Fantasy

Fantasy Basketball Buy or Sell: Which players should you look to trade away and trade for?

We're already one month into the 2020-21 NBA season and about a quarter of the way through the fantasy basketball season.

At this point, you've identified the areas in which your team excels and which areas could use some help. You've also likely realized which players you'd like to keep to pursue a championship and which players you'd be willing to part ways with to try and improve areas of need.

As the trade market heats up in your fantasy league, which players should you buy low or sell high on?

Buy: Trae Young

Young's points, assists and steals averages are down from last season and he's shooting the worst field goal and 3-point percentages of his young career. As a player that was selected in the late-first or early-second round of most fantasy leagues, owners are likely growing frustrated with the inconsistent production of one of their premier players.

His poor percentages parlayed with a handful of bad games might be enough to get those frustrated owners to sell on Young. While he hasn't lived up to expectations, he's still averaging 24 points and nine assists per game. If you can package a couple of over-performing players to add another perennial top-20 fantasy player to your roster, it's a no-brainer.

Sell: Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell's Utah Jazz have been on a tear lately and the All-Star guard's play has been vital during that stretch.

Over the five-game winning streak, Mitchell is averaging 25.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 50.0% from the field and 48.7% from beyond the arc. If you could get someone to bite on Mitchell during this hot stretch, strike while the iron is hot. Mitchell is a fantastic player but from a fantasy standpoint, he doesn't do enough in other areas aside from scoring to be a fantasy superstar.

If you could move Mitchell for another star or a pair of well-rounded players that help an area of need, it could take your team to another level moving forward.

Buy: Devin Booker

Booker has been an interesting case this season because the Phoenix Suns are still winning games despite his numbers being down.

After a phenomenal run in the bubble, Booker's output has taken a hit compared to last season. He's averaging fewer points, assists and rebounds while shooting worse percentages from both the field and from beyond the arc. 22.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game does not reach the level of production owners were hoping for when they selected Booker in the late-first, early-second round. In a similar fashion to the aforementioned Young, now is the time to try and get Booker for a low bargaining price.

Especially because the Suns are playing well, it's all but certain that Booker will begin to elevate his play. Act now before that happens.

Sell: Julius Randle

Randle has been a fantasy steal early on this season, giving owners a level of production that would have been beyond their imagination on draft night. Posting career-highs across the board with 22.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game, Randle has been as well-rounded as any other player in the league through the first month.

While it might be hard to sell on a player that has exceeded all expectations thus far, that is the exact reason why now is the time to test the trade market. Even though Randle's role with the New York Knicks will remain unchanged, meaning his averages should hover around what he's done early on this season, it's possible that as the season goes on he regresses to the player we're more familiar with.

The players fantasy owners could get in return for Randle at this moment would have been unfathomable prior to the start of the season. You probably won't regret keeping him, but the right deal could make for a deeper roster if you trade him at his peak.

Buy: Khris Middleton

It's rare that a player who is performing well lands under the "buy" column, but Middleton's circumstance is unique because he's never perceived as the star he truly is.

Even with back-to-back All-Star appearances and a hot start to the 2020-21 season, I'd be willing to bet you could get Middleton in a trade package that includes a player that has been less productive but has more starpower (Ex: Donovan Mitchell). According to ESPN Fantasy Basketball's Player Rater, Middleton has been the eighth-best player in fantasy and that shouldn't come as a surprise from someone who is averaging 22.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 50-40-90 shooting splits.

With all the attention that Giannis Antetokounmpo draws from opposing defences - not to mention the addition of Jrue Holiday, who gives the Bucks another playmaker - there is no reason Middleton can't keep this up.

While more attentive fantasy owners will realize just how ridiculous that stat line is, the more casual fan may make a move for a flashier name. It's worth thinking about.

Sell: Zach LaVine

I saved LaVine for last because this is the toughest one to dissect.

His start to the 2020-21 season has been off the charts, averaging 27.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49.8% from the field - all of which are career-highs. Additionally, he's posting three 3s and one steal per game. LaVine has been gold from a fantasy standpoint. In fact, according to ESPN's Fantasy Basketball Player Rater, he's the second-best player in fantasy this season, only trailing MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

While it would be insane for LaVine to maintain this for an entire season, making him an easy "sell" candidate, fantasy owners would have to make sure their return is worth it. LaVine's role isn't going to change with the Chicago Bulls, so he's probably going to continue being one of the most productive players in fantasy this season, even if he doesn't finish as high as he's rated right now.

In a trade, LaVine's name might not get you the players you would typically want for a player that's producing at his level. Don't just sell LaVine because his production is sky-high and you don't think he can keep it up; only sell him if you're getting his value's worth in return.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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