Fantasy Basketball Trade Analyzer: Anfernee Simons leads players to deal for


Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Special to Yahoo Sports

Some notable, or notorious, performances of late have set the stage for fascinating trade junctures. The players below have been volatile, and some have better days ahead, but others might not.

Simons posted 4-for-21 shooting alongside zero assists Sunday, joining Zach LaVine (foot) as the only guards in the league this season to post a game with more than 20 shots and zero dimes. Simons’ lack of facilitation can partially be attributed to his teammates’ abysmal shotmaking, as Portland posted its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Simons is at an awesome buy-low juncture.

Simons is an extremely talented pull-up shooter with underrated savvy navigating pick-and-roll and reading defenses. DeAndre Ayton forms a dynamic duo for Simons to work with, and he is spending 40.5% of his possessions as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, which ranks in the 92nd percentile among all players. Simons can overcome an otherwise-dreary offense on his own accord.

The Portland environment is a genuine risk to acquiring Simons, and that is something that should be mentioned in trade talks. There is always a shutdown risk, although Scoot Henderson (adductor) and Malcolm Brogdon (elbow) being sidelined might bite that bullet for Simons. At the moment, Portland needs him on a nightly basis for the offense to be competent.

Simons is averaging a career-high 5.4 assists and a career-best 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. His 27.1% assist rate shows that he has improved at creating looks for others in his age-24 campaign, as that figure vastly surpasses his previous high mark of 22.0% from 2021-22.

Murray is an improved defender, vital component of the Kings’ rotation, and rising young star in the league, although he is more important in real life than in the fantasy realm.

Murray boomed for 28 points while canning six 3s in Monday’s loss to Miami, and he has been remarkably boom-or-bust of late. Prior to Monday’s outing, the second-year forward failed to exceed six points on six occasions across his last 12 games.

He has stabilized of late, averaging 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds on 11.7 shots per game across his last three contests, but if a player of that statistical caliber could be acquired in exchange for Murray, I believe that their rest-of-season output will exceed his.

This isn’t a panic sell on Murray, as averaging 35.2 minutes across his last six games while also chipping in 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game are strong peripheral statistics. Simply put, there are nights where Murray does not impact the game. He can be invisible against tough matchups or unincorporated if Sabonis is enabling De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter instead. Additionally, Murray has fared significantly worse on the road this season, averaging just 12.1 points on 42.4% shooting, including a 29.2% clip from deep, in 29 road contests.

Murray’s self-creation continues to underwhelm as well. He was efficient while attempting 78 dribble jumpers last season, although that ranked in the 11th percentile for frequency and paled in comparison to the staggering 504 catch-and-shoot attempts he fired as a rookie. Fast forward to this season; Murray is shooting 38.5% off 135 dribble jumpers, which is a nice uptick but still grades as slightly below average. Defenses are aware of his potent shooting. Murray is connecting on just 30.1% of 133 guarded triples, with his 41.9% clip on 172 on guarded three-point attempts buoying his efficiency. He can be schemed out of games.

In reality, his production profiles as an elite streaming candidate for fantasy purposes. His value on the trade market should be much more than that.

Mathurin is at an awesome sell-high juncture. He boomed for 34 points in Monday’s loss to Toronto, which was a strong follow-up effort to his 14-point, 11-rebound double-double in Sunday’s win over Dallas. He also notched five assists in both contests and has posted three strong games following the All-Star break.

However, his two latest contests have come while Aaron Nesmith is sidelined due to an ankle sprain, and his eventual return will cut into Mathurin’s role and usage. Mathurin has the athletic tools and versatile skill set to continue evolving and be a strong fantasy asset down the stretch — and this is especially true in the Pacers’ potent offense — but I remain skeptical.

Across 10 games prior to the All-Star break, Mathurin averaged 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 39.4/38.5/79.5 shooting. That stretch was filled with volatility, including a 31-point boom, a 24-point boom, but also two games with just four points. Similar to Murray, there are simply nights where Mathurin is not in the flow of the offense.

Johnson was benched following four minutes of action in Sunday’s loss to Utah after fouling Lauri Markkanen on a 3-point attempt, which marked the first true reprimanding of the 24-year-old despite his incrementally declining role. Nonetheless, San Antonio is devoid of other talent and Johnson’s value is at an all-time low. He is in a solid buy-low position.

Johnson is averaging just 23.8 minutes per game across nine February contests, which marks his third consecutive month of a declining minute share. The 24-year-old has not logged a start since Dec. 21 against Chicago, but that isn’t overly surprising in the context of San Antonio initially moving him to the bench to spark the second unit. The Spurs’ bench rotation was previously headlined by Cedi Osman, Malaki Branham and Julian Champagnie — not the most inspiring group to bring offensive punch.

That being said, it’s troubling that Johnson isn’t able to orchestrate his own offense more frequently or thrive against the opponent’s second units. He has averaged just 14.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 43.2% shooting from the field, including 31.1% shooting from deep, across 28 contests since joining the bench unit. Johnson’s three-point shooting experienced a spike to 39.8% in the 2021-22 season, but he has failed to exceed a 33.% clip across the past two campaigns.

Addressing the negatives of Johnson’s fantasy portfolio is important because, despite his buy-low status, expectations should be tempered. It’s unclear if he will ever re-ascend to the player who delivered 17.0 points on 46.6/39.8/75.6 shooting two seasons ago. However, Johnson averaged 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 46.4% shooting across his first 30 games of the season. There is a lot of appeal for him to improve.

Johnson’s two ensuing years of guaranteed salary means that San Antonio is incentivized to get him back on track. Johnson is a spark plug on a young team that has done a lot of experimentation this season. The Spurs getting back to their roots and letting Johnson out of the doghouse down the stretch seems like an obvious decision.



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