Buy-low, sell-high trades to explore
Many, if not most, trades are spawned by statistical strengths and weaknesses in your roster. If you're first in rebounds and last in assists, you'll look to trade a big man for a point guard. Sometimes, though, a trade is based more on the projected value of a particular player. When you're looking to trade or acquire a player, it's best to look for an opponent's player who is producing stats similar to one of your guys. This way, the stats will line up as even when your opponent is assessing the trade proposal. Then the decision comes down to projecting how they will finish the season. Let's take a look at some examples of players with similar production and try to determine which player is the better long-term option.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs versus Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Ginobili: 21.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.8 spg, 2.8 3-ppg, 47 FG, 91.1 FT%.
Curry: 20.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 2.3 spg, 1.5 3-ppg, 46.8 FG%, 89.2 FT%
They have very comparable production, but there's one stat I didn't list that separates them: age. Curry is 22, while Ginobli is 33. I wrote a couple of weeks ago to sell high on Ginobili, not because he's playing over his head, but because he is aging, playing unusually high minutes (a career-high 33 per game) and has a long history of being dinged up. Taking aim at a young superstar in the making like Curry is exactly what I mean by sell high. The odds of Curry maintaining, and even improving on, these stats are great. The odds of a fragile 33-year-old guard playing a career-high in minutes all season and maintaining these stats are slim.
LeBron James, Miami Heat versus Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
James: 23.7 ppg, 7.7 apg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 0.9 3-ppg, 44.3 FG%, 78.6 FT%
Westbrook: 23.8 ppg, 8.6 apg, 5.1 rpg, 2.2 spg, 0.3 3-ppg, 44.7 FG%, 88.6 FT%
I honestly don't know which of these players I'd rather have. James is so good that despite "stumbling" into these subpar averages, he's still ranked 16th on the Player Rater. Westbrook's production is so huge that he currently ranks fourth. Clearly, Westbrook is a sell-high candidate, because he can't go much higher. That being said, I expected him to finish the season as a top-10 player, and it's entirely possible that he can maintain a top-five presence all season. LeBron has nowhere to go but up, so clearly he's a buy-low candidate. He could easily finish in the top five and still has epic upside, even in his new digs. Basically, I'd call this an even trade. Let's put it this way: If you want to trade LeBron, I'd take aim at Westbrook and vice versa.
Raymond Felton, New York Knicks versus John Wall, Washington Wizards
Felton: 18.1 ppg, 7.9 apg, 1.9 spg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 3-ppg, 45.9 FG%, 90.4 FT%
Wall: 18.0 ppg, 9.1 apg, 2.8 spg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 3-ppg, 42.7 FG%, 80.8 FT%
Felton has made the most of his move from Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown's uptight offensive system to Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun approach. To be honest, these are the stats I thought he'd churn out his sophomore season. As it turns out, he wasn't mature enough as a point guard or shooter to make it happen then. Four years later, though, his game has matured and he's with the right system, so I think he can maintain this pace. On the other hand, John Wall is so talented that he doesn't even need his game to mature to crack the top 12 on the Player Rater. Wall's only problems right now are that shaky field-goal percentage and sore knees that have already cost him six of his first 16 NBA games. I'd lean toward Wall's crazy upside over Felton, personally. If you have an owner who's nervous about Wall's health, offering Felton might just make him listen.
Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs versus O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies
Jefferson: 15.2 ppg, 1.4 apg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 spg, 1.8 3-ppg, 50.7 FG%, 76.6 FT%
Mayo: 13.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.9 rpg, 0.9 spg, 1.7 3-ppg, 40.5 FG%, 80.6 FT%
Mayo is 17 games into his third season, but I still haven't figured him out, and apparently neither has his coach, since Lionel Hollins has opted to bring the former third overall pick off the bench for the foreseeable future. I've seen Mayo at his best, when he scored at will, played good defense and racked up great fantasy stats. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened often enough, which presumably is why he's coming off the pine right now. Jefferson's been off to a hot start, but I'd look to trade him to anyone who believes it will last. His value is up due to his three-point production, but it's really hard to believe that a guy who has averaged 35 percent from beyond the arc over his lengthy career can maintain his current 44.4-percent pace all season. I love playing odds in fantasy, and the odds are that Mayo's arrow will point up by the second half of the season, while Jefferson's will point down.
Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks versus Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Terry: 16.1 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 3-ppg, 1.5 spg, 45.6 FG%, 84.8 FT%
Jennings: 18.4 apg, 5.7 apg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 3-ppg, 1.4 spg, 39.1 FG%, 79.5 FT%
The veteran Terry has gotten off to a great start, but it's clear that Jennings has all the upside. The catch is that he also has that glaring 39.1 field-goal percentage on 15.9 shots per game. With that much upside, you shouldn't be able to acquire Jennings for Terry straight up. However, if the owner who has Jennings in your league is toward the bottom of your league in field-goal percentage, there's a pretty good chance she'd listen to an offer involving a guy like Terry -- who can produce somewhat similar stats with a respectable field-goal percentage -- and another player who has a quality field-goal percentage. It's a good starting point for trade talks.
I'll be back next Tuesday to feed your fantasy hoops trade habits some more. Same time, same corner, same crime: Grand Theft Roto!
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.