With the All-Star Game now in our rearview mirror, those of us in the fantasy world have shifted our focus to the trade deadline and the various rearrangements of rosters that could change the fantasy value of our players in the coming weeks. It's a time of great uncertainty -- as evidenced by the Carmelo deal -- when months of speculation (or no speculation at all, as in the surprise Nets-Jazz swap) can lead to a single moment when important fantasy decisions must be made.
On the other hand, the vast majority of players are not going anywhere, and their fantasy fortunes do not hinge on the whims of the general managers who will be making franchise-altering decisions during the next 24 hours. And since we can't possibly know quite yet what sort of alterations the trading deadline will ultimately make to the basketball landscape, we might as well focus our attention on players who we can evaluate based on their current status.
Last week, we looked at some players I thought you should pick up and target in trades based on their situation and their talent. This week, we'll take a different approach and look at some players who might benefit from the passing of the deadline; after all, the trading deadline symbolizes a watershed moment in an NBA season when many teams decide to throw in the towel on the playoff chase and start playing their young guns with an eye toward the future. These guys should be shooting up the Player Rater during the next few weeks.
Ramon Sessions, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Sessions is a player the Cavs have locked into a reasonable contract for the next two seasons after this one, so it would behoove them to find out whether he can handle being a full-time starter at the point for the long haul. Fantasy owners, meanwhile, have long been waiting to see Sessions get a chance to run the show somewhere because of his ability to rack up assists.
Although Sessions has had to take a backseat to Mo Williams when Williams has been healthy, Williams is still dealing with a bit of a sprained right ankle (he's listed as probable for Wednesday's game against the Rockets). Sessions, on the other hand, has been great of late. In his five games leading up to the break, he averaged 19.4 points, 8.8 assists and 2.6 steals; he's also been living at the line and shooting well above 80 percent when he's there. The more minutes he gets, the better he seems to play, and at some point, the Cavs are going to have to acknowledge that they've been a better team this season when Sessions is running the show. He's still available in a few leagues, and that's obviously an oversight; the more important point is that if you can talk someone into trading him to you based on the imminent return (again) of Williams, you might get some great value in the fantasy playoffs.
Ed Davis, PF, Toronto Raptors: I often hesitate to write about Davis, because I'm high on Amir Johnson as well, but Johnson is already getting plenty of credit in fantasy circles and Davis is still a largely unknown commodity. That said, Davis has had his moments. He grabbed 40 rebounds in the three-game stretch prior to the All-Star break, including an impressive 13 rebounds in 23 minutes against the Heat. He's not just a rebounder, though. He's also a great shot-blocker who is, amazingly, shooting 59 percent from the floor as a rookie.
All of that means that, although Davis started the season hurt and has played limited minutes, he has been the second-best rookie in terms of PER, and on a terrible Raptors team, he's starting to look more and more like a viable fantasy commodity of late. If the Raptors can continue to carve out more than 20-25 minutes per game for him, he's going to be a great pickup in all leagues.
Donté Greene, SF, Sacramento Kings: With Tyreke Evans out of the lineup for what looks like the next three weeks, the Kings have little to play for besides seeing what they have in terms of talent. Without question, there are some other intriguing players on the roster (I've said quite a bit in this space about DeMarcus Cousins of late, for example), but Greene is unique for the fact that he is versatile enough to play different positions and fits in different lineups.
In three games before the break, Greene averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in just 25.3 minutes per game off the bench, and should keep getting opportunities with Evans and Francisco Garcia out of the lineup (Greene struggled against the Heat on Tuesday night, but did play 25 minutes in a game the Heat had in hand after about one quarter). He's certainly not going to headline your roster, but at 6-foot-11, he's got the size to be a contributor both in blocks and steals, and he's no slouch as a scorer. If the Kings keep his minutes in the 25-per-game range, he'll be worth having on your roster.
Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies: Allen had been playing great before the All-Star break, but with the return of O.J. Mayo from his suspension and the emergence of Sam Young as a starter in the Grizzlies' lineup, it seemed like Allen might have trouble getting enough playing time to be a great fantasy option -- even with Rudy Gay out for the foreseeable future.
Allen had a nice night in the Grizzlies' loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday night, however, and is now averaging 18.0 points on 56 percent shooting to go along with 2.6 steals per game in his past five games. This is nothing new for Allen, either; when he gets playing time, he'll shoot a high percentage, score points and rack up tons of steals, which (even though he doesn't make 3s) makes him a valuable commodity in fantasy. As well as he's playing, it's hard to imagine the Grizzlies giving him fewer than 25-30 minutes a night on a regular basis, and he should be owned in more than the few leagues in which he's currently owned.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.