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:
Welcome to ATL: Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, Gustavo Ayon, Elton Brand, Dennis Schroeder
With Josh Smith heading to Motown, the Hawks brought in one of my favorite players in Millsap to play the true 4 next to Al Horford. I could see Millsap having some solid value once his ADP gets a little more solidified, I think he can be similar to his Jazz numbers but maybe not drafted that way, and I really like this Hawks offense fantasy-wise. You all know I love Jeff Teague, who I have at 33 right now but will move up a few more when I do the re-rankings as Free Agency wraps up. With Teague slashing, Horford and Millsap down low, and ThrAGNOF Kyle Korver camping out like it’s a Black Friday sale on the perimeter, it’s going to be a good day to be a Hawks owner. And don’t forget Lou Williams was on his way to another solid season before he tore his ACL, and looks on pace to be pretty close to ready by Opening Night. Ayon and Brand give the Hawks some needed depth in the front court, but I really like Carroll and the energy he brought the Jazz last year. I don’t think that will necessarily translate into anything for fantasy at this point, but should there be any injuries to that front line, he’s my pick up. 19-year-old German rookie Dennis Schroeder is getting some nice reviews in his early performances in summer ball, and it looks like he’s already cemented as the backup PG and could provide value there should anything happen to Teague. I’m not too worried – Teague has played all but 2 games the past two seasons.
Let’s start with Zeller, who according to the Charlotte Observer (my home town paper, yo!) is projected to open the season starting at PF. Wow. I thought he would be coming off the bench with Bismack Biyombo starting at the 4, as Biyombo is a little undersized as a center, but if Zeller starts he’s going to have just a sheer minutes/volume value that can’t be ignored. I definitely would have him in my top-10 NBA rookies this season, and after an impressive showing in Summer ball, I’m a little more pumped with his 4th overall selection that I was during the draft, which blindsided pretty much everyone. Jefferson pretty much is what he is, I expect very similar numbers to what he did in Utah, maybe getting that scoring average back to the mid-18s (Charlie Sheen just scoffed) rather than the 17.8 he posted last year. Tolliver will provide a little depth, and I added Curry as a speculative free agent add because the Bobcats management loves NC-collegiate products and the above article affirmed he may be offered a spot. Could offer a little ThrAGNOF value if there’s a few injuries and he indeed makes the team. All-in-all, I’m not huge on Kemba Walker but think he’s fine about where he’ll go, I love Gerald Henderson as a sleeper, and Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist will be decent as well rounding out the starting five. I think there will be good value in fantasy for the soon-to-be Hornets.
Did Juwan Howard Really Get a Ring With Us Last Year?: Greg Oden
Not much to say here, a lot of the scrubs rounding out the roster last year are returning, it’s a three-man show with the big three, and a lot of yawnstipation past that. I just hope Oden can play again, even if it’s as a role-player off the bench, I really like the guy. Sure he may provide some value at some point, but I’m not investing anything in him until he’s on the court and playing more than 10 minutes a night. Let’s move on…
JB’s Fantasy-Crush of a Team: Victor Oladipo, Jason Maxiell, Ronnie Price
I guess I’m a closet Magic fan these days, after my long-standing love for Tobias Harris last year, and again loving him for this season. Let’s get one thing straight – the Magic are still gonna suck in real life. It’s probably going to be another 60-loss season for these guys, but shifting back to fantasy – lots of value. Along with Harris I think Glen Davis will be overlooked making him a really unsexy sleeper (I mean, realllllly unsexy – just feel the fantasy hate and coming off the injury will sink his value too far), and both Pete Nice and I love Nikola Vucevic to be a boards monster. There is still all sorts of rumors of Arron Afflalo available on the trading block to make room for Oladipo to start at the 2, which would obviously be a huge boon to Oladipo’s value. Still staying tuned there, but if Afflalo is still with the team come my fantasy draft, I’m probably not reaching for Oladipo even though Afflalo will be a big name at the trade deadline. Not touching Afflalo either in fantasy drafts either, I don’t see any way a trade could help his value. Maxiell is a little interesting in that he’s shown some big rebound games while backing up for the Pistons, and if Vucevic gets hurt, could be a solid rebounds play as a pickup. Finally, “the Price is wrong [dubbed] Bobby!”
Bring Back the Hibachi!: Otto Porter Jr., Eric Maynor, Glen Rice Jr.
There hasn’t big too big a splash in the pond free-agent wise for the Wiz, who just announced a long-term extension to John Wall, who I am crazy high on this year and will maintain he’s in the top ten especially with him moving above Deron Williams for me now, as Williams has all those mouths to feed like a penguin with a litter (can penguins have litters? Where’s Morgan Freeman?) in Brooklyn. The starting five looks to be the same as last year, with maybe Porter sliding in to start some games at the 3. I just don’t think Porter is very good, and reviews from Summer ball seemed to concur and then he hurt his hammy. Maynor is still a very solid PG in my book and would be a huge pickup should anything happen to Wall, and while Rice has shown some flashes in Summer ball, I don’t think he’s ready to compete for much time from Martell Webster, Bradley Beal, or Trevor Ariza, or even Porter in that 2/3 role. But if injuries take a few of those guys, Rice could be interesting with his D-League experience.