- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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We spend the first two-thirds of the season establishing an understanding of player value, and then the trade deadline shakes the snow globe. Most of the focus during the deadline is on the impact of trades upon the already fantasy-relevant; even secondary deals involving players like Ronnie Brewer, Nate Robinson and Tyrus Thomas involve those owned in more than half of leagues. But oftentimes trades increase the value of fringe players who are widely available on waiver wires, because they unlock previously nonexistent opportunities within rotations, especially on teams that were sellers at the deadline.
This week features players whose value increased due to trades in the past week, and ranges from those only available in shallow formats to deep-league reaches. The common thread is that each should have more of an impact upon fantasy standings now that the trading deadline has expired.
Beno Udrih, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings (26.8 percent owned): With Kevin Martin and Sergio Rodriguez shuttled from Sacramento, Udrih has a chance to recapture some of the value that made him a fantasy starter earlier this season when Martin was sidelined. He should start for the Kings alongside Tyreke Evans and post stats much closer to his December averages (15.8 points, 1.3 3s, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 54 percent on field goals, 89 percent on free throws) than this month's (8.4 points, 0.4 3s, 3.0 assists). His 3s and steals are mediocre, but his percentages are excellent, as he's shot better than 46 percent from the floor and 82 percent from the stripe in each of the past three seasons. He's owned in many formats, but hasn't been playing well enough over the past two months to be worth a roster spot in shallow ones. So he's potentially available in 10-team leagues, and this trade should open up a ton of playing time and breathe life into his recently deflated value. Udrih is a worthy addition in all formats, simply because his situation changed in such a positive manner.
Shane Battier, SF, Houston Rockets (17.3 percent owned): Battier isn't available in any of my leagues, because I own him in most. He's my favorite player to have on my bench and spot-start here and there, because I know he won't hurt my team totals (especially in turnover formats), and he's reliable for production in one or two categories seemingly every night. The addition of Kevin Martin and subtraction of Carl Landry shifts the Rockets' lineup smaller, and even though Landry came off the bench for the Rockets, he was a huge part of their frontcourt rotation and provided a bulk of the Rockets' interior offense. Battier will see more time at both forward spots, and his versatility and defense could have him on the floor for 35 minutes per game from hereon out. And playing more power forward could help his blocks and rebounds and hurt his 3s a bit. He's averaging his typically well-rounded two 3s, one steal, and 1.1 blocks this month, is 0.1 steals away from reaching the one 3/steal/block combo for the season, yet inexplicably is available in more than 80 percent of leagues. Given the fact he's seemingly over the shoulder woes that bugged him earlier this month, and that he dropped 20 points, 10 rebounds, six 3s and three assists on Wednesday before the trade, Battier's value is on the rise, and he should have been owned in all formats before trades potentially increased his value.
Andray Blatche, PF/C, Washington Wizards (12.0 percent owned): His value saw a bump when Brendan Haywood was traded, but now that Antawn Jamison is also out of the picture it increases further, and Blatche should be rostered in all formats and play as many minutes as his body (or foul total) can handle. He made a case for this Wednesday night, with a career-high 33 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot. Even more encouraging is that Blatche was turning it on before the trades occurred -- he's scored in double figures in seven of his past 10 games, blocked a shot in five of his past six, and should be a major factor in the defensive categories (0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks per game in 22 minutes), easily topping one in both with starter's minutes, along with solid scoring. He's erratic and can be a tease -- remember when he averaged 21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the first three games of the season and was the most-added player in the first week? -- but is now in such a prime situation that he'd have to try to not put up better stats. He's one of the biggest value-gainers from the deadline.
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers (6.5 percent owned): It looked for a moment as if Gooden would sit out instead of playing in D.C., but he's going to suit up after yet another trade brought him to L.A. (thus removing Craig Smith from this column). He should step in to play decent minutes and do exactly what he always does, provide decent rebounds, blocks and steals (7.0, 1.1 and 0.6 in 22 minutes per game for Dallas Mavericks), certainly decent enough to be owned in more than 6.5 percent of leagues if he gets more than 20 minutes of run per game. If he was dropped in your league after the first trade, he should have value in L.A. similar to what he was doing in Dallas, so snatch him up, as he could get the bulk of power forward minutes depending on how the frontcourt rotation shakes out for the Clippers. He actually has a chance to play more for the Clips than he did in Dallas, and with Chris Kaman manning the inside, he'll have a chance to flash his 16-footer more often than he did for the Mavs. Gooden went from seeing his value disappear to having it potentially increase, so he should be back on your fantasy radar.
JaVale McGee, PF/C, Wizards (1.1 percent owned): Blatche's name was likely the first to spring to most people's mind when the Wizards traded their starting frontcourt away in two separate deals, although McGee came to mine first because of his insane blocks per minute numbers (1.2 blocks per game in fewer than nine minutes per contest) and what that means if his minutes increase. Don't view him as a cure-all from the center spot, as he'll likely contribute in only one category, although if he's able to play around 23 minutes per night as he did in his first start following the trades, chalk him up for two blocks per game for the rest of the season, or one for every two capital letters in his first name.
DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers (0.5 percent owned): Upon hearing about the Marcus Camby trade, I thought, "finally!" about Jordan's chance to try to stretch his excellent per-minute numbers out over legitimate enough playing time to make a dent in fantasy standings. If he were getting 30 minutes per night, I would count on Jordan for 12 points, 10 boards and 1.7 blocks per game right now, but Kaman will still keep him from seeing that much floor time. Still, eight boards and a block off the bench is a reasonable expectation for Jordan, and even though that won't blow you away it comes with considerable upside. Monitor how the Clippers' frontcourt situation settles, as Jordan, Smith and Gooden will duke it out for minutes, and the two who get the most will have fantasy value.
Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (0.4 percent owned): One look at what Peja Stojakovic is doing in New Orleans illustrates that deft shooting is a skill with longevity, and Korver is healthy and ready to flex his stroke at the opportune moment with Ronnie Brewer headed to Memphis. Korver notched 16 minutes in each of the past two Jazz contests before Brewer was traded, and if he can get that number to around 20 on a consistent basis given his newfound opportunity, he should provide between 1.5-2.0 3s per game. He's undoubtedly a one-category wonder, although he has a chance to be among the league leaders in that category when given significant minutes.
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, New York Knicks (0.3 percent owned): Word is that Rodriguez will start at point guard once the trade deadline dust settles, although as we've seen with Nate Robinson and Chris Duhon this season, Mike D'Antoni can be finicky with his point guards, and which ones crack his short rotation. Rodriguez, Duhon, Eddie House and Toney Douglas comprise the Knicks' backcourt for a team so clearly playing for the future that Rodriguez and Douglas should both get chances as youngsters to demonstrate how they fit into the Knicks' long-term plans. If Rodriguez starts, you can expect six assists, a 3-pointer and a steal per game, with the potential for more in such an up-tempo offense. If you need point guard help, he should be on your radar in every format, especially if he does end up getting the bulk of the point guard minutes in the Big Apple. This is the best opportunity to demonstrate whether or not he's a viable NBA point guard that Rodriguez has had in his short career, and he's worth a speculative add before he even dons a Knicks uniform.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Josh Whitling lists the players, available in many leagues, whose values increased the most after the trade deadline.