Fantasy Basketball: NBA Free Agent Frenzy Part 1
By:Mark Kaplan (@DaTrueGuru)
What an awesome free agency frenzy the NBA had this offseason. There were plenty of players that changed teams and the most notable one was, of course, LeBron James. The NBA landscape changed dramatically, but how will these changes affect fantasy owners?
LeBron James SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers- No question that James was the biggest offseason move, which is why he is first on the list. Also, realize that none of these big time free agents listed below got signed until LBJ made his decision to return to Cleveland. The Cavaliers will be greatly improved with King James back on their court, but how will this transition affect his fantasy production? James averaged 37.7 minutes, 27.1 points (tied for his highest points per game with the Heat) on 17.6 field goal attempts, 6.9 rebounds,6.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and a career low of 0.3 blocks per game last season with the Heat. He averaged 39 minutes, 29.7 points on 20.1 field goal attempts, 7.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and one block per game in his last season as a Cavalier, way back in 2009-10.
LeBron had to do practically everything the last time he played with Cleveland and will be asked to carry this Cleveland squad, again . However, this time it will be different as the Cavs have a rising superstar in Kyrie Irving (if he could ever stay healthy for a full season), budding young talents in Tristan Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, and Anthony Bennett, but most importantly, there isn’t pressure on James to win a championship (well at least not this upcoming season).Which means there is a good chance we will see the veteran in James functioning even more so as a facilitator at times. Expect him to average 28 points, seven rebounds, 7.2 assists, but will shoot closer to 50 percent from the field, instead of the 56.7 FG% he put up last season. He will still be a top five player in fantasy basketball, but don’t expect a major boom in his production this season, just because he is now back on the Cavaliers.
Chris Bosh PF/C, Miami Heat- The biggest winner in the whole LBJ situation is Bosh (and by winner, I mean in fantasy purposes, because his chances of winning a title are pretty much zero now). Bosh averaged 16.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, one steals, and 1.2 blocks per game in the past two seasons with the Heat. He averaged just over 23 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 steals, and one block per game in his last two seasons combined in Toronto. A huge reason for those big scoring numbers is the fact that he made just over eight buckets and shot 16.5 times per game in Toronto, compared about 6.5 field goals and 12 attempts per game in Miami. Bosh didn’t just make sacrifices by taking less money to be a part of the big three, he also sacrificed his production as well. Bosh will return to producing big time fantasy numbers now that he is the number one option in Miami. Look for him to produce 20 points, eight to nine rebounds, two assists, and one block/steal per game this season. That would make him a bargain pick in the third or fourth round in fantasy drafts.
Chandler Parsons SF, Dallas Mavericks- The coveted Small forward goes from the third to fourth option in Houston, to the second to third option in Dallas. While that isn’t a huge difference, it’s a big enough difference for him to get more shots up and produce more points. It also helps that he is going to a team that is filled with shooters, who aren’t afraid to pass the ball (looking at you Dwight Howard and to some degree, James Harden) in Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. Parsons put up career highs in points (16.6), rebounds (5.5), assists (four), and shots attempted (13.3) per game last season. Look for him to put up career high numbers again this season by posting close to 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, and exceed two three pointers made per game for the Mavericks.
Luol Deng SF, Miami Heat- The Heat needed someone of Deng’s caliber after LeBron left them for greener pastures. Deng was averaging career high numbers for Chicago last season, before being shipped to Cleveland, where coincidently, he averaged some of the lowest numbers of his career. Fantasy owners want to know, what type of version of Luol Deng will show up for the Heat? Well, the same version Chicago saw, which will be a player that averages 16 points, six rebounds, 2.5 assists, and one steal per game. Deng is not going to be the focal point of the offense, but will have some big games when Dwyane Wade sits out. He will put up almost identical numbers in Miami that he put up for Chicago for so long.
Pau Gasol PF/C, Chicago Bulls- The Spaniard is the one player that went from a good fantasy situation, to a worse fantasy situation. He was the main option for the Lakers last season with Kobe Bryant out, but now he is on team that has a plethora of scoring options and has players like Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, who are younger players that will get more playing time than Gasol. Carlos Boozer, the Bulls former starting power forward, averaged roughly 24 minutes per game last season and while I believe Pau gets more playing time then that, I do not expect him average more than 30 minutes per game this upcoming season with the Bulls, who want to keep the aging veteran fresh for a playoff run. Look for Gasol to put up 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and 1.5 blocks per game with the Bulls this season. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but not great numbers either. Be cautious drafting Pau in fantasy leagues and remember this the 34 year old version of Pau, not the 28 year version.
Stay tuned for part two of the “NBA Free Agency Frenzy” as I will go over more free agents that changed teams and how it will affect their fantasy production.