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:
Golden State Warriors
Let’s start backwards with the least-important fantasy-worthy news of the bunch with the Seth Curry “non-guaranteed” signing. Man if only all contracts would work like that. “I’m Jeffrey Wigand, and my non-disclosure agreement is ‘non-guaranteed’ so the movie The Insider won’t ever get made!” Meh, have to be a lot of injuries and the contract to go through to matter. Now to what really does matter, love Iguodala going to the Warriors, keeps him in a high-tempo/fast-break team to keep those steals up – I think he stays about at the same production which may have him a value pick late. You know, I’ve always been a Speights fan, think he has really good game for a big PF, and with David Lee coming off that surgery to fix a hip flexor at the end of the Warriors playoff run, Speights could find his way into some fantasy value, immensely so should Lee miss any time benched in back-to-backs (unlikely but possible) or suffer another injury (somewhat likely). Just something to keep an eye on. Douglas is interesting as well with Jarrett Jack going to the Cavs and how much a factor Jack became in that Warriors offense last season. Douglas is a really good scorer, had some good games back in the day with the Knicks, and could emerge as more fantasy-useful than I think people will realize. I’m not saying Douglas will replicate what Jack did, but average double-digts a game? Sure, Douglas could do that. O’Neal provides some vet experience on the front line, but he’s done.
Los Angeles Clippers
It’s been a while since a new head coach has a) come to a new team with such a promising future and great record the year before and b) gotten this much buzz in an offseason move. In my opinion, Doc is getting set up for failure. He has a good team that can contend, but I don’t think will win any titles and that’ll be labelled a failure. Hold on a minute, isn’t this a fantasy site?! Redick’s move to the west coast should make him pretty interesting as he’ll be starting and can move up to the 3 if he’s hot when Jamal Crawford comes off the bench. Think he’ll get to about 90% of what he gave you from the first half of last year with the Magic. Should get a lot of minutes on a productive team with several three point looks a night. Right now Dudley appears to be in line to start at the 3, but it’s such a hodgepodge with Matt Barnes still going to get a lot of minutes and rookie Reggie Bullock also vying for some time. Barnes should be about what he was last year, which doesn’t lend itself to solid numbers to either of the other guys. Mullens gives the Clippers an interesting 4/5 hybrid that can shoot from deep, so if you need an out of position ThrAGNOF on the TNT nights, the Clippers should be playing on a lot of nights with few games, so could be someone interesting to stream as we get into the season. Same goes for Jamison, who will be backing up Blake Griffin and could score and board in bunches with that second unit here and there.
Los Angeles Lakers
This is going to an awful season for fans of purple and gold… Not you East Carolina fans! The Lakers fate entirely predicates on Kobe Bryant, who’s trying to rehab from his injury jumping over a car by rehabbing using anti-gravity treadmills. So that’s how he hopped the car! It’s been a bit polarizing whether Dwight Howard leaving LA was a good or bad thing, but as an objective observer, I just don’t see how it could be a good thing. Cut to Chris Kaman going, “hey – it’s good for me I got a starting role again!” Love Kaman this year. His last full season with the Clips, given it was 4 years ago, was that breakout 18.5/9.3 year, since then it was an injury plagued 10-11, a 13.1/7.7 11-12 in New Orleans, then came off the bench last year in Dallas. He gets a starting role next to Pau Gasol, will be needed to score some, will get board, and no one will be reaching for him. Love Gasol too, who will move up in my rankings with Dwight gone. Both will probably end up on several of my teams. Right now it looks like Young and Johnson will duke it out for time, with both possibly starting at the 2 & 3 until Kobe is ready, then cannibalizing their numbers at the 3. Young plays no defense, so naturally he’ll probably be the one starting in D’Antoni’s system. Don’t really have any good or bad feelings towards either. Farmar will bring a familiar face and energy to the second unit, Elias Harris is just an insurance big body behind the starting vets and rookie Ryan Kelly won’t do much this year unless there’s a major injury and for some reason they let him start, which is a highly doubtful scenario.
Last year was an infuriating season, for Suns and fantasy owners alike. If you don’t remember, a team of absolute scrubs decided to bench Luis Scola and sat out Goran Dragic for no reason a few games. “Oh, we wanna give Kendall Marshall some run, so the obvious solution is bench our only good player!” That said, Bledsoe is worth the price of admission by himself. I absolutely love this guy, he was unreal when Chris Paul missed those few weeks before the All-Star Game, and I think will be a huge multi-cat contributor. The only real question mark is how he and Dragic will gel together both being natural PGs, but I’m not too worried about it. Bledsoe’s value isn’t with the ball constantly in his hands, he gives you out of position blocks, boards, and can score, dime and assist at any point in the game. There’s no way he doesn’t start at the 2. Past that electric back court it’s a lot of yuck, but I do think Marcin Gortat will be a little underrated after a disappointing 2012-13. Off the bench, Butler will bring some vet presence, and Green and Plumlee some energy. As I said in the NBA Draft recap, I don’t see Len doing much of anything this year – he’s coming into the season hurt, the plans are to move him along very slowly, and it’s not like this is a contender.
While I don’t think the Kings make the playoffs this season, I do think they will make some noise within the 9-12 teams in the West. They bring in big hauls with Vasquez and McLemore, who I think may get a little overdrafted in some leagues, but I like their upside. Vasquez had a ridiculous 2012-13 contributing across the board, but I’m not sure how well his numbers will fare in Sacramento given he’ll spend some time at the 2 alongside Isaiah Thomas. I’m looking across a few depth charts and no where have I seen a projected starting lineup of Thomas at the 1 and Vasquez at the 2, which in my opinion makes the most sense. A big reasoning behind that is McLemore is slated to start at the 2, but I think all three guards will all get a lot of run in most games. Still would draft Vasquez first of the three, but he probably won’t end up on any of my teams this season. Landry looks like he could take over from incumbent Jason Thompson and start at the 4, which would give him some nice depth value later in rounds. Mbah a Moute and 2nd-rounder McCallum just add some depth. This will be an interesting team this season, and one that will do more than people expect.
The final Movers & Shakers will be out on Friday and then it’s updated rankings time next week!