• Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome to the pre-trade deadline special edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep league owners.

    It’s the most wonderful time of year! The trade deadline is almost upon us, and these pre-deadline days make for some of the most exciting and speculation filled moments of the season. If you’re anything like me, you are bordering on carpal tunnel in your thumb from all of the Twitter scrolling. There is no shortage of trade rumors floating around, so let’s dissect a few of the possibilities to see which players currently available on the deep-league wire could potentially see themselves in a larger role if smoke turns into fire.

    Potential Trade CandidateDewayne Dedmon

    Who could benefit?

    Omari Spellman – Spellman has shown flashes of fantasy relevance this season when the opportunity presents itself. He is well entrenched behind Dewayne Dedmon on the depth chart at the moment, limiting his appeal to only the deepest of leagues. However, the nearly 30-year-old Dedmon is almost certainly not in the long-term vision for a rebuilding Hawks team, and his expiring contract makes him an appealing trade chip. If Dedmon is shipped out, Spellman could be looking at a 25-plus minute per night role, making him a roster-worthy player in 16-team leagues and deeper.

    Potential Trade CandidateDennis SmithJr.

    Who could benefit?

    Maxi Kleber – Following a very public falling out with the Mavericks organization, it appears that Dennis Smith Jr. could be shipped out at the trade deadline. Assuming another starting-caliber point guard does not come back in return, Maxi Kleber is likely to see the biggest bump in production. It is a little confusing that a power forward stands to benefit the most from a point guard dropping off the depth chart, but the most likely scenario (again, all dependent on the Mavs not getting a point guard back in return) is that Luka Doncic moves down to the one, leaving the starting four spot wide open for Kleber. He should probably be rostered already in 16-team leagues and deeper, and is a must-watch player in shallower formats in the event that a trade bumps him into the starting lineup.

    Jalen Brunson – Brunson has already seen his role increase with the season-ending injury to J.J. Barea, but could stand to see a few extra minutes if Dennis Smith Jr. heads out. As mentioned above, Kleber is the player to grab if Smith is traded, but Brunson could become back-end relevant in 20-team leagues and deeper if his role as a backup point guard solidifies. He doesn’t do much as a per-minute producer, but could be forced into super deep league value on opportunity alone.

    Potential Trade CandidateReggie Jackson

    Who could benefit?

    Luke Kennard – The dream scenario if Jackson is traded is Kennard seeing more time on the ball, as his passing and facilitation is an under-appreciated and under-utilized part of his game currently. That may never materialize, as Dwane Casey appears to prefer Bruce Brown in that role. Still, if Jackson is traded, Kennard could at least see a more steady 25-plus minute role, making him a must-watch luxury stash in most 16-team leagues.

    Ish Smith – From a pure depth chart perspective, Ish Smith stands to benefit the most from a vacancy in the starting point guard role. Without knowing what would come back in a package for Jackson, Smith stands to see a larger role assuming he can stay healthy – He has missed a significant amount of time due to a groin injury. Keep him on your watch list, but wait for additional news on his recovery.

    Bruce Brown – Brown has already seen extensive time in the starting lineup this season, but could move into the starting point guard spot if Jackson is sent out (assuming Ish Smith injury continues to linger). He hasn’t done much with his roughly 20-25 minute role, but is worth keeping an eye on in 16-team leagues and deeper. Kennard is still the priority pickup if Jackson is traded, even if news breaks that Brown will be assuming the starting point guard role.

    Khyri Thomas – Thomas is the name to watch in 20-team leagues and deeper if Jackson is traded. He has been all but out of the rotation so far this season, but could stand to see a steady 10-15 minute role if the Pistons shake things up at the deadline.

    Potential Trade CandidateMike Conley

    Who could benefit?

    Jevon Carter – A Mike Conley trade would send significant shockwaves up and down the Grizzlies depth chart, but the most obvious candidates to see an increase in value would be Shelvin Mack and rookie guard Jevon Carter. Mack has been the more valuable player this season, and appears to be atop Carter on the depth chart at the moment. However, if the Grizzlies ship out Conley and Gasol, this signals a likely embrace of the rebuild, and one would assume that they would move Carter to a larger role to see what they have. Even in a larger role, Carter is more of a name to watch in 18-team leagues and deeper, but could have increased streaming appeal for steals in 16-team leagues.

    Potential Trade CandidateMarc Gasol

    Who could benefit?

    Ivan Rabb – Rabb is a name to watch in all deep leagues, and could force his way onto the standard league radar if Gasol is moved at the trade deadline. He has been largely out of the rotation this season, but has a very fantasy friendly game when the minutes are there. Rabb was appointed chief tank commander for the Grizzlies in the final week of last season, and was a walking double-double with big block production in four starts. He might not see big minutes immediately, but if Gasol is out of the picture, Rabb has the potential to be a big pickup down the final stretch of the fantasy season.

    Potential Trade CandidateThon Maker

    Who could benefit?

    Christian Wood – Speaking of big per minute producers, Christian Wood could be worth rostering in 20-team leagues and deeper if he were to move from collecting DNPs to seeing 10-15 minutes per night with Thon Maker out of the picture. Even if he steps into Maker’s role (average of 11.7 minutes per game on the season), he won’t likely make waves in 16-team leagues and shallower, but he is a name that every deep league owner needs to have on their watch list in the event he breaks loose given his big per-minute production.

    Potential Trade CandidateAnthony Davis

    Cheick Diallo – Even when Davis misses games, Diallo does not get the big bump in playing time that many would expect (sometimes he still collects DNPs). He should be on everyone’s watch list in the event that Davis is moved, but keep expectations in line and don’t drop anyone with season-long appeal for Diallo. Assuming a trade occurs, Diallo would be considered a low odds lottery ticket in 16 and 18-team formats, and probably would only rise to the level of must-add in 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Kenrich Williams – Similar to Diallo, it takes a lot for Williams to see enough minutes to be roster-worthy in most leagues. He spends most of his time out of the rotation entirely, but has recently needed to step up and play spot minutes with Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis and E’Twaun Moore all out of action. If just Davis is moved, Williams still would not likely warrant rostering outside of a lottery ticket play in 18-team leagues and deeper. However, if the Pelicans truly blow it up and look to move on from Randle, Mirotic and/or Davis at the deadline, he could see enough time to warrant a look in 16-team formats.

    Darius Miller – What was said above for Williams applies to Miller as well in shallower formats. He is worth keeping an eye on in 16-team formats as a 3-point specialist.

    Potential Trade CandidateTim HardawayJr.

    Who could benefit?

    Allonzo Trier – It is tough to speculate who the biggest beneficiary would be following a Tim Hardaway Jr. trade since David Fizdale’s rotations are difficult enough to decipher on a night-to-night basis when things remain unchanged. But, I’m going to speculate anyway and say that Allonzo Trier would likely be the biggest beneficiary who may still be available on some deep league wires (though it may be very few).

    Damyean Dotson – Dotson would also stand to benefit from a Hardway Jr. trade, and should be on all deep league watch lists. If Trier is already rostered in your league, roll the dice on Dotson with a speculative add in 16-team leagues and larger and hope that he finds some measure of consistency in the rotation.

    Potential Trade CandidateEnes Kanter

    Who could benefit?

    Luke Kornet – It has been a real roller coaster ride for Kornet so far this season. He was completely out of the rotation to start the year and suddenly found himself starting following an injury to Mitchell Robinson (who should not be on any deep-league wires). Following an impressive run as a starter, Kornet suffers a sprained ankle and will likely remain sidelined until the All-Star break.

    Update: Kornet is now probable to play tomorrow night. Go get him.

    Potential Trade CandidateNikola Vucevic

    Who could benefit?

    Khem Birch – Another year, another bout of speculation that Vucevic will be traded at the deadline. A few weeks ago, I was inclined to believe that he stays in Orlando and the Magic play the role of buyer at the deadline to push for a playoff spot. However, after dropping seven of their last eight games, the script could be flipped. Khem Birch is a per-minute monster, and should be streamed anytime Vucevic or Mohamed Bamba are sidelined. If Vucevic is moved at the deadline, Birch becomes a must-roster player in 18-team leagues and deeper, and should find himself on the 16-team radar.

    Potential Trade CandidateAaron Gordon

    Who could benefit?

    Jonathon Simmons – There haven’t necessarily been rumors floating around citing Gordon as a likely trade chip, but if the Magic decide to press the reset button in a major way, it would make some sense to move on from Gordon. If Gordon is shipped out, the biggest beneficiary is probably Jonathan Isaac but Simmons would likely see a boost, making him worth a look in 20-team leagues and deeper.

    Wes Iwundu – As a per minute producer, Iwundu is about as unexciting as it gets. However, in a 20-25 minute role, he is at least warrants consideration in 30-team leagues. If Gordon is shipped out, he may not see that type of role (especially depending on who comes back in that trade), but assuming that Isaac is moved to four following a Gordon trade and Simmons moves into the starting three role, that potentially opens enough time for Iwundu to show what hecandu.

    Potential Trade CandidateOtto Porter

    Who could benefit?

    Sam Dekker – Dekker has always been an intriguing fantasy option given his well-rounded stat set, but it just never quite seems to click. There is no guarantee that things would click if Porter is moved, but in a vacuum, an Otto Porter and John Wall-less Wizards team opens up minutes for Dekker. Keep him on your watch list in all deep leagues, and consider a speculative add in 20-team leagues and deeper if Porter is moved at the deadline.

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