In the days leading up to the start of free agency on Dec. 9, Damn Lies & Statistics will be taking a look at each team’s potential moves, top fantasy players and more. Jeff tackles the Southeast Division.
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): F/C Al Horford (2/3), F Josh Smith (2/3), G Joe Johnson (4/5), G Jeff Teague (10/11), F Marvin Williams (13/14)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: G Jamal Crawford
Key Restricted Free Agents: None
What to Look For: Is this the most boring team in the league or what? Smith was shopped at the draft and could conceivably be moved before the season. As a H2H shot-blocking forward, he still has a ton of value. Horford is a nice pick for those who don’t like to gamble. He’s simply as solid as they come. Johnson, however, has the kind of contract future lockouts are made of. He’ll be serviceable in fantasy and perhaps even a tick better than last year with Crawford likely to sign elsewhere. Hinrich is still around to hold back Jeff Teague, but Teague seems poised to be the starting point guard. It makes the most sense, as he injects needed energy into this yawn of a unit.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: Atlanta seems ready to declare Josh Smith “available”, and it is certainly worth seeing what they can get for him. A true center who allows them to play Horford at power forward would be nice, and Smith could snatch someone like, say, Andrew Bynum or Brook Lopez as part of a multi-team deal. The Hawks should certainly stay active regarding one of their top assets.
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): G D.J. Augustin (8), G/F Corey Maggette (9), G Gerald Henderson (10), F Boris Diaw (11/12), F Tyrus Thomas (12/13)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: C Kwame Brown
Key Restricted Free Agents: None
What to Look For: I’ve yet to hear the Bobcats being involved in any free agents, so either Michael Jordan is laying in the weeds and will strike when least expected, or he taking his toys and going home after not achieving total destruction of the players in labor negotiations. I’m not sure what Charlotte is going to do, or if anyone would want to play here. Augustin and Maggette should put up great fantasy numbers most nights, but do you really want to own Maggette during this condensed 66-game schedule? The guy takes days off constantly. Diaw is still here to start over salivating fantasy tease Tyrus Thomas. Neither will win a championship for you. Signs are pointing up for likely starting shooting guard Gerald Henderson, if Maggette doesn’t hog all the shots.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: Michael Jordan should sell the team.
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): F LeBron James (1), G Dwyane Wade (1), F Chris Bosh (4/5)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: G Mike Bibby, G/F James Jones
Key Restricted Free Agents: G Mario Chalmers
What to Look For: Oh hey, Heat. What a difference a year makes. Last summer, LeBron and Co. were all the rage, literally. Now, they are boring and downright tame compared to the nonsense Carmelo and Chris Paul are trying to pull. While it will be fun watching LeBron try to get over the championship hump, one thing’s for sure: He will be one of the best fantasy players in the game, choke jobs be damned. Wade is right up there but his propensity for nagging injuries knocks him down a few rungs this season. A minor knee or hamstring issue could mean three or more missed games. Bosh is Bosh, capable of 20 and 10 every night with solid percentages, but clearly the third wheel here.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: The Heat continue to search for upgrades at point guard and center. Re-signing Mario Chalmers is a boring possibility. The Heat should go after unrestricted free agent T.J. Ford to give this lineup a burst of higher-end explosiveness.
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): C Dwight Howard (1), G Jameer Nelson (11), J.J. Redick (12/13), F Brandon Bass (13), F Hedo Turkoglu (13)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: G Jason Richardson
Key Restricted Free Agents: None
What to Look For: Have you heard Dwight Howard is a free agent next year? No? Sorry about that coma you were in. Yes, the league’s most dominant presence is not long for the Magic Kingdom, and smart money is on the Lakers somehow swooping in and nabbing him. You best believe New Jersey/Brooklyn will try to pair Howard and Deron Williams by any means necessary as well. Regardless of where he ends up he is a high-end H2H fantasy pick, perhaps as high as No. 4 overall. In roto leagues he is more of a second-rounder because of that awful free throw percentage. Redick is looking like the new starting shooting guard with Richardson a free agent. Nelson is a lower-end fantasy option at point guard. Bass and Ryan Anderson tend to trade off good games. Neither are really worth owning unless one emerges. Turkoglu is just a reminder of how ineptly Otis Smith has surrounded Howard in recent years.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: The Magic need to come out of this upcoming circus with at least a Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut or Andrew Bynum.
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): G John Wall (4), C JaVale McGee (7), F Andray Blatche (8), G Jordan Crawford (13/14)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: G/F Josh Howard, F Yi Jianlian
Key Restricted Free Agents: G Nick Young
What to Look For: Washington has two of the more talented players in the entire league in Wall and McGee, and this should be the last year you could get either of them at any kind of bargain. Wall will improve on his 16.4-4.6-8.3 stat line, making him one of the better point guards in the game. He is a turnover machine, however (3.8) and leaves a lot to be desired in the percentage categories in in three-pointers made. McGee played under 28 minutes a game and averaged 2.4 blocks. He could lead the league this year with more playing time. Blatche knows how to put up numbers, but fantasy owners are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He’ll either be a great bargain in the eighth round, or a total annoyance. His shooting percentage and block rate were career lows last year. Will the Wizards match any offer on Nick Young? Young’s a scorer but not much else. It’s worth watching where he potentially ends up for fantasy purposes. Rookie Jan Vesely is an intriguing sleeper but could be stuck behind Rashard Lewis as it appears the league’s second-highest-paid player – I can’t believe it either – is not going to be cut. If Young signs elsewhere gunner Jordan Crawford is worth owning in fantasy.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: Washington should be building around Wall, McGee and Vesely and forgetting the rest. Let Young walk and pursue trading Blatche to a team desperate for scoring. Not much can be done with Lewis, so they’ll have to wait him out for a few more years. They still have money to spend, however. The toughness and energy of Carl Landry would suit this group much better than the perennial malaise of Blatche.