By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether it’s due to inconsistent minutes, poor shooting, or injury, we’re far enough along in the fantasy season to identify some slumping players who are yet to live up to their ADP. If another member of your fantasy league(s) has one of the following players and has become impatient, attempting a trade could pay off in the long run.
Milos Teodosic, Clippers
Teodosic is still dealing with a foot injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 24, though he’s expected to be back between Dec. 9 and Dec. 18. His two-game sample size is far from concrete, though he’ll be relied upon more within the Clippers’ offense given their myriad of injuries, namely Patrick Beverley (out for the season with a knee injury) and Blake Griffin (out for about two months with a knee injury). Danilo Gallinari is also sidelined with a hip injury but is expected to return around the same time as Teodosic.
Huge question marks surround Teodosic, but he’s more of a pure point guard than either Austin Rivers or Lou Williams and it’s hard to imagine he won’t be thrown into the rotation for his passing and long-range shooting. In his first game prior to getting injured, it took him just 21 minutes to rack up six assists and two made three-pointers. He’s owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues, as well, so he can probably be picked up off the waiver wire. Even if he sits at the end of your team’s bench, his potential assist and three-point numbers could make him worth the investment long-term.
Marcus Smart, Celtics
Smart is shooting comically poorly, hitting just 32.0 percent of his shots from the field and 29.6 percent from three. He’s never been praised for his shooting ability, as he sits at a career mark of 35.3 percent from the field. But, even with that being the case, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t improve to around that number. What’s encouraging is that Smart has been essentially taking the same amount of shots per game as he did last season, so, assuming he does progress to the mean, his points per game should receive a bump as the season goes on.
Smart is also underperforming, by his standards, in steals per game, sitting at just 1.2, compared to his career mark of 1.5. If he can manage to improve his shooting and defense while staying at 4.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, there’s little doubt he’s worth owning in many formats. If you’re punting field-goal percentage, you may be able to organize a trade for Smart, assuming the other member of your league is fed up with his shooting numbers.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings
As with most members of the Kings’ roster, trying to determine what Cauley-Stein’s role would be at the beginning of the season was difficult. Early returns weren’t promising, as he saw just 23.9 minutes per game through the first 14 games of the season, averaging 8.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and less than a steal and a block. However, over the past eight contest (excluding the most recent game, when he injured his back and played nine minutes), he’s been given 27.8 minutes per game, which he’s translated to averages of 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals.
It’s tough to have full confidence in his new role being set in stone, but Cauley-Stein is seemingly the Kings’ best long-term option at center, making it easy for me to believe coach Dave Joerger and the organization will want him on the floor often. You may be able to pry Cauley-Stein away from someone who has grown impatient with his inconsistent workload and, at times, inconsistent production.
Dario Saric, 76ers
Saric’s numbers across the board are similar to last season’s, though he struggled out of the gate while coach Brett Brown navigated how to use him next to Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. That resulted in Saric seeing just 23.3 minutes per game across the 76ers’ first nine contests, in which he averaged just 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Since then, he’s improved dramatically, averaging 13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, as well as 1.6 made threes. More importantly, those numbers seem sustainable, as he’s making 44.3 percent of his shots from the field and 32.4 from beyond the arc — both of which have room to improve as the season goes on.
At this point, it seems safe to say Saric’s role has been established and that the days of him failing to crack 30 minutes on a regular basis may be over. It might be hard to pray Saric away from a fantasy owner who’s been keeping close tabs on the 76ers’ rotation, but it will probably only get more difficult to do so from this point on.
Markieff Morris, Wizards
Morris is coming off of sports hernia surgery in the summer, which has limited him to just 23.3 minutes per game in his 17 appearances this season. Still, he’s taking 9.2 field-goal attempts per game, only 2.6 fewer than last season, despite the rather drastic dip in playing time. If that trend continues — and we assume he works his way back to playing around 30 minutes per night — he’ll be shooting more than he did last season, giving him a good chance to improve his offensive numbers. Aside from his shooting, his per 36 numbers are nearly identical to last season’s across the board, which is an encouraging sign. While his workload continues to be in flux, it may be worthwhile to pursue a trade for Morris under the assumption that he’ll continue to trend upward.