The potential trade of Kyrie Irving in the fantasy basketball league has sparked discussions about its impact on the rest of the team, particularly Kevin Durant and the young talents on the roster. If Irving is indeed traded, it could signal a rebuilding effort for the Brooklyn Nets, which may lead to a potential trade of Durant as well. In this scenario, the team would be looking to acquire draft picks and assets to jumpstart their rebuilding process.
As we wait to see how the Nets front office will handle the situation, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the young talent on the roster. Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, and Cam Thomas are players with high upsides that could see an increase in playing time and opportunities to perform if the team shifts towards a rebuilding mode.
Ben Simmons, a former first overall pick, has struggled to regain the on-court prowess he displayed prior to his falling out with the 76ers two years ago. He sat out the entire previous season due to mental health issues and back problems, which have continued to bother him this season. Simmons has seen a dramatic decline in his field goal attempts this season, with a career-low 5.9 FGA per game, about half of his career average.
However, if Kyrie Irving and Durant were no longer on the team, and the Nets were in a rebuilding mode, Simmons could start to find his groove again. In the last 40 regular-season games he played for the 76ers in 2021, Simmons averaged 14.9 PPG on 10.4 FGA, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.5 BPG. He had one game, with Joel Embiid out, where he scored 42 points on 26 field goal attempts, showcasing his potential. In a world of “What If,” it’s possible that Simmons could make a comeback if given the opportunity.
Nic Claxton is another young player on the roster with a high upside. He has already started to realize his potential, with an eight-game stretch in January where he averaged 20.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.1 BPG, and 2.1 APG in 34.5 MPG, with seven double-doubles and five 20-point outings in those eight contests. At only 23 years old, Claxton is a viable Defensive Player of the Year candidate and has upside almost regardless of the moves the Nets make moving forward.
Cam Thomas is another young player with a high upside, who is in his second season and has yet to get a chance to play major rotation minutes at the NBA level. However, he has dominated the NBA summer league for two straight summers, showing a flare for scoring that should translate to the NBA level. In his last seven games, Thomas has had four 15-plus point scoring efforts and set a career high with 33 points in 29 minutes on Dec. 10. If he suddenly moves into the starting lineup in a featured role, he could make some legitimate noise after the All-Star break.
Simmons is currently rostered in 81.3% of ESPN leagues, meaning he is available on the free agency wire in about one of every five leagues. His asking price in a trade is on the floor right now, making him a valuable acquisition for fantasy basketball players who are looking for depth with upside or trying to hit the lottery. Claxton is rostered in 86.8% of leagues and has been playing well lately, making him a good trade target in general. It would be wise to try to acquire him as part of a package deal, mitigating risk and also letting you ask for him as more of a secondary player to avoid driving up his trade price further