Fantasy Basketball: Winners of the NBA Offseason
It has been a crazy summer ‘16 for NBA free agency. This wild off-season began on July 1, where many teams threw massive money at literally anyone and everyone because of the new NBA salary cap thanks to a nine-year, $24-billion television deal signed in 2014. Shocking new signings, featuring Kevin Durant, who is now residing in the Bay Area with the Splash Bros and Draymond Green. Aside from players getting a new zip code, we also look at players on their current team whose value is about to explode with opportunity and the ability to put on stat-stuffing box scores for your fantasy teams. Even though it’s early in July, it’s time for us fantasy owners to look at some potential breakout players for 2016-2017 whom we shouldn’t ignore on draft day.
The “WE ARE ELITE”
*Photo via USA Today
Russell Westbrook, OKC PG – Is it crazy that we, fantasy owners actually wanted to see Kevin Durant go elsewhere? Well it’s happening and Westbrook is about to go on an absolute TEAR as the undisputed alpha-dog in OKC. In 61 games without Durant on the court, Russ averaged 28 PPG 7.1 RPG 8.4 APG on 22.5 FGA 4.7 T/O and 41% FG. Those aren’t #1 numbers in 9-category leagues because of the Turnovers and FG%. However, it’s possible Westbrook can improve those numbers with a full training camp with his new squad. Not to mention Enes Kanter and Victor Oladipo are very capable of getting Westbrook’s assists up.
Karl Anthony Towns, MIN C – This young wolf made the biggest leap out of any rookie from last year’s draft. Normally it takes a few years for rookies to gel to NBA fantasy elite, but “KAT” Towns has blossomed faster than we could imagine. The upside is massive as the sophomore can surely improve his already impressive 18.3 PPG 10.4 RPG 2.0 APG 1.7 BPG on 54% FG and 81% from the line. These are absolutely first-round numbers and he should be picked ahead anyone not named Curry, Durant, Harden and Westbrook. (Yes, he’s better than Anthony Davis) Oh, and this boy can shoot 3-pointers. Need a for sure big man in the first-round to build the foundation for your team? Look no further.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL, PF/SF/PG?? – Coach Jason Kidd dropped a bombshell earlier in the year when he said the “Greek Freak” will play point guard in the upcoming season. If it is indeed true, we are in for a treat as he finished the last month of the season on 17.6 PPG 7.5 RPG 6.4 APG with 1.9 STL and 1.8 BPG. That is a stat-stuffing monster in the making and with an improved jump shot, the arrow can only point up.
The “FINALLY!" We have been waiting for
*Photo via Getty Images
Ryan Anderson HOU, PF/C – Anderson signed a $80-million-dollar contract with the Houston Rockets, a team he is going to flourish in. After hiring coach Mike D’Antoni in May, this signing was almost a no brainer. This offense is going to benefit greatly to the likes of James Harden and Ryan Anderson. Anderson’s ability to play center and hit the 3-ball with his eyes closed, combined with Harden’s ability to penetrate the defense to get “Ryno” the open looks is a deadly weapon to have. Injury concerns will likely give you a discount on draft day but make sure he is on your radar in the mid-late rounds.
Dennis Schroder ATL, PG – Schroder voiced his frustrations last year about not playing more minutes, or perhaps starting. He got his wish as Jeff Teague found a new zip code with the Pacers. Schroder is surely to become the Hawk’s starting point guard where he will likely replicate his numbers of 19.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.6 STL in 6 starts with the Hawks last season. He will be a fine mid-round draft pick come draft day, but I advise not reaching for him.
Jeremy Lin BKN, PG – “Linsanity” is back in the NY metro area but under a new roof. Lin signed a three-year $36-million-dollar contract with the Brooklyn Nets. He has shown he can run an NBA team and he was the perfect backup to Kemba Walker last season. I’m not saying Lin will suddenly make the Nets a playoff team, however for fantasy he is surely going to average close to 8 assists per game. Jeremy Lin makes for a fine mid-round point guard with plenty of upside given that he has plenty of opportunity to score as well.
The “Upside” Crew
*Photo via USA Today
Devin Booker PHX, SG – The sweet-stroking shooting guard from Kentucky emerged as a very promising player in Phoenix. He showed a lot of confidence in this year’s summer league averaging 26 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 6.5 APG, on 47% and 3.0 3PTm. He has massive upside and I wouldn’t be surprised if he can replicate what Klay Thompson does.
D’Angelo Russell LAL, PG – The former #2 pick from the 2015 draft has shown flashes of superstardom, but the lack of any real coaching and tough love from former coach Bryon Scott crippled his fantasy value as he was benched after 25 games. It got worse when he made the news for the wrong reasons. The Lakers season was pretty much a Kobe Bryant farewell tour so it’s hard to measure Russell’s ceiling. However, the Kobe Bryant handcuffs are off and the Lakers are going to give him every bit of new opportunity with new coach Luke Walton in attempt to rebuild the historic franchise. It’s hard to not bet on Russell succeeding given his recent success in summer league and being around the USA basketball program this summer.
Enes Kanter OKC, C – With Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant gone, Kanter has arguably become the 2nd option in OKC. The Turkish bigman is great around the rim and can average a double-double when given the minutes. He will start and is likely given 30+ minutes. He doesn’t block a lot of shots, but he will anchor your FG% with points and rebounds. Look for him in the mid-late rounds on draft day.
The Miami Heat – Featuring Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson. Dwyane Wade is gone. Yes, D-Wade is gone. Wade County. Gone. With the uncertainty of Chris Bosh’s health, this core of Dragic, Whiteside, Winslow, and Richardson are going to fill the void for the Heat. Whiteside is an elite option at center where as Dragic is a good third-string point guard to have on your fantasy squad. However, the upside of Winslow and Richardson have the be monitored during training camp. Both are capable of being significant glue, end-of-the-bench guys on your squads that you need to win.
*Info courtesy Basketballmonster.com, basketball-reference.com, SB Nation, ESPN