Moe Harkless: Big Trade Deadline Winner

Over the past few weeks, we’ve hear speculation regarding some big name players being traded to new teams. Rumors about Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Marcin Gortat and even Dwight Howard were all circulating and excitement was in the air.

Well, Thursday’s deadline passed and I found myself feeling a little like that kid that nobody shows up to his birthday party. Jordan Crawford? Marcus Morris? Sebastian Telfair? Ronnie Brewer? Sorry, doesn’t really do it for me. 

But among the minor trades, there is a huge fantasy basketball winner that needs your attention: Moe Harkless, the starting small forward for the Orlando Magic.

In the biggest move of the trade deadline, J.J. Redick was traded to the Bucks along with Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith for Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb. It’s terrible news for J.J. Redick’s owners now playing behind Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but it opens up major minutes for Moe Harkless, a guy that should be picked up in all leagues.

Moe Harkless should be owned in all leagues

You may remember Moe Harkless as a player involved in the Dwight Howard trade back in August, coming over from the Sixers after being the 15th pick in the 2012 NBA draft. The 19 year old rookie, averaged 15.1 points with 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks while playing for St. John’s University, demonstrating the multi-category fantasy game experienced fantasy owners drool over.

Despite starting for most of the season, Harkless has hardly been a significant player in the Magic’s rotation thus far in his NBA career, as Arron Afflalo and Redick have soaked up most of the playing time at Shooting Guard and Small Forward and have been the primary scoring options. However, now that Redick is in Milwaukee, it allows Afflalo to move back full time to the SG position, the position he has played most of his career and Moe Harkless essentially has the Small Forward job all to himself.

We’ve seen flashes of what Harkless has been able to do this month, especially when Afflalo and Redick were sidelined with injuries, playing 35 minutes per game, averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks. Without Redick in town, his offensive role should only increase as the Magic will give him every opportunity to develop. Sure there will be bumps along the road, but Moe Harkless’ fantasy friendly game should make owners pretty happy for the rest of the season. He’s still available in 91% of ESPN leagues, so pick him up while you still can.

Andrew Nicholson should be a solid big while starting

Another rookie with significant opportunity now with the Magic is Andrew Nicholson. After carrying little known St. Bonaventure to the NCAA tournament as a senior and almost knocking off 3rd seed Florida State, Nicholson had didn’t get much playing time to start the season. However, after Glen Davis’ season ending foot injury, Nicholson has stepped in as the starting power forward playing 28 minutes per game with 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. Now that the Magic traded away Gustavo Ayon, and swapped Josh McRoberts for Hakim Warrick, Nicholson’s job couldn’t be any more secure. He will get major minutes the rest of the way and while he doesn’t have the same upside as Moe Harkless, but he’s worth a look even in standard leagues.

Thomas Robinson now in Houston will get his opportunity to shine

In addition to the two Magic’s forwards, another rookie forward was moved before the trade deadline as the Kings surprisingly gave up on their 5th pick in the 2012 draft, Thomas Robinson,  moving him to Houston along with Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, and Toney Douglas. The Rockets also moved forward Marcus Morris to Phoenix in a separate deal, so Robinson should step into major minutes as the Rockets starting Power Forward. It’s hard to judge T-Rob based on his limited playing time thus far in his NBA career, but his per 36 minutes are actually pretty solid averages of 10.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. Although the Rockets’ schedule the rest of the season isn’t the strongest, Thomas Robinson should be owned just on upside alone.

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Jonathan Vandersluis

About Jonathan Vandersluis

Jonathan has been playing fantasy sports for almost a decade, first football and then quickly to baseball and basketball too, and founded TopTeamFantasy.com in 2013. He has always been a numbers guy, so fantasy sports provided the perfect place for him to combine his analytical skills with his passion for sports. Jonathan makes Toronto, Canada his home, but loves to travel every chance he gets and explore new places. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @Jonathan_TTF, he’d be glad to answer any of your questions and help you win your fantasy league.