Fantasy Basketball Week 4: Buy low & sell high candidates include CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Seth Curry

Fantasy Basketball Week 4: Buy low & sell high candidates include CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Seth Curry

If managers in your Fantasy league are willing to trade, there’s an opportunity for you to position yourself for success aside from savvy waiver wire moves. You can sell high on players with unsustainable numbers, and you can buy low on players who are essentially on 10-game rough patches.

Sell High

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McCollum’s shot profile has changed this season. He’s launching more 3s than ever before, with a career-high 51 percent of his looks coming from deep — a 15 percent increase over last season. That’s come at the cost of shots at the rim, where he’s down nine percent compared to last season.

Being hot from 3 (44.5 percent) on 11.0 attempts per game is fueling McCollum’s would-be-career-high 28.1 points. Once that settles to something more realistic — he’s a 38.4 percent 3-point shooter over the past three seasons — his Fantasy value will take a significant dip.

Steals are another point of interest for McCollum. He’s swiping 1.6 steals per game this season after averaging only half that over the prior three seasons. Along with his 3-point shooting, the defense is due for some regression.

Brown is seeing a career-high 27.7 percent usage rate, which checks out with Gordon Hayward moving to Charlotte and Kemba Walker (knee) yet to make his season debut.

What should be a concern is Brown’s over-reliance on mid-rangers, where he’s been scorching hot. Brown takes 18 percent of his shots from the long mid-range, where he’s shooting 62 percent. Last season, he shot 43 percent from that area. Improvement is certainly possible, but 62 percent is unrealistic for anyone. Khris Middleton was last season’s best volume long-mid-range shooter, hitting 56 percent of his 233 shots from there.

Also, once Walker is back, Brown’s offensive load will likely be reduced. If his volume and effectiveness decrease all at once, his Fantasy value could drop quickly, especially if it’s accompanied by a drop in assists with Walker handling the ball more.

The case for Curry to be a sell high is maybe the clearest in the league. He’s shooting 59.5 percent from 3 on 5.3 attempts per game. We have to recognize that Curry is one of the best shooters in the NBA (44.9 percent career 3-point percentage), but we also have to realize that nobody is a 60 percent 3-point shooter.

Curry is also shooting 61.1 percent on two-pointers, which would be a career high by a margin of 6.7 percent — another improvement that seems too good to be true. Altogether, that leads to a bloated 17.0 points per game. Don’t be surprised if he trends closer to 13 or 14 points per game the rest of the season.

Buy Low

There’s a lot to unpack with Nurkic. From a zoomed-out perspective, the Trail Blazers have had a strange season. Portland, in 10 games, already has three blowout wins and three blowout losses. That’s artificially deflated Nurkic’s workload. In those contests, he’s seeing only 22.2 minutes per game. In contests decided by fewer than 15 points, Nurkic is seeing 28.0 minutes (one overtime game).

Aside from scoring, Nurkic’s stats per 36 minutes are close to what we’ve seen from him across the past three seasons — his 1.1 blocks per 36 being the only obvious blemish (the team is allowing fewer shots at the rim and from the short mid-range this season so there may be fewer block opportunities overall).

The main reason why Nurkic isn’t putting points on the board is a lack of free-throw attempts, and bad shooting when he does get there. He’s getting to the charity stripe just 2.8 times per 36 minutes — a huge decrease from his rate of 5.6 attempts per 36 across the past three seasons. He’s also been a 72.1 percent shooter from the line over the past three campaigns, and he’s converted just half of his attempts this season. Ultimately, Nurkic’s shots and conversion rate near the rim are consistent with recent seasons, so he could just be a victim of bad luck in terms of whistles so far. Fantasy managers should bank on both the Trail Blazers and Nurkic finding their strides, as there’s too much talent to be struggling like this for both parties.

It might be difficult to trade for Capela since he’s playing well enough, averaging 11.0 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.6 combined steals-plus-blocks across 28.6 minutes during the past six games. But, he has room to play much better, and that value is worth chasing.

Capela is shooting just 55 percent at the rim, which is a significant drop from his mark of 68 percent last season and 71 percent two seasons ago. He’s also blocking just 1.4 shots per 36 minutes compared to his career average of 2.0 swats per 36, so his defensive impact could increase in addition to his points per game. Finally, while he’s not a great free-throw shooter, his 48.0 percent mark should increase. Over the prior four seasons, he was a 57.4 percent free-throw shooter.

Graham, who is shooting just 29.1 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from 3, is pulling a reverse Seth Curry and missing an unsustainable amount of shots. It’s important to keep in mind that Graham is a very bad shooter from inside the arc — that much is real. But he’s not this bad.

Graham is shooting 16 percent worse at the rim and 20 percent worse on floaters compared to last season, plus 7.5 percent worse from 3. He’s still passing well and getting 30-plus minutes per night, so assuming he can bring his shooting back up to last season’s marks, he’ll be a quality Fantasy player to roster. Even with LaMelo Ball looking to lock up Rookie of the Year, the Hornets will likely continue to run a three-guard rotation for the remainder of the season, so I’m not fretting about his overall role.

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