• This past week saw the passing of the NBA’s trade deadline, and as usual we had plenty to talk about.

    Oh, and LeBron James broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record, which is cool, but what does that do for fantasy managers? Onto the trade takes before we head into the All-Star break for one last rest and recharge period.

    Right off the top, you had a clear pair of must-adds who may have already been stashed away in your leagues: Mark Williams and Zach Collins. They’ve got plenty of opportunity now and barring some catastrophic struggles, there won’t be problems returning must-start value.

    The Lakers are a pretty clear winner of the deadline given the amount of quality rotation players they added without having to give up too much of significance, though fantasy value is up in the air. Mo Bamba probably doesn’t get enough to matter (though he’ll still get more than he was in Orlando), Jarred Vanderbilt is right there with him unless he muscles his way into big minutes. D’Angelo Russell is your safest bet but his assists floor drops significantly. Malik Beasley fills a big need for the Lakers but he’s going to contend with Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves and Troy Brown Jr. There are suddenly a lot of mouths to feed, which is good for the Lakers but bad for us.

    One sneaky potential winner of that trade? Rudy Gobert. A Mike Conley reunion could help a lot, and Conley being a true PG and the adult in the room could have a positive impact on all the Wolves (besides Kyle Anderson, who no longer has to make as many plays from the frontcourt).

    The Nets and Suns rocked everyone’s world with a late-night deal, and Phoenix has to be considered among the title favorites now. When healthy, they’re still missing one starter, and Torrey Craig could be the guy to fill those shoes. He’s been doing extensive work as a fill-in starter already and his defensive-minded game should be a better fit than Darius Bazley or TJ Warren. Keep Craig in mind as a potential late-round guy.

    In Brooklyn, the Nets are retooling but have a roster that’s good enough to get into the playoffs either way. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson are safe and their arrival spells the end of Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale in fantasy. Cam Thomas looks like he’s going to be a bench guy from now on, and that makes him way more volatile. He’s been cooking thanks to tons of minutes and hot shooting — there are serious questions as to whether he can be a 12-team option when both of that changes.

    The Blazers tried to retool but there’s only so much they can do. Josh Hart is off to New York and feels like a quintessential Knicks player, but he ends the Quentin Grimes run of 12-team relevance. Portland brought in Cam Reddish, Matisse Thybulle and Kevin Knox, and of the three it feels like Thybulle is the only one who is going to come away with legitimate fantasy appeal, and that’s only going to apply if you need defensive stats. Reddish got first crack at starting but there’s not going to be enough usage for him to get where he needs to go.

    The Raptors ended up adding at the deadline, sitting on their top guys as no offers came in that met the front office’s standard. Jakob Poeltl joined up and he’ll lift the defense immediately and significantly, as the Raptors have seen a lot of mostly good possessions end with an easy finish at the bucket given their previous lack of rim protection. It pours cold water on Precious Achiuwa but he might be safe until O.G. Anunoby returns from his wrist injury.

    You know how the Raptors are just trying to collect guys who are 6’9″ and long with lots of skills? The Pistons are doing the same thing, except with centers who can’t shoot. They’ve added James Wiseman, reportedly to start, which is borderline insanity. At least Isaiah Stewart has proven willing and capable in terms of stepping outside and getting up 3-pointers, otherwise the spacing on this roster is tragic. Wiseman taking away minutes from Jalen Duren would be psychotic. The only thing worse is what’s going to happen when Marvin Bagley is healthy again. A starting role means that you have to keep an eye on Wiseman but your expectations should be low.

    The Sixers getting Jalen McDaniels is a real coup, though it spells the end of his 12-team usability without some help. They once again did not address their backup center issues, but at least McDaniels gives them more respectability in small-ball lineups that should only see a handful of minutes a night in the postseason.

    The Clippers solved one problem by adding Mason Plumlee, even if it means he’s probably done as a 12-team guy — either he is or Ivica Zubac is, and we’re not expecting the Clippers to tank Zubac. They didn’t solve their other, however, as adding Bones Hyland while losing John Wall and Reggie Jackson doesn’t get to the core of the issue; the team still needs a conductor to prevent Paul George from playing point guard. Getting rid of two older, score-first guys who don’t defend is a positive, but getting a younger, even more score-first guy who doesn’t defend won’t help their title pursuit. Expect the Clippers to be active in the buyout market (LA and Minnesota make sense as Patrick Beverley suitors, and George has been campaigning for Russell Westbrook), while Hyland is not going to get back on the 12-team board.

    Schedule Breakdown

    With the All-Star break giving us two half-weeks in a row, we’re going to treat the next 14 days as one big week for fantasy matchup purposes — most leagues will do the same. Any team playing four games should be considered to have two games in each portion of the schedule unless noted otherwise.

    Three Games: Pistons (1, 2), Grizzlies (1, 2)

    Four Games: Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Hornets, Mavs, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Wolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Kings (1, 3), Spurs, Raptors (1, 3), Jazz

    Five Games: Bulls (3, 2), Cavs (2, 3), Nuggets (2, 3), Warriors (2, 3), Thunder (2, 3), Wizards (3, 2)


    Monday-Tuesday: Magic, Warriors, Wizards, Blazers

    Tuesday-Wednesday: Celtics

    Wednesday-Thursday: Bulls

    Thursday-Friday (February 23-24): Cavs, Thunder, Kings, Warriors

    Friday-Saturday: Knicks, Heat, Hornets

    Saturday-Sunday: Raptors, Nuggets

    Sunday-Monday: None

    Schedule Maximizers

    The schedule is pretty flat over the next two weeks and your strategy will be determined by whether your league is counting this as two small weeks or one big matchup. Frankly, as long as you can stream for two games every three days you should be fine. Tuesday and Thursday are the days to target before the break since you’re probably not going to have lineup space for any pickup on Monday and Wednesday. That means that players on the Wizards, Suns, Clippers and Bucks should all work to maximize your roster spots through this Thursday. There’s not a ton of obvious footholds for an edge in the back half of this two-week stretch, as the league has created a four-day schedule that sees a minimum of seven games played. A Friday-Saturday back-to-back would be your target since those are the two low-volume days, but it isn’t like you’ll end up with a massive lead in games played. If you can, go for someone from the Bulls or Wizards to start the week and then flip for a Cavs, Warriors, Thunder, Nuggets, Raptors or Kings player after the weekend.

    Best Schedule: Wizards (at Warriors, at Blazers, at Wolves — vs. Knicks, at Bulls)

    The Wizards aren’t drawing easy on-court matchups, per se, but they go heavy in the first half of this long week and get the benefit of playing on the two low-volume days of Tuesday and Thursday. Going with a Wizards player in your streaming slot gives you the opportunity to truly get the most out of your roster, and if your lineup lock resets on Monday you can swap them out for a player on a team that goes three teams coming out of the break. Sounds good to us. Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert and Delon Wright all have the green light as they’ll be able to outproduce a few players on volume alone.

    Worst Schedule: Pistons (at Celtics — at Magic, vs. Raptors)

    The Pistons play just once prior to the break and draw a horrible matchup on the busiest schedule night. Any fringe Piston can be cut loose this week, and you may just have to stick with Bojan Bogdanovic and Jalen Duren while leaving the rest of the squad on benches or waivers. Their light first half doesn’t even balance out with an edge coming out of All-Star weekend.

    Game of the Week: The All-Star game

    Is that a cop-out? You bet. Has the new set of rules breathed a bunch of life into this game? You bet. It’s amazing how compelling the All-Star game is when the players try even a little bit.

    As for games that count, the Nuggets and Grizzlies tilt on Saturday looks fantastic. It’ll be the second game out of the break for both teams so there shouldn’t be a ton of rust and it’s two of the top teams in the West going toe-to-toe. Ja Morant’s electrifying drives vs. Nikola Jokic’s cerebral brilliance. Jokic crashing and banging with Jaren Jackson Jr. Dillon Brooks harassing fellow Canadian Jamal Murray, who looks to be hitting his stride, out on the perimeter. It’ll be a good one.

    Quick Adds

    Deni Avdija, F, Washington Wizards

    In keeping with the theme of trying to grab a Wizards player before the All-Star break starts, Avdija is still too widely available in fantasy leagues. He’s coming off a week of top-80 value that featured limited defensive output. He’s playing a ton, starting or not, and can deliver points, rebounds, assists, steals and triples on decent percentages. It is a little funny that the Wizards traded Rui Hachimura in part to create more playing time for Avdija, only to keep him on the bench when Kyle Kuzma got hurt, but minutes are minutes.

    Josh Green, F/G, Dallas Mavericks

    Green took full advantage of Dallas being shorthanded last week and cooked up a top-45 batch of games. The 20.8 points per game are not likely to hold with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic in the mix, but the Mavs’ lack of depth, particularly on the wings, means that he’s going to be involved. Managers may be wary of high scoring on a shooting percentage that doesn’t scream “sustainable” but Green is hot right now and has every opportunity to lock down a big role on a team that should create lots of open shots for him.

    Kenyon Martin Jr., F, Houston Rockets

    Martin has been in this space a few times this year but with the deadline gone, he looks safe to embrace. Already a reasonable play with Kevin Porter Jr. sidelined by left foot soreness (he’s still without a timetable to return, by the way), Martin should have access to a starting gig every night with Eric Gordon finally out of the way. He’s been a better/more efficient scorer than expected but Martin is capable of chipping in rebounds, defensive stats and 3-pointers too. He most definitely has a home on 12-team rosters in competitive leagues.

    Josh Okogie, F, Phoenix Suns

    All that we said about Craig above? Most of it applies to Okogie too, and lately it’s Okogie who has been playing well. This could end up as a short-term engagement but Okogie’s playing a ton of late and absolutely stuffing the stat sheet. In a week with a pretty even schedule and only a few teams that can give you a real edge, there’s no harm in rolling with one of the hottest hands around.

    Honorable Mentions: Isaiah Hartenstein (C, New York Knicks), Max Strus (G, Miami Heat), Gabe Vincent (G, Miami Heat), Sam Hauser (F, Boston Celtics), Joe Harris (F/G, Brooklyn Nets), Patrick Williams (F, Bulls), Precious Achiuwa (F/C, Toronto Raptors), Donte DiVincenzo (G, Golden State Warriors), Kevon Looney (C, Golden State Warriors), Talen Horton-Tucker (G, Utah Jazz), Devonte’ Graham (G, San Antonio Spurs), Larry Nance Jr. (F/C, New Orleans Pelicans)

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