Smith, Johnson, Maxiell biggest winners in AI-Billups deal
We knew Joe Dumars was looking to do something big. That has been the word out of the Motor City since the end of last season. It took a little longer than we thought, but the Pistons have sent Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb to the Denver Nuggets in return for Allen Iverson. While the Nuggets reportedly will buy out McDyess' contract, the principals involved (Iverson and Billups) should see little change in their production. Iverson becomes the go-to scorer Dumars desires and Billups provides Denver the steady hand for a team looking to rebuild. Here's how everyone else is affected by this trade.
Amir Johnson, PF, and Jason Maxiell, PF/C: With McDyess on this team, it was a crowded frontcourt. This move will immediately boost the value of both young big men. In two games this season, Maxiell has averaged 17.5 minutes while Johnson has averaged 16.0. McDyess clocked in at 19 minutes per contest. If we just divide McDyess' minutes between them, suddenly both are in the mid- to upper-20s. Of the two, Maxiell will play more. He scores more than twice as many points in similar minutes and fouls far less often. Johnson has six fouls in 32 minutes, while Maxiell has three in 35 minutes. Johnson will see a spike in blocks and rebounds following this deal but for overall value, Maxiell is the safer play. Look for scoring in the low teens plus about eight boards and a block per game.
To Be Determined
Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG: For both Stuckey and Richard Hamilton, it all depends on where the Pistons decide to play Iverson. If he starts at point guard, Stuckey would be negatively affected as he would remain on the bench and see a little over 20 minutes a game. He may have been dubbed the sixth starter by coach Michael Curry, but if he is playing behind Iverson and Hamilton, it is hard to see how he gets starter's minutes. If one takes the long view, however, this is a great deal for owners of Stuckey in dynasty and keeper leagues. Iverson's contract expires after this season and you can be sure he won't be back in Detroit. This all but guarantees Stuckey the starting point guard job next season.
Richard Hamilton, SG: There is, of course, the chance that Stuckey assumes the starting point guard job this season. If that happens, this would be a blow to Hamilton owners, as he would be shifted to the bench and lose minutes. Rip seems like he could serve as a nice complement to Iverson as a starter; after all, he doesn't need the ball in his hands to create his offense. Iverson can pound the hardwood as Hamilton glides through screens to create targets for Iverson's passes. Whether Iverson or Stuckey starts at the point, Hamilton's role will remain the same. The only difference is whether he will play 36 minutes per game in that role or 30. Stay tuned.
J.R. Smith, SG: This trade moves Smith from the bench to the starting unit and gives him the biggest boost in value of any player affected by this deal. Billups not only won't take minutes from Smith (as Iverson did when he played shooting guard) but as a pass-first point guard, he should create better looks for him. If Smith is still on the wire in your league, grab him now. His scoring and 3-point shooting will increase with Billups on board. Carmelo Anthony should also enjoy a modest increase in scoring, playing alongside Billups as well.
Anthony Carter, PG: Owners who moved to grab Carter after his strong first three games, can send him back to the land of waivers. He will not average 35 minutes (or 15 points) per game with Billups manning the point. Carter remains a reliable backup for the Nuggets and for owners in deep leagues, but everyone else can safely let him go.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Guy.Fantasy@gmail.com.