Fantasy Basketball

2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: Offseason Winners

To say that it’s been an extremely exciting NBA off-season would be the biggest understatement of the summer. From the NBA Draft loaded with talent, to the electric right out of the gate free agent signings, to a Twitter emoji war, to the DeAndre Jordan/Mavs/Clippers saga, it has just been a phenomenal summer for the NBA and it’s fans.

There is no question that there’s a lot to cover from a fantasy perspective with all of the above unfolding, and I thought it’d be good to hook you guys up with a two-part series of offseason fantasy notes. More specifically, I will be covering the players whose fantasy stocks are zooming up the charts and really stuck out to me in part one of the series, aka the “winners,” and in part two I will hit on the players whose fantasy outlooks took a nose dive for one reason or another.

Here are your off-season fantasy winners:

David Lee — traded to the Boston Celtics

Boy, the fantasy relevance of David Lee deflated in a hurry last season, eh? We all knew the Warriors were needing more of a defensive presence at PF and that Draymond Green was the up-and-comer to deliver that, but it happened a lot quicker than expected. Lee missed the first month and a half of the season and in that span he was absent and Draymond started — and was awesome — in all 25 of those games. It didn’t take rookie head coach Steve Kerr any time to figure out his best starting unit, as Lee’s injury took care of that for him. When Lee returned to action, even he knew there was no argument for his starting case.

Now, Lee finds himself in Boston where he should surely return to being a starter right out of the gate. Sure, the Celtics depth chart looks as if Danny Ainge is hoarding so-so big men (I’ll hit on this situation more in the losers portion of my off-season series), but it’s fairly clear that Lee will be the best PF in the bunch. I hope you’ll all join me in praying that the downfall last season and cluttered situation this upcoming season causes our fantasy foes to let Lee fall a bit in drafts. It’s easy to forget that just a season earlier, Lee was averaging 18.2 points, 9.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 0.7 steals with solid 52% FG and 78% FT in 33 minutes a game.

Lee is 32, so he’s not in his prime but he’s far from his career deathbed. As of this moment, I would project Lee to be the starter at PF, playing right around 30 minutes a night and putting up a line similar to his above mentioned 2013-14 numbers with maybe a slight dip in points, but closer to his 3.5 assists he averaged in 2012-13. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been craving an offensive big man with passing ability like Lee, so it’s a really good fit for both. Amir Johnson who the Celtics signed to a two-year deal this off-season further clouds the rest of their frontcourt rotations outlook. I’m also sure Ainge is trying to shed at least one of Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk or Jared Sullinger to bring in another wing, but Lee will get his no matter what.

Ersan Ilyasova — Traded to the Detroit Pistons

When it comes to leaving an un-ideal situation and landing in a much better one, Ersan Ilyasova hit the off-season jackpot. Many of you probably instantly shook your head or at least had a shiver of disgust when you read Ersan’s name, simply because he was once a highly touted upside player and let his owners down numerous times in brutal fashion. Two years ago Ersan was being drafted at a top-55 ADP and between injuries and just mediocre play, he didn’t even finish in the top-155. Ersan really hasn’t looked 100% out there for the good part of the past two seasons, and he’s never hit the level that some had projected him to reach in his career — here’s a fun GIF that represents his coming up short of projections. Aside from missing 51 games over the past two seasons, Ilyasova has been more or less phased out by the path the franchise is taking, restructuring mostly through the draft with numerous young, up-tempo players. The Turkish vet just didn’t seem to fit in the new scheme.

Now, Ersan has been traded to the Detroit Pistons where he is exactly the type of stretch-4 that coach and President, Stan Van Gundy loves to have on his team. To make things even better, Greg Monroe left Detroit to sign in Milwaukee in free agency to open up a starting spot for Ily. While not terrific, Ersan did play in the Bucks final 28 games (started in 26 of those) and was able to put up a respectable line of 14.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.9 treys while shooting 47% from the field and 43% from long-range in 28 minutes a night. One would have to imagine he’d be receiving at least 30 minutes a night as a starter in Detroit and would be much higher on the offensive priority totem pole with his new team. It also doesn’t hurt that the backup PF in Detroit will be Anthony Tolliver, not someone who will be gunning for his starting role.

Tyson Chandler — Signed a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns

The Suns badly in need of some veteran leadership, found it when they signed big-man Tyson Chandler. Tyson was also a strong part of the Suns push to land free agent LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, although they came in second place in that race which as Reese Bobby taught us, ‘if you aint first, you’re last.’ Chandler isn’t listed as an off-season “winner” because he’s going to be much more productive in Phoenix, it’s more about the historic ‘fountain of youth’ that the Sun’s medical staff has become known for. They’ve kept players who have always been injury plagued, healthy on the court like no other franchise. From Grant Hill into his 39-year-old season, to keeping Steve Nash in All-Star shape up to age 38 and even squeezing one final All-Star year out of Shaquille O’Neal, who played 75 games in 2008-09, the first time he had played 70+ since ’04-05. Chandler isn’t insanely fragile but he has definitely had some injured seasons mixed in to his game log.

Tyson played in 75 games this past season, so he’ll come to Suns camp healthy, making the medical team’s jobs even easier. Chandler will turn 33 in October and despite being an ‘unsexy’ pick in fantasy drafts, he should be relied on as a sure low-end double-double guy with a great FG-percentage (although likely will remain under 7 FGA/game) and a FT-percentage (72% last year on 3.4 attempts/game) that’s not a detriment. The veteran big will be one of a few centers I will be targeting this year that likely are going much later than they should be simply because they don’t have that upside factor that so many fantasy GMs are addicted to.

Jarrett Jack — Deron Williams bought out by the Nets

You have got to love this turn of events for Jarrett Jack this summer. Deron Williams asking and receiving a buy-out of his contract from Brooklyn instantly frees up the starting gig for Jack — who actually played it better last season anyways. If the Nets don’t trade for Brandon Jennings or Ty Lawson, Jack should be sitting pretty to beat out his likely mid-level ADP this season. Jack started 27 games for the Nets last season, and in those he lit it up to the tune of 15.9 points, 3.8 boards, 6.6 dimes, 1.2 thefts and 0.7 treys while shooting 46% from the field and 87% from the line. That line keeps him right around the averages of much higher regarded point guards like Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday. Jack could be a terrific draft day value if his ADP doesn’t meet his statistical capabilities.

Zaza Pachulia — Traded to the Dallas Mavericks

While the Dallas Mavericks were big time losers in free agency, thanks to DeAndre Jordan committing to them and then sneaking out the back door to return to L.A., Zaza Pachulia came out a fantasy winner post-dramatics. As colleague Sam Macey did the leg work for me here, Zaza played 28 minutes or more in 20 games last season and in those he averaged 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals while shooting 52% from the field and 80% from the charity stripe, and it’s a pretty safe bet right now that Zaza will start and play around those minutes nightly in Dallas. He could be a real steal in drafts this fall, and don’t let the Mavs signing (not yet, but rumored) JaVale McGee change your feelings towards Pachulia.

Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez — Signed with the New York Knicks

Neither of these guys screams “STUD!” but there’s no question that they both landed in a much better situation this season than they were in the season prior for their fantasy values. Arron Afflalo became a really reliable fantasy asset from the start of the 2010 season to the end of the 2014 season. Last off-season, the Magic traded Afflalo to the Nuggets for Evan Fournier and there was an immediate drop in his fantasy value. He still received 33 minutes in Denver but his efficiency shooting the ball dropped and he didn’t get the same kind of assists in the Nuggets’ system. Later in the season he was again traded this time to Portland who needed a body to fill in for the injured Wes Matthews.

There Flalo saw his role decrease even more and he was outplayed by Blazer youngster C.J. McCollum. In New York, Arron gets a fresh start where he should start at SG and be second on the offensive end behind the usage machine that is Carmelo Anthony. Can the 30-year-old (in October) get back to his 16-3-3 with 1.5 treys self he was with Orlando or have we seen the last of his fantasy relevance? I won’t be reaching for Afflalo but I wouldn’t shy away if he was there in the late rounds and I needed a points/treys guy. The veteran will at least be motivated as he can opt-out of his deal next summer and look for a bigger payday if his play earns it.

Robin Lopez just kind of is what he is and as long as you’re willing to accept that, his game is nothing to frown at. Last season he missed a huge chunk with an injury and when he returned he didn’t see the minutes we came accustomed to the season before, because the Blazers had three centers (Meyers Leonard, Chris Kaman and Joel Freeland) each earning some court time off the bench. In New York, Where RoLo just signed a 4-year $54-million contract, he should definitely hop back to 30+ minutes a night and probably around 12 PPG – 9 RPG – 1.5 BPG with stellar percentages for a big. Maybe you’re starting to get a glance at how my draft strategy will be this year with so much value big man love? Stay tuned as the draft prep begins over the next month. One thing is certain here, mascots should be even more terrified because now Lopez has more money in his pocket, so if his antics begin to bring on league fines, he will not feel a dent.

A big thanks as always to for being my go-to statistical resource.

For more fantasy hoops analysis and to have any questions you may have answered, follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44

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1 Comment

  1. July 17, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Great stuff here, Zack. Glad Deron is out of BK, but hope that Jack can put together those numbers over the course of an entire season. Interested to hear your take on the value of the players who landed with the Clippers.