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Offseason Beat

NBA Free Agency Fantasy Winners

by Jonas Nader
Updated On: July 2, 2019, 9:25 pm ET

The dust hasn’t settled yet after nearly 48 hours of chaos, but basically every major domino not named Kawhi Leonard has fallen. That means we already have a pretty good idea about what kind of fantasy value has been created or lost around the NBA, so let’s pick up where Mike Gallagher left off and talk about the winners of the free agency period so far. Click here to check out Gallagher’s losers, be sure to check out Steve Alexander's free agency grades (link), and Tommy Beer has our Free Agent Tracker.

 

If you have questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter here!

 

Julius Randle

You would be hard-pressed to find a player that gained as much fantasy value as Randle. Knicks fans were disappointed that they didn’t land a big fish, but Randle is a solid young talent who just turned in a career year at the age of 24. He put up 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.9 triples on 52.4% from the field and 73.1% from the line with a 27.8 usage rate. He now becomes the focal point of a New York team that wants to take the pressure off R.J. Barrett in his rookie year, so Randle could legitimately post a 30+ usage rate and will likely surpass his career-high in minutes (30.6). After finishing inside the top-80 for 9-category leagues last season, Randle could post top-50 value at MSG. 

 

Bam Adebayo

Bam was expected to be the starting center before the Hassan Whiteside trade, but now there’s zero doubt. The Heat view Adebayo as one of their building blocks around Jimmy Butler, and he’s a lock to average 30+ minutes after playing 23.3 per game in 2018-19. If you take a close look at Bam’s stat set, there’s some serious upside to be had. The first thing that jumps off the page is that he’s an incredibly gifted passer at such a young age. He dished out 3.5 dimes per 36 minutes last season, and now there’s talk about the Heat running even more offense through him. 

Bam has also made strides as a shooter, and he’s expected to have the green light this season after attempting just 5.9 shots per game last season. “He’s a shooter. Everybody should have known by now,” Derrick Jones Jr. said of Bam. "He didn’t shoot them last year because that was something we didn’t need him to do at the time. But now the ball is going to be in Bam’s hands a little bit more, so Bam’s going to be shooting those shots.” The rest of his stat line looks solid too with per-36 averages of 13.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks to go with good percentages, so all signs point to a monster year. Be prepared to reach for him if you’re in a competitive fantasy league. 

 

Kevon Looney

DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Bell and Andrew Bogut are gone, and the Warriors are going to be lacking depth behind their core three of Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green. I have a feeling that Damian Jones will start in the “Zaza Pachulia role,” but he can’t play big minutes due to fouling issues and he’s had trouble staying healthy. It’s pretty obvious that Looney will be playing the bulk of the center minutes and will be on the floor closing games for this team. 

We’ve never seen Looney with a role that’s projected to be this big, so I’m excited to see what he can do. His per-36 output of 12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks on 62.5% from the field and 61.9% from the line tells us that he has mid-round upside even if plays around 25 minutes per night (my guess is that he averages around 28). I think he’s a sneaky late-round pick and we know coach Steve Kerr trusts him after calling him a “foundational player” last season. 

Terry Rozier

I’m a Charlotte resident, so I can tell you that the fans are not pleased with the franchise letting Kemba Walker leave for nothing only to overpay a career 38% shooter from the field. However, Rozier lands in a dream spot for potential fantasy value, as he joins a team that lacks any real firepower. Rozier’s career high for usage rate is just 20.4, but he could easily be over 25+ this season. Despite his struggles in Boston last year, he’s a year removed from looking like an exciting young talent when he thrived in the playoffs with Kyrie Irving on the sidelines. 

He has stated before that he’s a rhythm player and his splits as a starter are noticeably better than his stats as a reserve, so maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt. In 14 starts last season, he put up 13.1 points, 5.2 boards, 5.0 dimes, 1.7 steals and 2.3 treys on a 43/41/90 shooting line in a suppressed role. Rozier could Titanic your FG%, but there’s still more than enough upside here to take him towards the end of the middle rounds and we know the counting stats are going to be there. 

 

Miles Bridges and Malik Monk

Let’s stick around in Charlotte a bit longer. The Hornets lost their two top scorers in Kemba and Jeremy Lamb, and Rozier isn’t the only player that will get a ton of opportunity. Bridges is their best player and building block right now, and after a slow start to his rookie season, he came alive in the final month with top-55 value in 9-cat. He posted 10.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.2 triples, and that’s in a supporting role as the third option on offense. 

As for Monk, he’s now in the conversation as a late-round flier in the hope that the Hornets finally embrace a rebuild. While mostly disappointing and unproven, the Hornets will need Monk to generate some offense and he will be given a legitimate chance for the first time in his career. For now, he’s just a name to watch during the preseason.

 

Stephen Curry

The Warriors are going to look a lot different in 2019-20, with D’Angelo Russell coming in and Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala out of the picture. Plus, Klay Thompson may not see the floor at all as he rehabs his ACL. We haven’t seen Curry without Durant for three seasons, and that was the year (2015-16) that Curry finished as the top player in 9-category leagues with 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds,  2.1 steals and 5.1 triples. The Warriors aren’t just going to walk into the postseason, so hopefully that translates to less rest too. There’s an argument to be had for taking him No. 1 overall. 

 

Draymond Green

I can’t mention Curry without talking about Draymond too. During that same 2015-16 season that Curry dominated, Green was no slouch either and finished 13th overall with 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 dimes, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 triples. His usage rate was also at 17.2% after finishing with a mere 13.1% this season. Still only 29 and entering a contract year, Green will be a nightly triple-double threat and could be back in the top-25 unless there’s a sudden drop off in his block and steal rates. He’s a lock to jump way up from his 58th overall finish in 2018-19. 

 

Jonas Valanciunas

Jaren Jackson is the leader and franchise player, but the Grizzlies will primarily play him at the four once again while he fills out his frame and improves his rebounding. That means J-Val will be unchallenged at the center spot, a role that he absolutely dominated in last season. In 19 appearances, J-Val put up 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game. He also has stellar percentages for his career, hitting 55.8% from the field and 78.6% from the line. Those are top-55 numbers in 9-cat leagues, so he could potentially return early-round value at a mid-round price tag. 

 

Hassan Whiteside and Zach Collins

Whiteside is finally out of Miami, a team that was eager to start the Bam Adebayo era. He now joins a Portland team that has a lack of depth up front with Jusuf Nurkic (leg) possibly missing the entire season and with Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless out of the picture. Whiteside gets a lot of disrespect, and while he turned into Shaq at the free throw line last season (44.9%), his per-36 numbers of 19.1 points, 17.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.9 blocks shows that he still offers a ton of upside for punt-FT builds and points leagues. He’s an easy bounce-back candidate and should at least have a 25-minute role. 

As for Collins, he hasn’t developed as quickly as Portland would’ve hoped, but has shown flashes of promise. 3-point shooting bigs with good block rates are gold in fantasy, so he’s on the radar as a late-round sleeper. Plus, he has a path to minutes at both the 4 and 5 with 46% of his minutes coming at PF last season. 

 

Kent Bazemore

After a hot start in Atlanta, Bazemore was well on his way to a mid-round fantasy campaign before an ankle injury and youth movement pulled the rug out from under him. Now he’s in Portland where he instantly becomes the best wing not named C.J. McCollum who will be able to log minutes at SG, SF and as a small-ball PF. This is a tremendous fit for a player who is known for contributing across the board in fantasy with career per-36 averages of 15.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 triples. I think he’ll be a tremendous pick at his projected ADP. 

 

Nikola Vucevic

No need to overthink this one. Vooch is coming off a career year in which he finished 12th overall in standard leagues with 21.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 triples on 49.6% from the field and 84.1% from the line. Mo Bamba is still raw and doesn’t appear to be a threat to the All-Star center, and the roster looks pretty similar to last year’s team. Assuming the Magic are competitive again (and it looks that way), Vooch has another top-20 season coming and he’s usually undervalued in fantasy drafts. 

 

Mike Conley

This wasn’t impacted by free agency, but I wanted to throw it in anyways. Does Conley’s usage/touches take a hit in Utah playing alongside another ball-dominant guard? Sure, but the simple fact that we no longer have to worry about tank-related DNPs and multiple maintenance days solidifies his case as a top-40 pick. In his last eight seasons, Conley has five finishes inside the top-35 and his per-minute production is still on an upward trajectory as he enters his age-32 season. 

 

Rudy Gobert

I’ll let Gobert’s per-36 minute splits without Derrick Favors do all the talking here: 18.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 3.1 blocks on 70.4% true shooting… Hat tip to Mike Gallagher for the sick stat. If Gobert can get his FT% back up to 68% like we saw in 2017-18, he’ll have a shot at breaking into the top-15 of standard leagues for the first time in his career. 

 

Derrick Favors

Now that he’s no longer in Gobert’s shadow, we finally get to see Favors in an expanded role at his preferred center position. His per-36 minute splits without Gobert on the floor are monstrous with 21.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.5 blocks. First-round pick Jaxson Hayes is far from ready to contribute right away, so Favors is set up for a big year as the starting center in New Orleans. He does have red flags with his back and knee, so that keeps him out of the early-round conversation. 

 

Thomas Bryant

One of my favorite waiver-wire pickups from last season was rewarded with a fresh new contract to return to Washington. That roster is straight out of a Stephen King novel, and I don’t buy the talk that Dwight Howard is finally healthy. The starting center spot is Bryant’s to lose on a rebuilding team that will surely prioritize his development. He could be a late-round pick that returns mid-round value in a 25-minute role. As a starter last season, Bryant put up 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 0.9 blocks and 0.5 triples on 63% from the field in 23 minutes. 

 

Malcolm Brogdon

Here’s another guy who is very underrated in the fantasy community. Fresh off a top-65 campaign in 9-category leagues for per-game value, Brogdon goes from a low-usage role in Milwaukee to Indiana’s new starting PG. Plus, he’ll get a huge bump right out of the gate with Victor Oladipo expected to miss at least the first couple months. He’ll be a bargain in the middle rounds.