by Will Overton
This was an incredibly busy offseason in the NBA, and maybe it was just the magnitude of the names that made it seem that way, but there were lots of under the radar moves too. The impact of the offseason is far reaching, and too far reaching to break down each of these moves one by one. So that’s why I am grouping some of them together to try and hit on as many familiar faces in new places as I can get to.
A change of scenery can really change the landscape of a player’s fantasy value in a big way and it’s important to not gloss over this piece and assume they’ll put up the same numbers in their new home as their old one.
Today we’re going to hit on three shooting guards who landed on different teams this offseason and dissect what that means for their fantasy value:
Lance Stephenson – Charlotte Hornets: Two years ago Lance Stephenson surprised people bursting onto the scene in Indiana as they made a run through the playoffs. Last year Stephenson took his game to another level though and became a must fantasy option with his well-rounded game. Now Stephenson has chosen to leave the place he blossomed and see if he can’t find yet another level to his game in Charlotte.
It was clear in Indiana that it was Paul George’s team and I’m not sure Lance was willing to settle for that. I think the biggest drawback for Stephenson in Indiana is that he and George have a very similar style of play and Lance was always going to play second fiddle on offense. In Charlotte the Hornets have Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, so Stephenson will join those two to form a three headed monster on offense. So he will be sharing the ball, but he will be the go to guy on the wing, and he will get more opportunities to handle the ball, allowing Kemba to play off the ball some.
I expect two things from Stephenson, more points, likely somewhere in the 16 PPG range, and more threes. If he can do that while maintaining his exceptional rebounding numbers and assists totals for his position, he’s going to push himself towards the top 50 in fantasy basketball this season.
Jodie Meeks – Detroit Pistons: This is the ultimate capitalize on a career year free agent signing. Jodie Meeks exploded in Los Angeles last season and the Pistons, a team desperate for shooters, jumped all over the chance to pay him a nice raise to join their team. The question is whether last year was in fact a career year that won’t and can’t be repeated again.
Before last season Meeks previous season high in PPG was 10.5 which was also the only other time he reached double digits. Last season he averaged 15.7 PPG, a pretty big change. Meeks was helped last season by the fact that he was one of the few mainstays in the Lakers lineup and they were short on scorers to say the least. This year he will be playing with Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, who have a history of not sharing well. As well as Greg Monroe who will be looking to put up as many points as possible in a contract year.
All that said, I think Meeks won’t see the level of drop-off others are predicting. Meeks is the Pistons best pure shooter and we’ve seen Stan Van Gundy turn pure shooters into superstars before. He also rounded out his game last season, averaging all those extra points, but not a huge jump in 3’s. Meeks also added a third category of contribution last season with his steals jumping to 1.4 per game. Ultiamtely he did make a big jump in PPG for LA, but he also made a big jump in minutes and I do believe that’ll continue in Detroit where Meeks skillset is desperately needed. Expect maybe a point or two less per game, but that’s still got value with his threes and steals.
Vince Carter – Memphis Grizzlies: We were reminded in the playoffs last season that Vince Carter is indeed still alive and well. The 37 year old wing player has spent the last two seasons in Dallas coming off the bench and excelling in that role. Carter has done a good of a job as anyone I have seen transforming his game to extend his career. He’s no longer the highflying superstar, but he’s found a role as a reliable shooter and still a very valid offensive threat.
In the offseason Memphis snatched Carter up and he could get one more chance at being a starter. Currently the Grizzlies have Courtney Lee and Tayshaun Prince starting on the wing, so the odds of Carter overtaing one of them are pretty good. Keep in mind though that Carter has been averaging 25 MPG the last three seasons, so assuming he’ll jump right into a 32 MPG role is farfetched.
I think Carter will see a small rise in minutes, but he’s 37 and if he gets too many minutes too soon I fear he’ll wear down for the end of the season. If the Grizzlies keep his minutes in the 27 – 28 range he should be able to provide consistent fantasy value throughout the season. The Grizzlies need a complement to their Randolph/Gasol interior combo, and Carter could be that guy, for this year at least.