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Trade Marc Gasol or Kevin Love for Lauri Markkanen in fantasy?

Lauri Markkanen has been crushing box scores, but is he a better investment than veterans Kevin Love and Marc Gasol? Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.

Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe, and DFS expert Renee Miller.


Would you trade Marc Gasol or Kevin Love to acquire Lauri Markkanen in a fantasy trade

Kyle Soppe: If I asked you to name all of the players in the league who have attempted more 3s and converted at a higher rate this month than Markkanen, how long would that list be? I guessed 10, and that was with the understanding that the rookie has been playing at a high level. The answer? Two: Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry. That's it.

That's impressive company, but it also is company I'm not nearly comfortable considering Markkanen in.

Love's team seems to despise him, while Gasol's field goal percentage is far-and-away the lowest of his career ... and both guys are in the 18-point and 9-rebound range.

So would I trade promise for a high floor? Not unless I am fading in the standings or maybe if I just lost DeMarcus Cousins and am willing to take a risk. But generally speaking, I'm a cautious player and would side with the veterans, assuming that I am in the thick of the standings.

Jim McCormick: Due largely to defensive concerns, Love is playing 15 percent fewer minutes per game in January than through December and has taken 31 percent fewer shots per game during this stretch. Gasol could simply be gassed; the 33-year-old leads the league in frontcourt touches per game and has taken significantly fewer shots in January than through December (he averaged 20 percent fewer PPG after the All-Star break last season).

Since the start of the new year, Markkanen has averaged the most shots, points, rebounds and 3-pointers of this trio and with superior efficiency. Markkanen is 19th overall on the Player Rater during the past 30 days, while Gasol is 49th and Love is 90th.

Given his age (29) and substantial overall production this season, I still trust Love to return to elite form as the most bankable and capable offensive player of this trio, but I would gladly trade Gasol for Markkanen at this point of the campaign, given a longer trend of second-half swoons.

Renee Miller: I'm assuming we're considering this question in anticipation of a Nikola Mirotic trade. That makes sense for Chicago, as having three viable power forwards probably isn't the best use of their roster space. Comparing Markannen to Bobby Portis is where I started my thinking process on this one, to get an idea of Markkanen's value on its own.

While Markkanen has started more games and plays more minutes -- traits to be valued here for sure -- he isn't super impressive statistically. For instance, he ranks 30th among power forwards in player efficiency rating (15.77 PER) and 21st in usage rate (20.5 USG).

Portis plays just 20 minutes per game but frequently produces stat lines that overlap with Markkanen's range of outcomes. Portis ranks seventh in USG and eighth in PER among power forwards (40th and 29th, respectively, among all players), and he has the best rebounding rate and assist ratio among the Bulls' power forwards.

But okay, this question isn't about Portis -- I'm just pointing out that the talent discrepancy between the two forwards isn't what the trade value or DFS salaries indicate. To get to the point, I'm not giving up Love or Gasol for Markkanen at this point in the season.

The knock on Love is that he's injury prone, and we are heading into the part of the season when it wouldn't be unreasonable for the Cavaliers to rest him here and there, but when he plays, he typically plays well. Love is 16th overall in rebounding rate, boasts a 61.3 true shooting percentage, and is 20th overall in PER (23.1).

Gasol is still a star, ranking fourth in USG among centers while averaging almost 40 fantasy points per game. Memphis might not be a good team, but Gasol is still a very valuable commodity. Bottom line, if you can get anyone to take your Markkanen for Love or Gasol in a non-dynasty league, do it.