This NBA offseason featured some of the biggest transactions in the modern era with several huge names changing teams. Read on for how these players might see increased or diminished production in NBA DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Daily fantasy basketball contests kick off this week, as Commissioner Adam Silver has moved opening night to its earliest date ever —Tuesday, Oct. 17 — in an effort to limit back-to-back games on team schedules.
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Star NBA Players on New Teams 2017-2018
Kyrie Irving, PG, Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving made the biggest splash of the offseason when he asked out of Cleveland and moved to the Cavs’ ostensible challenger in the Eastern Conference. Apparently, he didn’t want to play with LeBron James anymore and should immediately take on a huge scoring load for Boston, considering he posted a 38.7 percent Usage Rate with James off the floor last year. Anytime the Celtics face a mediocre defensive team in a game that should go down to the wire, Irving will be a great target at his current upper-tier price tag.
Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Boston Celtics
There are a ton of moving parts on Boston’s roster, and Gordon Hayward immediately slots in as the secondary offensive option next to Irving. While this might seem like a downgrade from his primary role in Utah, keep in mind the Jazz played at the slowest pace in the NBA. Meanwhile, Boston was 13th in pace and 7th in PPG (108) last year. Eventually, Marcus Morris will help fill the void on the wing with Boston jettisoning Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, but he’s out for at least the first week, opening up significant minutes for rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year man Jaylen Brown.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
With Irving and Isaiah Thomas trading places, IT will likely take a significant hit in usage. His fourth-quarter heroics last season were always unsustainable, and he’ll be playing alongside three future Hall of Famers in Cleveland once he eventually gets back on the court sometime in 2018. Until Thomas returns, Derrick Rose should man the point and serve as an under-priced and lightly-owned PG option. Playing with James and Kevin Love should be a very favorable situation for D-Rose as he looks to revive his career.
Dwayne Wade, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Dwayne Wade signed on with the LeBron train and will likely make a huge impact in the postseason. That said, he should be expected to play modest minutes and miss more than a dozen regular season games for maintenance reasons. He’s nothing more than a solid Cash Game play right now. When he rests, new Cavs forward Jae Crowder could benefit, along with disgruntled former starter J.R. Smith.
Paul George, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Another super team is forming out West, with the Thunder trading for both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this offseason. This gives Russell Westbrook some much-needed help and should improve his efficiency while lowering his ridiculous usage last season. George has never played with a true superstar and will likely defer offensively at first, limiting his upside. Still, he should provide defensive stats and play heavy minutes for a competitive team that will play at pace, so keep an eye on his price tag and pounce when it gets lower.
Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Carmelo Anthony’s game should change significantly with his new team, and not necessarily in a bad way. Recall how he functioned on the U.S. Olympic team, as a spot-up shooter capable of ending possessions by knocking down three-pointers. If Westbrook and George are both willing passers (that’s a big if), Anthony could have his most efficient season shooting the ball. In any case, he’s a better target than he was with the Knicks because we should see more effort from the former all-star now that he’s out of that toxic situation in New York.
Chris Paul, PG, Houston Rockets
Chris Paul’s presence in Houston might hamper James Harden’s value more than anything. He posted a 46.8 percent assist rate with the Clippers in a down year last season and should cut into Harden’s career-best 50.7 percent assist rate from 2016-17. That said, there are plenty of counting stats to go around in Mike D’Antoni’s system, which ranked third in the NBA in pace and second in PPG (115.3) last year. Paul should be more of a Cash Game play going forward with potential upside in high-scoring affairs, such as the Rockets’ opener at Golden State.
Jeff Teague, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
At the very least, Jeff Teague’s assist numbers should rise as he moves from a middling Pacers offense to one of the best up-and-coming teams in the NBA. Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast, who posted a .618 true shooting percentage last year and will likely be on the receiving end of many Teague passes. The point guard should become a more consistent performer on a great offensive team.
Jimmy Butler, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Here’s a player who will almost certainly will see less usage on his new team. That might help Jimmy Butler make a better impact as an actual basketball player, but it significantly lowers his upside after he flashed the occasional monster game as the top dog in Chicago. There’s no denying Towns is the main man in Minnesota, giving Butler the potential to post highly efficient and well-rounded lines. We shouldn’t expect many high-scoring Butler games as the defensive complement to offensive-minded SF Andrew Wiggins.
Paul Millsap, PF, Denver Nuggets
Put the Nuggets on your NBA League Pass must-see list this year because they’re going to be a lot of fun to watch. Along with breakout phenom Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap is one of the best passing big men in the league, and he should work alongside The Joker in hi-lo sets while filling the stat sheet as did in Atlanta. He should dominate minutes at power forward with the one-dimensional Kenneth Faried backing him up. Millsap will also be asked to step up defensively for a team that finished 28th in defensive efficiency last season.
George Hill, PG, Sacramento Kings
There are a ton of question marks surrounding the Kings’ young roster, but George Hill isn’t one of them. He’s the only true point guard on the squad with any experience. He’ll look to help young studs Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein find their offense and mentor rookie PG De’Aaron Fox as the Kings rebuild. There probably won’t be a player with a better floor-ceiling combination on Sacramento’s roster throughout the year, so consider Hill in any format when the Kings are expected to play close, high-scoring games.
D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets
The Lakers’ deep rotation was an absolute headache last season and forced D’Angelo Russell to become solely relevant in GPP formats. Now, he has the chance to carve out a consistent role as the primary scorer for a Nets team that only has injury-prone Jeremy Lin and spot-up shooter Allen Crabbe to supplement his offensive output. Russell will apparently play SG while Lin is healthy, which indicates an even bigger role for the third-year man after his usage rate jumped to 26.6 percent in his second season.
Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers
He was a complete afterthought in OKC last year: simply an extra on the set during the Russell Westbrook show. But his move to a Pacers team rebuilding around young center Myles Turner (after moving on from Paul George) could seriously buoy Oladipo’s usage and, therefore, his DFS stock. He averaged 17.9 PPG with a 25.2 percent usage rate during his second NBA season with Orlando, and we should see “Dipo” take on a primary role out of the backcourt with diminutive PG Darren Collison operating alongside him.
Brook Lopez, C, Los Angeles Lakers
If Brook Lopez can stay healthy, he’ll likely serve as the top offensive option for a rebuilding Lakers team. Still, some skepticism about his fit is appropriate. It’s a young team that will likely run a lot with Lonzo Ball pushing the tempo at the point. It’s worth noting Julius Randle is dealing with an intercostal strain early in the season, which opens up more usage and minutes for Lopez. “BroLo” is still nothing more than a dart throw in GPP formats until he proves his body is no longer breaking down.
Dwight Howard, C, Charlotte Hornets
Speaking of big men with a lot to prove, Dwight Howard moves from Atlanta to Charlotte without leaving the Southeast Conference. His situation will be much more favorable from a fantasy perspective. Charlotte struggled to rebound and defend down low last year, so “D12” should see more minutes than Cody Zeller or undersized PF Marvin Williams, while hardly anyone else on Charlotte (aside from Kemba Walker) looks for his shot. Nic Batum (wrist) is out for the first couple of months, which puts even more on Howard’s plate in terms of rebounding and playmaking.