The first big NBA trade of the 2014 calendar year went down Monday night, with the Chicago Bulls sending forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for center Andrew Bynum and multiple draft picks. The Bulls are expected to immediately waive Bynum, and with Derrick Rose out they look likely to go into full evaluation mode over the rest of the season.
First in line to take over some of the minutes Deng is leaving behind (37.4 per game) at small forward is Mike Dunleavy, who is averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game so far this season. But there are already rumors he could be the next veteran traded, which would open the door for rookie Tony Snell to start and see significant minutes as the season winds down after the trade deadline. What should fantasy basketball owners expect from the players who will replace Deng for the Bulls?
Dunleavy is a safer short-term pickup than Snell, particularly for fantasy owners who need a boost in three-point shooting, since he is averaging 1.4 three-pointers per game and close to half of his shot attempts (3.7 per game) have come from beyond the arc. But with the possibility he gets traded and the uncertainty of his role on a new team, Dunleavy’s production and fantasy value could dwindle quickly.
Snell is averaging 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in just over 19 minutes per game this season, but his production has been good in nine starts (10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while playing 34.1 minutes per game) and that points to some upside potential with an increased role coming.
A fantasy owner’s individual situation is the deciding factor in whether Dunleavy (23 percent ownership in Yahoo! leagues) or Snell (three percent ownership) is a better waiver wire addition. Those that need immediate help should consider adding Dunleavy, while Snell offers more upside in deeper leagues for owners that want to upgrade their roster depth and can afford to stash him.