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Jared Johnson

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Trade Breakdown on Buckets

Saturday, November 10, 2018


The Jimmy Butler era in Minnesota is officially over. After ending the Timberwolves recent five-game road trip with five straight losses, Tom Thibodeau finally came to the realization that the chaos Butler had created in the locker room was too much to overcome, and Minnesota management struck a deal with Philadelphia to bring in Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a future second-rounder in exchange for their disgruntled star (and Justin Patton). A lot of people in the media (myself included) had been ribbing Thibs for playing hardball on the Butler front, speculating that his value would only decline throughout the year, but the reality is that this was an excellent haul for Minnesota. Also, shout out to Elton Brand for this incredibly bold move in his first major acquisition as a member of the 76ers’ front office staff. Now, the Wolves and 76ers still need to have this trade approved by the league, and all the players involved will need to report to their new teams for physicals before this deal can be finalized, so Butler won’t be making his 76ers’ debut until Wednesday at the earliest. Owners of RoCo, Saric and Butler should plan on being without their services on Monday. Moving onto the fantasy fallout.

 

By the way, if you have any additional questions regarding the Butler trade (or fantasy hoops in general), hit me up on Twitter.

 

Minnesota

 

The Wolves brought back solid role players, but Saric (17.5 usage rate) and RoCo (13.5 usage rate) aren’t the type of guys who will command a ton of shots. Therefore, Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and even Derrick Rose figure to be big winners here, as they’ll all see an uptick in their respective usage rates. Butler ranked second in time of possession (4.3) and touches (63.4) per game this season with the Timberwolves, so there’s obviously a huge hole to fill here. Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate much about what this team will look like without Jimmy, as we already saw that experiment run for 23 games last season while Butler was out with various injuries.

 

Teague might be the biggest winner out of the main guys in Minnesota. Sure, he got off to a horrific start this season, but with Butler no longer around, he’ll now be the primary guy orchestrating the offense. When Butler went down with a knee injury last season, Teague saw his usage rate spike to 22.6 and was able to post fourth-round value behind averages of 16.0 points, 6.9 assists, 1.3 triples, 1.4 steals and 2.1 turnovers per game on 42.8% shooting from the field and 87.5% from the stripe. He also ranked in the top-6 in the league in time of possession (7.5), although it is worth noting that Derrick Rose largely wasn’t a part of the equation during that 17-game Butler-less stretch. Still, Teague will see his touches go up no matter what, and he should be able to improve upon his FG% with more shooters on the floor around him to provide more spacing. Teague had been connecting on just 35.9% of his shot attempts through the first seven games of the season, but as a career 44.6% shooter, it will only be a matter of time until we see a regression to the mean. Thibodeau said on Friday that Teague was “real close” to returning from his knee injury, so maybe he’ll be able to get out there for Monday’s matchup with the Nets. Congrats if you bought low on Teague because he has a great shot of flirting with top-35 value the rest of the way.

 

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Karl-Anthony Towns will now be the clear-cut, No. 1 option on offense in Minnesota, so owners can anticipate across-the-board improvement in all the relevant areas. When Butler went down last season, KAT saw his usage rate rise to 26.4 and ranked No. 3 overall in fantasy hoops behind averages of 25.2 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.6 triples, 1.2 swats and 2.3 turnovers per game on 54.1% shooting from the field and 85.1% from the line. Keep in mind that Towns is still just 22 years old, so we still haven’t truly seen his peak, which is pretty insane. He’ll be posting some monster stat lines moving forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him finish the season ranked No. 1 overall.

 

Andrew Wiggins saw his usage rate rise to 24.0 with Butler off the floor last season and posted averages of 18.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 triples, 1.2 steals and 1.9 turnovers per game on 44.5% shooting, but I think he’ll be even better than that this season. Wiggins had an off year last year, but he’s gotten off to a hot start this season, hitting career-highs in steals (1.8) and triples (2.1), which has helped him work his way into the mid-round equation. The main knock on Wiggins’ game had always been his relatively empty stat lines outside of the scoring department, but if he’s able to flirt with around two triples and 1.5 steals per game, then he could easily be a top-50 player. Before Butler arrived, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game, and I think he’ll be able to improve upon that number during his age-23 season with Butler no longer a part of the picture.

 

Derrick Rose has seriously turned back the clock this season, and while I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to sustain what he’s been doing, Tom Thibodeau is clearly enamored with him and will give him every opportunity to succeed. He was tied with Butler for No. 2 on the team in terms of time of possession, although it needs to be noted that his impressive run has coincided with missed games from Tyus Jones, Teague, Butler and Wiggins. Still, even when Teague returns and sends Rose back to the second unit, the former MVP should remain a fixture in the rotation, and if he can stay healthy (which is certainly a big if), he could be a top-100 player. Also, if you were stashing Tyus Jones in the hopes of him gaining value post-Butler trade, now would be an appropriate time to let that dream die. The same goes for Josh Okogie.

 

Taj Gibson is probably the biggest loser on the Minnesota side of this Butler deal, as he’ll now have to compete for minutes with a far more talented player in Dario Saric. Tom Thibodeau does love his guys, so Gibson could stick as a starter, but I’d expect his minutes to dip to the lower-20s. Thibs didn’t bring in Saric to let him rot on the bench, and The Homie is far and away the superior player here, so I could see Gibson falling out of the standard league equation.

 

Speaking of Saric, he should see a nice boost with the Wolves, as he’ll be playing on a team that is in much more need of his offense, and he’ll be playing for a coach that isn’t afraid to give his guys major minutes. He basically wasn’t even worth owning as a member of the 76ers this season, so he really has nowhere to go but up. If he’s able to earn around 30 minutes a night in Minnesota, that’ll be enough for him to produce in fantasy hoops.

 

I don’t think Robert Covington will see much of a change in value in Minnesota – he remains elite. He’ll be starting at the three-spot for the Wolves, and should see minutes in the mid-30s, and as previously stated he’s not really a guy that requires a ton of shots to produce. RoCo’s value is primarily derived from his elite contributions in triples and steals, and that should hold steady on his new team. There will be a bit of an adjustment period, and he is prone to prolonged cold streaks, but he’s consistently been an elite second-half producer since 2015. He’ll be fine.

 

Jerryd Bayless was thrown into this deal to help make the numbers work, but he’s still out with a knee injury, and he might be waived by Minnesota. He remains a non-factor.

 

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Philadelphia

 

Jimmy Butler might not be a first-round producer on his new team, but I don’t really anticipate him falling out of the top-20. He won’t be the No. 1 option on offense anymore, but he should be able to establish himself as the No. 2 guy in Philly, and it’s worth noting that he’s never really needed to be a usage rate monster to produce early-round value. He’ll need to figure out how to best operate alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and he won’t have the ball in his hands quite as much working alongside those guys, so there will definitely be a bit of a learning curve as he’s incorporated into Philly’s system. Still, he should continue to rack up elite steals numbers, score in the low-20s, and dish out around four dimes per contest to go with solid percentages. So, slight hit for Buckets, but nothing too dramatic.

 

I am a bit concerned about how Butler’s arrival will affect Ben Simmons. He currently ranks in the top-15 in the league in touches (79.9) and time of possession (5.6), but I’d expect both those numbers to drop with another ball handler of Butler’s caliber in Philly’s backcourt. It’s certainly possible that Simmons usage will decline further with Butler in town, although I could also see his assists rising, which might offset what I expect to be a slight dip in his scoring output. That said, he should remain a triple-double threat while offering elite steals numbers, so it’s not like his value will fall off a cliff. What I’m describing here is basically the difference between him being a top-15 player vs. a top-25 player; I think he’ll remain elite no matter what. The spacing will be awkward, though.

 

Joel Embiid is the face of the 76ers’ franchise, so while he will be sacrificing some touches to Butler, I don’t think that will coincide with a dramatic drop-off in production. He might not be a top-5 guy, but as long as he’s healthy, he should be in the first-round equation.

 

Markelle Fultz figures to take the most significant hit with the arrival of Butler, as I imagine the experiment of running him as a starter alongside Simmons is over. A Simmons-Fultz-Butler backcourt is an absolute nightmare in terms of spacing, so I’d expect Fultz to see his minutes reduced to the lower-20s as he heads to the second unit. He wasn’t worth owning prior to Butler’s arrival, and I seriously doubt his value improves here, so if you were holding on in hopes of a late-season surge now would be the time to cut bait.

 

What’s bad for Fultz is good for J.J. Redick, as I fully expect Redick to return to the starting unit to help space the floor in Philly. Redick’s efficiency had dipped this season while he’s been working with the second unit – some of that has to do with the guys around him, but he also hasn’t been connecting on his open looks as he has in years past. Last season, Redick shot 41.7% from the field on open looks, but that number has dipped to 34.3% through the first 13 games of this season. I’d expect to see a regression to the mean there, and sharing the court with Simmons, Butler and Embiid should open the floor for him a bit more, so I’d anticipate improvement.

 

I got a lot of questions regarding Wilson Chandler when the Butler news broke, so here’s my take. Yes, Chandler should see an uptick in minutes with Saric and Covington no longer around (he could even start), but he was a starter in Denver last year and earning 31.7 minutes a night, but at no point was he worth owning. I wouldn’t expect improvement from Chandler in his age-31 season, so I don’t envision him being much of a factor this year; not even as a starter for the 76ers.

 

Mike Muscala (nose) also figures to see an uptick in minutes with the 76ers thin at the four-spot, but that doesn’t mean a ton. He’s 27 years old and has never really made much noise in fantasy hoops. He may occasionally come through with a few solid stat lines, but consistency is the issue with Muscala. As an example, he was averaging 26.0 minutes a night prior to breaking his nose at practice but had only contributed averages of 6.0 points, 1.0 3-pointer, 2.7 boards, 2.0 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game. I’m not really seeing it with Muscala.

 

Sigh of Relief

 

With Jimmy Buckets landing in Philly, Josh Richardson and P.J. Tucker owners can officially let out a sigh of relief, as their situations won’t be changing.



A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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