Fantasy Basketball Trade Analyzer: 5 players to buy or sell, including Fred VanVleet

By Henry Weinberg, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

At this point in the year, players are settling into mid-season form. That said, some players have yet to hit their strides, while some have been operating in altered roles. Let's examine a handful of trade options.

Buy Low: Fred VanVleet, Raptors

VanVleet has been the least efficient shooter in the NBA this season. It’s not close. The 28-year-old is hitting 5.3 of 14.8 shot attempts (35.7%) per game. Among all players taking at least 12 shots per game, the next lowest percentage is Terry Rozier (38.5%) off a staggering 20.9 attempts.

VanVleet has never been a highly efficient scorer. His career-best campaign last season finished with a 40.3% clip from the field. It was fueled by elite volume and corresponding efficiency from beyond the arc. Across his past three seasons, VanVleet has rained in 37.7% of 8.7 3-point tries per game.

Currently, he’s hitting just 34% of 8.2 threes per game, but I’ve deduced that will likely improve moving forward. Per NBA.com, 7.1 of VanVleet’s 8.2 nightly 3-point attempts are shots when the nearest defender is at least four feet away, constituting VanVleet as “open” or even “wide open.”

His historical track record, combined with the quality of looks he’s getting in Toronto’s offense, means VanVleet’s shooting output should be ascending soon. Fantasy managers needing a boost in 3-point production should be all over this. VanVleet has failed to exceed 13 points in any of his last five contests. Now is a great buy-low opportunity.

Sell High: Bojan Bogdanovic, Pistons

Bogdanovic continues to put up big numbers in Detroit, but multiple factors are coming into play that would make me antsy if I were a shareholder.

Cade Cunningham could be shut down for the season. Bogdanovic has logged similar production with or without Cunningham, but his 3-point shooting has suffered with Cunningham absent. Also, Killian Hayes (11.9 points per game in 12 starts this season) has played well and kept the offense afloat. Is this a mirage?

Lock Detroit in as a bottom-two team in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the season. When Bogdanovic was given a two-year extension after the Pistons traded for him, I viewed it as Detroit locking up a power forward to help the offense flow and aid the surrounding young pieces to develop. Detroit may have overestimated how much growth they’d experience in 2022-23. Case in point: Bogdanovic is a trade candidate. The Pistons could seek to stockpile a few more rebuilding assets.

For his part, Bogdanovic just keeps balling. He’s averaging 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while slashing 51/40/83 across his last 10 contests. This is not a panic sell on Bogdanovic. Merely, I wouldn’t be opposed to dealing him if a trade opportunity emerges. I wouldn’t be looking to acquire him, either.

Bojan Bogdanovic's play for a rebuilding Pistons team could make him an appealing sell-high candidate in fantasy.
Bojan Bogdanovic's play for a rebuilding Pistons team could make him an appealing sell-high candidate in fantasy. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Sell High: Tobias Harris, 76ers

Harris is having a career-best season from beyond the arc, connecting on 41.5% of 5.4 triples per game. November hinted at regression, however. Harris knocked down just 31.7% of his 3-point attempts in 12 games last month. Per Cleaning The Glass, Harris is finishing a career-worst 60% of his shots at the rim, ranking in the 24th percentile among all forwards. That puts sizable pressure on Harris to hit shots from deep and in the midrange. With James Harden back from a foot injury and Tyrese Maxey (foot) nearing that point, will Harris’ shooting overcome relegation to a tertiary option?

He’s exceeded 20 points in five of his last six contests, setting up a strong sell-high point. When Maxey and Harden have been healthy this season, Harris is averaging 14.7 points per game. So, Harris can be expected to produce 15-plus points per game down the stretch, but his peak value is fading.

Sell High: Jaylen Nowell, Timberwolves

This is a classic case of extracting season-long value from a temporary source.

Nowell is averaging 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists while slashing 52/48/82 over his last four games. He is a prime beneficiary of Karl-Anthony Towns' absence due to a calf strain. Towns will be sidelined for at least another month, which sets up a good window for Nowell to provide value.

If your squad needs a scoring punch/nightly high-volume contributor to fight for some week-to-week wins, keeping Nowell will pay solid dividends. However, if you’re confident about being in a playoff position, the sooner Nowell is jettisoned, the more value he has.

Buy Low: Andrew Nembhard, Pacers

There’s something special occurring in Indy. Nembhard did his finest Trae Young impression Monday, sinking big threes all night en route to a career-high 31 points. He complemented his five triples with some savvy twos and excellent facilitating. For a rookie, Nembhard’s processing and management of the offense are eye-catching.

A 2022 second-round pick, Nembhard is thriving while Tyrese Haliburton (groin) is out of the lineup. When Haliburton returns, Nembhard will settle into the leader of the second unit. He’s averaging 6.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game through nine contests off the bench this season, but his recent play should unlock more usage.

If the Pacers trade Buddy Hield, enough minutes could become available for Haliburton, Nembhard and Bennedict Mathurin to all see fantasy-relevant usage. On Mathurin, Nembhard has already supplanted some of his offense recently. The No. 6 pick in the draft has shot just 35.8% from the field and 19.4% from beyond the arc across his last seven games.