Balanced trades with big-name stars
To make your team better through trades, you should constantly be looking to deal from your strengths to improve your weaknesses. Quite often we'll see this reflected in teams that are strong in guard stats, such as steals and 3-pointers, and weak in big-man stats, such as rebounding and blocks, or vice versa. The point here is that, if we can find a team with the opposite strengths and weaknesses, we can aim to deal a guard for a big to even out the stats for both teams.
I've put together some potential one-for-one swaps below, as examples of players who match up well for teams looking to swap 3s and steals for rebounds and blocks.
We might as well start off big. In fantasy, it doesn't get much bigger than CP3, and in reality it doesn't get much bigger than D-Ho. Paul has had better statistical seasons -- 16.5 points per game is his lowest scoring average since his rookie campaign and 9.7 assists per game is his lowest mark since the 2006-07 campaign. But based on averages, he still sits atop the Player Rater this season. You can thank his great percentages, those assists, an NBA-best 3.0 steals per game and a helpful 1.0 3-pointers per game.
Howard can't get any real love from the Player Rater because of his Led Zeppelin-like free throw percentage (he's hit 56.9 percent of 11.4 free throw attempts per game), which is why he's 30th. Take out that dead weight and Howard would be among the top few on the Player Rater, because the rest of his stats are huge: 21.2 ppg, 13.2 rebounds per game, 2.4 blocks per game and 56.6 field goal percentage. The only question is whether you can counter his free throws with the rest of your squad. If you think you can, dealing CP3 for D-Ho may be the simplest way to make up a lot of ground in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage on a team that has ample dimes, steals and 3s.
There really is trade value in how much fun a player is to watch. If someone makes an offer that makes some sense statistically, we're all more inclined to go ahead and take it if we like the player offered or enjoy eyeing their games. There aren't many players who are more fun to watch than Ellis and Stoudemire, and their stats match up well on the trading block.
Both are scoring in the mid-20s, and Stoudemire is tied for fourth in the league with 2.3 blocks per game, while Ellis is second with 2.3 steals per game. Ellis' 5.5 assists per game and 3.4 rebounds per game balance well with Stoudemire's 9.0 rpg and 2.3 apg. Stoudemire outdoes Ellis in percentages (51.8 FG%/77.2 FT% versus 47.3/74.1, respectively), but Ellis makes up for that by burying 1.7 3s per game.
There are other similarities in their overall games. Both have missed extended stretches because of injuries but appear to be relatively healthy at the moment. Also, they both are capable of posting massive stats for long stretches, so they should be studs you can count on. If you're looking for threes and swipes and have Stoudemire, trading for Ellis, or Ellis and a throw-in, should be a no-brainer.
Rudy Gay for Josh Smith
Gay and J-Smoove have been a couple of my favorites for years. I love that their games have developed to the point that they've become darlings throughout fantasyland. Both of these guys crank out stats in just about every category, which makes them have fairly equal value, but there are enough differences to make a trade worthwhile if you need the right stats.
Gay is outscoring Smith considerably this season (Gay: 20.9 ppg; Smith: 15.9 ppg) and he gets a big edge on Smith in free throws (Gay: 84.2 percent; Smith: 71.2 percent). On the flip side, J-Smoove is rebounding and diming better than Gay (Smith: 8.6 rpg and 3.6 apg; Gay: 6.1 rpg and 2.7 apg). It's the delicious peripheral stats in which they both excel that get the fantasy juices flowing, though. Gay is averaging 1.4 3-pointers per game, 1.8 spg and 1.3 bpg, while Smith is averaging 0.8 3-ppg, 1.4 spg and 2.0 bpg.
Normally, it's tough to trade either of them because of their across-the-board production, but trading one for the other to make up ground in 3s, boards, blocks or steals makes a lot of sense.
Ginobili's production has slipped in recent weeks (I hope you heeded my sell-high advice in November), but on the season he's averaging 2.5 3-ppg and 1.7 spg. Big Al has had his own struggles carving out stats with the Utah Jazz this season, but he has still cranked out 8.7 rpg and 1.9 bpg.
Aside from Ginobili out-diming Jefferson by about three assists per game, the rest of their value is fairly similar. Ginobili is averaging 18.7 ppg, 44.1 field goal percentage and 86.2 free throw percentage, while Jefferson is averaging 16.5 ppg, 47.5 percent and 79.2 percent.
The other consideration is their mutual propensity for missing a lot of games because of injuries. Considering that Ginobili is eight years older, I'd give Jefferson an edge here. But overall, if you're looking to swap 3s and steals for boards and blocks, these two injury-prone players would make for a fair deal.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.