Philadelphia – Rookie Michael Carter-Williams is going to take over the point guard reins from Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), while the wing positions will likely be comprised of Evan Turner and Jason Richardson (who has trouble staying healthy and had knee surgery that will keep him out for the first couple months, leaving Justin Holiday as the possible starter at SG - Yikes). Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Moultrie will share time at power forward, while Hawes and rookie Nerlens Noel will handle most of the minutes in the middle. This team could be very good in a few years, but losing Holiday and the prospect of starting two rookies (and Turner) is a little scary for the upcoming season. But hey, at least the Andrew Bynum nightmare is over. Then again, a new one could be on the horizon if Royce White doesn’t show up ready to play. The Sixers still don’t have a head coach, adding to the confusion, while big man Moultrie will be worth keeping a close eye on in training camp, if he can get himself into shape.
Phoenix – The Suns failed to make a splash in free agency, but did add dynamic guard Eric Bledsoe, which is a good thing. He can play both guard spots and will be another popular fantasy sleeper this season. The starting five looks like PG Goran Dragic, SG Bledsoe, SF P.J. Tucker/Michael Beasley/Caron Butler, PF Luis Scola (or Markieff Morris) and C Marcin Gortat. The Polish Hammer probably isn’t happy the Suns drafted C Alex Len, and there’s a decent chance Gortat could be traded before the season starts. Despite the addition of Bledsoe, the Suns still look like a mess, for the most part. PG Kendall Marshall could also be fantasy relevant at some point, if Dragic fails to impress the Suns’ brass (again).
Portland – The Blazers had a nice draft by adding rookie guards C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe, while also picking up free agent swingman Dorell Wright. Look for a starting five of PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge and C Meyers Leonard or Robin Lopez, who was acquired via trade. McCollum is going to see a lot of minutes as a rookie, while Wright could make a nice splash off the bench. Batum will once again be primed for a breakout season, but it feels like I write that every year. Even when he’s not great, he’s still a very solid fantasy player. McCollum is one of my favorite rookies and appears to be in a good spot for production in Portland.
Sacramento – The Kings picked up PG Greivis Vasquez and used the No. 7 pick on SG Ben McLemore. Both of these moves are bad news for Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton, while Tyreke Evans is now in New Orleans. McLemore dinged up his knee in Summer League, but it doesn’t sound like a big deal. With a potential starting lineup of PG Vasquez, SG McLemore, SF John Salmons, PF Carl Landry/Patrick Patterson/Jason Thompson, and C DeMarcus Cousins, and a bench including Thomas, Thornton, Jimmer Fredette and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Kings are at least going to be an interesting team to study this season.
San Antonio – The Spurs, who were a few seconds away from winning it all last season, didn’t need to do much in the offseason, but they still managed to add Marco Belinelli, re-sign Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, and add big-man help in the form of Jeff Pendergraph. There is going to be quite a logjam at shooting guard with Danny Green, Ginobili and Belinelli all on board, which is bad news for the minutes of Green, who was great in the playoffs. But a starting five of PG Tony Parker, SG Green, SF Kawhi Leonard (full breakout season coming), PF Tim Duncan, and C Splitter, the Spurs should once again be a team no one wants to see in the playoffs. I will not be touching Manu this year unless he’s available near the end of my drafts.
Toronto – The Raptors are looking at a starting five of PG Kyle Lowry (bounce-back year coming), SG DeMar DeRozan/Terrence Ross, SF Rudy Gay, PF Amir Johnson and C Jonas Valanciunas. Things appear to be looking up, although we’ll have to see how the bench, consisting of Steve Novak, Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough and Aaron Gray, contributes to what the starters offer. This could finally be the year Amir breaks out, while Valanciunas is going to be a very popular fantasy pick and is poised for a breakout season with Andrea Bargnani in New York. The Raptors also appear to love point guard Dwight Buycks, and there’s a chance the unknown player could end up being Lowry’s backup this season.
Utah – The Jazz lost Paul Millsap to the Hawks and Al Jefferson to the Bobcats, and added Brandon Rush, along with rookies Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert. A starting unit of PG Burke (favorite for ROY, but struggling through Summer League), SG Alec Burks (breakout candidate), SF Gordon Hayward, PF Derrick Favors (with Millsap gone, he’s going to go off) and C Enes Kanter (ditto with no Big Al) looks pretty solid on paper. They’ll miss Jefferson and Millsap, and even if Burke has a great rookie season, this still doesn’t look like a team heading anywhere fast. But I wouldn’t mind owning most of the starters this season in fantasy.
Washington – With PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal and rookie SF Otto Porter, the Wizards have one of the most exciting young teams in the league. Nene’s health is a concern at power forward, while backups Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton don’t look too exciting as of now. Emeka Okafor had a nice bounce-back season, but I still have some trust issues with him, while Kevin Seraphin has yet to live up to the hype. The Wiz still have some rebuilding to do with their big men, but their Big 3 of Wall, Beal and Porter might be the best young trio in the NBA. But with Porter likely sharing time with Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza, fantasy expectations should be kept in check.