Leonard for VanVleet and Miles Bridges. In another league, VanVleet and Clint Capela were traded for Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

Trade for: Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers

The last time we saw LeVert on the court, he was dominating for the Nets. Not only was he averaging 18.5 points per game, but he coupled that with averages of 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.8 three-pointers. He was doing all of that in just 28 minutes per game. However, a trade to the Pacers resulted in him taking a physical, which revealed a cancerous mass on his kidney. He hasn’t taken the floor since.

The good news is that not only has the mass been removed and LeVert is healthy, but he’s also close to returning to game action. The expectation is that LeVert could even take the floor as early as this month. When he does, expect the Pacers to ease him back into action. Still, with his ability to contribute in multiple categories, acquiring him now could pay off in a big way during the fantasy playoffs.

The market: Most trades involving LeVert lately have been of the multi-player variety. In one league, he was traded alongside Robert Covington and Donte DiVincenzo for Jamal Murray and Devonte’ Graham. In another deal, Chris Paul and Marvin Bagley III were traded for LeVert, Khris Middleton, and Chris Boucher.

Trade for: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Smart has always been a good passer, entering the 2020-21 campaign having averaged at least 4.0 assists in each of the last four seasons. With Kemba Walker out at the start of this season because of a knee injury, the Celtics needed Smart to become even more of a facilitator, which left him to average 6.1 assists over 17 games. However, Smart then fell victim to a calf injury that has kept him sidelined since the end of January.

The good news is that Smart is close to making his return and could even take the floor shortly after the All-Star break. Don’t expect him to average over six assists per game with Walker now healthy, but that doesn’t mean Smart can’t still provide a ton of value. He’s also an asset on the defensive end, averaging at least 1.5 steals in all but one season of his career. On top of that, he’s averaged at least 1.6 three-pointers in back-to-back campaigns.

The market: In one league, Smart was acquired straight up for Saben Lee. In another move, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tim Hardaway Jr. were traded for Smart, Jusuf Nurkic, and Lauri Markkanen.

Trade away: Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

When the Nets traded for James Harden, they created one of the most explosive trios in the league, both on the floor and in the world of fantasy hoops. The question was, how would Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant co-exist? Would the lack of depth behind them leave all three players as top fantasy options, or would one of them have to take a step backward for the team to be successful?

Unfortunately for the Nets, they’ve rarely had all three players on the floor together. Durant is the one currently sidelined, but there is a chance that he returns shortly after, if not right after, the All-Star break. One thing that has been clear is that Harden is running the point for the Nets, averaging 11.0 assists across the last 14 games. Once Durant returns, it’s possible that Irving not only sees a decline in assists but also in the scoring column. Add in his propensity for missing games, and now might be the time to shop him to get a peak return.

The market: One fantasy manager recently dealt Irving for Devin Booker and Dennis Smith Jr. Another league saw Irving and Goran Dragic traded for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ja Morant.

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving
Now might be the time to trade Kyrie Irving for maximum return. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Trade away: Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have dealt with plenty of injuries in recent seasons, and this one has been no different. They have been hit particularly hard up front with Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen (shoulder), and Otto Porter Jr. (back) all missing significant chunks of time. That’s contributed to Young averaging 26 minutes over the last 17 games. He’s cashed in on the opportunity by averaging 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 61.6 percent from the field.

There are a couple of reasons why it might be wise to try to trade Young if he’s on your roster. First of all, he’s not going to continue to shoot over 60 percent from the field. Second, the Bulls are starting to get healthy. Carter is already back and both Markkanen and Porter could return shortly after the break. When all three are healthy, Young could play fewer minutes and be less involved in the offense when he is on the floor.

The market: In one recent deal, Young, De’Aaron Fox, and Collin Sexton were traded for Luka Doncic and Bam Adebayo. A lesser deal involved Young, Serge Ibaka, and Eric Bledsoe being traded for Mike Conley Jr., Joe Ingles, and Norman Powell.