I’ve been pretty quiet since the draft and LeBron’s going-home party, but I’m still here. I’ve been working hard on the Rotoworld NBA Draft Guide and here are some of this summer’s early winners and losers, based on free agency moves and other factors that have impacted these players. I’ve only gotten through about 1/3 of the league thus far, so you can expect a couple more columns like this one in the near future.
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Mirza Teletovic, F, Nets – With Paul Pierce no longer in Brooklyn and Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko playing in the bodies of old men, the time is now for Teletovic. The hope is that Teletovic will fly under the radar after averaging just 8.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 3-pointers last season, but that’s about to change. He averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and a whopping 2.8 3-pointers over the final eight games of last season, becoming a one-man fantasy wrecking ball for those lucky enough to pick him up. And if things go like I think they will at the start of the season, he should pick up right where he left off.
Lance Stephenson, SG, Hornets – Stephenson had his breakout season last year and everyone knows he signed with the Hornets in order to hopefully become ‘the man’ for Michael Jordan. It should be interesting to see how he reacts after getting paid, but I think Lance has a chip on his shoulder and is going to have a big year in Charlotte. At this point, the tricky part will be not paying too high a price to get him.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets – Faried got off to a pretty slow start last season, causing many owners to hit the panic button and move him too early. But the Manimal bounced back to average 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks after the All-Star break. And with JaVale McGee and J.J. Hickson both coming off serious injuries, Faried should get off to a much better start this season. And if that happens, he arguably has the potential to be the top power forward in fantasy.
Matt Barnes, SF, Clippers – Barnes missed 19 games with various injuries last season, but should come out firing on all cylinders. Unlike last season, the starting SF job appears to be his to lose and there’s no one I can see to take it from him (Jared Dudley? No.). Barnes averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.2 3-pointers after the All-Star break, which was good for third-round fantasy value. If you can pick him up in Round 5 or 6, which is a real possibility, Barnes could be one of the steals of your draft.
Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets – Chandler Parsons is gone and Ariza is unchallenged for the starting job and minutes at small forward in Houston. I’m still always leery of Ariza’s shooting percentage, but he was on point at 46 percent last season, while the rest of his numbers were strong enough to give him second-round fantasy value. He should be the No. 3 scoring option behind James Harden and Dwight Howard, and his name doesn’t carry the same marquee value as many other players who simply aren’t as good. Ariza couldn’t have landed in a better situation if he tried.
Terrence Jones, PF, Rockets – Omer Asik is gone and most of the power forward minutes should go to Jones this season. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in the month of January last season, and while he disappeared in the playoffs against Portland, Asik is no longer there to create the inconsistency that hounded TJ last year. This kid should be fun to own.
Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers – Look, I’m not about to sit here and tell you Stuckey is a guy you have to own in fantasy. But he started just five times last season for the Pistons and still put up decent numbers. With Lance Stephenson in Charlotte, Stuckey now looks like the starting shooting guard in Indy. And if George Hill doesn’t put it together soon, Stuckey is also capable of playing point guard. Stuckey will have to beat out C.J. Miles for the starting SG job, but that sounds like a pretty reasonable request. The Pacers are a mess and Stuckey has some pretty big shoes to fill, which is usually a recipe for fantasy success.
Patrick Beverley, PG, Rockets – Beverley was pretty much a bust last season, as he never met a shot he liked. He also played in just 56 games, but his injuries were all pretty serious, yet he returned from each one of them a lot sooner than he could have. He’s also ticked off that he was left off Team USA this summer, while Jeremy Lin is no longer there to split minutes with Beverley. When you add it all up, as long as he can stay healthy and start taking a few more shots per game, Beverley’s value appears to be on the upswing. But after last year, I’m more comfortable with taking him as a second or third point guard, and not reaching for him thinking he’ll become a super-sleeper.
Marvin Williams, PF, Hornets – Williams didn’t hold much fantasy value (if any) in Utah last season and is one of the bigger busts to be taken at the 2-hole in NBA Drafts. But he’s with the Hornets this season, who simply don’t have any reliable power forwards. The team has already hinted that rookie Noah Vonleh won’t be ready to start anytime soon, while Cody Zeller still hasn’t figured out how to play NBA basketball. Enter Marvin. If Williams ends up on my fantasy teams, it will be as a late-round addition in hopes that everything I just wrote comes true. But I don’t think I’ll be using a valuable pick on him, regardless of how well things are going in training camp and the preseason.
Keep reading for the Losers.