January 24, 2023, 5:50 pm
Last year’s deep-league piece included calls to go out and buy Isaiah Jackson, Myles Turner, Deni Avdija, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Bones Hyland, Jaden McDaniels, Trey Murphy, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Julius Randle. Almost all of these guys were rostered in deep leagues already, and some of the targets were more obvious than others. However, the process that led to those players making the list fell right in line with every. single. one. of them being more valuable now than they were a year ago. Let’s try that again, shall we?
Like always, the cost to acquire a player and your specific team build/direction matter as much as anything. I’m not saying contenders should go out and acquire R.J. Hampton even if it hurts their chances at a title this year, nor am I saying that a rebuilding team with their eyes set on the 2025 title should be psyched about keeping Nerlens Noel on their roster past the trade deadline. Context matters, so if you have questions about whether your deal is right, or if there’s someone else you want thoughts on, follow me on Twitter @rhett_bauer and ask away!
I’m staying away from explaining why we should be buying rookies, especially ones that are very clearly on the radar for most people, because everyone that has them on the roster either drafted or traded for them for a reason. However, I would be trying very hard to acquiring all of the following players if I had a rebuilding team: Dalen Terry, Jake LaRavia, Ousmane Dieng, Nikola Jovic, Jaden Hardy, MarJon Beauchamp, Christian Braun, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Peyton Watson.R.J. HamptonPG, Orlando Magic
This is a bet on physical gifts, unusual developmental path and G-League performances rather than anything we’ve seen at the NBA level. A year with the New Zealand Breakers, drafted to the Nuggets for a couple months, then traded to the Magic where he hasn’t really been able to find a footing on a team that has desperately needed guard play. None of it has really been ideal, especially when Hampton was billed as a raw project that had some work to do from the jump. However, Hampton averaged 23.8 points, 2.0 threes, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 48/36/86 shooting splits in just 27.2 minutes per game in the G-League, and has been asking to go down there to keep getting game reps. I have a soft spot for big guards with impressive athleticism and rebounding, especially ones that just want to play basketball and are heading into unrestricted free agency where he can go where he wants.Nerlens NoelC, Detroit Pistons
Anyone who knows me is not surprised by this inclusion in the slightest. Noel is one of my favorite back-end roster players because of how productive he can be even in limited minutes. It just so happened that those minutes were limited alllllllll the way down to zero for the majority of the season…until lately, where we’ve seen exactly what I love about my man Nerlens to the tune of top-60 production in just 18 minutes per game. Sure it’s on a ridiculous 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks with basically nothing else, but he’s consistently been able to get a steal and a block without tanking FT% regardless of his minutes load, and that’s enough to warrant our attention.Goga BitadzeC, Indiana Pacers
Bitadze is an unfortunate casualty of the Pacers running with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis for too long, making it basically impossible for the 2019 draft pick to find a groove. He’s had some dominant performances in the G-League, and has shown a legit outside shot both there and overseas, but it hasn’t translated to the NBA at all except in flashes. Bitadze has found himself on the outside of the Pacers rotation looking in this year, and almost certainly won’t be on the team next year despite being a restricted free agent, so there’s a chance he can find a bigger role somewhere else.
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Just like I don’t need to tell you about rookies, I also don’t need to tell you about selling veterans off if you’re not contending. Obviously guys like Brook Lopez, Al Horford and Chris Paul are old. Let’s focus on guys that aren’t as obvious.Bojan BogdanovićSF, Detroit Pistons
Okay, maybe this one is obvious. But still, Bojan is doing a lot for the Pistons and they’re threatening to just keep him around. Even if that’s what happens, Cade Cunningham being out of the picture has made it even more crucial that Bogdanovic is putting up shots to keep the spacing right. Don’t feel bad about letting go when we know what he is as a role player.Monté MorrisPG, Washington Wizards
Morris just isn’t a starting point guard in the NBA. His last two years are inflated due to no Jamal Murray and the Wizards finding that out the hard way, but once he gets back to his 20-25mpg role he’ll fall back to around top-200 rather than top-125.
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