Friday, July 3, 2009

NBA In Flux: Part I

Absolute Craziness

It seems like every other time I check a new trade just went down, or a free agent has switched teams. All this player movement means shifts in the NBA Power Totem-Pole. Almost as nearly important, transactions means shifts in player fantasy basketball valuation. In an attempt to prepare you for your league next year, this is my 2 cents on what's happened so far.

San Antonio trades Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto to Milwaukee for Richard Jefferson

As much as I hate them, I have to respect the Spurs. They've managed to acquire an athletic, offensively gifted forward while only giving up three veterans in the waning stages of their careers. Riddled with injuries last season, San Antonio recognized that they had a hard time scoring when one of Duncan/Ginobili/Parker were out. Given Manu's penchant for injuring himself and Duncan's gradual decline into middle-age, upper management reached out to nab some very talented insurance. If Duncan stays healthy, this is a very deadly squad in the wild west.

The Bucks? They did this purely for financial reasons.

Fantasy Relevance: Though Jefferson's stats will most likely drop from last year's levels, I expect him to hover around 16ppg with 4 rebs a game. RJ is capable enough on both ends of the floor, and will still get his 30+ mins a night. Additionally, his production depends much on the health of Duncan/Ginibili/Parker. If one of them go down, his numbers will be the first to go up. Because of age, I also think Duncan will be relied upon a little less on the offensive end now that RJ is in town, but I still expect Duncan to put up 18-10 consistently.

Minnesota T-Wolves send Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington for #5 draft pick (aka Ricky Rubio), Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, and Oleksly Pecherov.

Oleksly who? Minnesota's moves continue to baffle me; basketball-wise, this move doesn't seem to get them anywhere, but at least they probably cleared out some cap-space...

The Wizards on the other hand got a nice deal here, and addressed one of their weaknesses for the past many years: depth. Foye, cursed with having a shooting guard's mentality in a point guard's body, now has a chance to play protege to one of the league's best shoot-first point guards in Gilbert Arenas. Mike Miller, known for his long-ball, put in one of his worst statistical seasons in 08-09. If the change of scenery (and maybe some wins) can motivate him into playing the high quality basketball that earned him a spot on the USA Basketball Team in 2007, he will provide the Wizards with some offensive firepower outside their Big Three.

Fantasy Relevance: Rubio is the only player that has a remote chance of having fantasy value out of the players the T-Wolves received, and he might not even play in the US this year... so don't bother with those guys. On Washington's side, Foye and Miller might have some highlights throughout the year, but Washington has too many offensive weapons for them to consistently put up any more than ten points a night. Foye and Miller are going to be on and off the waiver wire this year.

New Jersey trades Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie.

So far, this is my favorite trade of the off-season.

With Hedo Turkoglu's inevitable leave approaching, Orlando went out and brought back the original Half-Man, Half-Amazing. Though he's nowhere near what he used to be, VC is still an upgrade over Hedo. Vince can do everything Hedo did, and he can do it better. Now in the latter half of his career, he has a legitimate opportunity to add a championship ring to his trophy case. Though Alston played well in the playoffs, he was expendable with the return of Jameer Nelson's return - and Anthony Johnson is adequate as a backup point guard. Orlando is reloaded and ready for another run at the title.

...And now for the other side. It's clear that New Jersey is now rebuilding from the ground up, and they've got a great backcourt to build around. Devin Harris proved last year that he's a star-caliber player. Newly acquired Courtney Lee, now entering his 2nd season, played with the poise of a veteran at multiple points throughout the season. He's athletic, commits to defense, shoots well, and plays smart. Though they might not win many games next year, Harris and Lee make Net's games more than worth it to watch.

Fantasy Relevance: I see Vince's numbers dipping ever so slightly; Orlando is a loaded team. However, I think the one that will be affected most is Rashard Lewis. You know Dwight Howard will continue to get his touches, given his Superstar status. Jameer is also still young and on the rise. Thus, it's Rashard's touches that will decrease. In NJ, you can expect Courtney's 8.4ppg, 2.3rpg, and 1.2apg to all at least double. He's bound to struggle a bit with a lot more responsibility on his plate, but I expect him to rise above all that. Keep an eye on Lee in the mid to late rounds of your draft.

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