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Players you should target before the fantasy basketball trade deadline

We take a look at the trio of players who might be undervalued heading into the fantasy trade deadline.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram reacts after a loss against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Smoothie King Center. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I hope you all were taking notes during the NBA Trade Deadline, because the fantasy basketball equivalent is just over a week away. That’s right, we’ve reached the point in the season where you’ll soon no longer be able to swindle your friends out of their best players. That time of the year where the waiver wire is the only transaction resource you’ll have at your disposal. That date on the calendar that stops you from sending you co-worker 1,000 proposals per hour. ESPN’s deadline is Friday, February 28th, while Yahoo! is before midnight on Wednesday, February 26th.

So, which players should you be looking to move or acquire while you still have the chance? Let’s dive into it.

Three Players to Buy at the Trade Deadline

Andre Drummond, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

The thing you always have to remember when it comes to trades in fantasy sports is that the window to buy is usually pretty narrow. Good players aren’t usually in slumps for very long and, in basketball specifically, injuries can change circumstances and rotations in the blink of an eye. That caveat brings us to Drummond, who has had quite the rocky entry into his new home in Cleveland. After logging at least 30 minutes in nine of his final 10 starts with Detroit, the former All-Star has averaged just 25.5 minutes in his first two contests with the Cavaliers. This has left Drummond’s raw production somewhat underwhelming, despite the fact that his per 36 numbers within this small sample equate out to 23.3 points and 20.5 rebounds. Still, between the presence of Tristan Thompson and another new coach in J.B. Bickerstaff, the Drummond owner in your league might be getting antsy. It’s at least worth a look.

Brandon Ingram, SF/PF, New Orleans Pelicans

Who knew I’d be getting the opportunity to once again write about the undervaluing of Ingram? You’d think being named to an All-Star team would be enough, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I mean, I get it. All season long the state of mind from Ingram owners has been the same: let’s keep riding out the good times until Zion Williamson gets back in the fold. However, the first-overall pick has been active for awhile now and Ingram’s remained productive. Yes, Ingram’s 26.7% usage rate during his three starts in February would represent a season-low, yet he’s still averaged 25.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in those contests. It’s not a complete apples-to-apples comparison, but, by DKFP, Ingram’s actually scored more fantasy points per minute while playing with Williamson (1.26) than he has for 2019-20 in total (1.25).

Serge Ibaka, PF/C, Toronto Raptors

Ibaka’s value isn’t exactly a new development, but the circumstances around the veteran certainly look different than they did a week ago. Let’s start with Ibaka’s production. The 30-year-old has been about as consistent as they come when given the opportunity to start for Toronto so far this season, averaging 19.1 points and 8.9 rebounds with a 46.6% 3-point field goal rate in those 21 games. In fact, Ibaka’s sort of been fantastic in any role he’s received in 2019-20. Ibaka’s key to success? Unshakeable aggression. Only Pascal Siakam has attempted more shots per 100 possessions than his teammate (21.9). Still, the rub with Ibaka was the presence of Marc Gasol, currently sidelined by a hamstring issue and a man that was initially expected back following the All-Star Break. Well, that’s not happening. To quote Nick Nurse, “the most important is he gets some games in before the playoffs.” Yikes. I’d wager the starting role is Ibaka’s for at least a few more weeks. Maybe longer.