Thursday's trade deadline inches closer, and the anticipation that's been building for weeks will finally reach a conclusion. For Fantasy managers, this can be one of the most important days of the season. The fates of many players change on the deadline, not just the ones who get dealt. It's important to realize who the winners and losers are and to capitalize on the opportunities through the waiver wire.
The following players are those among the most-heavily rumored to be traded at the deadline. If they're on your team, be ready for things to change sooner than later.
Lowry doesn't have a real no-trade clause. Still, by all accounts, general manager Masai Ujiri will only move the veteran point guard to somewhere he wants to go, given Lowry's standing in the organization. Soon-to-be 35-year-old Lowry has returned third-round value for Fantasy managers this season on the floundering Raptors, whose last win was Feb. 26.
Assuming Lowry gets dealt, it will undoubtedly be to a contender. And chances are, Lowry's minutes will decrease. These days, not too many organizations will play a 35-year-old point guard 35 minutes per game like the Raptors are.
Still, wherever he ends up, Lowry figures to be a vital piece of the offense. He's been a knock-down 3-point shooter this season (2.8 makes at 39.1 percent) and his 7.4 assists to just 2.9 turnovers per game is an elite ratio. The worst-case scenario for Lowry's Fantasy value might be the oft-mentioned 76ers, where he would be in line to potentially take fewer shots than Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
Lowry leaving Toronto would probably funnel more touches to Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell, if Powell himself doesn't get dealt. With Lowry off the court this season, that pair leads the Raptors in usage. Terence Davis could also see a meaningful increase in minutes. Of course, some of this depends on what the Raptors get in return.
Drummond hasn't played a game since Feb. 12, as the Cavaliers sent him home over a month ago while openly exploring trade and buyout options. A four-time rebounding champion, Drummond's reputation has been taking a nosedive lately as fans and critics wonder if he's a "winner player," as filled with nuance as that phrase is.
At the very least, we're probably about to see him on a winning team. There are a few situations Drummond could find himself in where he'd see roughly the 28 minutes per night he was getting in Cleveland, including Boston, Dallas and the Lakers as long as Anthony Davis remains sidelined. Rumor has it the Lakers are open to dealing Montrezl Harrell, so that could factor in.
Fantasy managers who have Drummond should mostly be happy that he'll be playing again soon, as those squads are being robbed of his 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Wherever he ends up, Drummond should see minutes in the low-to-mid 20s and still be a nightly 15-and-15 threat.
Gordon peaked as both a Fantasy player (and probably a real-life player) in 2017-18 when he was 22 years old. He was the 63rd-ranked Fantasy player on a per-game basis that season, and there was plenty of reason for optimism. He's produced a worse Fantasy season each year since then, with the now-25-year-old ranking 134th in eight-category leagues. In 29.0 minutes per game, he's averaged 14.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and a career-high 4.2 assists.
Gordon formally requested a trade Monday from the injury-ridden 14-28 Magic, who are 14th in the Eastern Conference. Apparently the league's most desired reclamation project, Gordon has drawn interest from Portland, Houston, Minnesota, Golden State and Boston.
For Fantasy managers, Gordon landing in a situation like Houston or Minnesota would be ideal. He'd be more of a focal point of the offense on a bad team, which would hopefully lead to better Fantasy numbers. If he lands on Portland, Golden State or Boston, he could take more of a backseat to the already-established, better offensive options. The feeling is that a competitive team would prefer to use him like a hyper-athletic Draymond Green, pushing the tempo in transition and dribbling around the top of the key in the halfcourt, searching for cutters to hit with passes.
For the Magic, Gordon being traded could mean more minutes for Al-Farouq Aminu, Chuma Okeke, Gary Clark and Khem Birch. Don't hold your breath about any of them being Fantasy-relevant.
Fantasy managers who have taken chances on Markkanen know that he's had trouble staying healthy. He's never played more than 68 games in any of his first four seasons, and he's totaled just 192 appearances. Despite untrustworthy availability, Markkanen has shown enough flashes to intrigue teams looking to take a gamble. Amid the Bulls looking to trade Markkanen this season, he has averaged 17.7 points on 13.1 shots, plus 6.0 rebounds in 30.0 minutes.
Any team looking to acquire Markkanen likely believes in him as a rebuilding piece that would continue to play 30-plus minutes per game. So Fantasy managers shouldn't have any concern about him getting dealt somewhere where his workload and usage would take a drastic hit. On the Bulls side, a Markkanen deal would potentially mean more minutes for Patrick Williams, who could get elevated to full-time starting power forward.
The Bulls and Hawks are reportedly looking into acquiring Ball, a restricted free agent, this summer. His career has been up-and-down and riddled with injuries, but it seems safe to say he looks to be a floor-raising player going forward. This season, Ball has ranked 55th in Fantasy per game with averages of 14.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.7 minutes.
He's not going to turn into a real scoring threat anywhere he goes. He's still taking under 1.5 free-throws per game, and more than half of his field-goal attempts are from distance. Ball is an odd combination of a spot-up shooter and great distributor with defensive upside. But his ability to guard three positions (at least with lighter small forwards) and keep the ball moving means he's the perfect addition for a team that has established scorers, like the Bulls and Hawks do with Zach LaVine and Trae Young. Wherever he ends up, he should continue seeing a similar workload, and it would be surprising if his Fantasy value dipped significantly.
For the Pelicans, dealing Ball would open up more playing time for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Eric Bledsoe, though I'm sure New Orleans would like to trade Bledsoe as well. Rookie Kira Lewis could also get more opportunities.
The Heat and Trail Blazers are pursuing the veteran big, who decided to part ways with the Spurs earlier in the month. He was losing playing time, and he averaged just 13.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.9 minutes. That's the sort of playing time Aldridge is probably hoping for with another team. I think that's optimistic.
His 3-point shooting has certainly been great, with Aldridge shooting 37.9 percent from deep on 3.3 attempts per game over the past two seasons. He'd be especially useful in Portland since the Blazers don't have a stretch five to open up driving lanes for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Regardless, it seems unlikely Aldridge will get enough value back to be relevant in 12-team leagues, so wherever he gets dealt might end up being more impactful for the players already on that team.
Oladipo hasn't looked like his pre-injury self, but he's also not been a disaster. His stats have translated to the 62nd-best Fantasy player on a per-game basis, with the 28-year-old averaging 20.8 points on 18.4 shots, 5.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals. The efficiency leaves something to be desired, but in addition to coming off an injury, he's been asked to carry an otherwise awful Rockets team on some nights, especially when John Wall and Christian Wood have been sidelined.
Houston is looking to rebuild, and Oladipo is on an expiring deal, so the Rockets don't exactly have a ton of leverage. Still, the bidding could get driven up by teams looking to acquire Oladipo to sign him to an extension under a specific salary-cap rule. Competitive teams with tied-up finances especially have the incentive to snag Oladipo for a low price and see how he performs in the postseason.
Oladipo should still have a top-3 role in whatever offense he gets thrust into, so Fantasy managers aren't looking at some sort of situation where he becomes a drop candidate. A decrease in role should be expected, but it will probably be one that still results in Oladipo putting up top-100 Fantasy numbers.
The Celtics, Kings, Mavericks, Pistons and Timberwolves are all reportedly interested in Collins, who turned down an opportunity to sign an extension with the Hawks and had some team chemistry issues with point guard Trae Young.
Collins is a promising young offensive big. Over the past three seasons, he's averaged 19.7 points on 13.8 shots, 9.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks in 31.1 minutes. Since he can stretch the floor and play both the four and the five, Collins should still see about 30 minutes per game wherever he ends up. If that's the case, putting up top-60 numbers, like he has the past three seasons, remains on the table.
The Hawks trading Collins could open up more playing time and touches for Danilo Gallinari and De'Andre Hunter, though both players are probably already rostered in your Fantasy league.