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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Player Rater: Potential trade targets

By Seth Landman
Special to ESPN.com

Throughout the entire Player Rater (if we rank by per-game averages), there are only four players who don't carry a single negative in any category as of Wednesday morning: Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver. When you think about it, this is an arbitrary -- but staggering -- accomplishment. These guys might not be great at everything (actually Kevin Durant kind of is, actually, great at everything), but they manage to avoid being bad at anything, and in most fantasy leagues, that ends up having some value.

When you consider how the Player Rater works, it makes sense: Durant is a significant margin better than LeBron James in fantasy leagues this year even though each guy bests the other in exactly four of the eight categories. That's because LeBron doesn't have much separation from Durant in many of the categories where he's better, while Durant is absolutely demolishing LeBron in free throw shooting. If you're not giving up a negative anywhere, it's pretty easy to carry lots of value.

Melo, like Durant, has been an elite fantasy player this year. He happens to be posting a positive value in every category, but not at the expense of his usual strongholds: scoring and free throw percentage. Anthony is averaging 28.4 points per game right now, which is just 0.5 below his career high; he's doing that while making more 3-pointers than he ever has, and he's kicking in some pretty impressive free throw shooting as well. Most impressively, he's boosted his field goal percentage -- his one negative category from last season -- to a slight positive. The point is that Anthony is as well-rounded as he's ever been, but he's still capable of carrying you in a couple of individual categories (this season, points and 3s).

Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko may contribute in every fantasy category, but does he do enough to be a real impact player?

Kirilenko, however, is a different case. Yes, it's fantastic that he provides positive value in every category across the board, but in his case, that value is mitigated by the fact that he doesn't really put up huge numbers in any one particular category. In fact, steals is the only category where Kirilenko's Player Rater value is better than 1.5 (standard deviations better than the league average). Kirilenko is a top-30 player so far this season on a per-game basis, but no other player in the top 30 has a lower value in his best category.

Korver presents a different case. It's amazing that he's not carrying any negatives this season, but he's still only really contributing in a major way in one category: 3s. He's making 2.9 3s per game, good for third in the league. However, the rest of his stats, though slight positives all around, are pretty uninspiring. Unless you need his 3-point shooting, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't miss him if he was gone. If you own him, chances are you're doing pretty well in 3s so far, and you might even be able to spare him. For example, Andre Iguodala has been pretty disappointing this season, so if you offer Korver for him, you might actually get a taker. Iguodala has been worse overall on the Player Rater but is better than Korver in five categories and certainly has the potential to be much better than he's been. If you're desperate, that's a chance worth taking.

Noticing all of this got me thinking, because we're nearing the trading deadline, and it's getting to be time to really think about how you can maximize the value of your roster for the rest of the season. Players like Kirilenko are great in rotisserie leagues, because their value is subtle and has a chance to play itself out in meaningful ways over an entire season. However, once you have a sense of where your roster has strengths and weaknesses, you might find you need to gravitate toward players who can really move the needle in particular areas. Kirilenko might be a top-30 fantasy player in terms of value, but there's a decent chance that this late in the season, there are players ranked far below him on the Player Rater who might be more valuable in the context of your specific team.

What follows is a list of some players in the top 100 on the Player Rater who just missed the cut for having positive values in every category. With the exception of the first player on the list, they are all ranked below Kirilenko on the Player Rater, and they constitute a selection of players you might want to consider trading in order to acquire players who could help you more in your own particular areas of need.

(Player Rater ranking based on per game averages in parentheses)

Irving
Irving

Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (7): If you're in a keeper league of any kind, obviously, you're not even thinking about moving Irving. Otherwise, you may want to give it some thought. He has a ton of value, and his negatives are in blocks and rebounds (pretty normal, in other words, for a point guard). Trading him would depend on figuring out what you need. If you need blocks, would it be worth trying to deal him for Marc Gasol? If you need rebounds, what about David Lee? These guys could both approximate a great deal of Irving's value in assists while helping you out in areas where you might need it. These are the kinds of deals you need to think about at this point in the season.

Holiday
Holiday

Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (14): Holiday has, without question, been an elite player this season, so I'm certainly not advocating trading him in a vacuum. His worst category is blocks, where his 0.4 average per game isn't quite enough to put him into the positives on the Player Rater. Still, he carries nearly all his value in two categories: assists and points. He rebounds well for a point guard, but if you find yourself doing well in the traditional stats (points, rebounds and assists), you could probably do pretty well dealing Holiday for someone who might be able to help you more in steals, 3s, or the percentages. If you could trade Holiday for Mike Conley and pick up another asset in addition, you might be able to hold your ground in assists and points while picking up some value in steals and 3s.

Hill
Hill

George Hill, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers (54): Hill is a very slight negative in field goal percentage and blocks, both of which are usually bigger negative areas for point guards. Unfortunately, Hill's strength as a basketball player (he's not bad at anything, really) is his weakness as a fantasy player (he's not great at anything, really). His best category is assists, but at 4.9 per game as the starting point guard on a really good team, he's not doing anything to get all that excited about. Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin is 13 spots lower than Hill on the Player Rater, but he's actually better than Hill in five of the eight categories. If you can afford the somewhat significant hit in assists, a player like Martin might wind up helping your team more than Hill would.

Evans
Evans

Tyreke Evans, PG/SG/SF, Sacramento Kings (75): Tyreke still isn't showing the flashes of brilliance he managed as a rookie, but has been a reasonably productive player of late, averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals over his past five games. Of course, I'm cherry-picking. He's shooting 22 percent on 3s over that stretch and is 69 percent from the line on 6.4 attempts per game. Those numbers are ugly, and they're probably not going to magically get better any time soon. Still, overall, making 3s is the only area that could genuinely be counted as a negative for Tyreke, and that's only a slight one. Dealing him for Raymond Felton could get you some assists and some 3s. DeMar DeRozan could get you a little extra scoring and free throw percentage. The point, as always, is that you have options.