New Year, New Opportunities In Fantasy Basketball
Fantasy Basketball: Early Season Surprises
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the new year comes new opportunities for fantasy basketball owners. That doesn’t mean that the departure of 2016 itself necessarily changes all that much, but instead, we are getting closer and closer to the trade deadline, which means that teams will begin tweaking their rosters as needed to prepare for the future.

Some who are clearly out of the playoff race will shift minutes to younger players and look to trade veterans, while those in the playoff race may attempt to add talent and prepare for a title push. The resulting changes in both minutes and role should provide opportunities for a number of players to increase (or decrease) their value.

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Let’s take a peek at a few players who could see a change in their value in 2017:

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Paul Millsap: Millsap is the latest name to pop up in trade rumors, and it would make a lot of sense for the Atlanta Hawks to part ways with the versatile power forward. He is headed for free agency this summer but will be 32 years old and looking for a big-money, long-term deal. Millsap is posting averages of 17.4 points, 8.0 boards, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks while also knocking in 1.1 threes. Unfortunately, teams looking to trade for Millsap would most likely be contenders looking for a little extra boost, which means that he may find himself in a lesser role than the one he currently plays for Atlanta. His owners will still get contract-year effort out of him, but it’s hard to see a move improving his production.

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Michael Carter-Williams: The Chicago Bulls have finally realized what the rest of the NBA knew from the get-go: a starting five of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez is a spacing nightmare. Coach Fred Hoiberg has opted to bench Rondo for former NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, which won’t solve the spacing problem, but Carter-Williams does appear to be the better defender at this point, so there’s that. With Wade and Butler on the floor, he won’t get assists numbers that he did during his days in Philadelphia’s run-run-run offense, but he should still produce all-around value in the counting stats. Chicago wants to make the playoffs, and if Carter-Williams gives them better chemistry than Rondo they will roll with him. Just beware his percentages.

Gary Dineen/Milwaukee Bucks

Malcolm Brogdon: It seems like every year there is at least one rookie who makes a lot of teams regret passing on him on draft day, and it appears that it could be the Milwaukee Bucks Malcolm Brogdon this year. The Bucks are firmly in the playoff hunt, so they aren’t in “play the kids” mode, but Brogdon has been so good he has been getting minutes regardless, and with Matthew Dellavedova ailing he has now been thrust into the starting lineup. The 36th overall pick, Brogdon is averaging 11.4 points, 6.4 assists, 4.0 boards, and one three on 68 percent shooting over his last five, including a triple-double in his last outing (!). The shooting isn’t sustainable, but if the minutes stay steady Brogdon should be productive for the rest of the season.

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay: Statistically, the Sacramento Kings are actually playing better when Gay is out of the lineup, and given his expiring contract and heavy doubts that he will consider coming back next season it seems highly likely that they will move him before the deadline. That’s not a good thing for fantasy owners, though. When he isn’t hurt, Gay is putting up excellent numbers, with 18.5 points, 1.3 threes, 6.3 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks to go along with solid percentages. Like Millsap, Gay is in a contract year, so you are sure to get his best effort on a nightly basis, but if he ends up getting dealt to a team just looking for a little depth off the bench it’s going to severely hurt his fantasy value.

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Brandon Knight: Unlike Gay and Millsap, Knight will almost certainly see his fantasy value improve if and when he is dealt. His numbers have fallen off a cliff this season thanks to a massive drop in minutes now that he is playing behind Devin Booker in the Suns’ rotation. In years past Knight has put up very good fantasy numbers, including a surprising amount of assists for a guy who is getting a reputation as just a gunner, so a change of scenery would likely do him wonders, especially if he winds up somewhere that needs a guard, like Philadelphia.

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