Wow. What a week. Arguably the most impactful trade deadline in NBA history wrapped up yesterday, and the final tallies are astounding. The dust is still settling as the league processes the trades that involved 28 teams (all but the Cavaliers and Bulls), more than 55 players, nine first-round picks*, and 46 second-round picks** -- highlighted, of course, by one of the 15 greatest players of all time swapping places with last season's runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.
*Including protected picks and swaps rights
**Including some picks traded multiple times and assuming I counted right
Now the most important part – what are the Fantasy takeaways?
With a deadline this chaotic, it will be a few weeks before we truly understand all the implications. And some of the bigger impacts are irrelevant to the waiver wire (e.g., Devin Booker probably loses some value). But there are plenty of waiver-wire winners, too.
Before we get to the pickups, a vital schedule note: Week 18 ends with the All-Star break. Each league and platform handles the shortened week differently, but every head-to-head league I've ever seen combines Weeks 18 and 19 into one double-long matchup. Make sure you know your league's rules. There is often an advantage to be had by taking advantage of the nuances of this unique part of the schedule.
Because of all the chaos, we'll be flexible with the usual cut-off point. This article will focus on players rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues, though we'll touch on some big deadline winners who just jumped over that line. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Mark Williams, Hornets (43% rostered)
We got our wish: the Hornets' front office Moneyballed coach Steve Clifford, forcing him to give Williams more minutes. They actually gave us even more than we asked for. We got what we wanted when they traded away Mason Plumlee without bringing back any new centers. Then they did us one better, trading away Jalen McDaniels, eliminating the possibility of Clifford passing over Williams for a small-ball lineup. Even if Clifford gives the starting job to Nick Richards (9% rostered), an inferior player, Williams would still see a significant boost in minutes. And more minutes for Williams is the deadline's biggest Fantasy story.
Williams is a dominant defensive force. It's tough to imagine him playing fewer than 24 minutes per game the rest of the way, but just to be conservative, here are his per-24-minute averages: 12.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.2 steals. His field goal efficiency is excellent (64.8%), and he's not a terrible free throw shooter (73.5%). He was already borderline rosterable despite averaging just 14.0 minutes per game. His floor going forward is probably inside the top 100. If he gets a full starter's workload, he has a real chance to post top-50 numbers the rest of the way.
Collin Sexton, Jazz (82% rostered)
Utah shipped out Mike Conley and his 29.6 minutes per game. They acquired Russell Westbrook in the deal, but multiple reports state that he will not play for the Jazz. That leaves only Sexton and Jordan Clarkson as NBA-caliber point guards, and Clarkson was already starting at shooting guard. Sexton should start and see well over 30 minutes per game, more than enough to make him an all-leagues must-add.
Cameron Thomas, Nets (85% rostered)
It's already too late for most leagues, but if your league only has one waiver run per week, then there's a good chance Thomas is still available for you. He posted three straight 40-point games to kick off the post-Kyrie Irving era in Brooklyn. He won't continue that torrid pace, but he could be the Nets' leading scorer for the remainder of the season.
Jalen Williams, Thunder (70% rostered)
Williams isn't a deadline beneficiary, but he's been coming into his own lately. While LeBron James was setting the all-time scoring record Tuesday, Williams was having a coming-out party of his own, putting up 25-7-2 with six steals. He's a locked-in starter and looks to be one of Oklahoma City's leaders. The rookie lottery pick has all the ingredients of a potential second-half breakout.
Note: this blurb is about the wing player J-A-L-E-N Williams, not big man and fellow rookie teammate, J-A-Y-L-I-N. Jaylin is mentioned below towards the end of the "other recommendations" list.
Tari Eason, Rockets (51% rostered)
Eason's hot play from last week cooled off, partly because the rest of the Rockets' roster got healthier. But there are more minutes available now that they have dealt Eric Gordon. It's unclear how many of those will go to Danny Green and Justin Holiday, newly arrived from Memphis and Atlanta, but hopefully, some of Gordon's minutes get transferred to Eason. Similar to Williams above, Eason is a rookie first-round pick who has shown tremendous growth and has the potential to be a second-half breakout candidate. But, unlike Williams, Eason has not yet secured a substantial workload, and his coaching staff is worse. If he can get enough minutes, Eason could post nearly a double-double while providing exceptional steal and block numbers.
Zach Collins, Spurs (41% rostered)
The Spurs shipped out starting center Jakob Poeltl, who was averaging 26.1 minutes per game. They brought back perennial backup Khem Birch, but they're likely to prioritize Collins, hoping the 2018 lottery pick can deliver on some of his potential. In theory, Collins is a shot-blocking, 3-point-shooting center with above-average abilities as a passer. He's never managed to fully put all those skills together. He's likely to get a full starter's workload down the stretch, and his skillset is incredibly Fantasy friendly if he can hold up to the increased pressure.
Josh Green, Mavericks (18% rostered)
The Mavericks' rotation is still in flux. Luka Doncic (heel) has missed the last three games. They'd had two games without Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kyrie Irving made his debut in their most recent game. Therefore, while it is exciting that Green has put up 18-4-2 in 34.7 minutes while starting three straight, we can't overreact to a sample that includes so many compounding variables. Here's what we know: The Mavericks shipped out two starters averaging 66.4 minutes, bringing back only one player who frequently misses games due to injury (or controversy). Green's minutes had already been increasing before the trade, but now he's likely to become a regular starter with another boost to his workload. The 2020 first-round pick has shown noticeable growth this season. His production is inconsistent, but he's highly efficient. He's addable for anyone, but he's best suited to managers who can be patient for a couple of weeks to see how his role develops.
Malaki Branham, Spurs (25% rostered)
Injuries led to Branham stepping into a more prominent role this past week. Then, the trade deadline permanently removed one of his main competitors for minutes when the front office sent Josh Richardson to New Orleans. Though San Antonio also brought in Devonte' Graham, the 27-year-old Graham isn't a serious threat on this future-focused team. Branham has averaged 32.0 minutes over the last four games, putting up 17-3-4 with 2.0 3s and nice shooting splits. He doesn't provide any defensive stats, but he's likely to have a good-sized workload moving forward.
T.J. Warren (22% rostered) and Torrey Craig (11%), Suns
In acquiring Kevin Durant, the Suns sacrificed wing depth. There are more than enough minutes available for both of these two to average more than 25 per game. Warren's upside is higher, but he's struggled to provide consistent play in his first months back after nearly two years on the sidelines. Craig is more of an all-round producer best suited for deep league managers, though he's already had windows of standard league viability this season.
Donte DiVincenzo, Warriors (52% rostered)
Steph Curry (leg) is out for a few weeks again. When Curry missed three weeks around New Year's, DiVincenzo was a prominent beneficiary, putting up 11-6-4 with 2.8 3s and 1.7 steals in 35.0 minutes. It's unlikely DiVincenzo can fully reproduce those numbers, as Golden State is much deeper now. Andrew Wiggins was also out for most of those games, and the Warriors just reacquired Gary Payton (5% rostered). That said, DiVincenzo is likely a solid pickup for the next few weeks.
Other recommendations: Kenyon Martin, Rockets (57% rostered); Malik Monk, Kings (42% rostered); Daniel Gafford, Wizards (44% rostered); Jaylin Williams, Thunder (5% rostered); Drew Eubanks, Trail Blazers (13% rostered)
Players I'm not adding
With so much movement, tons of players will get some attention as potential Fantasy pickups. While I'm not deliberately avoiding these players, there are several other similarly available players who I'd rather prioritize.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Nets (44% rostered)
The new-look Nets are a talented team. They'd be a seven-seed in the East for most of the 2010s. While they no longer have any high-usage stars, they still have plenty of depth. And while Finney-Smith is a good player, he's better in real life than in Fantasy. He was barely rosterable while playing 32.2 minutes in Dallas. He might get more usage, but his minutes are unlikely to change meaningfully.
James Wiseman, Pistons (25% rostered)
The Pistons have said they intend to start the newly acquired Wiseman at center. That's lovely. I'm sure whoever said that believes it. Here's the problem: Wiseman is monumentally, catastrophically, undeniably worse than Jalen Duren. It would be insanity and malpractice to let Wiseman's acquisition interfere with Duren's continued development or his budding on-court chemistry with fellow franchise centerpiece Jaden Ivey. Even if Wiseman starts a few games, I cannot imagine that arrangement will continue for very long. Oh, I should probably also mention that Wiseman's Fantasy profile is very "meh." He's a solid per-minute scorer and rebounder, but he doesn't provide meaningful defensive help, and he's a free-throw albatross. I'd take a flier on him in some circumstances, but most managers have plenty of better options to choose from.
Deep league quick hits
Nick Richards, Hornets (9% rostered)
Mark Williams isn't the only beneficiary after the departures of Plumlee and McDaniels.
Mo Bamba, Lakers (17% rostered)
Bamba is a per-minute producer capable of making a Fantasy impact in only 20 minutes per game. He might not get that many on his new team, but he's probably the L.A.'s main backup center now.
Jaylen Nowell, Timberwolves (19% rostered)
The incoming Mike Conley shouldn't be playing 32.9 minutes per game – the amount vacated by the departing D'Angelo Russell. Nowell is a good player who could see a small minutes bump.
Cam Reddish, Trail Blazers (11% rostered)
Someone has to start at small forward. Nassir Little probably gets the first chance, but Reddish probably receives a shot, too.
Gary Payton, Warriors (5% rostered)
Averaged 22.0 minutes in the final month of last season as a Warrior and had several other stretches where he played even more than that. Especially while Curry is out, he could be a great steals specialist.
With the double week due to the All-Star game, every manager needs to understand their league rules to take advantage.
A few things to be careful of:
Weekly games maximum: In most cases, the weekly max doubles over the double week, even though there are only ~50% more games over the two-week stretch. Managers should be starting more players than usual, as they are unlikely to come close to reaching the elevated max.
Acquisition limits: Every league is different. In some cases, the limit that normally applies to a seven-day period now applies to a 14-day span. Figure out your league's rules. In some cases, you'll have to be careful to save a pickup or two in case of a major injury or breakout.
In most leagues, managers can set their starters for Week 18 (2/13-18) and then change it for Week 19 (2/20-26), but that's not true in every league. Furthermore, in some leagues, the Week 19 lineups will lock Monday(2/20) at 7 pm EST, while others (most) will lock when games start on Thursday (2/23) at 7 pm EST.