There is nothing like the NBA rumor machine and it shouldn’t have been surprising to see Chris Paul traded as Oklahoma City is clearly pivoting to rebuilding mode. Phoenix on the other hand is looking to take the next step in their growth so acquiring Paul made perfect sense but it certainly took us by surprise as a destination. There is a lot more than just Paul to unpack here but of course you want answers, so we are here to give them to you.
There is no questioning that Paul is a future Hall of Famer but we also have seen his best days. This doesn’t mean he is without DFS value but the point guard was acquired for more than just his talent. Paul is a better player than Ricky Rubio (I know how silly and obvious that sounds) but he was also acquired for his leadership capabilities with the Suns looking to take the next step. While Paul’s value likely will remain unchanged following the trade, it is those around him who will see a boost from a DFS perspective.
Last season Paul averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, five rebounds, and two steals per game. For the most part his production remains unchanged from what we had become accustomed to other than a few missing assists compared to his prime when he averaged a double-double. Paul is getting a boost in his supporting cast as he now gets to team up with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and each player will also get a small benefit from their new point guard. Rubio averaged nine assists per game last season so it’s not like he struggled to distribute the ball and generate offense, but Paul is the better player. He is will also benefit from his new young teammates but from a DFS perspective there isn’t enough here to really change my thought process.
When it comes to Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson I do have some optimism and it is for multiple reasons. The upgrade from Rubio to Paul again doesn’t really come into play here but we should expect to see the two young players continue to improve as they enter their third and second seasons, respectively. More importantly their playing time will increase this season following the trade of Kelly Oubre to the Thunder as part of the Paul deal.
Even with Oubre in the fold Bridges entered the starting lineup at the end of January and proceeded to average 12 points per game. Bridges did show off his scoring ability with some big games in the bubble but there is a limit to his upside in that department. He will add in some rebounds and steals as the increased playing time will only serve to benefit him but the ceiling is limited and it’s possible he is a better real life than DFS player.
The biggest beneficiary of the trade from the Suns’ perspective is Johnson who has the most to gain both from a scoring and playing time perspective. He did excel in the Florida bubble and his offensive ability is greater than Bridges. While he is more of a one-dimensional option Johnson did have two games of 12 rebounds and he has the talent to grow into a 15 to 20 point per game scorer. Having Paul will point him in the right direction as the Suns in general will lift each other up from a DFS perspective.
It isn’t a secret that Rubio’s offensive upside is limited, he did average 13 points per game last season, but that is about the most we can expect from him. The problem for Rubio is that he is now going to a rebuilding team so a slight decrease from the 8.8 assists per game he averaged last season is very possible simply from not having Booker and Ayton to turn his passes into points.
The biggest winner of the trade is Oubre as he is looking to improve on a career best season. We still have to remember that the former first round pick is just 23-years old even though he is a five-year veteran. Over the past three seasons we have seen his scoring output increase dramatically to 18.7 points per game last season to go along with 6.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. Oubre doesn’t offer much in the playmaking department, just 1.5 assists per game, but it’s the scoring we are after. He will be the main scoring option in Oklahoma City alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him surpass the 20-point mark per game.
There is a lot to unpack here and this is just the beginning of the NBA off-season. We also have to keep in mind that we are dealing with the shortest off-season ever and continuity is important but talent is always going to shine through. The Suns will be an exciting team to watch and the addition of Paul made them even better than they were when we last saw them. From a DFS perspective it is Johnson and Oubre that have the most to gain.
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