2017 Fantasy Basketball Instant Reaction: Thunder swing another blockbuster, acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks
A wild NBA offseason gets capped off with one more big trade, as Carmelo Anthony joins Russell Westbrook and Paul George in Oklahoma City. What does it mean for Fantasy basketball players?
It wouldn't have been right to go into training camp without one more big trade, and the Thunder and Knicks obliged with a blockbuster Saturday, with Carmelo Anthony joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George on another burgeoning western contender.
The deal sees Anthony joining two high-usage superstars, while the Knicks continue their rebuild, adding Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. Let's get to the Fantasy hoops implications of this last-minute deal.
Thunder add Carmelo Anthony
The Thunder are going to be a fascinating (potentially one-year) experiment. After Westbrook's one-man show in 2016-17, he will be flanked by two of the league's premier perimeter scorers, in George and Anthony. Figuring out how to make those two fit next to Westbrook is going to be a real test for Billy Donovan.
Anthony goes from the unquestioned No. 1 option in New York to, potentially, the No. 3 in Oklahoma City. He will more likely be a 2A option, with Westbrook at the lead and Anthony getting a similar workload to George. Expect a dip in Anthony's scoring numbers, albeit with a likely increase in efficiency. A return to his 3-point shooting levels of a few years ago, when he shot 40.2 percent from long range and averaged 2.2 makes per game, isn't out of the question.
Westbrook was already likely to take a step back with the addition of George, and you have to imagine the addition of Anthony will further cut into his production. Westbrook put together a historic season, averaging a triple-double while sporting a 41.7 percent usage rate, but now he has to fit in with George and Anthony. Not only are they both dynamite scorers, but they're pretty solid rebounders, especially next to Steven Adams; expect Westbrook's rebounding numbers to take a hit.
His scoring will likely take a hit, but Westbrook now has more offensive talent surrounding him than he has in a long time. With Anthony and George spotting up around those Westbrook-Adams pick and rolls, the Thunder are going to be awfully tough to defend, and assist opportunities should be plentiful. Double-digit assists are once again on the table for Westbrook.
This likely doesn't change much for George, who will still get plenty of shots, and will rack up defensive numbers too. With Westbrook handling so much of the playmaking, George and Anthony will derive most of their value from scoring and peripheral stats, and this trade doesn't change all that much in that regard.
Westbrook remains an early first-rounder; George should go in the first half of the second; Anthony can usually be found in the fourth or fifth round,.
Knicks add Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott
The Knicks' Anthony era ends, as it began, with disappointment, and now they can officially move on in earnest. The centerpiece of the team moving forward will be Kristaps Porzingis, and that's exciting news for Knicks fans and Fantasy players as well.
Porzingis gets a nice boost in value here, and remains a strong value in the second round. He'll be a strong source of shooting and defense, and should get over 20 points per game for the first time in his career. Porzingis isn't quite a first-rounder, but the 22-year-old just has to improve as a passer to really make that leap.
Kanter should also see a boost in value joining the Knicks, where he could be the team's No. 2 option. Expecting an increase on his 2016-17 numbers (14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) makes sense, though he still doesn't contribute enough defense or passing to be much more than a low-end starting option in most formats.
Anthony's absence likely also leads to a boost in value for Tim Hardaway Jr., Willy Hernangomez, and even Michael Beasley, all of whom are worth a late-round pick to see if they can take advantage of this opportunity.
The Knicks are going to be bad, but at least they have a direction moving forward. And, for Fantasy, they have plenty of opportunities for players to step up and improve their worth. Keep an eye on them.
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