Read below for rest-of-season points-league ranks.
I was offered Anthony Davis in a package deal involving Nikola Jokic in two different leagues last week. Davis was primed to move to the top spot on this list before his wrist injury a couple weeks ago. He has consistently resided in the second slot all season, ahead of everyone not named Giannis Antetokounmpo. So, of course I accepted the deals, right?
You know I didn't. Otherwise, there'd be no story here. I turned both offers down.
But did I make the right decision?
For me, I just couldn't give up a sure thing in Jokic for all of the uncertainty surrounding Davis. There is a rumbling that, if the New Orleans Pelicans aren't able to come to an agreement to trade Davis by Thursday's trade deadline, they could potentially shut him down for the season. I don't necessarily expect that to happen, but the fact that it's out there publicly suggests that the chances are significantly higher than zero, a level of uncertainty I'm not willing to entertain for a player as dominant as Jokic.
But if that's the case, then how can I leave Davis in the second slot in the rankings? Well, it's the difference between running a team and trying to give useful advice to the general public. Everyone should run their own team based on some combination of what they know and what they believe. What I, and the rest of the ESPN Fantasy community are providing is a mix of information and analysis to help you decide what to do. But we're not running your teams for you, and thus I believe it's not our place to decide which rumors to act upon when delivering our rankings. I try to make these as information-rich as possible, and of course there's some subjectivity in the rankings, as I'm running all of the information through my own personal analysis and filter before putting them out.
But with that said, I try to stay as close to the facts as I can. And the facts are, that if Davis gets back on the court in the near future -- which is still the most likely outcome -- then he's still one of the two best players for the rest of the season. We know this based on the combination of his preseason expectations, which were sky-high, and his actual production this season, which has actually exceeded the lofty expectations. The uncertainty surrounding him is enough to prevent me from giving up a sure thing for him, but that doesn't mean that my caution is necessarily the right move. It's what my gut says, whereas I try to make these rankings about what my head says should be most generally true.
So, Davis keeps his spot in the rankings this week, even though I flatly know that there are players behind him in the rankings that I personally wouldn't trade for him at this exact moment. On the bright side, by this time next week the NBA trade deadline will have passed, so his ranking should be much easier to determine moving forward.
Without further ado, here are the rest-of-the-season points rankings for this week.
Dennis Smith Jr. is the first of what will be several New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks featured in this article after the blockbuster trade. Smith was very unhappy with his diminished role for the Mavericks this season due to the rise of rookie Luka Doncic, and this trade to New York could free him to resume the type of ball-dominant role that he would prefer. Knicks head coach David Fizdale has announced that the Knicks plan to put the ball in Smith's hands and let him lead, which could be a boon for his production moving forward.
All eyes are on Kyrie Irving as the trade deadline approaches, as he has made comments recently that leave the door open to his willingness to move on from the Boston Celtics. It's hard to tell that from his play on the court, though, as he is coming off a dominant 30-point, 11-assist effort against the Oklahoma City Thunder that shows just how locked-in Irving is on the court right now.
Tim Hardaway Jr. showed himself to be an explosive if inconsistent scorer during his days with the Knicks. He appears to slot into the secondary option on the wing for the Mavericks now, playing off Doncic. While he is unlikely to hit the peaks of the scoring prowess that he showed at times in New York, Hardaway has the opportunity to carve out a role as a consistent scoring and 3-point option for the Mavericks moving forward.
Rodney Hood had struggled since being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, but he averaged 16.8 PPG with 2.6 3PG during 39 games with the Utah Jazz last season before the trade. He has now been traded back out West, to a talented Portland Trail Blazers team that would seemingly open him up to get some great looks from the perimeter. He may not get the touches for quite the volume that he produced in Utah, but this trade could benefit him.
Kevin Durant is down one slot in this week's rankings, and it is conceivable that he drops a few more slots in the upcoming weeks. With the Golden State Warriors at full strength, he just isn't needed to put up big numbers like earlier in the season. He's still capable, but may eventually slide down behind those that do have to put up those video game numbers game in and game out.
LeBron James has finally returned after his long absence (groin). He played a game, then missed the next one due to "maintenance." LeBron has always been an iron man, but his health and availability may not be quite as robust down the stretch of this season as we are used to.
Lauri Markannen moves up the rankings on the strength of averaging 19.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 2.9 3PG during his past nine contests. This is the level of production that was expected from him this season, and he seems to have finally worked off all the rust from his layoff and is playing up to those expectations.
Kenneth Faried continues to be a monster for the Houston Rockets in the absence of Clint Capela. Capela is expected back right after the All-Star break, but Faried should be rostered and active until it's proven that he will slow down. He is averaging 18.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.2 APG and 1.0 BPG during his past five outings.
DeAndre Jordan has been a solid, top-50 producer all season for the Mavericks, and seemed likely to remain such. However, his trade to the youth movement of the Knicks puts his outlook in extreme danger. The Knicks have already sat one fantasy top-50 player in center Enes Kanter in favor of youngsters Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet, and if Jordan's minutes fall precipitously his ranking will drop as well.
Speaking of Kanter, he has played a total of 22 minutes with five DNP-CDs in the past seven Knicks games. He is completely out of the Knicks' rotation, despite repeated chants of "We want Kanter" from the Madison Square Garden crowd in recent games. Kanter drops precipitously in this week's rankings, barring another trade that gets him into a more favorable situation.
Kristaps Porzingis has been recovering all season from ACL surgery, and while there was mystery as to his return prognosis there was also the thought that he was on pace to return this season. However, Mark Cuban said after the trade that Porzingis was unlikely to play this season. Thus, he falls completely out of the rankings.
The rest-of-season rankings are influenced by my projections, current player performance, injury and player situation factors to quantitatively estimate the rest-of-season rankings with more precision.
Also, our rankings include arrows to indicate whether a given player made a notable move up or down the rankings since last week. This helps keep you up to speed with how player values are changing during the course of the season.
Note: These rankings reflect the expected player value for the remainder of this season.