We are one month into the season, and the waiver wire is busier than ever. Owners teams should be starting to take shape, as should where you fit in your league. No doubt there will have been trades, some good and some bad, but now that four weeks have elapsed, we can start looking at some ‘buy low, sell high’, candidates.
For those of you who aren’t sure what this means, it’s basically the players who are either under-performing or over-performing, to the point that you can make a trade offer that would otherwise seem somewhat disrespectful. So for example, a top-20 guy has been average to start the season, finding himself outside the top 80. You could offer the owner a top-60 player, but a player that has no real upside or potential for improvement.
To get things started, we will take a look at the ‘buy low’ players. I will also include their current rank, as well as their projected rank.
Eric Beldsoe (rank: 243 proj: 82)
Bledsoe is in the same position as Payton, only recently returning to action. The specifics of his return, however, are somewhat different. He has joined the Milwaukee Bucks after being traded from the Phoenix Suns, and he is learning how to play with his new teammates. Not only does this take some time, but he also has to learn to play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is like no other player Bledsoe has shared the floor with. Since his return, he has been solid without being spectacular. There has also been talk of a sore knee, something that has plagued him throughout his career. His owners might be willing to offload him and his associated risk for a more consistent player with less upside.
Elfrid Payton (rank: 176 proj: 50)
This is an interesting one for owners, both current and prospective. Payton has only recently returned from a hamstring injury that saw him miss almost three weeks. He was good in his return game, but has had two ordinary games as well as a rest game. Savvy owners will be aware that it is going to take him some time to get back into game shape, and that he easily has the potential to climb the rankings. If you can find an owner who is known to be a little impatient, then you might be able to swoop in before Payton rounds into form. Alternatively, he may even be sitting on some wavier wires, and if this is the case, run out and get him.
Danilo Gallinari (rank: 104 proj: 73)
Gallinari is also playing with a new team, but has had some time to become accustomed to his surroundings. He has also been solid in his first lot of games, but his numbers are still way down from where they were last season. He has also missed the last four games with a glute injury, and it sounds as though he will miss at least a few more games. If you are sitting nicely in your league and are prepared to take a bit of a chance, you could basically throw anyone at his owners and they will probably bite. Like Payton, he could also be sitting on some waivers, and is worth a look if you have some room on your team.
Mike Conley (rank: 96 proj: 32)
Conley is a perfect example of a ‘buy low’ opportunity. As an owner of Conley in more than one league, he has easily been one of my most frustrating players. The scoring hasn’t been too bad, but his assist and steal numbers are both down, his efficiency has been terrible, and there is constant talk of an Achilles injury. I am sure there are many owners, just like me, who are annoyed to the point that they will entertain some mediocre offers. There might be some risk of him missing some time, if this injury worsens and they decide to play it safe, but there is so much upside. Throw someone at them and see what happens. The worst they can say is no.
Joel Embiid (rank: 52 proj: 22)
Embiid is an interesting case, as always. He could be labeled a ‘buy low’ player, or alternatively, a ‘sell high’ player. It is all about risk v reward for Embiid, and this will be the case for the entire season. If you are after him, make an offer and hope that the owner is getting nervous about him still being rested from time to time, and just decides to cut ties. The window is closing though, as he was able to play 36 minutes in his last game, and dominate against a noted defender in DeAndre Jordan. One thing is for sure though; he is not going to end the season ranked 52. He will either be top 15 or bust.
Now we can look at some ‘sell high’ players, also including their ranks and projections.
Evan Fournier (rank: 15 proj: 62)
Just like Conley, Fournier is the epitome of what we are talking about. His early season form has been amazing, something which contradicted a lot of the pre-season talk. Aaron Gordon was a hot topic of conversation in a lot of projections, but it has been Fournier who has helped the Magic to a surprisingly strong start. He is always going to have the opportunity to score, but it has been his efficiency that has catapulted him into the top 20. This is something that will likely regress as he moved through the season, so now is the chance to offer him to someone in need of scoring and three-pointers with excellent percentages.
Steven Adams (rank: 27 proj: 70)
Adams has the opportunity to break-out this season, after the departure of Enes Kanter. He basically has no competition for minutes, and he has better players surrounding him now. He is a tough one to call a definite ‘sell high’; as there is a chance he is able to maintain his high level of output. However, if you look back on last season, he was in a similar situation. Eventually his free-throw percentage fell away, and he regressed in some of his other stats. If you have some concern that this might repeat itself, then find an owner who is in need of a big man and chase down a more certain top 30 player.
Tyreke Evans (rank: 31 proj: 76)
The Grizzlies are off to their customary strong start to the season. With Conley floundering, it has been Evans who has picked up a lot of the slack. He is playing at the level that we saw prior to his injuries, a level that comes with some concern for owners given this injury history. He is going to be given every opportunity to continue his solid form, that is, as long as his health holds up. If you are getting a bit antsy about this, then go ahead and offer him to someone who is struggling. There is a chance he is able to maintain a top 50 ranking, but the worry is always there with a player like Evans.
Bobby Portis (rank: 48 proj: 175)
Portis punched his own teammate in the face. We are aware of this. Stupidity aside, he has returned to the line-up and looked good off the bench. There are a lot of caveats to his performances though, not least the imminent return of the helpless victim, Nikola Mirotic. Upon his return, there will be three players duelling for the minutes. Lauri Markkanen has been very impressive during his time as the starter, and I don’t see him giving this up anytime soon. If you can find an owner who is still clinging to the #freebobbyportis movement, then offer away.
Marco Belinelli (rank: 74 proj: 133)
Belinelli has been a perfect example of being the right guy, in the right place, at the right time. He has been really nice this season, finding his shot and racking up some steals. The Hawks are terrible, and given their impending focus on rebuilding, there will be less minutes for Belinelli. Factor in also that there have been a lot of injuries, and injuries to players that have a direct flow-on effect to Belinelli. If you do own him, find someone who is in desperate need of some perimeter scoring, and try to get a nice solid player, with guaranteed minutes, in return.