- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Given that LeBron long ago turned the summer of 2010 into "The Summer of 2010," we will start there, but we'll stay only a moment. Because for fantasy owners, this offseason was, to put it mildly, eventful. We have a lot to cover.
First things first, however: James, Bosh and Wade join forces in South Florida. As NBA fans, we're certainly intrigued, but as fantasy owners, we're rather bummed. The numbers simply don't add up: three top-15 fantasy talents on one team with one basketball. I'm hardly the first person to make this point -- I'm not even the first fantasy hoops analyst on ESPN.com to make this point -- but a look back at the union of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce with the 2007-08 Boston Celtics is instructive.
When I rechecked the stats, I was struck by the statistical sacrifices made by the individual members of the original Big Three. Playing for a 32-win Minnesota Timberwolves team in 2006-07, Garnett averaged 22.4 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. In his first season in Boston, he averaged 18.8 points and 9.2 boards. Allen averaged 26.4 points and 3 3-pointers with the 31-win Seattle SuperSonics in 2006-07. He slipped to 17.9 points and 2.5 treys in Boston. And Pierce, the mainstay of the 24-win C's in 2006-07, went from 25 points and 2.3 3s to 19.6 points and 1.8 3s.
Of course, each situation is unique. For one thing, James, Bosh and Wade are still in their 20s, while Garnett, Allen and Pierce were all 30 years old or older during that '07-08 season. But a move down the draft boards seems inevitable. In Brian McKitish's most recent Top 150 rankings, James is third, Wade is 11th and Bosh is 22nd. While I can agree with those first two selections, I think Bosh is still comfortably in the top 20. Having two playmakers the caliber of James and Wade should make Bosh, a career 49.2 percent from the field, incredibly efficient.
Here's a rundown of the fantasy prospects of other players who switched teams this offseason:
David Lee, PF/C, Golden State Warriors: Only Lee, Bosh and Zach Randolph averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Now the former Knick finds himself with the Warriors, who were last in the league in total rebounds in 2009-10 (yes, that's despite all those rebound opportunities available in any Warriors game). As a bonus, he gets to play with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, a huge upgrade over what the Knicks' backcourt offered last season. It's tough to imagine Lee significantly bettering last season's gaudy numbers, but I wouldn't bet against it, either.
Al Jefferson, C/PF, Utah Jazz: After a career of carrying dismal teams, Jefferson finally lands in a winning environment, essentially replacing Carlos Boozer in Salt Lake City. Not only is perpetual losing in Jefferson's past, but so is his serious knee injury. For that alone, it's reasonable to expect Jefferson to slightly improve on his 2009-10 numbers.
Raymond Felton, PG, New York Knicks: Going from the Charlotte Bobcats (26th in pace in 2009-10) to the Knicks (ninth in pace) can only be good for Felton, right? I admit I'm conflicted here. Felton did develop some accuracy under Larry Brown; the 41 percent career shooter connected at a personal-best rate of 45.9 percent last season. I'm sure Felton will take and clank more shots this season. At least that was my gut reaction. But then I thought, if Chris Duhon could average 7.2 dimes on the point for Mike D'Antoni two seasons ago, Felton probably is worth at least 8 assists. And for that many helpers, I'll live with Felton's probable low-40s shooting percentage.
Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers: Collison gets a chance to run his own team, although, Danny Granger aside, there aren't many scorers here. Still, the Pacers move the ball (second in pace last season), so the 19 points and 9 assists Collison averaged as a starter in 2009-10 seems repeatable. All the better if you get him in a head-to-head format, in which his many turnovers are easier to accept.
Hedo Turkoglu, SF, Phoenix Suns: As badly as it went in his one season with the Toronto Raptors, Turkoglu seems to have landed in the best possible situation. Steve Nash will find him on the perimeter, and Turkoglu will handle the ball plenty in the Suns' pick-and-roll game. It wouldn't be surprising to see him approach the career-best line (19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 3s) he registered three seasons ago with the Orlando Magic.
Trevor Ariza: SF/SG, New Orleans Hornets: For the first few weeks of last season, Ariza posted some special stats for the Houston Rockets. But he just isn't the type of player who should be launching 15-plus shots a night. Fortunately, he shouldn't have to with the Hornets. With Chris Paul and David West as the centerpieces on offense, Ariza should be able to focus on defense while greatly improving his efficiency. A line of 12 to 14 points, two 3s, two steals and near 45 percent shooting would work in most leagues.
Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, New York Knicks: I wonder whether his scoring and shooting percentage -- his two biggest attributes in fantasy -- will dip without Steve Nash.
Corey Maggette, SF, Milwaukee Bucks: I know the Bucks were looking for offense, but Maggette seems like an odd fit for a team with a lot of small forwards (Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) and a defense-first philosophy.
Troy Murphy, PF/C, New Jersey Nets: Murphy is in the last year of his contract, and he's holding down a position that the Nets hope Derrick Favors will have in the near future. On top of that, the Nets are rumored to in the hunt for Carmelo Anthony, and Murphy could be involved in such a deal. Stay tuned.
Al Harrington, PF, Denver Nuggets: Regular playing time seems assured given Kenyon Martin's injury, but again, a potential Melo trade looms large. The picture could look very different in Denver a month from now.
Anthony Randolph, PF, New York Knicks: Just 21, Randolph has a world of talent. Despite playing only 33 games and 23 minutes a night in 2009-10, he averaged 11.6 points and shot 80.2 percent from the line (on 4.1 attempts). His hustle categories -- 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals -- leave fantasy owners salivating. What remains to be seen is how he fits in on the Knicks, who still have Wilson Chandler. Even if Randolph fits with the Knicks, it's worth noting again that New York is another possible destination for Carmelo Anthony.
Spencer Hawes, C/PF, Philadelphia 76ers: It's not a given that Hawes will start for his new club. Looking at this roster -- the 22-year-old Hawes is a 7-footer on a team on which the only other player taller than 6-foot-10 is veteran journeyman Tony Battie -- one can assume the Sixers want Hawes to emerge as their center. But he'll have to show more consistency on the defensive end. Watch Hawes in camp.
Others to watch:
Leandro Barbosa, SG, Toronto Raptors
Michael Beasley, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Raja Bell, SG, Utah Jazz
Ronnie Brewer, SG, Chicago Bulls
Tyson Chandler, C, Dallas Mavericks
Josh Childress, SF/SG, Phoenix Suns
Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings
Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Ryan Gomes, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers
Drew Gooden, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, Washington Wizards
Yi Jianlian, PF/SF, Washington Wizards
Linas Kleiza, PF/SF, Toronto Raptors
Shaun Livingston, PG, Charlotte Bobcats
Wesley Matthews, SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Tracy McGrady, SG, Detroit Pistons
Mike Miller, SF/SG, Miami Heat
Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets
Jermaine O'Neal, C, Boston Celtics
Shaquille O'Neal, C, Boston Celtics
Travis Outlaw, SF/PF, New Jersey Nets
Luke Ridnour, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Ramon Sessions, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Martell Webster, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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