The period of free agency continues to shape the fantasy basketball-scape with fresh meat on terrible teams and players signing with contenders to be relegated to bench duty. With baseball in full swing and the NFL getting half of the ESPN air time no matter what time of year it is, a lot of NBA moves have been made under the radar. Look for every division to get a team-by-team breakdown and some early fantasy thoughts on the new faces in new places:
I Hope We Don’t Get Hurt in the Playoffs Too: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Erik Murphy
A pretty quiet offseason from the Bulls, who at this point seem intent to play their regulars from last season, but with, oh yea, former MVP Derrick Rose back at the 1. I love Jimmy Butler who looks to start at the the 2, or at least play a lot of minutes off the bench at the 2/3, and can play 48 minutes every night if need be should Kirk Hinrich‘s hip pull another AARP card on him. Newcomer Mike Dunleavy would look to be the 6th man (or 7th man if Hinrich starts over Butler) and fill in for any time missed by Luol Deng and rookies Snell and Murphy don’t look to factor in much.
Man I Hope This Works Out: Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Anthony Bennett, Earl Clark
The Cavs started the offseason with a big bang taking Bennett in a surprise first overall pick, and it’s not that I think Bennett couldn’t turn into a solid player (double negative!), but the Cavs front court is just so crowded that I don’t see much fantasy impact from the #1 overall pick and have him the #8 rookie fantasy-wise for the 2013-2014 season. The aforementioned clogged front court starts with the huge free agent signing of Andrew Bynum, and new Head Coach Mike Brown has said Bynum will start day one and not get eased into the mix even with knees made out of toothpicks. The latter part of that was not a direct quote. But that also means Anderson Varejao will be coming off the bench with Tristan Thompson starting at the 4. I debated with a colleague on which to take first, I’m taking Thompson, even though I think Varejao will provide value with huge Reb per 48. Say what you want about the Cavs, but on paper they’ve put together a really solid and deep team. “Wahhhhh I’m Jarrett Jack” will be a vet to back up Kyrie Irving and could provide similar value to last year’s stint with the Warriors as he’ll probably play a good chunk of minutes at the 2 along with Irving when Dion Waiters gets breathers and at the end of games. Don’t forget Irving has a lengthy injury history as well, so as a late-round flyer, Jack will give you great value.
Yikes a Bankrupt City Still Has an NBA Team?: Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Well despite being a bankrupt city, Detroit followed in Cleveland’s footsteps with a huge offseason themselves, culminating in a big sign-and-trade to pick up Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight. The trade of the Brandons. Jennings will vault up my rankings, I think he gets a ton of rock in this offense, and Pistons fans can hope for an opening night shot like last year. Incumbent guards Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey have proven to be “meh” so I could see the Pistons giving a lot of time to developing Caldwell-Pope, even with the makings of a playoff contending team. Talk about burying your lead JB! J Smoove is probably (read definitely) the biggest fantasy import to Motown, and will also look to have an increased shot count night-to-night than the last few years with the Hawks. I know there’s a lot of Andre Drummond hype out there, but I’m not big on him at all and the addition of Smith will take even more workload from him offensively, and there’s still Greg Monroe in the front court.
Second Best in the East: Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Chris Copeland
The Pacers will be bringing back the same starting five that almost got them to the NBA Finals last year (well, with Danny Granger possibly starting if he can be healthy but seems a long shot), but did make some moves to shore up their reserves. The big moves was a trade with the Suns to bring in Luis Scola to play behind David West and a little behind Roy Hibbert to be the front line’s 6th man. I could see him still being fairly valuable as an off-day big with solid FG% and across the board stats. Deeper leagues should definitely keep him on their radar if he falls off draft board. Watson looks to be the primary backup to George Hill with D.J. Augustin heading to Toronto. Should anything happen to Hill, Watson would be a valuable pickup. While with the Knicks, Copeland proved he can be a useful swing man, but should only be providing depth for the Pacers.
Despite losing one of the most electric back courts in recent memory, the Bucks retooled their 1 and 2 after losing Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings with pickups of O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight. I think Knight might be a big break out candidate now, moving into a starting line-up and off an absolutely anemic team. With Ersan Ilyasova helping to spread the floor and two long bigs to dish to down low in John Henson and Larry Sanders, Knight is going to be leaned upon to make a lot of plays. Mayo will also be slashing to the rim as well, and I think he can replicate the kind of season he put together last year for the Mavericks. Pachulia, Delfino and Neal will provide veteran depth, with the former providing some spot start Boards-n-Blocks and the latter two some spot start ThrAGNOF. While I think this team will still be in playoff contention most of the year, I don’t think they finish the year in the top 8 spots in the East.