Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical dropped an unexpected #WOJBOMB Tuesday, reporting the Philadelphia 76ers were sending forward Jerami Grant to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for forward Ersan Ilyasova and a heavily protected future first-round pick.
Though the trade involves two fringe fantasy options, there will be some trickle-down effects for other players on both teams. Here’s a quick breakdown of what it means for fantasy owners.
At the moment, Robert Covington is owned in just 30.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues and 68 percent of Yahoo leagues. If he’s on the waiver wire in yours, rectify that immediately.
With Grant gone, Hollis Thompson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are the only players who could feasibly steal significant minutes from Covington at the 3. Dario Saric may see spot minutes there in a bully-ball lineup, or the Sixers could downsize and stick Gerald Henderson there on occasion, but Covington should be a lock for 30-plus minutes of playing time per night as long as games remain competitive. Though his goose egg against Atlanta on Saturday was discouraging, his 10-point, five-rebound, two-steal, two-trey outing on opening night against Oklahoma City speaks to why he needs to be owned everywhere.
Saric owners, meanwhile, can’t be thrilled about Philly’s acquisition of Ilyasova. In the press release announcing the deal, team president Bryan Colangelo said, “Ersan will bring us much-needed perimeter shooting, floor spacing and roster balance,” suggesting Ilyasova is in line to siphon minutes from Saric at the 4. If the Croatian big man doesn’t go off in the next two nights (against Orlando on Tuesday and at Charlotte on Wednesday), owners should consider cutting him for a hot free-agent pickup such as Justise Winslow or T.J. Warren.
Owners in shallow leagues should feel free to ignore Ilyasova for the time being or drop him if you had him rostered for whatever reason. It’s likely going to take him time to grow acclimated to Philadelphia’s system, and there’s no telling just how head coach Brett Brown will juggle minutes between him, Saric and Richaun Holmes. Those in deeper leagues (16 teams or greater) could take a flier on him if you’re in dire need of points or three-pointers, but he’s by no means a must-add.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Grant’s arrival in OKC isn’t likely to move the fantasy needle much. One would assume the Syracuse product will see most of his minutes at the 4 backing up rookie Domantas Sabonis, who hasn’t yet set the fantasy world ablaze in his three starts. Seeing as Sabonis is only averaging 13.7 minutes per game thus far, Grant has a chance to carve out a niche in the Thunder rotation.
Considering the spacing concerns already present when playing Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson together, however, head coach Billy Donovan will have a Herculean task on his hands when it comes to finding lineups with enough shooters to command respect from beyond the three-point line. Westbrook is the lone Thunder player averaging more than 1.5 treys per game, while Oladipo has shot just 4-of-16 from beyond the arc over his first three contests. Grant, a career 27.6 percent shooter from downtown, won’t help much on that front.
What Grant does do prolifically, though, is block shots. He’s racked up 2.1 rejections per 36 minutes across his career, so he could prove to be a strong complement to the defensively challenged Enes Kanter on OKC’s second unit. Grant isn’t a strong rebounder, but Kanter can cover that weakness while he makes up for Kanter’s lack of rim protection.
Unless you’re in a deeper league and are in dire need of blocks, you can leave Grant on the waiver wire for now. Much like with Ilyasova, wait to see how Donovan shuffles his rotation before dropping a potentially productive player who’s off to a cold start.