Fantasy Basketball: NBA Free Agency -- Part III
The opening flurry of NBA Free Agency activity has slowed, but Alex Barutha and Nick Whalen catch up on the latest news and what it means for Fantasy hoops.
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What's the latest in NBA free agency?
What it means: With LeBron James leaving for the Lakers, there was little reason for Green to return to the Cavaliers, assuming the Cavaliers enter a re-build. Green had a solid resurgence last season, posting a career-high 52.0 effective field-goal percentage, scoring 10.8 points per game, and drawing 13 starts. Mike Scott, who came off the bench for the Wizards and played 18.5 minutes per game, inked a deal with the Clippers on Monday. So Green will slot into those minutes easily, as he's able to play both forward spots.
What it means: The former No. 4 overall pick's career was spiraling in the wrong direction this time last year, but a strong campaign in Memphis has him back on track. Evans averaged 19.4 points per game -- the most since his rookie season -- to go with 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.1 steals, while hitting 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Evans did miss 30 games, but that was due in large part to the Grizzlies' tanking efforts.
Evans doesn't exactly have a clear path to a starting spot in Indiana, but he can play three spots and will essentially step into a larger version of the role vacated by Lance Stephenson. Expect Evans to see time behind all three of Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic.
What it means: For Fantasy purposes, not much. Neto has played in a combined 81 games over the past two seasons and doesn't have a clear path to a much bigger role in 2018-19. Ricky Rubio emerged as an improved overall player last year, and when he's not handling the ball, it'll be in Donovan Mitchell's hands. Barring a couple of key injuries, Neto will again be Utah's third or fourth point guard.
Dwight Howard, Washington Wizards
The contract: One year, tax MLE
What it means: Howard will be joining his fourth team in four years, and his sixth team in eight years. Though last season's 16.6 points per game were his most since 2013-14, his 55.5 percent field-goal shooting was his lowest clip since his second year in the league. He also hasn't posted more than 1.6 blocks per contest since 2013-14. Howard isn't the scorer or defensive presence he used to be, but remains a force on the glass, and he's averaged at least 12.0 rebounds in each of the past two seasons.
Despite the red flags, Wizards management felt signing Howard to a one-year deal was a risk worth taking, especially since LeBron James has shifted to the Western Conference. With the East now being somewhat of a free-for-all outside of Boston, adding Howard to a roster that already has John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter could be all it takes to vault Washington near the top of the standings. From a Fantasy perspective, as long as Howard is a starter, he remains a walking double-double. As of now, the only other true center on the roster is Ian Mahinmi.
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
The contract: Three years, $33 million
What it means: The career of the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has been plagued by injuries. Largely due to an ACL tear and a shoulder injury, Exum has appeared in only 162 games (67 starts) across four seasons. Despite that, the Jazz remain convinced of the soon-to-be 23-year-old's potential. At 6-foot-6 with above-average athleticism, Exum still has time to develop into a tough defender and finisher at the rim. However, he's struggled shooting from distance, posting a career mark of 30.6 percent from 3.
In the immediate future, Exum will probably continue his role as a backup (18.3 minutes per game over the past two seasons). But with Ricky Rubio's contract expiring next summer, Exum's new deal suggests Utah could be ready to experiment with starting him alongside Donovan Mitchell two seasons from now. Fantasy owners in redraft leagues don't need to lose sleep over Exum's contract, but it has interesting dynasty implications.
What it means: From a Fantasy perspective, only owners in deep leagues need to take note. The 13-year veteran should once again serve as Joel Embiid's backup and will only have Fantasy relevance in standard leagues and DFS if Embiid goes down with injury. Last season, Johnson saw 15.8 minutes per game and averaged 4.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
Nemanja Bjelica, Philadelphia 76ers
The contract: One-year, MLE
What it means: After having his qualifying offer revoked by the Wolves, Bjelica will head east to bring shooting to a team that lost Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks) and Marco Belinelli (Spurs). Bjelica played a career-high 20.5 minutes per game in Minnesota last season, averaging 6.8 points and shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. He'll likely be somewhat of a 3-point specialist for the Sixers
What it means: The veteran will stay on with the Thunder after providing depending backup point guard minutes last season. At this point in his career, the 34-year-old will likely continue to see limited playing time, and he won't be Fantasy relevant, barring an injury to Russell Westbrook.
What it means:
The former Kentucky standout went undrafted in 2017 before spending the preseason with the Trail Blazers. Briscoe was ultimately waived and spent last season overseas with BC Kalev-Cramo in Estonia. Briscoe apparently showed enough in 39 games -- 18.5 pts, 4.2 ast, 3.4 reb, 1.6 stl, 48.7% FG -- to pique the Magic's interest, and he appears to be in line to serve as the No. 3 point guard for a team that will likely add some sort of depth at the position before the end of free agency.
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