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Fantasy Fallout: LeBron James chooses Cleveland

July 11, LeBron James announces he's returning to Cavs

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The King Returns Home

With LeBron James “coming home” and rejoining the Cavaliers, ramifications will be felt throughout the league. While more of the fallout will happen in the coming days, there are a handful of repercussions we can reasonably decipher right now. The first being King James himself, whose fantasy value likely stays mostly the same with the move to Cleveland. He’s played a ton of minutes throughout his career, including four straight deep postseason runs including reaching the Finals, so it’s possible the Cavs rest him a bit more during the regular season, especially with them now being the heavy favorites to win the East. According to Basketball Monster, James finished as the No. 5 ranked fantasy player last season, his lowest mark since 2007/08 (when he finished No. 6), so he’ll safely be drafted second in almost every fantasy league this year.

What this move means to Dwyane Wade’s fantasy value remains up in the air and dependent upon where he lands, but one thing is clear: his decision to turn down $41.8 million over the next two years in an effort to bring the band back together in Miami looks like a major error right now, at least financially.

Chris Bosh is now heavily favored to join Houston, which should be a wash to his fantasy value. He’s set career highs in True Shooting percentage each of the last two seasons but likely won’t see a huge increase in Usage Rate if he joins a loaded Rockets team. Although one piece of good news is that the Heat ranked No. 27 in Pace last season, whereas Houston finished top five. (UPDATE: Bosh has re-signed with the Heat).

Josh McRoberts suddenly looks like the Heat’s top scoring option, and even after the team adds some pieces, he’s going to be a big part of the offense, increasing his fantasy value. Seriously, he’s one of the bigger winners when it comes to James’ decision, at least in fantasy terms.

Kyrie Irving will likely take fewer shots, although his selectivity should improve. He’ll immediately become the best point guard James has ever played with, and it remains to be seen how the two will coexist, but the safest bet is that Irving’s fantasy value remains mostly the same. Then again, he’s still just 22 years old, so there’s very much the chance he jumps to a next level, independent of having James as a teammate. Let’s just hope Irving can turn in a fully healthy season. He has the upside to be a top-10 fantasy player, no question.

This is more speculative, but rumors are strong the next step involves an Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love trade. This would be good news for Wiggins’ fantasy value, as he’d be top dog in Minnesota, even as a rookie. Love would maintain elite fantasy value, gobbling up a ton of rebounds, but his scoring could take a hit, joining a team that has two players who finished in the top-10 in Usage Rate last season (Irving finished eighth, while James finished fifth). If Love getting moved leads to more Gorgui Dieng in our lives, then everyone wins.

Dion Waiters is going to see fewer shots, but many of those will now come wide open. James and Irving (and Love?) could see a slight decrease in minutes with Cleveland featured in a bunch of blowouts in the Eastern Conference and in preparation for a deep playoff run, but they are going to light up the scoreboard when on the court, and it’s very possible the team produces three top-10 fantasy players.

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