We're now nine weeks into the fantasy basketball season and, I know it doesn't feel like it, but the NBA is third of the way through as well. I, like many, reached for players in draft season whom I thought would evolve their game this season. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as intended. But the beauty of fantasy basketball is that it's not too late to make adjustments.
Below I've outlined a few players who are performing far below expectations and explain whether I would trade for them, send them packing or hold them for the rest of the season.
TRADE FOR: Jalen Green - SG, Houston Rockets
Current per-game rank: 177
One of the cornerstone pieces of the Houston Rockets franchise is, undoubtedly, Jalen Green. I expected Green to make a significant impact in his second NBA season, and while he's definitely improved statistically, it has yet to translate into fantasy success. I had him ranked 64th in my preseason rankings and his consensus ADP was also 64.
I now have Green 80, ranking him pretty aggressively, considering he's 177th coming into Wednesday.
In 27 games this season, Green is averaging 21.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.3 threes, 0.9 stocks and 3.1 turnovers per game with 42/32/80 shooting splits. The points, rebounds and assists are on pace for new career highs in his second NBA season, but the reason he's ranked so low in fantasy is due to his inefficient FG percentage, lack of stocks and high turnover rate.
However, Jalen Green is not as bad for fantasy as it seems. In fact, with the right roster construction, Green can be more of an asset than a liability. The only condition I'd be looking to trade for Green will be if you have big men who shoot efficiently at a high volume (like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Zion Williamson) to absorb his poor field goal percentage. Also, punting turnovers is common in fantasy basketball, considering some of the best fantasy players are among the league leaders in turnovers per game.
Green ranks 74th in per-game value if you punt field-goal percentage and turnovers, according to Basketball Monster.
He's second on the team in potential assists (7.1) this season, and as the season wears on, we'll see Green take strides to improve his playmaking ability. I'm confident he'll be better than his current ranking shows and will finish the season in the top 80.
TRADE AWAY: Christian Wood - PF/C, Dallas Mavericks
Current per-game rank: 161
The Mavs' offseason trade with the Rockets to land Christian Wood is not going according to plan for fantasy managers. We knew from the beginning that Mavs HC Jason Kidd would not move Wood into the starting lineup, but I didn't think it was a death blow to his fantasy value. I'm a glass-half-full guy, so instead, this presented a case for him to contend for the Sixth Man of the Year award. And it's not like the market cooled on him after this revelation — his preseason ADP was 67.7.
But his fantasy value is taking a dive since joining the Mavs; there's no way around it. Christian Wood was a player many were targeting because of his ability to score, rebound and accumulate stocks. And while he's still productive to some degree (16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 threes and 0.9 stocks with 54/40/68 shooting splits), his rebounding, scoring and stock rate are his lowest in three seasons.
And it doesn't help that he's averaging a career-high in turnovers per game, either. The only glimmer of hope is if he gets more minutes and touches. But between Luka Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie and the human torch, Tim Hardaway Jr, Wood is so far back in the pecking order I don't see where his value will grow unless he hits the glass more and starts blocking shots again.
If he remains status quo, I'd be looking to deal him after a game he goes off in.
HOLD: Keldon Johnson - SF/PF, San Antonio Spurs
Current per-game rank: 173
The San Antonio Spurs are tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the Western Conference coming into Wednesday. And it's not all that surprising, considering the Spurs have probably the worst roster on paper in the NBA.
Their stars are Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell.
I, too, believed that Johnson would be a fantasy beast this year because he'd command a high usage and has improved year-over-year since entering the league in 2019-2020. I had Johnson ranked 61st coming into the season, and his consensus ADP was 68.1. I was slightly higher on him than others, but his current performance is underwhelming from a fantasy perspective.
Johnson is averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.7 threes, 0.9 stocks and 2.4 turnovers per game with 40/34/74 shooting splits this season.
His numbers reflect a similar issue as Jalen Green's. Johnson is the Spurs' franchise player (for now), but he's highly inefficient from the field and doesn't accumulate enough assists to combat his high-turnover rate. So fantasy managers are left with a player who will help you in just three categories — points, threes and rebounds.
However, unlike Green, Johnson has some sample size for being an efficient shooter. He's going through a shooting slump, but I'm confident he'll improve his efficiency from the field. Johnson has shot no less than 51% on 2-point field goals or 46% from the field in his first three seasons in the NBA.
This is a prime buy-low window if you don't already have Johnson.
He finished 107th in per-game value last year, and the main difference in his numbers is the lack of efficiency. If his efficiency regresses to the mean, he'll finish well within the top 80 by the season's end.