Fantasy Basketball: Kyrie Irving, Julius Randle lead free agency winners
With the biggest moves in the books, let's take a look at who comes out with more Fantasy value for 2019-20 than they had before
With enough moves to make anyone dizzy, NBA free agency is nearing its close. With that in mind, let's take a look back at some of the moves and figure out the winners for 2019-20 Fantasy value:
A drama-filled 2018-19 campaign in Boston overshadowed Irving's accomplishments on the court, but the 27-year-old was able to secure his second All-NBA nod. There's an argument to be made that Irving's supporting cast in Brooklyn — at least for this year — is worse than what he had in Boston. As a result, Irving's usage should rise, and it wouldn't be surprising if he cracked 20 shots per game for the first time in his career.
Randle is coming off a career year, averaging 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 30.6 minutes with the Pelicans. He'll be joining a worse team in New York, but it's possible Randle will emerge as the Knicks' No. 1 option. Much of that depends on the development of other young players, but Randle figures to see his usage increase either way. The question is: By how much?
With Paul George dealt to the Clippers, Westbrook instantly becomes the Thunder's unquestioned No. 1 option again — at least for now. At this point, a trade out of OKC before the start of the season seems likely, but if Westbrook does remain in a Thunder uniform, we could be looking at another season like his MVP campaign in 2016-17.
Everyone on the Raptors — especially Pascal Siakam
With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green leaving, huge minutes will open up on the wing for the likes of Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Plus, Kyle Lowry should seize more control of the offense. The biggest beneficiary, though, is Siakam. Winner of the 2018-19 Most Improved Player award, Siakam will look to take his game to another level to keep Toronto afloat.
With Malcolm Brogdon out of the picture in Milwaukee, his 28.6 minutes per game are up for grabs. Hill seems like the logical fill-in for most of that. While Wesley Matthews could start at shooting guard, Hill's combo-guard versatility could help him garner minutes in the mid-20s as a backup at both backcourt spots.
Kanter's role in the NBA has fluctuated from the moment he first stepped on the court, and this is no exception. After starting 31 of his 67 appearances between New York and Portland last season, Kanter is in line to be a true starter for the Celtics following the loss of Al Horford. When Kanter was a full-time starter two years ago, he averaged 14.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in only 25.8 minutes.
Though Favors started 70 of his 76 appearances with the Jazz last season, he was essentially Rudy Gobert's backup at center. In joining New Orleans, he's the favorite to start at center, and it's possible he sees a bigger role than he's occupied as of late. The last time Favors saw 30 minutes per game, he averaged 16.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a combined 2.7 blocks/steals.
After Butler made it publicly known prior to last season that he would no longer like to play for the Wolves, the 76ers traded for him in mid-November. He ended up seeing a slight role reduction given the caliber of his teammates, especially once Philly acquired Tobias Harris. Now that Butler has opted to sign with the Heat, a deep but markedly worse team, he should see his usage increase. We shouldn't be surprised if he posts numbers similar to his four-year stretch of All-Star appearances, when he averaged 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals.
Rozier showed some promise two years ago while filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving, but his role decreased last season with Irving's return. Rozier was vocal in his displeasure about the reduced workload, and it's possible that contributed to his subpar 2018-19 campaign. The Hornets are taking the gamble that Rozier can play like he did in the 2018 playoffs, when he put up 16.5 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
With the Bucks unwilling to match the price Indiana was willing to pay for the 26-year-old, Brogdon will start anew in Indianapolis. He appeared in just 64 games last season due to injury but showed off his all-around potential while putting up a 50/40/90 shooting season. Playing a pseudo-sixth-man role for the first three years of his career, Brogdon has yet to average over 30 minutes per game. That should change in 2019-20, as he's expected to start at point guard for the Pacers, who lost Darren Collison to retirement and could be without Victor Oladipo for the first few couple of the season. Last season, when seeing at least 30 minutes, he averaged 17.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Valanciunas was granted a larger role after being dealt from the Raptors to the Grizzlies last season. He saw a bump of nearly 10 minutes per game, and he averaged an impressive 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks in 27.7 minutes. In re-signing with Memphis, he figures to play a similar role.
Smith has been in a high-level backup role with the Pistons across the past three seasons, seeing 24.0 minutes per game behind Reggie Jackson. But in joining the Wizards, who parted ways with Tomas Satoransky, Smith appears to be in line for a starting role with John Wall recovering from a torn Achilles. In 142 career starts, Smith has averaged 13.0 points, 6.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
Pretty much everyone on the Hornets
Someone has to score points for this team. How they'll do it, I'm not quite sure. But Nicolas Batum, Miles Bridges, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller all deserve bumps to their Fantasy ranking with the departure of Kemba Walker.
It's not a given that Whiteside will see more run than he did last year with the Heat (23.3 minutes per game), but the possibility is enough to drive up Whiteside's Fantasy stock. Coach Erik Spoelstra soured on Whiteside, eventually giving his starting spot to Bam Adebayo. A change of scenery, plus being in a contract year, might be motivation for Whiteside. His role may dip once Jusuf Nurkic (leg) returns, but he likely won't be ready to play starters' minutes right out of the gate.
With Hassan Whiteside out of the picture, Adebayo appears in line for true starter's minutes at center. In 28 games as a starter last season, he averaged 11.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and a combined 2.3 steals/blocks per contest. Another offseason of development means those numbers could rise in 2019-20.
Saric saw his role reduced once dealt to Minnesota last season, but all signs point to him starting at power forward in Phoenix. The 25-year-old is in a contract year and has career averages of 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 150 games as a starter.
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