Finally the Dwightmare is over and players are settling in to new deals and homes. There are still plenty of free agents to be had, namely Monta Ellis, Andrew Bynum, and Brandon Jennings, but with some major pieces landing in place over the weekend, it’s time to assess some fantasy values. If you’re looking for the fallout of the deals made before free agency started, they’re featured in my fantasy guide to the NBA offseason.
DWIGHT HOWARD, Houston Rockets
In a down year with the Lakers, Dwight averaged 17.1 points 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. The offense he played in ran mostly through ball dominant guards and injuries plagued his inconsistency. Meanwhile, in Houston, Omer Asik broke out, putting up 10.1 points 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. No knock on Asik, but if he can put those numbers up in Kevin McHale’s system, then the sky is the limit for Howard in his new home. Because of James Harden’s presence, it’ll be tough for him to get up to 20 points per game, but he’ll be amongst the league leaders in field goal percentage and does enough for your defensive stats to warrant a first round pick in head-to-head formats. You can expect Harden’s scoring average to be slightly effected by the post presence and Asik is about as useful as Marcin Gortat was before he was freed from Howard’s shadow.
ANDRE IGUODALA, Golden State Warriors
There are very few instances where you can leave George Karl’s fantasy friendly system in Denver (RIP) and not lose any value, but Iggy managed to do just that by agreeing to sign in Golden State. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will give him the space he needs to attack the paint every night and a hard-nosed coach like Mark Jackson should stay on top of him enough to fix his inconsistency issues. Iguodala is an unselfish player who should might even approach the six-plus assists he averaged in Philadelphia, but his presence severely cuts the value of Harrison Barnes, who might have to slide to a role off the bench. In his rookie season, Barnes averaged 9.2 points in 25 minutes last season, but it will be tough for him to build on that from the sideline.
JOSH SMITH, Detroit Pistons
The addition of Josh Smith has me drooling over the prospects of the Pistons frontcourt. The trio of Smoove, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond should be swatting shots left and right for years to come, but Detroit also presents an opportunity to succeed offensively for former Hawk. The Pistons ranked 22nd in the league with just 94.9 points per game last season and were in serious need for some scoring punch. I’m not saying he’s going to do it efficiently, but unless rookie Kentavoius Caldwell-Pope brings some serious fire from day one, Smith will have no choice but to put the ball in the hole. He’s never averaged more than 18.8 points in a season, but if there were ever a year for him to do it, this would be the one.
TYREKE EVANS, New Orleans Pelicans
At what point do the obligatory Pelican jokes stop? New Orleans was able to make a name for itself through free agency and did so by scooping up Evans through a sign-and-trade with the Kings and Trail Blazers. As a result, Grievis Vasquez will be headed to Sacramento, where he’ll find it much harder to average the 9.0 assists per game that he did last year. As for Evans, New Orleans presents a wonderful opportunity for him to get his career back on track. Partially due to injuries, he’s never come close to putting up the 20-5-5 that he did as a rookie, but a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. Things are a little crowded in the Pelicans backcourt between Reke, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon, but whether it be off the bench or not, Evans should be able to find his niche. I don’t know if 20-5-5 is doable, but his shooting guard and possible small forward eligibility make him a great add if you miss out on some point guards.
AL JEFFERSON, Charlotte Bobcats
From 2007 to 2009, Jefferson averaged 22.1 points and 11.1 rebounds on a decimated Timberwolves roster. I don’t think that it’s out of the question for him to do it again in Charlotte. With Kemba Walker (and maybe Byron Mullens) as the only legitimate offensive threats in place, it’s possible that a lot of scoring onus could be placed on his broad shoulders, which already are dominant on the glass. In each of the three seasons that Jefferson has put up double-digits in rebounds, he’s averaged at least three offensive boards per game, and since the Bobcats have been dying for a big man since Emeka Okafor left, Jefferson should be able to step right in and succeed.
ERIC BLEDSOE, Phoenix Suns
Finally, the moment fantasy basketball players have been waiting for. Bledsoe showed off his athleticism and defense behind Chris Paul last year, but now he will have the chance to break out even further with his own gig in Phoenix. Things are a little more crowded in the Suns backcourt than you would think, with young talent like Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall already in place, but they traded for Bledsoe for a reason, so he will get plenty of time to play. It will be interesting to see if he can keep his three-point percentage up (39 percent last year) with a greater volume of attempts, but if nothing else, Bledsoe should be amongst the league leaders in steals. He averaged 1.4 per game last year in just 20 minutes, giving him a per-36 minute average of 2.5.
PAUL MILLSAP, Atlanta Hawks
With the departure of Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia, somebody needs to step up and replace the production, so who better than Paul Millsap? He’s the type of player whose hustle and basketball IQ can get him in position to rebound no matter where he plays. After proving he can mesh with another stud big next to Al Jefferson in Utah for years, Millsap will be doing the same with Al Horford in Atlanta. You can expect numbers similar to the 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds he averaged over his last three years.
JOSE CALDERON, Dallas Mavericks
Despite a drop in his statistics after being forced behind Kyle Lowry in Toronto last season, Calderon’s fantasy relevance isn’t gone just yet. He’s proven to be one of the more efficient point guards of the past decade, and should thrive once again with his own show to run in Dallas. It would certainly make things easier for him if the Mavericks are able to ink another big man (cough! Andrew Bynum, cough!), but with our without it, Calderon should be a lock for double-digit points and seven-plus dimes a game.
JARRET JACK, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jack won’t be leaned on as heavily in his sixth man role in Cleveland as he was in Golden State, but don’t forget how injury prone Kyrie Irving has been in his first two NBA seasons. After missing 31 games in his rookie year, Irving sat out 23 due to injury last season. It’s a nightmare to play every game fearing the loss of your superstar, so Jack should get plenty of run in order to keep Kyrie fresh. He probably won’t put up the slashes that he did last year (45/84/40), but Jack is efficient enough to be fantasy relevant, especially if he keeps his shooting guard eligibility.
JARED DUDLEY and J.J. REDICK, Los Angeles Clippers
Both of these guys are on their way to Los Angeles as part of the Eric Bledsoe deal, and should get tons of open looks from behind the arc come October. The Clippers can always use another spot-up shooter to spread the floor, but with tons of options already in place, these guys will find it hard to make a significant fantasy impact.
KEVIN MARTIN, Minnesota Timberwolves
Martin has been a sharpshooter his whole career, and nothing will change in Minnesota. He should see a decent volume of attempts and find it rather easy to score when being set up by Ricky Rubio. He makes for a serviceable two guard.
O.J. MAYO, Milwaukee Bucks
Mayo should step in seamlessly to the scoring void left by the departure of Monta Ellis. He started the year off hot in Dallas last season before fading in the second half, but now equipped with a three-year deal in Milwaukee, Mayo should be able to settle in and finally tap in to his full potential.