This is the first installment of the fantasy basketball roundtable. Each week rotoprofessor will be a participant in a panel of fantasy basketball bloggers all responding to a particular question. The host site where all the answers are can be found is Lester’s Legends this week and you can get the full roundtable by following this link. The host site will change every week so make sure to check in to see where you can find everyone’s views.
Here are the thoughts of both myself and rotoprofessor contributor Daniel Shirley on how Lebron’s fantasy value will be impacted by his joining the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
Daniel Shirley’s Take on Lebron
He’s still Lebron. Just a different Lebron.
I dropped Lebron to #5 and Dwyane Wade #3 in my fantasy rankings. Does this mean I think Wade is a better player? Not necessarily. I just think the new dynamic in Miami will play out in a way that has a slightly more positive impact on Wade’s stats. I’ve tried to scale the whole argument down into just a few points, so here goes:
Lebron James demands the best defender available. That’s no secret. In the past, teams playing the Heat were forced to play their best defender on Dwyane Wade. Of course, most NBA teams have more than one good defender. When you’re talking about the skill level and speed of Wade, though, the slightest downgrade at defender can translate into a big statistical difference. If teams choose instead to place their best defender on Wade and their second best on James, expect the Heat to go undefeated.
It’s no secret that Lebron legitimately enjoys setting up his teammates and getting them involved. What’s more, he has incredible court vision. Wade’s scoring nature should fit with James very well. This should mean an increase in assists per game for Lebron, but I think the rise in Wade’s scoring will make up for this improvement on Lebron’s part.
The only time anyone has been able to question Lebron’s effort was during the playoffs last year. No one’s really sure what happened, but I think we can all agree what we witnessed was an outlier and not the norm. That said, I think he’ll see a decrease in rebounds this year. Not because he’s unwilling or unable to get them, but because he won’t be forced to by the team around them. There are definitely a few holes in the Heat lineup, but the front line talent should help James focus more on playing his game than continuing to be his team’s everything.
In short, I think the new team around him will free up Lebron to focus on quality over quantity. Yes, he’s proven he can do both, but (barring injury) he shouldn’t have to on this team.
An Opposing View From Will Overton
It seem almost inevitable that the dream team trio is willing to sacrifice some statistical goodness in order to make a run at a championship and possibly a dynasty. The chances of Lebron posting nearly 30 points again are slim, I realize that. But are we really talking about a big enough difference where he goes from 1 to 5 or lower? Keep in mind he was hands down the best player in fantasy basketball last season.
Let’s look at what kind of hit we might should expect this season for Lebron. The average shots per game for a team last season were between 81 – 82. Is it so far fetched to believe that of those 82 shots, 50 of them will go the Big Three? I don’t think so, everyone on that team knows who the first, second and third options are. So 50 shots per game gives Wade & Lebron both 18 and Bosh 14. Last season Lebron took 20 shots, so he loses two shots per game. But as Daniel said, the shots will be more quality than when he was taking on four guys in Cleveland and throwing up five threes a game to keep his team in the lead. So he loses two shots, but takes better shots. We’ll say he drops about four points due to that. That’s still over 25 points per game people.
I think his biggest hit might come in terms of rebounding as he has never played with a dominant rebounder like Chris Bosh. But even still, the guy is 6-8 250 (that’s being generous) and he is always around the ball, he’s going to continue to get some rebounds, and at least 6 of thema game.
As far as the passing game goes he is going to have the ball in his hands a ton, and if he isn’t scoring, he’s going to be setting up scores an awful lot. Now Wade can do something no one in Cleveland could, he can create on his own, he doesn’t need Lebron to feed him his points. But Lebron just has a knack for finding the open man, and with all the attention on Lebron and Wade there will be open guys, Bosh isn’t going to see many double teams down low, Mike Miller is going to be wide open on the perimeter quite often. And Lebron is going to find these guys. So dropping any further than 7.5 assists would be a surprise to me.
Add to all of this that his FG% could go up even more with him getting and taking better shots. And his turnovers should go down since he doesn’t have to do everything and you’re looking at a guy who will score 25 points, get 6 rebounds and 7.5 assists, at the least, not to mention everything else he does. Can you really convince me that someone outside of Kevin Durant or Chris Paul can do better than that?
Lebron is going to take a little hit, just like Wade and Bosh, but he’s still Lebron James, the most dominant guy in the NBA, don’t let the new jersey fool you.