With the first month of the 2021-22 NBA season already passing us by, we’re on to Week 5 of the fantasy basketball season.
By now, owners have had plenty of time to dissect and get a feel for their teams, knowing exactly which areas they need to improve on and which players they would be willing to trade in order to fill any voids.
We’re here to help you make a decision on some of those players you might see pop up in trade requests, playing a game of buy, sell or hold with some trending names around the league.
Fantasy Basketball: Buy, sell or hold?
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard’s early-season struggles have been well documented and fantasy owners who took him in the first round are likely growing impatient. Impatient enough to trade the prolific scoring superstar? It’s worth checking the temperature there.
Lillard looked like a shell of himself through the first nine games of the season, averaging just 17.8 points and 2.0 3-pointers per game while shooting 33.7 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from deep. While his assists average stayed up (posting 8.8 per game), he wasn’t contributing much else and certainly wasn’t performing like the player he was drafted to be.
He’s starting to find a groove over the last couple games, averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 3-pointers per game. His shooting percentages are getting closer to normal, too, converting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3.
He’s dealing with an abdominal strain which has him day-to-day, but that could be the perfect reason to try and acquire him now. It’s worth a shot.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Tatum is another player whose early-season shooting struggles have been magnified. The star forward became a perennial first-round draft pick in fantasy this season and owners may be getting frustrated with their selection.
Tatum’s scoring average is down from last year, although he’s still putting up 23.5 points per game. However, his efficiency is way down, shooting career-lows of 38.6 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from 3 and 76.8 percent from the free throw line. While his rebounding numbers are up – and he has five double-doubles as a result, a boost if you’re in a H2H categories league that uses that stat – his assists and steals averages are down.
Tatum is a tremendous talent and his full body of work suggests he’ll get back to performing at the high level we’ve seen before. Make a move for him now before he starts to get going.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Ayton didn’t get out to a slow start like the other two “buy” candidates, but he was dealing with a leg contusion that forced him to miss six of his team’s 13 games so far. While the former No. 1 overall pick has just returned to the lineup, doing so in a strong fashion with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, you still may be able to capitalize on his missed time and make an offer for him.
Ayton has been a rebounding machine, recording double digit boards in five of the seven contests he’s appeared in. While his blocks average is down from last year, it’s safe to assume that number will continue to trend upward as the season goes on. He had two games with fewer than 10 points prior to his injury but there’s no denying he’s still a focal point in Phoenix’s offense.
The Suns are just starting to look like the team we saw make an NBA Finals run last season and Ayton will certainly be a beneficiary of the team’s success now that he’s back in action.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
After a strong start to the season in which Ingram averaged 25.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.5 3-pointers over the first six games, the star forward suffered a hip injury that forced him to miss the next seven games.
The one-time All-Star has since returned to the lineup, picking up right where he left off, but coming off of a 31-point game, now might be the perfect time to move him. The Pelicans recently announced that Zion Williamson has been cleared for contact in practice and can also take part in 1-on-1 drills, meaning his return is growing closer.
Once Williamson returns, it is inevitable that Ingram’s fantasy value will take a hit, forced to sacrifice some shot attempts and counting stats with how often the ball is in Zion’s hands. Try and move Ingram before Williamson’s next injury update, which is expected to be on Nov. 24, per the team’s release.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
Bridges got off to such a ridiculous start that he was even included as a top-five mention on Sporting News’ first MVP Ladder of the season.
He’s still averaging career-highs across the board with 21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.5 3s per game, proving that his production from the first week or so wasn’t a fluke. His minutes or role hasn’t changed, meaning there is no harm in holding on to Bridges if you’re satisfied with what he has given you to this point.
This is just to say that if you’re going to explore trade offers for the 23-year-old forward, now is the time to do it. Don’t expect his numbers to drop off much since it is a contract year, but it may be worth seeing if you could package Bridges and another solid piece to get a top-tier player like some of the ones mentioned in the “buy” section above.
Montrezl Harrell, Washington Wizards
Harrell toes the line of “sell” and “hold,” because he’s likely overperforming compared to where you drafted him and he’s not exactly a blockbuster name to land you a big trade piece. But even with that being said, Harrell is off to such a great start to the season that it would be naive to not at least test the trade waters for him.
Averaging 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 blocks per game with five double-doubles, Harrell is back to performing like the player who won Sixth Man of the Year just two seasons ago.
There was an expectation that once Daniel Gafford returned from a minor injury, Harrell’s production would drop off, but that hasn’t been the case. However, the Wizards are still awaiting the return of Rui Hachimura, who hasn’t played yet this season due to personal reasons, and that could have an impact on Harrell’s fantasy output once he does come back.
Send a couple feelers out and see what you may be able to get in return for Trezz.
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
DeRozan has been a legitimate MVP candidate to start the season. Averaging 26.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, the four-time All-Star has revitalized his career in Chicago and he likely has your fantasy team toward the top of the standings because he’s way overperforming for his average draft position.
While players who get out to uncharacteristically hot starts like this one are typically prime “sell” candidates, you’re better off on holding DeRozan. You won’t get an equal or better return and the Bulls are clicking on all cylinders with the trio of him, Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Murray was one of my favorite breakout fantasy players heading into this season and he has more than lived up to that hype.
Averaging career-highs across the board with 18.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.3 3s per game, he has completely taken the reigns of San Antonio’s rebuild. With two triple-doubles, three double-doubles and a handful of other nights where he was just one or two counting stats off from reaching those benchmarks, Murray has been one of the best players in fantasy basketball this season.
He’s another player who you will not get a better or equal return in a deal, so it’s best to keep him locked into your lineup as is.
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Siakam missed the start of the season due to offseason shoulder surgery, but the fantasy owners who took a swing on him in the draft are already reaping the benefits.
Siakam’s first couple games were a little rocky but the one-time All-Star is really starting to hit his stride, averaging 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting efficiently from the field (55.2%) and 3-point range (44.4%) over his last two games.
The Raptors desperately need his offensive output and he’ll continue to have plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers in all counting stats categories, making him great fantasy value, especially based on where you probably drafted him.
Siakam could definitely find his name on the “buy” or “sell” list at some point this season, but for now, hold tight and see what he’s capable of.