Fantasy Basketball Impact: Top Offseason Moves
With the quality of players entering free agency this offseason, the potential was there for one of the most volatile summers in recent memories. Alas, young players like Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard joined superstars LeBron James and Marc Gasol in spurning the lure of changing clubs. Like 16 of our top 20 free agents, they all decided to return to their original team. Despite the amount of big-name players choosing to stay put, this offseason has been anything but quiet. Thanks, DeAndre Jordan! The following are the top 10 offseason moves that hold the most fantasy impact.
LaMarcus Aldridge – PF – SAS
The only one in our top 10 free agents to change teams in the offseason, Aldridge’s fantasy value drops a bit in San Antonio. In the past eight seasons, Aldridge has averaged nearly 37 minutes per game with the Blazers. The Spurs, on the other hand, maximize their bench. No one on San Antonio played over 32 minutes per game last season. They even went over 10 players deep in their rotation as 11 players saw at least 15 minutes per game last season. With the addition of David West as well, it is safe to assume that Aldridge’s time on the court will drop. The rest of his numbers are poised to follow suit. A reasonable expectation for the power forward would be 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 50 percent shooting from the field. Projected numbers like that drop Aldridge to the top-30 range and a third- or fourth-round pick.
Monta Ellis – SG – IND
Unhappy with how things played out in Dallas, Ellis opted out of his deal and immediately signed a new four-year contract with Indiana. On the surface, Indiana looks like the perfect fit for Ellis. Moving to a quicker, small-ball lineup with David West and Roy Hibbert moving elsewhere, Ellis will get the opportunity to be the No. 1 scorer with the Pacers. Also with plenty of capable defenders on their roster, coach Frank Vogel can hide Ellis’ deficiencies on the court. A high volume shooter who likes the ball in his hands, his career 19.3 points per game average appears safe. The real question is if Ellis can maintain a field goal shooting percentage of 45 percent. If he can, expect another valuable fantasy season from Ellis.
Nicolas Batum – SF – CHA
After knowing they would not be able to keep Aldridge from leaving, Portland decided to trade Batum to the Hornets as part of a roster overhaul. For Batum, his move to the East will provide a tremendous boost to his fantasy value next season. After years of taking a backseat to LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Batum appears ready to become the primary scoring option in Charlotte. Last year was a lost season, as Batum did not look healthy. He shot a career-low 40 percent from the field and 32 percent on three-pointers. Understandably his point totals took a tumble. Newly minted as the starting shooting guard for Charlotte in 2015/16, the Frenchman can easily set a new career-high with over 14.3 points per game. 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 three-pointers per game are in Batum’s sights. A lofty goal, but something he can pull off.
Arron Afflalo – SG – NYK
After setting a career-high 18.2 points per game with Orlando in 2013/14, Afflalo could not find much rhythm in either Denver or Portland last season. A career 46 percent field goal shooter, Afflalo floundered in 2014/15 making only 41 percent of his shots with the Blazers. Exiting the crowded backcourt in Portland and joining the rebuilding Knicks is the ideal scenario for Afflalo. In New York, the eight-year veteran will get every opportunity to fill the No. 2 scoring option role behind Carmelo Anthony. 16.0 points with 1.5 three-pointers, 45 plus percent field goal, and 80-plus percent free throw shooting would leave the guard close to a top-75 player in fantasy.
Greg Monroe – PF – MIL
With averages of 15.6 points and 9.7 boards per game over the past four seasons, Monroe has been a reliable fantasy option in Detroit. Shifting teams in the Central Division, Monroe becomes the starting center in Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee youth movement. While the double-digit rebounds will remain, expect a drop in points for the former Hoya. With four other legit scoring options in Milwaukee, the shot attempts just won’t be there for Monroe. A projection of 13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds with 50 percent field goal and 75 percent free-throw shooting would keep Monroe in the top 100 of fantasy players. A fine fantasy option, but a drop from where he was with the Pistons.
DeMarre Carroll – SF – TOR
The “Junkyard Dog” in Atlanta, Carroll was the Hawks do-it-all small forward. What they did not need from Carroll, however, was scoring. Averaging 12.6 points per game last season, he barely edged out Kyle Korver as the fourth leading scorer on the Hawks. In fact, Carroll took 15 or more shots only three times last season. In his new home, Toronto, Carroll will be asked to do a little more on the offensive front. Carroll will have an excellent chance to best his 9.1 FGA and 1.5 three-pointers made per game that he averaged in the 140-plus games he spent in Atlanta. 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.8 three-pointers per game would be a great return on a mid-round fantasy pick investment in Carroll.
Wesley Matthews – SG – DAL
Another one of the Blazers starters to take part in the mass exodus from Portland, Matthews decided to keep his word and sign with Dallas even after the DeAndre Jordan debacle. Matthews is coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in March, so his health is unknown at the moment. Expectations are that he will be ready to go by training camp in October, leaving Matthews as the starting two-guard in coach Rick Carlisle’s offense. Having Matthews in the starting lineup with Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, and Deron Williams will be a nightmare for defenses as they all can stretch the floor and knock down shots from distance. Matthews can easily match his career highs of 16.4 points, 2.9 three-pointers, and 2.5 assists per game with the incredible floor spacing in Dallas.
Deron Williams – PG – DAL
On the heels of the DeAndre-Mavs fallout, Williams requested and received a buy-out from Brooklyn for the chance to return to his hometown of Dallas. The point guard is coming off the worst season of his career. Starting only 55 games due to various injuries, D-Will put up a miserable .387 field goal shooting percentage and 13.0 points per game last season. A rejuvenated Williams can emerge as a top scoring option with the Mavericks, as he will team with Matthews to provide the best backcourt the Mavericks have had in years. If Williams can return to his career average of 45 percent field goal shooting, 15.0 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.5 three-pointers per game would be modest projections for the former All-Star.
Robin Lopez – C – NYK
A solid defensive player, Lopez played limited minutes last season due to injury and a crowded Portland roster. In New York, the seven-footer finds himself in prime position to play the most minutes of his career. Only 27 and moving to one of the thinnest frontcourts in the NBA, Lopez should easily hit career highs in minutes played and points scored this season. 13.0 points, 9.5 boards, 1.8 blocks with 50 plus field goal and 75 plus free-throw shooting percentages would a reasonable projection for Lopez next season.
Roy Hibbert – C – LAL
With the Pacers moving to a faster style of play, Hibbert became expendable and was dealt to the Lakers. In L.A., Hibbert will not be asked to do much offensively as their offense will run through the three guard set of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Kobe Bryant. The 7’2″ Hibbert will be asked to rebound and protect the paint like only he can. If he can stay focused and avoid the lapses in energy that he is prone to, Hibbert can come close to averaging a double-double with 10.0 points, 9.0 boards, and 2.0 blocks per game.
Other notable players