by Will Overton
The hot stove that is usually saved for January and February got started a little bit early this year. The Dallas Mavericks landed a really nice Christmas present for their fan base as they landed Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics.
For the Mavericks I really believe this sets them up as a potential NBA Championship contending team. This is a fantasy basketball blog though and so you came here to see what this trade means for fantasy basketball owners, not for Mark Cuban.
Let’s start by looking at the official parameters of the deal and all the players involved:
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Rajon Rondo & Dwight Powell
Boston Celtics Receive: Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, 2015 1st Round Pick & 2016 2nd Round Pick
The big piece in the deal is Rajon Rondo, so we might as well start with him and the Mavericks. Dwight Powell is really just a throw in who the Mavs may stash in the D-League for a while. There’s not really much to say about Powell for fantasy basketball purposes.
I think the biggest question fantasy owners of Rajon Rondo have right now is what will it mean for him to play next to Monta Ellis? It’s been widely assumed for quite some time that Ellis is a killer to a point guard’s fantasy value because he eats into their assists so much. Last season Jose Calderon averaged just 4.7 APG which is two assists less per game than his career average. Will this be the case with Rondo too?
I actually don’t think it will be. Calderon is a good playmaker, but he isn’t Rajon Rondo, really when it comes down to pure playmaking ability there may be no one in the league better. The Mavs didn’t trade for Rondo so that he could play off the ball, they traded for him because he is a superior playmaker. If anything I think it’ll be Monta Ellis’ assists that take a hit here.
Other than Ellis likely losing probably an assist per game or close to it I think the whole team gets a boost from Rondo’s presence. He is a pass first point guard who won’t command many shots at all. Instead he’ll be focused on getting the other guys the ball in prime positions to score. Rondo is the kind of player who when he is on he’ll make everyone else on the team better.
I do think that if you were hanging on to Devin Harris he’s likely a cut now. Harris had been logging 24.5 MPG in a time share with Jameer Nelson and he’ll be lucky to get 18 MPG at this point with Rondo and Ellis both being guys who routinely play 35 – 40 MPG.
Now for the Boston Celtics. Losing Rajon Rondo leaves a really big hole on the Celtics that needs to be filled. The assumption would be that with Jameer Nelson coming back to Boston he’d step into the starting role, but that doesn’t seem like a guarantee. The Celtics are clearly in rebuilding mode and so they could very well hand the reins of starting point guard over to Marcus Smart, their first round pick this year. Smart is extremely raw, but I think with the Celtics goal in mind that Nelson probably finds himself in a similar time split situation in Boston as he was in with Dallas too. Based on upside Smart makes sense as a flier free agent add, though patience is necessary as he is a little banged up right now and may miss a couple more games.
Up front I really like the potential that Brandan Wright brings now that he is in Boston. The Celtics seem to be unsure how they feel about Kelly Olynyk as their starting center and while Tyler Zeller had a couple nice games, I don’t think anyone believes he’s the answer as starting center. Wright has always had his way blocked in Dallas and this might be his best chance at a starting gig.
What Wright brings to the table is some underrated post moves on offense that if given 25 – 30 MPG of playing time could lead to 12 – 14 PPG. Wright leaves a little to be desired on the boards because of his lack of muscle, but he does pose a threat to be a premier shot blocker. In just 18 MPG he’s averaged 1.6 BPG and no one else on Boston really poses a shot blocking threat to compete with Wright.
I think having a legitimate center to compete for minutes with him will hurt Olynyk’s value and make him expendable in standard leagues. Wright on the other hand should see a boost in production that ought to be reflected in his ownership percentages.