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Feb 15

Ibaka/Ross Trade Analysis

The Raptors and Magic made the first major trade of the season on Tuesday with Terrence Ross and a first-round pick going to Orlando and Serge Ibaka coming back to Toronto. Unlike the Mason Plumlee-Jusuf Nurkic trade, this move will have a fairly large impact on a number of players on both teams. Below is a breakdown of how these players should be valued going forward. From a non-fantasy perspective, I like the trade for both teams. The Magic were going to let Ibaka walk, and this trade allows them to somewhat salvage the awful Victor Oladipo trade. Oladipo for Ross and a pick isn’t great, but it’s certainly better than Oladipo for only one season of Ibaka. The addition of Ibaka is going to be a major shot in the arm for the Raptors. The floundering squad’s only decent option at the four was Patrick Patterson who has struggled to get over a knee injury. Ibaka is a perfect fit for the Raptors as he should help stabilize their quickly deteriorating defense while providing much better spacing than the other Raptor power forwards. If the reports about Masai Ujiri acquiring Ibaka with the intent of signing him to a long-term deal are true, then I like this trade a lot less for the Raptors. Assuming Kyle Lowry is brought back for over $30 million a year and Ibaka is re-signed for somewhere around $25 million, the Raptors will have over $80 million wrapped up in three players. A core of Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and Ibaka is solid, but not a serious championship contender. Re-signing Ibaka will cripple the Raptors’ flexibility going forward, leaving the Raptors’ rabid fan base with a good, but not great, team for the next three or four years.

Serge Ibaka – Ibaka has had a bit of a bounce-back season, but much of his statistical improvement can be chalked up to an increased usage rate (21.0 USG%) that is likely to come down in Toronto. The Magic lack a true first-option and Ibaka is joining a team that has two. DeRozan and Lowry’s combined usage is almost identical to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s combined usage in Ibaka’s final season in Oklahoma City. The Thunder also didn’t have a third-option like Jonas Valanciunas taking up 19.7% of his team’s possessions. Expect a slight drop in Ibaka’s scoring numbers (15.1 PPG) and small dip in FG% impact due to the decrease in attempts. Pace won’t save Ibaka’s scoring numbers either as the Magic play at a slightly faster pace than the Raptors. I wouldn’t expect a major change in Ibaka’s rebounding (6.8 RPG) or block numbers (1.6 BPG). He’ll continue to see most of his playing time at the four which means he’ll be chasing the league’s stretch fours around the perimeter. Ibaka is currently posting third-round value, but owners shouldn’t expect that to continue. I’d value Serge as a fifth-round player going forward.

Norman Powell – The Raptors are now very thin on the wing and Powell should see a major boost in playing time. He’ll be the primary backup for both DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll and 25 MPG is a fair estimate going forward. That’s enough playing time to put Powell on the radar in standard leagues and makes him a strong pickup in deeper leagues. He should be a consistent source of swipes (1.5 SP36) and could average close to a three per game (1.2 3P36). He’s also a good bet to crack double-digits in the scoring column (15.1 PP36). If either DeRozan or Carroll were to miss time, Powell would become a must-own player in standard leagues. Powell has started 14 games this season and in those 14 starts he has averaged 31.9 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 1.5 3PG, and 1.0 SPG. We should see more Lowry/Cory Joseph lineups as well, but unless you’re playing a 20-team league, Joseph can be safely ignored.

Lucas Nogueira – Bebe has been an underrated fantasy asset this season and has been a very strong punt points play. Only 38 players have been more valuable than Nogueira this season when points are ignored. Unfortunately, this trade is bad news for the Brazilian. Nogueira has played 23% of his minutes at the four, and with Ibaka in town, it’s very likely that those power forward minutes evaporate. He’s still worth holding onto until we see how the Raptors’ rotation looks with Ibaka, but it’s unlikely that Bebe sees more than 20 MPG when the Raptors are fully healthy.

Jonas Valanciunas – Valanciunas’ value will also likely take a small hit now that Ibaka is in a Raptors’ jersey. Dwane Casey loves finishing games with Patrick Patterson and it’s not hard to picture Ibaka playing over Valanciunas in crunch time. Expect a small decrease in minutes as well as a small decrease in usage. Even if Ibaka’s usage rate ends up looking more like it did in his final year in Oklahoma City (17.6 USG%), that modest rate is still much higher than Nogueira’s, Pascal Siakam’s, and Jakob Poeltl’s usage rates.

Aaron Gordon – Gordon is the trade’s biggest winner. He’s struggled mightily in his first season playing primarily on the perimeter. Frank Vogel has stated that Gordon will be spending much more time at the four and that is very good news for one of this season’s biggest busts. The young big man has only played 4% of minutes at the power forward spot this season. That’s a major change from 2015-2016 when Gordon played 60% of his minutes at the four. More time down low should lead to a bump in Gordon’s FG%. He’s only shooting 42.9% this season and much of that has to do with where his shots are coming from. Last season, Gordon took 45.4% of his shots at the rim and 35.7% from outside of 16 feet. This season, he’s only taking 30.3% of his shots at the rim and is hoisting about half of his shots (49.8%) from at least sixteen feet out. Playing closer to the basket should also help boost Gordon’s rebounding rate. The position change has been brutal for Gordon’s productivity on the boards. So far this season, he is only producing 5.9 RP36. That’s a massive drop from his 2015-2016 rate of 9.8 RP36. If the Magic’s new starting power forward is sitting on your wire, scoop him up immediately.

Terrence Ross – Ross should see more minutes in Orlando than he did in Toronto and is worth a speculative pickup in standard leagues. The sharpshooter has been a top-55 per minute player this season and should see his role expand with the Magic. Gordon will move to the four leaving Jeff Green as Ross’ primary competition for playing time at the three. With Jodie Meeks out indefinitely and Mario Hezonja barely in the rotation, Ross should see some time at the two as well. The former Raptor will only be a three-category player (four if you play with turnovers), but he should produce very useful numbers in those three categories. His per 36 numbers are intriguing. Thus far, he’s produced 16.7 PP36, 2.9 3P36, and 1.6 SP36. He’s an inconsistent player, but he does have top-80 upside now that he is no longer stuck behind DeMar DeRozan.

Bismack Biyombo – The Magic aren’t left with many options upfront after this trade and that may mean more Nikola Vucevic/Biyombo lineups. Frank Vogel hasn’t used that lineup very often this season (only 271 total minutes in 33 games), but with the Magic now very thin upfront, he may not have a choice. It’s obvious that Vogel doesn’t like that pairing so don’t expect a major increase in minutes for Biyombo, but this does make Biyombo a stronger streaming option. He’s still not worth owning in standard leagues, even if you are punting FT%. Bismack has barely been a top-150 player this season even when his horrendous free-throw shooting (49.1 FT%) is ignored.

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