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Breaking down Fantasy Basketball impact of Blake Griffin trade

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

In an unexpected, blockbuster move, the Clippers opted to ship Blake Griffin off to Detroit, just months after signing him to a five-year, $173 million contract. Also packaged in the trade from LA are Brice Johnson and Willie Reed. The Pistons, to acquire Griffin, sent out Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, protected first-round draft pick and a second-round pick.

The Clippers could still unload DeAndre Jordan and maybe Lou Williams, so the roster could change even more between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline. For now, though, we’ll have to evaluate the teams as they are. I’ll break down the key players in the trade and how their roles could change, as well as highlighting some other players who will be affected positively or negatively.

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Blake Griffin

The two leading shot-takers for the Pistons prior to the trade were Tobias Harris (14.8 FGA/G) and Avery Bradley (14.3), who are both now members of the Clippers. As a result, Griffin (17.5 FGA/A) should walk into a huge scoring role for the Pistons, almost by default. The Pistons are also devoid of much isolation scoring talent, so Griffin may be asked to be just as much, if not more, of a facilitator as he was in LA (5.4 assists per game). It’s hard to imagine his rebounding numbers increasing considering the presence of Andre Drummond, who is arguably a better rebounder than DeAndre Jordan.

The Pistons do rank 21st in pace compared to the Clippers’ 11th, but there is only a difference of 2.5 possessions per 48 minutes, which isn’t significant enough to affect Griffin’s production in and of itself. Overall, I don’t think the move affects Griffin’s fantasy stock much, if at all.

Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock

I’ve opted not to include Stanley Johnson as a wing player who may benefit from Bradley’s and Harris’ absence because he only averages 8.7 points (on 9.7 shots), 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals when he sees at least 30 minutes. He’s also shooting 35.1 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from three on the season. I can’t imagine any of that changing significantly because of a trade.

Kennard and Bullock could see upticks in production, however. Both are excellent three-point shooters (Kennard at 43.0 percent and Bullock at 44.0 percent) and should see increased attempts, especially with the defense likely focusing a lot of effort on Griffin. Per 36 minutes, Kennard averages 2.2 three-pointers made, while Bullock averages 2.3. Kennard also now ranks fifth on the team in usage among players who have played at least 500 minutes (minus Reggie Jackson), boding well for increased touches. Neither player is a must-add in standard formats, but both are worth looks as the team finds its new identity.

Avery Bradley

Bradley will seemingly absorb most of C.J. Williams’ and Tyrone Wallace’s minutes, likely rendering both of them irrelevant in fantasy. Regardless, it’s tough to imagine Bradley will be a more productive player with the Clippers, as he was already boasting a 24.4 percent usage rate with Detroit and averaging 15.0 points (40.9 percent), 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 threes and 1.2 steals across 31.7 minutes.

Longer-term, he could actually end up in a worse situation, as he’ll have to compete for time and touches with Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic and Austin Rivers (heel) when he’s healthy. It’s hard to recommend outright dropping Bradley in fantasy, but I would certainly keep a close eye on how he’s used with his new squad. Bradley is an expiring contract, and with the all signs pointing toward a full rebuild in L.A., there’s little reason to believe the Clippers view him as a long-term piece. There was already an argument to be made for a streaming spot over Bradley in standard fantasy formats. That may hold more water now.

Tobias Harris

The Clippers acquiring Harris may destroy Wesley Johnson’s fantasy value, as he could struggle to find significant run between Harris and Danilo Gallinari at the two forward spots. For Harris himself, I don’t imagine his statistics changing significantly in either direction, as he’ll be one of the Clippers’ top two offensive options — him at 18.1 points per game and Lou Williams at 23.5 — similar to his role in Detroit.

His rebounding is unlikely to fluctuate too much either, as DeAndre Jordan plays a similar rebounding role in L.A. as Drummond does in Detroit. Of course, maybe those numbers rise slightly if Jordan is sent packing before the deadline.

The return of Gallinari from a hip injury could potentially lessen Harris’ role, though Gallinari has averaged only 13.4 points (34.5 percent) and 4.4 rebounds across 31.7 minutes in his 11 games played this season. Overall, this trade should be a relative push for Harris’ rest-of-season fantasy value, as is the case for Griffin.

Boban Marjanovic

It’s unclear at this point whether Marjanovic will be anything more than a throw-in in the deal, but the change of scenery certainly won’t hurt. Marjanovic had appeared in less than half of Detroit’s games and rarely saw meaningful minutes outside of garbage time.

At least initially, he’ll face a similar situation in Los Angeles with DeAndre Jordan and Montrezl Harrell ahead of him on the depth chart. But now that the Griffin domino has fallen, it’s widely believed that Jordan could be next. Of course, the Clippers could always bring back another center in a deal for Jordan — or even Lou Williams, who could also be on the move — but if that’s not the case, Marjanovic would suddenly have a much clearer path to a regular rotation spot.

While the sample size is admittedly small, Marjanovic’s per-36 numbers production — 24.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 9.5 FTA/G — has once again been strong. That said, Marjanovic is yet to prove he can handle a significant workload night to night, and he still commits fouls at an alarmingly high rate.

The bottom line: We probably won’t be able to accurately gauge Marjanovic’s rest-of-season value until the deadline passes. If the Clippers move Jordan and don’t bring back another established big man or two, Marjanovic will absolutely be worth a flyer in most leagues. After all, there’s a reason he’s already been added in more than 30,000 Yahoo leagues over the past 48 hours.