Isaiah Canaan, PG Philadelphia 76ers
Sam Hinkie just can’t help himself. More interested in building a stock portfolio of “assets” than building a basketball team, the Sixers were once again active on the NBA trade market just before the deadline—and that’s a purposeful understatement.
In what was the most surprising move of the deadline, the Sixers sent reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams out to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange, the Sixers received…not a single player. That’s right. To be fair, the Sixers got the rights to the Lakers’ top-5 protected pick in the 2015 draft (1-3 protected in 2016), so it’s not like they got nothing, but there is no starter coming back in the MCW deal.
Philadelphia made three separate trades on Thursday, and received all of one new player in return, and he’s the subject of this analysis: Isaiah Canaan.
Although the Sixers will re-sign D-League product Tim Frazier to another 10-day deal now that MCW is out of the picture, Philadelphia’s tank-a-thon has left Canaan with a massive opportunity ahead. Although per-36 numbers can be misleading, Canaan’s per-36 averages in 47 career NBA games: 14.8 points, 3.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.9 triples. While that doesn’t look like a “traditional” point guard with the assist numbers, to think Canaan won’t have value moving forward would be a massive mistake.
Canaan simply has to beat out Frazier, and that may be temporary at best. The Sixers will either have to re-sign Frazier for the season after these 10 days, or they’ll be going in another direction with just Canaan on the roster. I wouldn’t say it’s anything close to a “slam dunk” that Canaan is consistent given the laughable talent around him, but he’s got the neon-green light to run with this team, and there is absolutely no point guard depth on this roster to speak of.
For an end-of-bench contributor who is (was?) available in almost every league, run—don’t walk—to the waiver wire.
Trevor Booker, F/C Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz traded Enes Kanter (a move that had to be done, and took far too long) to the OKC Thunder, clearing the way for Rudy Gobert to absolutely dominate the inside now and for the indefinite future. A top rim protector in the league, Gobert has absolutely killed it in a starting role. As the team’s starting center, Gobert is averaging 9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 4.2 blocks on 71 percent shooting. Those are video game numbers.
As great as that is, the Kanter deal left the Jazz with a gaping hole on their depth chart behind Gobert and Derrick Favors. Enter Trevor Booker, the under-the-radar free-agent signee Utah came to terms with this offseason, and someone who could be staring at a larger than anticipated role going forward. Last season, Booker started 45 games for his previous team, the Washington Wizards. In those affairs, the Cook Book averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks in just 25 minutes. If Booker can average right around 20-25 minutes per game in his new backup role, his ability to be a low-end contributor at the back end of your roster is very real.
Favors averages 31 minutes per game, and Gobert is not going to play all 48 in his new, full-time starting role. Booker’s competition? For now, it’s just Jeremy Evans, and that should tell you all you need to know about the opportunity he has ahead.
I’m not ruling out the Jazz make a move to address their lack of depth down low, but calling Utah a conservative organization would be like stating Al Gore has an idea about Global Warming.
Mo Williams, G Charlotte Hornets
Paging Brian Roberts: You are the weakest link—goodbye.
Roberts’ averages as a starter: 10.5 points, 4.2 assists, 0.8 steals and a spectacular, sterling, pristine 35.8 percent from the floor. No wonder the Hornets made the deal, right?
Roberts wasn’t cutting it in place of Kemba Walker (knee), and that’s why the Charlotte Hornets made sure to get their trading out of the way early when the club swung a deal for Mo Williams. With Walker not even targeting a return until at least March 16, Williams has almost a month to make his presence felt in the Hornets’ rotation. Even when Walker returns, expect Williams to spend time playing off the ball, and anything Charlotte can do to minimize Lance Stephenson’s role is for the best at this point in the season.
As a part-time starter in Minnesota earlier this season, Williams averaged 16.3 points, 7.6 assists and 2.2 triples over 19 games. While he won’t have the same opportunities in Charlotte due to the different context of the two teams, Williams has to be a part of the production picture if the Hornets are going to make it to the postseason.
Considering we’re entering the unofficial second half of the season where the options start to get thin on the waiver wire, adding Williams to your bench is a no-brainer proposition. By no means is Williams someone who changes the complexion of your roster, but he is a solid if unspectacular addition should he still be floating around in your league.
Sometimes, the low-hanging fruit does taste the best.