Fantasy Basketball fallout of that wild NBA offseason

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By Nick Whalen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

After the busiest NBA offseason in recent memory, here’s a look at which players were on the move, and what it means for their fantasy value this season.


Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers

After a brief stop in Oklahoma City, George joins Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles to form the best two-way wing combo in the league. When at their best, the Clippers have the talent to skyrocket to the top of the Western Conference, but both George and Leonard will carry fairly significant injury concerns into the season.

While Leonard figures to take plenty of rest days, George could be on the shelf to begin the year after undergoing surgery on both shoulders this summer. He should be back up to speed by mid-November, but the potential for several missed games early on does lower George’s fantasy ceiling. With that said, George is coming off of the best statistical year of his career, and though playing alongside Leonard and with a deeper overall roster may mean fewer shots, George should remain among the league’s elite fantasy wings.

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Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Anthony Davis plays for the Lakers now. Teaming up with LeBron James gives Davis the best teammate of his career, but he’ll enter the season facing immense championship expectations for the first time.

Davis will be up for the task, but the Lakers’ depth chart is thin all over, and even with LeBron at his side, Davis will be tasked with shouldering a significant offensive burden, all while anchoring the defense at the other end. His reputation took a major hit in New Orleans last season, but lost in the media circus was Davis putting up another fantastic statistical season: 25.9 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 2.4 BPG, despite playing fewer than 25 minutes in 14 of his 56 games. As long as the 26 year old stays healthy, he’ll have a chance to finish as the No. 1 overall player in many fantasy formats.

Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers

Coming off of a dominant run to the title in Toronto, Leonard begins a new chapter in his hometown where he'll step in as the face of the Clippers franchise alongside Paul George.

Fantasy-wise, Leonard's value shouldn't change significantly, though he could see a slight regression in scoring playing alongside George and a dynamic guard in Lou Williams. Of course, when it comes to Leonard, the biggest concern will be his health, and whether he and the Clippers opt for another load-management-heavy schedule in 2019-20.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers
This duo is set to be a problem in LA. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook to the Rockets

The Rockets pairing two of the highest-usage players in NBA history makes projecting Westbrook a difficult task. It’ll still be James Harden’s team, but with Westbrook essentially stepping into the Chris Paul role, how will his numbers be affected?

After three years as the unquestioned engine of the offense in Oklahoma City, there’s a chance Westbrook struggles to adjust, but no matter what, he should still remain one of the NBA’s elite counting-stat producers. As you may have heard, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in three straight seasons, though that’s coincided with waning efficiency from three and — perhaps more concerningly — at the free-throw line.

Chris Paul to the Thunder

Oklahoma City may not be Paul’s preferred residence, but the 35 year old will no longer share the spotlight with another ball-dominant guard. While the Thunder figure to be a fringe playoff team at best, Paul could be in a better fantasy situation than last season. He’ll be the full-time playmaker for the Thunder, which should help push his assists numbers back closer to the 10.3 per game he averaged in his final three years with the Clippers.

Athletically, Paul isn’t the player that he used to be, and his efficiency as a finisher (41.9% FG) last season demonstrated that. However, Paul remains a strong three-point shooter, and he’s notched at least 2.0 steals in three of the last four seasons. If — and when it comes to Paul, this is a massive if — he can stay even relatively healthy, Paul has plenty of upside as he begins his tenure in Oklahoma City.

Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat

Butler will essentially fill Josh Richardson's spot in the starting lineup, and he'll instantly become Miami's top offensive option. While Butler found success in Philadelphia and Minnesota, he was often in a complementary role — or, at best, a partnership — so he'll have a chance to return to being a 20-point-per-game scorer for the Heat. Butler's efficiency could suffer as a result, but he hasn't dipped below 45 percent shooting since his third year in the league.

Replacing Richardson with a higher-usage player in Butler could result in slightly reduced roles for Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow, but it's too early to say for sure whether the move will significantly impact either player.

D’Angelo Russell to the Golden State Warriors

Who knows what the Warriors are planning longterm, but landing Russell was all about acquiring high-level talent, regardless of fit. With Klay Thompson rehabbing a torn ACL, Russell can be penciled in as the off-guard next to Stephen Curry in what's suddenly back to being a top-flight Warriors backcourt. Curry will be (by far) the most talented teammate of Russell's career, which could help him build on a breakout 2018-19. Given his ability to play both guard spots on a gravely shallow Warriors’ roster, Russell will likely be set for an uptick in minutes after hovering around 30 minutes per game last season.

DeAndre Jordan to the Brooklyn Nets

At age-31, Jordan’s name recognition may outweigh his true value. The veteran was still productive last season, which he split between Dallas and New York, but he blocked just 1.1 shots per game and no longer finishes at the elite rate that saw him lead the league in field goal percentage from 2012-17.

There’s an argument to be made that he’ll be reenergized by the move to Brooklyn and teaming up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but first, he’ll have to win the starting job over Jarrett Allen. Regardless of how that situation transpires, both players figure to split minutes relatively evenly, which is not an ideal fantasy outcome, to say the least. What we know for sure is that Jordan can be counted on for elite, high-volume rebounding, but whether he’ll be a useful blocks/steals/assists contributor remains to be seen.

On a more encouraging note, Jordan is no longer the massive drag on free throw percentage that he was as recently as three seasons ago. After hitting just 48.2% of his attempts in 2016-17, Jordan shot 58% from the line two seasons ago and jumped all the way up to 70.5% in 2018-19.

Al Horford to the Philadelphia 76ers

Horford flipping from one Atlantic Division rival to another changed the landscape of the Eastern Conference, but in terms of fantasy value, Horford’s should remain relatively steady. Now 33, Horford could take a slight step back as a distributor (4.2 APG last season), but his rebounding (6.7 RPG), shot-blocking (1.3 BPG) and modest scoring production (13.6 PPG) project to be sustainable in a new environment. Playing alongside Joel Embiid could mean less of the defensive responsibility falls on Horford’s shoulders, but he’ll still be a cornerstone for a team that could ask him to play more than the career-low 29.0 minutes he saw in Philly last season.

Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets

Durant heading East was arguably the biggest move of the entire summer, but thanks to a torn Achilles in June, we may not see him in a Nets uniform until 2020-21. In the immediate future, the Nets will likely fill the void with a cast of role players, including Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, and Rodions Kurucs. Chandler is facing a 25-game suspension to begin the year, and Kurucs is in the midst of some legal trouble, so of the three, Prince makes for the most appealing fantasy option.

Kevin Durant attends The Los Angeles Dodgers Game at Dodger Stadium
Nets fans and fantasy gamers alike will have to wait to see KD in a Nets uniform. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images)

Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics

Walker may not be as supremely talented as Kyrie Irving, but he can do a reasonable impression and should be an enormous upgrade in terms of leadership and coachability. Fantasy-wise, Walker moving to a truly good team for the first time in his career will almost certainly result in a decline in value.

Walker topped out at 25.6 points per game last season while posting a usage rate north of 30% — a number that will likely tumble back toward the mid-20s in Boston. With that will likely come dips in scoring and assists, though a more talented supporting cast — no offense to Bismack Biyombo — could result in better efficiency. Walker took a career-high 8.9 threes per game last season but shot just 35.6% — his lowest figure in four years.

Terry Rozier to the Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte is banking on Rozier looking much more like the player who filled in admirably for Kyrie Irving two seasons ago — not the one who struggled to find his footing off the bench in 2018-19. Rozier is far from a sure thing, and perhaps the chief concern is that he’s yet to shoot 40% from the field in any of his four NBA seasons.

He’ll almost certainly continue to be a drag on that category, but Rozier moving to a bad team with a gaping hole at point guard is a dream fantasy scenario. Rozier could easily tack on close to 15 more minutes per game after averaging just 22.7 MPG last season, and, by default, he’ll be the No. 1 option on a roster that’s top returning scorer is — and I cannot stress this enough — Marvin Williams. At some point, Rozier will have to prove he can score with significantly more efficiency, but based on opportunity alone, the Louisville product is positioned to be among the highest year-over-year risers in all of fantasy basketball.

Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets

He may have brought most of it upon himself, but the avalanche of negative press surrounding Irving in Boston overshadowed the fact that he turned in the best statistical season of his eight-year career. Irving averaged 23.8 points on nearly 49% shooting and hit 40-plus% of his threes for the fourth time in five seasons. He also handed out a career-best 6.9 assists per game to go with career-best steals and blocks numbers.

With Kevin Durant sidelined, Irving comes to Brooklyn as the unquestioned No. 1 option, and he’ll have capable role players around him in Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Jarrett Allen. As long as Irving, who’s averaging 19 games missed over the last four seasons, can stay mostly healthy, he’ll be positioned for another elite fantasy campaign.

Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers

After losing Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency and Darren Collison to retirement, the Pacers brought in Brogdon as Victor Oladipo’s backcourt mate of the future. With Oladipo out to begin the year, Brogdon will be positioned as the primary ball-handler and playmaker, and while those duties will likely subside as Oladipo gets back up to speed, it’s hard to argue that that the move to Indiana doesn’t put Brogdon in a better fantasy position.

The league’s only 50-40-90 player last season, Brogdon may not be able to maintain that historic efficiency, but he should easily top his 11.7 field goal attempts per game last season, with upticks in assists and steals also expected. Brogdon’s free throw percentage got most of the attention in 2018-19, but he also notched a career-best free throw rate of .203 — nearly four percentage points higher than his 2017-18 figure.

Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz

The veteran stuck it out and played 70 games for a rebuilding Grizzlies team last season before being traded to the Jazz in June. He’ll enter a significantly better basketball situation in Utah, but more surrounding talent — and another star ball-handler in Donovan Mitchell — could mean fewer opportunities.

Of course, Conley is a lock to start in the backcourt alongside Mitchell, but the Jazz are Mitchell’s team, and Conley will likely act as more of a facilitator than a go-to scorer. That will likely result in fewer points — he averaged a career-high 21.1 PPG last season — though Conley’s rebounding, assists and steals production should be sustainable. He’ll also transition from the league’s slowest team to a team that ranked 13th in pace a year ago.


Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart to the New Orleans Pelicans

The core of the Anthony Davis deal, all three young players will factor into the Pelicans’ rotation this season. If he can stay healthy for the first time in his career, Ball will have the highest fantasy ceiling of the three, though he’ll need to demonstrate more consistency as a shooter.

Ingram’s status has been in limbo for much of the offseason due to a blood clot issue, but he’s a proven source of points who should benefit from a change of scenery. The biggest question facing all three new arrivals is how, exactly, they’ll fit into what’s developed into a deep Pelicans’ roster. As it stands in early September, Ball and Ingram have good chances to earn starting spots, but that’s far from a guarantee.

Markieff Morris to the Detroit Pistons

Morris fell off the map last season amid injury issues, but he landed in Detroit, where he’s positioned to back up Blake Griffin at power forward. If (or, perhaps, when) Griffin suffers an injury, Morris’ services could be in high demand on the waiver wire.

Ricky Rubio to the Phoenix Suns

Rubio and the Suns are somewhat of an odd couple, but Phoenix was in desperate need of a functional NBA point guard and Rubio fits that bill. The veteran struggled through much of last season and shot just 31.1% from three, but he still managed 6.1 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. There’s not a ton of upside here, but when it comes to Rubio, at least you know what you’re getting.

J.J. Redick to the New Orleans Pelicans

At this point in his career, Redick is simply a points/threes specialist, but he provided a career-best 3.2 of the latter per game last season. He may not get to 8.0 attempts per game in New Orleans, but Redick is a proven commodity who hasn’t missed more than 12 games in any season since 2010-11.

Bobby Portis and Julius Randle to the New York Knicks

Everyone who said the Knicks wouldn’t corner the market on ball-dominant free agent power forwards must feel pretty silly right about now. In Portis and Randle, the Knicks added two players who rack up points and rebounds but not much else.

Randle showed off some improved playmaking last season, and Portis shot the three at nearly 40%, but New York’s depth chart is crowded at every position, and it’s unclear how much Portis and Randle — and Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson and Marcus Morris and Kevin Knox — will eat into each other’s value. Of that group, Randle and Robinson are the players to target, but their ceilings may not be as high as they could be.

Bojan Bogdanovic to the Utah Jazz

Coming off of a career year in Indiana, Bogdanovic heads to a more well-rounded roster in Utah. The 30 year old will start on the wing, but it’s fair to expect his production to more closely resemble his 2017-18 season, when he averaged 14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.9 made threes in 30.8 minutes per game. With Victor Oladipo out for much of last season, Bogdanovic’s usage rate jumped more than three points up to 22.4%.

Willie Cauley-Stein to the Golden State Warriors

Cauley-Stein had a productive run in Sacramento, and he’ll have an opportunity to grab hold of a starting spot in Golden State, as well. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll hold off Kevon Looney, but either way, Cauley-Stein could have a difficult time matching the 27.3 minutes per game he played a year ago.

Jeremy Lamb to the Indiana Pacers

After spending last season as the Hornets’ second option, Lamb will again fill a complementary role — this time for a much more complete team. Early on, Lamb could be the 15-plus-points-per-game scorer he was in Charlotte, but once Victor Oladipo returns, Lamb could sink into a lesser role while sharing time on the wing with fellow new addition, T.J. Warren.

Ish Smith to the Washington Wizards

Due to his low percentages, Smith has never been much of a fantasy consideration, but he’ll be worth monitoring this season if only because the Wizards are dangerously thin at point guard. Washington did bring in Isaiah Thomas, but Smith figures to be the primary option in an offense that will struggle to find playmaking beyond Bradley Beal.

Wesley Matthews to the Milwaukee Bucks

There’s a decent chance Matthews ends up filling Malcolm Brogdon’s spot in the starting lineup, but at this point in his career, his best fantasy days are behind him. Over the last four seasons, Matthews is shooting under 40% from the field, and while he’s still a reliable source of three-pointers, his defensive production tailed off in 2018-19.

Enes Kanter to the Boston Celtics

When the minutes are there, Kanter has shown he’s among the league’s best rebounders. That shouldn’t be an issue in Boston, which lost Al Horford and Aron Baynes this summer, but Kanter will need to prove he can hold his own defensively to stay on the floor. If he can approach 30 minutes per game, Kanter should easily average a double-double. Plus, he’s a strong free-throw shooter (career 78%) for a big man.

Derrick Rose to the Detroit Pistons

If Rose’s career-best three-point shooting (37% FG) wasn’t just a one-year anomaly, he’ll have a chance to be productive as perhaps the Pistons’ first guard off the bench. Still, it’s tough to imagine him coming close to matching last season’s 18.0 points per game on 48.2% shooting.

Dewayne Dedmon to the Sacramento Kings

The de facto replacement for Willie Cauley-Stein, Dedmon offers a well-rounded fantasy profile. In 64 games for the Hawks last season, he averaged 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, while adding career-highs in steals (1.1), blocks (1.1) and made threes (1.3) per game.

Seth Curry to the Dallas Mavericks

One of the league’s best three-point marksmen, Curry averaged 1.5 made threes at a 45.0% clip in 18.9 minutes per game last season. He should be set for a slightly expanded role in his second tour with the Mavs, but Curry doesn’t add much value in any other categories.

Tomas Satoransky to the Chicago Bulls

Among the more underrated moves of the summer was the Bulls acquiring a significant upgrade at point guard. Satoransky isn’t a household name, but he was quietly a productive fill-in for John Wall, averaging 11.1 points on 48/41/80 shooting splits to go with 6.7 assists and 1.2 steals over his final 44 games. With Kris Dunn still on the roster and rookie Coby White waiting in the wings, Satoransky may have to earn his minutes. But if he holds onto the starting job, as expected, Satoransky will make for a solid, later-round value.

Ed Davis to the Utah Jazz

Davis is usually an add-him-if-you-really-need-rebounds guy when it comes to fantasy, and while high-volume boards will again be his calling card, he’s in a slightly more intriguing situation in Utah. As long as Rudy Gobert is healthy, Davis will be a fringe option, but the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year has battled significant injuries in the past.

Derrick Favors to the New Orleans Pelicans

The veteran played only 23.2 minutes per game last season, and he’ll have a great chance to push that number closer to 30 as the unquestioned starter in New Orleans.

Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers

Whiteside fell out of favor in Miami for a number of reasons, but the Blazers appear willing to put a great deal of faith in the 30 year old. When healthy and engaged, Whiteside is a top-tier shot-blocker and volume rebounder. However, he played only 54 games two years ago and saw his role gradually dwindle over the second half of last season. In Portland, the roster is aligning for Whiteside and Zach Collins to play virtually all of the center minutes until Jusuf Nurkic returns, so a bounce-back season is a possibility.

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