There has been a TON of player movement so far this NBA offseason, and there’s still potential for more big names to be on the move. Here’s the fallout from the top-5 fantasy studs we’ve seen change uniforms so far.
5. D’Angelo Russell — PG, Brooklyn Nets
Yes, ‘Melo and Love could still move, and better players than Russell (like Millsap and Gallinari) have changed teams. But Russell is the outlier on this list for a couple of reasons. He’s not a certified star like the players listed below, but he’s also not about to team up with other studs either.
The Nets have extremely minimal building blocks outside of D’Angelo, and they still owe one more draft pick to the Celtics. That leaves Russell, who averaged 30.21 DKFP in 63 games with the Lakers last season, in a position to be the go-to guy for the Nets. Brook Lopez went back to L.A. in this deal as well, so the former No. 2 overall pick is already the face of the franchise in Brooklyn. I’m looking for him to play around 36 minutes a game and take his scoring over 20 PPG. It probably won’t be efficient, but a jump to somewhere around 40 DKFP per game this upcoming season seems very reasonable.
4. Gordon Hayward — SF, Boston Celtics
Hayward is a huge get for the C’s to start building off a trip to the conference finals behind Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. They aren’t contenders yet, but they’re on their way. When you combine two guys who were the only reliable scorers on their teams last season, though (IT and Hayward), then you’re going to get a drop off from an individual standpoint.
Thomas maxed out last season, averaging nearly 30 PPG and 43.66 DKFP as the only player on Boston’s roster that could create his own shot. Adding a guy like Hayward, who averaged 36.51 DKFP last season in Utah, is going to bring down both players’ usage. Al Horford’s style of play shouldn’t alter anyone’s fantasy value, but Hayward entering the rotation can’t be good news for a mid-tier player like Jae Crowder.
If anybody’s going to see an uptick in fantasy value here, it’s Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier after Avery Bradley’s departure to clear room for Hayward. Additionally, Jazz wings like Rodney Hood will be called upon for much more production with shot opportunities opening up.
3. Jimmy Butler — SG/SF Minnesota Timberwolves
Butler, followed by signings of Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford, clearly pushes the Wolves into win-now mode. But frankly, I think if anyone is seeing a bump in fantasy value here, it’s Teague. Minnesota will run its starters into the ground, and Teague will have the keys to a pretty fun offense.
That said, Butler is the stud that’s here to try and teach this team how to win. I think he has the potential to be a similar fantasy option to what he was in Chicago last season (44.39 DKFP), with Andrew Wiggins taking a backseat at first. Wiggins has the ability to eclipse Butler over time, but right now Jimmy is the clear alpha dog.
The bigger fantasy storyline will be Karl-Anthony Towns, who played all 82 games last season and averaged 48.88 DKFP — which ranked seventh in the NBA. I don’t feel like Butler will take away from KAT’s growth … why would you ever want to? Heck, Towns might be even better this season.
Shifting the focus to Chicago … yikes. Let’s see what Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine can do. There will be more fantasy points up for grabs in Chicago.
2. Chris Paul — PG, Houston Rockets
CP3 and James Harden are going to be one of the more interesting duos we’ve ever seen play together. Both are extremely ball-dominant, so it’s definitely going to be a wait and see approach here. But if I’m projecting, I think the move to Houston is a fantastic thing for Paul’s fantasy value.
Despite the “lob city” tag in L.A., the Clippers actually played pretty slow. Look what Harden just did as the starting PG in this system … I think it’s safe to expect Paul to significantly improve his 42.8 DKFP average from last season, potentially getting close to 50.
The flip side of this is that Harden obviously won’t be able to repeat his tremendous numbers from last season (60.73 DKFP). His scoring may stay the same, or even go up, but his assists are undoubtedly going to go down, while his rebounds should slightly drop as well. CP3, meanwhile, could improve his stats across the board simply because of the change in pace he’ll see. I could see averages somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 DKFP for Harden and 48 for Paul, and that’s before we talk about the potential addition of Carmelo.
The Clippers wasted no time going after a PG replacement, signing Milos Teodosic from Europe. This guy is 30-years old and has been a fantastic player overseas. No joke, he’s a top-5 passer in the NBA right off the bat and should be a pleasant surprise in fantasy.
1. Paul George — SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
The PG13 to OKC scenario was certainly shocking, but it shouldn’t be all that hard to project what it will look like. Russell Westbrook obviously just had an MVP season, averaging a triple-double and 65.75 DKFP. Although he’ll continue to be one of, if not the best fantasy option in basketball, he won’t be able to produce a season like his 2016-17 MVP with another lethal scorer by his side.
George isn’t Durant, but he’s close enough that we can get an idea of what this experiment is going to look like. Westbrook will remain the gold standard of fantasy plays, as he was when he had the best DKFP average back in 2015-16 playing alongside KD. However, his 53.65 DKFP average that season was just a shade better than Steph Curry, and more than 12 DKFP fewer than his MVP season. I think Russ levels out somewhere in the middle, right around 60 DKFP with George now helping shoulder the scoring load.
In his last season with the Thunder, Durant averaged just over 50 DKFP, while PG13 was a shade above 40 last year with Indy. While I don’t think George will be a better player in OKC than he was in Indy, the mere fact that we’ve seen someone average 50 DKFP playing with Westbrook means that there’s no reason to think George can’t play to his ceiling. A 40+ DKFP average for George seems like a safe assumption. Behind these two guys, there’s nobody else in OKC to go get a bucket.
The Pacers come out of this looking like a mess, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t try and feature Indiana product Victor Oladipo. Look for his numbers to rise just based on pure volume.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.