We're entering Week 5 of the fantasy basketball season. Teams have played anywhere from 12-14 games at this point. There's enough data for an appropriate sample size to project how players will perform moving forward through the rest of the season. It should be fairly clear what categories your team needs to strengthen. Generally, the plan would be to scour the free agent pool for up and coming contributors in those categories, but alternatively, another option is to trade with other teams in your fantasy league to improve your roster.
Here are a few points to remember if you want to be an effective and successful trader in your fantasy league.
1. Know your team's needs. Don't just trade for some player who was on fire in last night's game. Assess what your players deliver on a per game basis. Multiply that by three or four to get an idea of what they bring to the table weekly. Take time to project what the other teams are averaging. This is especially important if you're playing in a head-to-head (H2H) format.
2. Be pro-active. Don't wait for other managers to offer trades for your players. Send out offers. They're free and there's no harm in trying. At the very least, you've opened a channel of communication between you and another manager to work out a deal.
3. Stay informed. Keep abreast of the latest news regarding players' injury statuses. This is especially important if you're trading for players who are currently out with injuries and are expected to be back in a few weeks. You don't want to trade for a player thinking he was suffering from a sprained ankle, but in fact he has a hairline fracture.
4. Don't be afraid to sell high. A common mistake many managers make is that they fall in love with their players. Recognize when it's just a streak. Some players' averages are bloated by explosive games early in the season, but they will not be able to maintain their level play.
5. Trade with cellar dwellers. This strategy is best applied in rotisserie leagues, but can easily be applied in H2H as well. Managers whose teams are off to slow starts will be more inclined to "shake things up" and engage in transactions in order to lift their teams out of their early funk.
Here is a short list of players who are currently either performing well or producing below pre-draft expectations. Included are recommendations for buying, selling or holding a player based on their performances to date and trend moving forward.
• Chris Bosh (PF/C), Miami Heat: Ride his string of productive games while Dwyane Wade is missing time due to a sprained wrist and a bout with the flu. Attempt to parlay his streak into some long-term value. His production will return to more mediocre levels once Wade returns. Hold, for trade later.
• Brook Lopez (C), New Jersey Nets: His stock is down at the moment due to his slow start. Some of his owners might just be disgruntled enough to let him go for a player who is producing more consistently at the moment. Trade for him. If you own him, HOLD. He will get better.
• Dorell Wright (G/F), Golden State Warriors: Sell him based on his per game averages to date. They're bloated due to a couple of monster games. His numbers will even out as the season progresses. He's doing fine while David Lee is injured, but he will return to being fourth in the scoring hierarchy upon Lee's return. Trade away.
• Lamar Odom (F), Los Angeles Lakers: He's been very impressive to start the season, but his big minutes are already taking their toll on his body. He did not get as much rest over the summer due to his participation in the World Basketball Championships in Turkey. His numbers and minutes will take big hits once Andrew Bynum is back and fully reintegrated into the starting lineup. Odom's quality games may only last until the end of 2010. Trade Away.
• Marc Gasol (C), Memphis Grizzlies: Gasol has been burdened by early foul trouble during the first several games of the season and because of this his averages are still below what they were last season. They should begin to pick up as the season moves along. Trade for him.
• Brandon Roy (G/F), Portland Trail Blazers: This is a rare, but actual case of "sell low." Things are looking very bleak for Roy as his knees do not appear to be able to take on the rigors and impact of a full season. If you want consistency for your fantasy team, then let him go. As long as the player you are getting in the deal is about two draft-rounds better than the best player available in the FA pool, make the deal. Trade away.
• Manu Ginobili (SG), San Antonio Spurs: He's doing great as a starter for the Spurs, but he's averaging a full five minutes more on the floor than he did last season. Fatigue and injuries have always colored Ginobili's NBA history. Expect him to eventually slow down and for his numbers to fall back in line with career averages by the second half of the season. Trade away.
• LaMarcus Aldridge (PF/C), Portland Trail Blazers: If/when Roy is shutdown for the season; Aldridge will step up and take up the bulk of the scoring slack left by Roy's absence. Even with Wesley Matthews looking like a respectable back-up for Roy, Aldridge will become the new default first option on offense. Trade for him.
• Rudy Gay (F), Memphis Grizzlies: He looks like a first-round draft value guy right now, but he has had the benefit of a couple of overtime games and an injury that sidelined Zach Randolph for a few games to boost his opportunities to produce. With only one 20-plus point scoring performance in his past four games, his numbers have already started to slow down. Trade Away.
• Aaron Brooks (PG), Houston Rockets: If you're in a league that sets rosters daily then Brooks might just be weighing his owner's team down. Brooks was sidelined due to a bad ankle sprain and is due to be back in action around Dec. 7. He should resume the same production that he was providing prior to his injury. Trade for him. The same can be said about Chris Kaman (C), Los Angeles Clippers and Darren Collison (PG), Indiana Pacers.
• Nene Hilario (F/C), Denver Nuggets: His totals are down due to a nagging groin injury that slowed him down to start the season. He appears to be healthy now and on track to be an efficient source of steals at center position once again. Trade for him.