By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The NBA trade deadline is just over a week away. Some trades could lead to added opportunities for players, making them hot waiver wire options in fantasy basketball. As fantasy managers try to create space on their roster, consider dropping the following players.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat (52% rostered)
Injuries have been an issue for the Heat for the majority of this season. Tyler Herro has played only 28 games, Jimmy Butler has played 32 and Caleb Martin has appeared in 30. With the Heat shorthanded so often, Jaquez quickly assumed a prominent role. Over 30 minutes per game, he has averaged 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 three-pointers, while shooting 50.5% from the field.
The Heat have already made what should be their big move before the trade deadline, acquiring Terry Rozier from the Heat. The only player whom they lost in the deal was Kyle Lowry, who already had a diminishing role within their offense. Rozier is a much more potent scorer, which could take some shot attempts away from Jaquez. The Heat are also mostly healthy right now, which has contributed to Jaquez logging 24 and 25 minutes, respectively, over their last two games. In those two games, he scored a total of eight points on nine shot attempts. With his role diminishing, he’s not a must-roster player anymore.
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs (52% rostered)
After a strong conclusion to last season, Collins began this season as the starting center for the Spurs. He performed well again, averaging 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 3-pointers over his first 20 games. However, the Spurs then decided to make a change, moving him to the bench and shifting Victor Wembanyama over to the five.
Collins logged 29 minutes per game as a starter, but has averaged only 19 minutes over the 12 games that he has come off the bench. In that reserve role, he has averaged 8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He’ll likely still receive the occasional start when Wembanyama is given the night off, but with those difficult to predict, that doesn’t help his case in fantasy. His current role doesn’t make him worth rostering in 12-team leagues.
Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers (46% rostered)
It has been an injury-plagued season for the Cavaliers. Still, they have one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. Part of that can be attributed to LeVert, who has stepped up with them being so shorthanded. Since Darius Garland (jaw) went down, LeVert has averaged 15.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.1 3-pointers per game. Garland’s absence also coincided with a knee injury for Evan Mobley that sent him to the sidelines.
The Cavaliers are finally getting back to full strength, which is not good news for LeVert. Mobley made his return Monday against the Clippers and Garland is expected to retake the floor Wednesday. It should take both players some time to work back up to full strength, but once they get to that point, the Cavaliers won’t need to rely on LeVert for as much scoring. The occasional scoring outburst could still happen for LeVert based on his skill set, but asking him to provide consistent production that fantasy managers can rely on might be difficult.
Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves (47% rostered)
It’s a bit surprising that McDaniels continues to be rostered in this many leagues. It’s probably because he is locked into a starting role and plenty of minutes for the Timberwolves. He is also known as one of the better defenders in the league. However, that doesn’t mean that his game translates well to fantasy.
McDaniels doesn’t get many opportunities to shoot, given his 15.6% usage rate. He’s averaging only 10.9 points per game, despite shooting 51.7% from the field. Despite how good he is defensively, he has provided just 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. That’s in addition to paltry averages of 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. None of that equates to a player who can make a significant impact in 10 or 12-team leagues.
Obi Toppin, Indiana Pacers (40% rostered)
Toppin is averaging career highs in points (11.2) and rebounds (4.0) per game. He has logged 23 minutes per game with the Pacers, which is also the highest mark of his career. He began the season as a member of their starting lineup but was eventually moved to the second unit. Now that Pascal Siakam is in town, Toppin should be locked into a bench role moving forward.
Over the last nine games, Toppin has logged fewer than 20 minutes five times. That has left him with disappointing averages of 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds during that stretch. In addition to Siakam, the Pacers have quality big men in Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson and Jarace Walker on the bench. With so much talent in the fold, Toppin should continue to churn out disappointing stat lines more often than not.