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:
The Mavericks have been very active in the free agent market thus far in the offseason, completely overhauling their backcourt from the top down. Let’s start with Ellis, who I think is going to have a monster year in Dallas. With O.J. Mayo heading to Milwaukee, the Mavs will desperately need an off-the-dribble playmaker, and Ellis brings just that. It feels like Ellis has been around for ages, but he’s still only 27 and as long as he stays off mopeds should be ready to take over lead scoring duties from Dirk Nowitzki. Calderon also gets a huge boost in value, dishing to Ellis and Nowitzki and getting back up to the near-9 dimes a game that we saw in his last full seasons in Toronto. I know Ellis likes to have the ball in his hands and will get 5-6 assists himself, but I think both guards could sustain high assist totals. I have a feeling Calderon will be very undervalued come draft day as this Mavericks team will surround him with more talent than he’s even had in his career. A level deeper, Harris will be the straight PG backup and Ellington backing up at 2, with a little ThrAGNOF value on less than half-slates of games as a streamer. All this rebuilding with vets at the guard takes away virtually any value from Larkin, who I thought could be interesting if he got any run even if he is undersized, but that’s out the window. Blair will get some minutes backing up Dirk, and Dalembert will probably still get his 20 minutes a game with a block per that he’s been good for for the past 79 seasons. Did you see his block on Bob Cousy?! What was Cousy thinking!?
Gotta be honest – I became a big Rockets fan last year. They’re great to watch, obviously James Harden is now a superstar, love Chandler Parson‘s game, just a lot to like. In one of the biggest (and easily most publicized) offseason moves, the Rox brought in Superman to anchor the front court. I think what we saw last year is about what to expect from Dwight this year. I’m not necessarily reaching for him, but think he may be under-ranked heading into drafts. Poor Turk Omer Asik relegated to bench duty… However there is some murmurings of a Howard/Asik 4/5 combo, but there’s no way that would work. Their free throw shooting would be worse than a bunch of nerdy 2nd graders trying to play knock out. Pass the inhaler! Past Howard, the Rockets just added depth with vets Casspi, Camby (shocked he’s still playing) and Williams, and some 2nd rounders out of the past two drafts. This is going to be a very fun team to watch, and don’t sleep on Greg Smith who may get a starting PF role if the Rockets don’t try this ludicrous Howard/Asik frontline and would be an interesting deep-league play.
Going back and looking at last year’s standings and the overall playoff picture, it’s really surprising just how good the Grizzlies were last year. They finished 56-26, only two games behind the Spurs before getting swept by San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. With Tim Duncan not ready to hang up the sneakers quite yet, it should be another fun battle atop this division. Moving back to fantasy, with the Grizzlies so solid last year they’ve made minimal moves thus far with the biggest name being Koufos, who will be able to give solid minutes behind Marc Gasol with the second team. All of their other moves don’t really have any fantasy impact, unless Miller gets some solid run when he’s hot behind Tony Allen and may hit you a couple of threes, but in standard leagues, he’ll be far from the best ThrAGNOF stream. The Grizz didn’t need to do much to stay a contender.
New Orleans Pelicans
Yeah take that Nawleans! My Charlotte franchise is taking back the Hornets! Awesome! And you guys went with… The Pelicans? Yikes. Anyway, the – sigh – Pelicans bring in some new faces to make this team a little more electric, at the cost of a big building block in Nerlens Noel… Trading away their 6th pick, the Pelicans got All-Star Jrue Holiday, who to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of. On a team of horrific offensive players, Holiday absolutely disappeared in the 2nd half with post-ASB shooting down 5.4%, his free-throw shooting down 6.1%, assists down 2.2/game and scoring clip from 19.0 to 15.8. Needless to say, I won’t be drafting Holiday on any teams this year. I know he’s moving to another bad team and volume of minutes will be there, but there’s actually more offensive playmakers than in Philly, so a tiny bump in AST sure, but not in the scoring for me. Tyreke Evans is a little interesting to me though, sure his numbers have trended down since his 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year campaign, but I think he could have a shot at a renaissance year with a low price tag. He looked good in the 5 or 6 Kings games I saw last year. It looks like Greg Stiemsma will be playing the Robin Lopez role, but for sheer rebounding, Stiemsma could be decent in his 25ish minutes a night before Ryan Anderson gets on the court lobbing up threes faster than a new eHarmony account. The rest of the new faces are roster fillers. Time to get your beignets on!
San Antonio Spurs
Game 7 Collapse, Say Whaaa? When’d That Happen?: Marco Belinelli, Jeff Pendergraph
Pretty much the same assessment as the Grizzlies, the Spurs are ready to contend now, and were a Tim Duncan layup away from a title last year. If the Spurs had won, I think this would be an overhauled team with youth and Duncan retired. That’s obviously conjecture, but back to fantasy, never been a big Belinelli fan. His 3PT% has fallen by 2+ points a year the past two seasons and while the Spurs play the drive-and-kick offense like no one else, I don’t think there’s any value there. Pendergraph is just added depth, and past that it’s the Spurs of old. And I mean olddddddd.