Trade Tactics: Targeting Undervalued Spurs

Drafting or trading for a Spurs player is generally discouraged because “Poppovich always rests his key players out of the blue.” Particularly in head-to-head leagues, owners can’t afford surprisingly missing stretches of production in March when it is really needed.

However, the problem is not as big as it seems and the context has changed too. For reasons that I will elaborate on below, the rest risk of owning a Spur is extremely minimal, if not nearly zero, this season.

If the Spurs owners in your league are unaware this, then it’s time to take advantage and trade for a Spur at a discount. Specifically, we are only interested in the Spurs fantasy Big Three of Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Danny Green. It helps too that as of now, Leonard and Green are slumping. Perfect timing. And as in many instances, Duncan is undervalued because of his age despite great production.


Last season vs. this season

Last year, the Spurs finished the regular season as the number one seed with a three-game cushion over the second-seed Thunder. While this situation would look ripe for several Poppovich rests, let us see how many times Leonard, Duncan, and Green missed games in March (when typical H2H playoffs happen):

Total missed games in March

Kawhi Leonard 0 games missed
Tim Duncan 1 games missed
Danny Green 3 games missed

Despite being in a winning scenario and affording some rest last season, the number of missed games isn’t as bad as people make it to be, especially for Duncan and Leonard. It’s barely anything in my opinion. Duncan only missed one game in March, the second of a back-to-back. Leonard was coming off an injury and thus played all throughout March.

While Green missing three games may look hazardous on the surface, these were just mostly due to foot injury and not Coach Pop’s resting schemes. While doubters may consider that Pop faked this specific injury for some reason, I doubt it. San Antonio Express News reports that Green was seen wearing a walking boot at the time, and he also undertook an MRI scan, so I doubt that Pop would plan such unnecessary theatricals just for rest.

If the Spurs resting these three guys weren’t that big of an issue last season, then even more so this season.

This year, the Spurs are currently in a tighter spot at 7th seed and two games behind 6th seed. While they are in no real danger of missing the playoffs (unless something drastic happens), there is however a real chance of falling to the unfortunate 8th spot. After their recent loss, they know as much as anyone to avoid facing the Golden State Warriors. Furthermore, Arturo Galleti’s NBA Playoff Odds Report calculates that the Spurs are projected to land at 8th seed behind OKC.

San Antonio Spurs are projected to finish 8th seed

The main point is, the Spurs are in a situation with much lesser margin for error than they have last season. Given that Pop didn’t rest these guys much in March last year anyway, the chances of it happening this year are multiple times slimmer.

While only fortunetellers can prophesize for sure – and I’m not one -- I’ll still be pretty comfortable with this informed prediction. Plus, the safety net here is that in typical Yahoo leagues (Week 21-23 playoffs), the Spurs have a 12-game schedule, which is the most number of games a team can have in that span. If ever the extraordinary chance of a one-game rest happens, having 11 games is still an above average schedule.


The Three Targets

Leonard, Duncan, and Green in many cases are underrated due to their unflashy numbers, especially with owners who subconsciously prioritize points. They are all averaging Top 30 value in Yahoo season ranks, coming as a surprise to most.

As I’ve said above, Leonard and Green are both in slumps and right now is an opportune trade window. I do think it’s possible to acquire these guys for cheaper than their real price for all the reasons I’ve already said above. Send a semi-lowball offer and then negotiate with their owners. Good luck folks!

PLAYER Y! RANK (SEASON) Y! RANK (LAST 30) BUY LOW WINDOW
Kawhi Leonard 15 30 Last 5: 9pts 0.6threes 1.4stl 29%FG 73%FT
Tim Duncan 28 39 Not really, but 8pts 3rebs in 2 of last 3 games
Danny Green 22 53 2 games post-ASB: 6.5pts 0.5threes 0stl 0blk

PLAYER WHY YOU WANT TO TRADE FOR THEM
Kawhi Leonard Well rounded numbers, elite steals, elite rebounds for SG/SF
Tim Duncan 14.6p 9.8r 2.9a 1.0s 1.9b 49.5FG%, not bad for an "oldie"
Danny Green 2+ threes, 1+ steals and 1+ blocks is elite, underrated rare territory

For any questions, feel free to Tweet me at @MarkFantasyNBA (Yup that's me).


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