Fantasy Basketball Trade Analyzer: Does the Rozier deal mean it’s time to sell high on Jimmy Butler?

Special to Yahoo Sports

Miami acquiring Terry Rozier marks a serious shakeup for the Heat backcourt. In this article, I’ll break down how I think it affects the usage of relevant players while also touching on why now is a good time to buy Immanuel Quickley.

NBA trade season is upon us, and things could get a lot more chaotic than this.

Butler has suited up for four consecutive contests since overcoming a multi-week toe injury, averaging 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 62.8% from the field on 10.8 shots per game. He has attempted 33 free throws over that span, aligning with his season-long mark of 8.1 free-throw attempts per game. That is an elite frequency and shows no signs of falling off in Butler’s age-34 campaign.

That being said, Butler’s age is still a relevant factor. Putting myself in Miami’s shoes, acquiring the durable Rozier to initiate offense and limit wear-and-tear on Butler down the stretch is logical. It’s also possible that Tyler Herro gets squeezed out of usage instead, though. Miami’s current position entails overcoming a tie with the Pacers for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference — a pivotal battle in order to dodge the Play-In Tournament. It could be all hands on deck for Miami, meaning passive workloads for Butler might not be an option.

By no means is this a panic sell on Butler, but I think he’s in a better sell spot than Rozier and Herro due to his image. Rozier is a stellar regular-season player amid an excellent season and will command sizable usage, but his fantasy value still plummets by forming a three-headed monster with Butler and Herro. Leaving behind a defensively porous environment and a huge role in Charlotte makes it easy to perceive Rozier as a downgraded asset from a scoring standpoint. Interestingly, Rozier could be the main facilitator in Miami, which is impactful because Butler is easily the least inclined to be a spot-up shooter among the aforementioned three-headed monster.

In reality, I foresee this trade leading to a slight dip in fantasy production for all three players, but each is talented in their own right. It’s possible that Miami isn’t done making deals and that Herro could still be on the move, as he’s relatively duplicative with Rozier. However, more scoring punch is exactly what Miami needed, so the combination of Rozier, Butler and Herro, with contributions from Bam Adebayo and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (groin) down the stretch, plus Caleb Martin, forms a much-improved offensive ceiling for Miami.

With that in mind, Miami finding ways to keep Butler fresh for the playoffs is an element of his fantasy portfolio that scares me. I’m seeing if I can package him for a superstar in fantasy leagues.

Gobert has posted steady numbers as a scorer this season, starting with 12.2 points per game in 15 November contests, then rising to 13.5 points across 13 games in December and currently sitting at 13.9 points through 11 January contests. His usage has remained identical at 7.7 shots per game in each month, but the difference is the 6.1 free-throw attempts per game he’s earned thus far in January. The 31-year-old’s current rebounding rampage is another factor in a strong portfolio, as he’s averaging 15.0 rebounds per game alongside 15.8 points across his last six contests.

Gobert is a high-floor fantasy asset, especially since he has climbed to 2.1 blocks per game after a career-low 1.4 blocks per game last year with Minnesota.

Similar to Butler, selling Gobert should be done to acquire a superstar. Packaging him with another asset while he’s exceeding his standard production levels could net a top-20 contributor. Gobert is clearly amid a strong stretch, but his season-long 66.9% shooting at the rim is his lowest mark since the 2015-16 campaign. He is the same offensive player that he’s always been in terms of touch around the basket and possessions per game, making him extremely likely to regress slightly in weeks to come.

Immanuel Quickley has been solid since debuting with Toronto, averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists on 41.1/44.4/85.0% shooting in 31.8 minutes across 12 contests. The 24-year-old has yet to truly boom, however, posting four games with 20-plus points and five games with at least eight assists, but just one game meets both criteria since joining the Raptors.

Quickley possesses a strong fantasy floor because he’s a lethal shooter when orchestrating the pick-and-roll, evident through the 54.5% three-point shooting on 33 attempts when he was initiating New York’s offense across 137 pick-and-roll possessions this season. Early off-the-dribble results in Toronto simply haven’t translated yet, as he’s shooting just 27.7% on 47 dribble jumpers thus far. Yet, he’s still posting the aforementioned averages!

Quickley has compiled an elite 73:17 assist-to-turnover ratio, and it’s natural that he will have some growing pains while acclimating to a new city as well as a new degree of defensive attention. Regardless of his ultimate ceiling, he is currently a foundational building block for the Raptors, and he will be given usage accordingly. Quickley is only attempting 11.9 shots per game through his brief Raptors tenure, but his volume could climb to 15 shots per game as Scottie Barnes’ co-star. Across his past 1.5 seasons with the Knicks, Quickley averaged 25.0 points, 6.1 assists and 5.8 rebounds while attempting 19.2 shots per game in 14 contests when Jalen Brunson was inactive. This is star appeal.

Russell has been emotional on the bench and in press conferences recently, seemingly speaking nostalgically about his time with the Lakers and his performance of late. It’s possible that the franchise has braced him for an inevitable trade that will ship him elsewhere. Reportedly, Atlanta does not want to take on his contract, which is a major hold-up in Dejounte Murray being acquired by the Lakers.

Russell being sent to Atlanta or a willing third party, such as Brooklyn, would be a solid fantasy environment. The upside of a return to Brooklyn is especially intriguing, and a potential reunion is a plausible fit — The Nets are equipped with other trade chips and, therefore, flexibility to absorb Russell’s contract. There is also an interest in receiving draft capital for doing so. Additionally, Russell has displayed comfort and high-level performance with Brooklyn in the past.

Russell is currently attempting to compel the Lakers to keep him, averaging 25.8 points and 6.3 assists on 17.8 shots in 34.8 minutes per game across his last six appearances. He has certainly been volatile for Los Angeles, posting nine games with 10 or fewer points, but his 41.2% shooting on 5.7 threes per game is valuable. All in all, his offensive value has fueled a plus-6.3 net rating per 100 possessions this season.

At the end of the day, Russell is a terrible defender who simply can’t be trusted in the playoffs. His season-long advanced metrics are buoyed by operating with the Lakers’ starters/best defenders around him. That said, I don’t mean to undersell Russell. He has provided value through a career-best 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, racking up an impressive 284:90 AST:TO cumulative production across 40 appearances. Case in point: Russell has value as a multi-dimensional offensive weapon anywhere he goes, but that destination will likely not be Los Angeles for much longer. There is risk buying on Russell, but the majority of prospective destinations will likely be conducive to his usage.

Trade Away: Josh Hart, New York Knicks

Hart has compiled 20 points and 23 rebounds in 56 minutes across his last two appearances. Prior to these two contests, however, Hart had averaged 6.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 27.3 minutes per game across eight contests since the Knicks acquired OG Anunoby.

Hart is connecting on just 32.8% of 2.8 threes per game this season, which denotes a regression to his career levels of shooting prior to a breakout in 2022 and symbolizes the low volume he fires at, which might not be as conducive to the Knicks offense compared to the stellar shooting of Donte DiVincenzo and the high-quality, two-way play enabled by Anunoby.

Hart’s rebounding prowess is rare, but DiVincenzo is a better and more willing shooter, while Anunoby profiles as a more physical and versatile defender, so these strengths overlap significantly with Hart’s utility in New York. Settling in as a 20-25 minutes-per-night rotation player seems inevitable.

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