Trade Grades: Star Hotshots win James Yap-Paul Lee swap

The Governor’s Cup Finals is not done yet but that did not stop the Star Hotshots and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters from engaging and completing a mega trade today.

The Elasto Painters sent Paul “the Lee-thal Weapon” Lee to the Star Hotshots in exchange for two-time PBA MVP James Yap.

The Star Hotshots had a disappointing season and it appears that they are reshaping their franchise by acquiring someone new who will be the fresh face of the franchise.

READ: James Yap, Paul Lee swap teams as Star, ROS complete blockbuster trade

On the other hand, the Elasto Painters lost Coach Yeng Guiao and traded JR Quinahan. They might be in a mini-rebuilding phase by getting James Yap who can provide scoring and perhaps, veteran leadership.

Now, here is a short take on the blockbuster trade plus trade grades for each team:

Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

Traded to Star Hotshots: Paul Lee (guard)
Received from Star Hotshots: James Yap (guard/forward)

Coach Yeng and JR Quinahan are gone and now, Paul Lee as well. The Elasto Painters are trying to stay relevant even with the departure of arguably their best and most popular player. They did this by adding someone who is more popular and has accomplished more in his career.

However, there is a drawback, the new player going to RoS is much older than Lee.

Furthermore, Yap appears to be on the decline. His numbers last season were mostly down and he missed a handful of games due to injury.

There were also games where he wasn’t utilized much and his minutes were down. In fact, Yap averaged the fewest minutes and lowest points of his career last season. It did not help him that the Hotshots had other shooting guards and small forwards competing for playing time against him. His defense was also suspect.

Well with the Elasto Painters, James Yap will have a fresh start. He immediately becomes one of their best scoring options, especially since JR Quinahan was traded away. Moreover, “Big Game James” should be their first choice to start at either the SG or SF position. He provides them shooting, some slashing and of course, clutch scoring. Others might argue that maybe Jeff Chan, Jericho Cruz or Gabe Norwood should start ahead of Yap.

That’s a valid point, but those guys are already accustomed with starting or coming off the bench. They play fairly the same as a starter or bench player because Coach Yeng trained them to be like that. However, the same cannot be said about Yap. He is used to starting and RoS should try him as a starter first. Perhaps, it takes Yap longer to warm up and he needs to feel the flow and pace of the game as early as possible.

Overall, Yap is a proven scorer and winner. Hence, RoS will benefit from his presence. Aside from his accolades, Yap can also provide veteran leadership and motivation. He will be very valuable to the younger guys on the team (Maverick Ahanmisi, Jericho Cruz and Don Trollano).

Trade Grade: B+


Star Hotshots

Traded to Rain or Shine: James Yap (guard/forward)

Received from Star Hotshots: Paul Lee (guard)

The trading away of James Yap was not that surprising because Yap had a subpar year with the Hotshots. There were also reports that Yap and the coaching staff/management weren’t on the same page. Thus, the Star Hotshots are definitely trying to rebuild their team on the fly and they want new players. This started with the acquisition of RR Garcia and it probably won’t end with the arrival of Paul Lee. Anyway, his entrance makes him their #1 player and he should be considered as their best player and new face of the franchise, especially if Marc Pingris gets traded as well.

Paul Lee had an inconsistent season with Rain or Shine. He got hurt and missed some games plus he was unable to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas.

Still, he ended up winning Finals MVP during the Commissioner’s Cup, so Lee can certainly still play among the best. He finished the season with the lowest scoring average of his career because he also played fewer minutes. His stats across the board (rebounds, assists, steals) were also the lowest of his career. Still, the Hotshots aren’t too concerned or worried because Lee is young and has yet to reach his prime. Plus, injuries took its toll on Lee. A healthy Lee is on another level, a much higher one than James Yap.

Should Lee start or come off the bench? It actually does not matter because he can dominate either way. He just needs to be healthy. Lee is a bonafide scorer who can shoot anywhere from the perimeter and he can finish in the paint with contact. He can play both guard positions, although PG is probably his best spot. His ability to play both guard spots will give the Hotshots some flexibility when it comes to using combinations with Mark Barroca, PJ Simon and RR Garcia. In effect, the Hotshots acquired a younger version of James Yap which means that problems with minutes and usage might still occur.

Ultimately, Star might need to trade or let go some of their other guards or perimeter players so that Lee gets more minutes. His days playing less than 28 minutes per game should be long forgotten because Lee can average more than 20 per game if given the opportunity.

Trade Grade: A


Final Thoughts: In summary, a solid trade for both teams and it appears close to being balanced and fair. They should both benefit from this. The slight advantage goes to the Star Hotshots because Paul Lee is younger and has yet to reach his peak and prime, but Yap might be the better fit with the Elasto Painters for now. In the long run, a better trade for the Hotshots. — By Rolly Mendoza


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