As we head out of the NBA's All-Star break, there is roughly one-third of the regular season remaining. With the trade deadline having come and gone earlier this month, one last bit of player movement is spurred on by the buyout market. It's often the case that the vacancy or void created in buying out a key veteran is more significant for fantasy value than the eventual destination for such a player. Take Reggie Jackson, instance, who, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, is headed to the Clippers in the wake of Detroit buying out his deal during the break.
Jackson was surging statistically in a high-usage role with the Pistons, but is unlikely to consume a rewarding workload on a deeper Clippers rotation with serious goals of contention. It will prove challenging for him to surface as a helpful fantasy contributor while competing for minutes and shots with the likes Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Landry Shamet in Los Angeles.
We do, however, find real value created post-departure in Detroit, with combo guard Bruce Brown likely to net a more meaningful and consistent role in the Pistons backcourt. Derrick Rose will almost surely get a larger role going forward, as well. Once Luke Kennard is back from injury -- which could still take some time -- the young shooter from Duke could excel.
Until Kennard is back, I'm comfortable chasing shares of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who has flashed as an impact shooter at times already this season and could now play more of a creation role given the new void at point guard. Detroit appears intent to focus on youth with Brown, Kennard, Mykhailiuk, and most notably Sekou Doumbouya as key fixtures over the coming weeks. Given Jackson's departure from the rotation, fantasy managers speculating on Detroit's youth movement could find some gems for the stretch run.
Takeaways from the All-Star break
Over the break, we learned that the Pacers will no longer place Victor Oladipo on a minutes limit, making him a strong trade target for fantasy purposes. Oladipo could still rest during back-to-back scenarios, but the potential rewards of him reviving his All-Star level of play are alluring.
Atlanta's Dewayne Dedmon has emerged as a key fantasy addition at a thin center position with word that Clint Capela is weeks away from making his Hawks debut due to a lingering case of plantar fasciitis. Dedmon was a useful 3-and-D source from the pivot for Atlanta last season and posted 10 total blocks while knocking down four 3-pointers in three appearances with the Hawks before the break. Dedmon is still a free agent in in one-third of ESPN leagues.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia's Al Horford told reporters he was informed by the coaching staff he will remain with the second unit moving forward. Horford served as the Sixers' sixth man before the break in a lineup that helped defeat the visiting Clippers. I don't think this dramatically shifts Horford's statistical stock, as more minutes as a natural center in lineups without Joel Embiid could help his scoring, block, and assist rates.
Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns did not practice on Wednesday due to a lingering wrist injury that coach Ryan Saunders said will cause his superstar to miss some more games. It's possible we don't see KAT for a few weeks, meaning that both James Johnson (rostered in 13.4% of leagues) and Juan Hernangomez (26.3%) surface as meaningful fantasy options in what could be a small-ball approach from Minnesota. Adding shares of Malik Beasley wherever possible also remains prudent.
Sticking with this theme of valuable fantasy free agents to consider for the stretch run, Houston's Danuel House Jr. is a strong addition available in roughly 60% of ESPN leagues. For those in need of shooting support, House ranks 23rd in the NBA with 4.7 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game, just behind the likes of Paul George and Terrence Ross. He's made those shots at a healthy 37.8% clip.
Injuries of note
In a bit of good news for Golden State, the Warriors could get Stephen Curry back in the lineup from a hand injury as soon as early March.
Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for Thursday's matchup with the Sixers with a shoulder issue that has resurfaced multiple times this season. Caris LeVert sees his usage rate leap a team-high 3.2% in such scenarios and it's worth noting LeVert posted elite isolation scoring rates against Philadelphia in the playoffs last summer. For those seeking a streaming option, combo forward Taurean Prince should also enjoy a spike in shots and touches without Irving.
Portland coach Terry Stotts says there isn't in a clear timeline for Damian Lillard's return from a groin injury that kept him out of All-Star festivities over the weekend. Gary Trent is arguably the key pickup on Portland with Lillard ailing, given the team's need for increased offensive pop off the pine.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
The Bulls will again be without Wendell Carter Jr. tonight, as he has been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Hornets. Meanwhile, Kris Dunn's season appears to be in jeopardy, as the defensive-minded combo guard will be re-evaluated in four to six weeks due to an MCL sprain. This all leads to Coby White being a strong streaming and DFS option tonight against a Charlotte team that has allowed nearly 48 DraftKings points per game against point guards during the past month. For the Hornets, scoring microwave Malik Monk was on fire from the field before the break. While the return of Terry Rozier to the lineup will curb some of his usage, it helps that you can add Monk in roughly 50% of ESPN leagues ahead of this soft matchup with a depleted Chicago backcourt.
Top players to watch on Thursday
While some notable stars are in play tonight, let's focus our attention on some widely available players who can help your fantasy roster right away. Miami's Duncan Robinson has been historically productive from 3-point range for a second-year player and is second in the entire league behind only Davis Bertans in catch-and-shoot 3-points attempts on the year. Rookie Kendrick Nunn is also available in a good percentage of leagues ahead of tonight's matchup with a soft Atlanta defense. Atlanta's Cam Reddish has been productive in recent outings and could be a worthy addition out of the break. Both Reddish and Dedmon are key streaming free agent options to watch in this matchup with Miami on Thursday.