Late Saturday night, Thunder GM Sam Presti decided to take matters into his own hands and traded James Harden along with Cole Aldrich, Deaquan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. For the Thunder as a franchise it's a great win, but let's look at how the fantasy value of each of the players involved are affected.
While Harden had benefited from playing with all-stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, his sixth-man role in OKC held him back from becoming a true fantasy star. Now that he has been traded to the Rockets, he will step in as their starting Shooting Guard (SG) and will be the focal point of the their offense. Last season, in only 31.4 minutes per game (MPG), Harden averaged 16.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG and 1.8 3PTs on 49% shooting on only 10 shots per game.
In Houston, it is not unrealistic to expect him to average 38 MPG and could even push 20 shots per game. As a result, expect a large bump in his scoring (20-22 PPG) and assists as Harden will be featured in the offense and the ball will be in his hands a lot. However, the extra defensive attention now that he no longer plays with Durant and Westbrook will result in a decline in his efficiency. Overall, his value in fantasy gets a small bump. Prior to this trade, I wouldn't have drafted Harden before the third round, but now that he is with the Rockets he moves up to the middle of the second round.
|Harden is now the focal point of the offense in HOU, but his efficiency will suffer.|
Coming off a terrible 2011-12 season in which he clashed several times with coach Kevin McHale, Martin finds himself in a better situation to succeed now that he has been traded to the Thunder. As his team's go-to scorer on team with little talent around him, Martin's efficiency has suffered. Since 2007-08, he has not had a single season in which he shot over 44% from the field. Now with the Thunder, Martin will see a ton of open looks and he will see an increase in production. His scoring may decline a little from last season, but he will have the green light to shoot a ton of 3PTs and should exceed his career high of 2.3 3PTs/game.
|Martin should rain plenty of wide open 3PTs for the Thunder|
Jeremy Lamb, Cole Aldrich, Deaquan Cook, and Lazar Hayward
There is very little change in their fantasy values. For dynasty leagues, Jeremy Lamb is not a bad flier because it appears that the Thunder see him as the heir apparent for the SG position, but he likely will have little to no fantasy value this season. There is also a small chance that Aldrich will be given more opportunity behind Omer Asik than he was given in OKC, but don't expect much production.
The Rockets were extremely active in the offseason, going after Dwight Howard, trading Kyle Lowry, and losing out on Goran Dragic. Instead, they snatched up Jeremy Lin in a 3 year deal for $25 million. Lin was expected to become the leader of the franchise; a very tough task for a guy that has only 26 games under his belt. After acquiring Harden, some of that pressure can be taken off Lin as the young PG will be able to lean on his extremely talented backcourt running mate. Despite this, Lin will still have a tough time cracking the top 20 PGs.
|The acquisition of James Harden eases some of the pressure on Jeremy Lin|