Fantasy & Free Agent Fest: Northwest Division

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. Tom Lorenzo takes a crack at the The Northwest Division.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): F/C Kevin Love (1), F Michael Beasley (8), F Derrick Williams (9/10), G Ricky Rubio (10), G Luke Ridnour (11), G/F Wesley Johnson (12)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: PG Sebastian Telfair
Key Restricted Free Agents: None
What to Look For: Kevin Love is ready to be among the elite Fantasy ballers this season, providing owners with not only the league’s top rebounder but someone who can step out and hit threes. Love we know about, but question marks still remain up and down this roster, trying to figure out what the team does with Beasley, where Derrick Williams fits and who will start at point guard. It’s hard to imagine that the T-Wolves won’t eventually hand over the PG job to Rubio. It’s just not known “when,” which frightens some fantasy owners.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: I don’t think the Wolves have any moves to make over the offseason, aside from unloading Beasley. They are a young team and need to start developing that talent. Move Beasley, maybe Ridnour, and make room for Williams and Rubio.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): F Kevin Durant (1), PG Russell Westbrook (1), C Serge Ibaka (5), G James Harden (7), C Kendrick Perkins (13)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: None
Key Restricted Free Agents: G Daequan Cook
What to Look For: Durant is a given as the top-overall player this year, with Westbrook joining him among the Top 10 fantasy players. The main questions here are whether or not the Thunder make that major splash. They have trade pieces (Westbrook?) and some money, so it’ll be interesting to see what move they might make. I’m also looking to see how Ibaka grows. He was a fantastic value pick last season, but as we know the question remains as to what his true ceiling is. Can you really say that Ibaka is worth a 4th round pick? The concerns are there (lack of low-post scoring, for one), but I think we can at the very least safely say that he’s talented enough to be a Top 50 baller. Also, watch out for Harden this year. His value is probably going to rise, but I expect to see people jump on him a little too early in drafts, given his breakout potential.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: Can you imagine a Chris Paul-Kevin Durant connection? Well, you may not have to imagine for long, since there’s some rumbling that a Westbrook-Paul type of deal could be made. If that does happen, look for Durant to be elevated into a tier of his own.

DENVER NUGGETS
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): PG Ty Lawson (6), F Danilo Gallinari (6/7), F/C Al Harrington (10/11), G Andre Miller (12)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F/C Nene, PF Kenyon Martin, SG J.R. Smith
Key Restricted Free Agents: G Arron Afflalo, SF Wilson Chandler
What to Look For: This team is a mess right now. Its number one order of business is to figure out whether or not it want to max-out Nene or let him walk. The problem with letting him walk is, the Nuggets have little help in the middle. I’m not sure Timofey Mozgov is the answer. They also have to figure out what’s happening with Chandler, Smith and Martin, who are all under contract in China. I think this team is probably best served with a TBA. Who knows what kind of moves they’ll make in the offseason? Sure, Afflalo will have nice value in Denver, if he re-signs. Danilo Gallinari will be a major impact player, but only if they don’t bring back another high-value wing. This is absolutely one of the most confusing teams in the game right  now.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: I think Nene eventually walks. The problem with holding on to Nene is that someone is going to offer him close to max money, and he’s not nearly worth that much. If I’m Denver, I let him walk. From there I think they have to re-sign Afflalo and check in on some of the free agent bigs. Maybe Tyson Chandler? Though he’s going to cost far too much money and isn’t going to be worth the cash. The ideal option would be to force Memphis to pay max on Marc Gasol. I think he would be a great fit here.

UTAH JAZZ
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): C Al Jefferson (2/3), F Paul Millsap (7), G Devin Harris (8), G C.J. Miles (12)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Andrei Kirilenko
Key Restricted Free Agents: None
What to Look For: You have to absolutely keep an eye on the young big men here. Derrick Favors might play himself into fantasy relevancy and we can’t forget about rookie big man Enes Kanter. Both should factor in at some point, which makes Paul Millsap’s future unknown at this moment. Also, look for C.J. Miles to have some sneaky value. This might be the season where he’s allowed to let loose. Expect to see Kirilenko playing elsewhere, which only helps guys like Miles and Favors.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: Favors can easily be among the top adds this year, and I expect to see Utah explore trade options so they can move Millsap and make room for Favors. There’s an outside chance Jefferson gets moved, but Millsap probably is easier trade right now.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Fantasy-Worthy Players Under Contract (H2H Draft Round in Parentheses): F LaMarcus Aldridge (2), F Gerald Wallace (4), G Raymond Felton (6), G Wesley Matthews (7/8), F Nicolas Batum (11), F/C Marcus Camby (12), G Brandon Roy (14)
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: None
Key Restricted Free Agents: C Greg Oden
What to Look For: There are two things you want to look for from the Blazers in the offseason: will they match any offers made to Oden and will they amnesty Roy? If Oden does return, that hurts the value of Aldridge and certainly makes Camby worthless. Well, that is if Oden can stay on the court. With Roy, if they somehow keep him and can somehow maintain his health, Matthews might take a bit of a dip in value. Those two players can really swing this team one way or another. Think about it; how appealing is Matthews with Roy stealing minutes and touches at the two-guard position? Same goes for Aldridge when you think about Oden returning.
The Damn Lies Bold Recipe: I think Oden re-signs here, but doesn’t have a major fantasy impact, and I think Roy ends up getting amnesty’d. With Oden, I can see him hurting Aldridge’s value, especially off the glass. With Roy gone, watch out for Matthews as a nice value pick in the later-middle rounds. Outside of figuring out what to do with those two guys, I think Portland makes only a few tweaks. Though, if Oden does return you will see them shop Camby around.

ATLANTIC DIVISION PREVIEW | CENTRAL DIVISION PREVIEW | SOUTHEAST DIVISION PREVIEW | SOUTHWEST DIVISION PREVIEW

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