NBA Roundtable: Evaluating the Jimmy Butler trade
NBA Roundtable: Evaluating the Jimmy Butler trade

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to the Week 5 edition of the RotoWire NBA Roundtable. Each week, a group of our NBA staffers get together to answer questions about the biggest topics of the week, both in fantasy basketball and the league overall.

This week, we power rank the top five teams in the league, evaluate the Jimmy Butler trade and more:

1. Power rank the top five teams in the NBA right now.

Nick Whalen: 1. Warriors 2. Raptors 3. Bucks 4. Celtics 5. Trail Blazers

James Anderson: 1. Warriors 2. Raptors 3. Bucks 4. Pelicans 5. Jazz

DJ Trainor: 1. Warriors 2. Raptors 3. Celtics 4. Rockets 5. Bucks

Ken Crites: 1. Warriors 2. Raptors 3. Bucks 4. Trail Blazers 5. 76ers

Jeff Edgerton: 1. Warriors 2. 76ers 3. Raptors 4. Nuggets 5. Trail Blazers

Mike Barner: 1. Warriors 2. Raptors 3. Celtics 4. Bucks 5. Trail Blazers

Shannon McKeown: 1. Warriors 2. Bucks 3. Raptors 4. 76ers 5. Celtics

2. What was your reaction to the Jimmy Butler trade? Did Minnesota get fair value?

Whalen: The deal itself came out of nowhere, but I think Minnesota did pretty well, all things considered. The Wolves probably should've pulled the trigger on one of the better offers that were on the table earlier in the year, but they could do a lot worse than getting back two starting-caliber wings on team-friendly deals.

Anderson: Good deal for both sides – like the gamble by Philly more. Minnesota got fair value in the moment, but they shouldn't really be praised for that since they should have take the Josh Richardson deal a month ago.

Trainor: Instant shock, since I thought he'd eventually find his way onto the Rockets. I've seen knowledgeable people argue for both sides of the trade, which tells me that it was pretty fair given the circumstances.

Crites: I think Minnesota did as well as you could expect. Clearly, Thibs wasn't going to deal Jimmy Buckets for draft picks – he insists on winning now (or at least trying to win). The T-Wolves get two legit starters on excellent contracts. A motivated Covington can play defense at a close-to-Butler level. Saric's D is suspect, but I bet he turns around his recent shooting slump.

Edgerton: The trade itself wasn't surprising, given the circumstances. I think the addition of Covington and Saric gives Minnesota a defensive boost that will make them more competitive.

Barner: Based on how poorly the Timberwolves handled his trade request from the start, they probably couldn't have acquired much more for him at this point. They've got a bit a log jam at power forward now, but Covington and Saric are two good players who leave them with solid overall depth. Based on some of the rumors of the earlier offers, though, this probably wasn't the best package they could have received had the dealt Butler immediately

McKeown: Minnesota received solid value in return for Butler, especially if Butler doesn't sign a long-term deal in Philly. Covington is a good 3-and-D player who fits into any rotation. Meanwhile, Saric seems to be a bit underrated after taking a backseat to Simmons and Embiid. Saric has a solid all-around game. We could see another side of Saric if this trade spurs him to play with a chip on his shoulder.

3. How should owners assess the fantasy ramifications of the trade?

Whalen: It's great news for Karl-Anthony Towns, who's already noticeably more comfortable in the two games since the trade. Covington's value probably stays about the same, while Saric could take a slight dip if Thibs insists on continuing to play Taj Gibson big minutes. Saric was off to a really rough start in Philadelphia, though, so you could argue he has nowhere to go but up.

Anderson: Andrew Wiggins, KAT, Robert Covington see their stock increase. Wiggins because he'll get more touches, KAT because his nemesis is gone, Covington because Thibs will run him into the ground. I don't think anyone's stock takes a big hit (unless you count Fultz, which you shouldn't).

Trainor: Obviously, Butler's outlook looks brighter since we can expect him to play on a regular basis moving forward. I'm hoping for added value out of Saric with the fresh start, but ultimately I think coach Tom Thibodeau will prefer a frontcourt of Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns, unfortunately.

Crites: There go the crazy minutes for Taj Gibson. Philly is conveniently using the Butler news to mercifully bench Markelle Fultz. I suspect this means one or two fewer shots for Joel Embiid for the next few weeks, while Butler does his usual ball dominant work.

Edgerton: Obviously J.J. Redick and Wilson Chandler will be the big beneficiaries on Philly's side. Conversely, it looks like Markelle Fultz has been put on notice. I also think Andrew Wiggins owners should start looking for other options.

Barner: Taj Gibson and Dario Saric receive the big hits in value because they will eat into each other's minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns is the clear winner of this trade, so if you drafted him on your squad, get ready for some massive production. Wilson Chandler also becomes someone to consider adding off waiver with a starting job now lined up with the Sixers.

McKeown: All three of the primary pieces (Butler, Covington and Saric) will see a slight dip in their production in their new landing spots. That said, Butler is still a top-30 fantasy option, while Covington and Saric will be in the 70-to-90 range.

4. Which player would you rather roster in a dynasty league: De'Aaron Fox or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

Whalen: The correct answer is Fox, who's been among the most improved players in the league thus far. Gilgeous-Alexander looks like he'll be a multi-category contributor for a long time, but Fox has the higher upside – especially if his vastly improved shooting proves to be more than just an early-season hot streak.

Anderson: De'Aaron Fox. I looovvve SGA, but Fox has the clear edge in assists, and I think they're comparable in steals. The rest is to be determined, but just the assists edge gives it to Fox in my mind.

Trainor: Sample size is still too small for me to reach any definitive conclusions on Gilgeous-Alexander, so I prefer Fox at the moment.

Crites: Wow, tough question. I LOVE SGA's length. And it's awfully impressive that he's shooting 48.5% from the field. I also just don't trust Kings management. I go with Gilgeous-Alexander.

Edgerton: Fox. SGA has a lot of upside, but currently the Kings have a more cohesive unit and Fox has a better 3-to-5-year outlook.

Barner: Fox. Both will likely be special players, but I think Fox has more upside across multiple categories.

McKeown: If the cost to keep them is equal, Fox is the obvious answer. The sophomore point guard is already producing at a top-40 level for fantasy owners and there's room for growth. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a great keeper, as well, but we need to see him produce at a solid clip for longer than one week before we anoint him an equal to Fox. I expect both to be top-50 keepers after the season.

5. Which team is most likely to right the ship and grab a top 2 or 3 seed in its conference: Boston or Houston?

Whalen: I think both teams will come around in the long run, and we're already starting to see it with Houston. The West is still the superior conference with the best team (by far) at the top, but for the first time in several years, the top-four in the East might actually be better than the top-four in the West. All of that is to say it won't be easy for Boston to overtake some combination of Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Indiana and cruise to a top-three seed.

Anderson: Boston just because finishing top 3 in the East will be much easier than finishing top 3 in the West. Also, the Rockets just don't have much motivation in the regular season this year.

Trainor: Boston is built for the regular season with their depth, so slight edge to Boston. However, I think both teams will end up with home-court advantage in Round 1 of the playoffs.

Crites: In a shocker, I'm going with Boston. They have the best coaching-GM combo in the NBA and will figure things out. This is a long-term play. They don't need to worry about November basketball. How is Houston going to play defense with that starting five?

Edgerton: It's hard to count either team out as a top 3 candidate, but I would give the nod to Boston due the dearth of quality teams in the East. Houston's interior game isn't on par with the Warriors' and the Nuggets', and I think teams like the Pelicans and Trail Blazers have better odds for a top-3 finish.

Barner: I think both will rebound and finish toward the top of their respective conferences, but I'll go with Boston here because of their overall depth. It's going to take a while for them to all gel together since Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward missed so much time last year, but when they do, look out.

McKeown: Give me the Rockets. Houston has a smaller hill to climb in usurping the likes of Portland, Denver, OKC and other teams our west. The Bucks, Raptors and Sixers are legit.

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Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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