Special to Yahoo Sports
There are several familiar NBA faces in new places this season, from rookie Victor Wembanyama’s arrival in San Antonio to Fred VanVleet’s move to Houston. And then there’s Damian Lillard, who is still a Trail Blazer after demanding a trade to the Heat this summer.
Let’s take a look at some of the bigger transactions from the offseason, as well as a few superstars who could be in motion soon.
San Antonio drafts Victor Wembanyama
Wembanyama was taken by the Spurs with the No. 1 overall pick, and the only thing we really know is that his jersey sales will be through the roof. The Spurs are going to be entertaining to watch, if nothing else.
Wembanyama has serious boom-or-bust fantasy potential and is going in the third round of most early drafts — sometimes as early as Round 2. Personally, I think he’s going to come as advertised and be a rookie fantasy beast, but if he sits out one game per week, it’s obviously going to negatively impact his value. The Spurs are a long way from having a championship-contending roster, but they literally won the lottery and have a bright future as long as Wembanyama is healthy. Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan should round out the starting lineup and all five of San Antonio’s starters should be taken in fantasy drafts. Now we just have to hope the Spurs let the kid play.
Where does Damian Lillard end up?
Lillard demanded a trade to the Heat but is still a member of the Trail Blazers, at least for now. If Lillard is eventually moved, Anfernee Simons gets a big boost in Portland along with guys like Shaedon Sharpe and Jerami Grant. Regardless of where Lillard plays in 2023-24, he’s still going to be the same dominant player we’ve grown accustomed to watching. The Trail Blazers have proven they’re not going to win it all without making some changes, but they at least have a chance to go deep in the playoffs if Lillard stays put.
If he goes to Miami, the Heat, who’ve proven themselves contenders in recent years, would immediately become the team to beat in the East with a potential starting unit of Lillard, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo.
But like I said, it really doesn’t matter where Lillard ends up in fantasy hoops. He’s going to remain a fantasy beast on any NBA roster. My gut says he’ll find his way to Miami, but we just don’t know when it will happen.
Harden and GM Daryl Morey had another war of words over the summer, and the superstar point guard clearly doesn’t want to play another game for the Sixers. The act is wearing thin on many of us, and I personally don’t really care where Harden ends up, or if he chooses to sit out some (or all) of the season. Tyrese Maxey stands to gain the most if Harden doesn’t play, and Joel Embiid would also get even more looks and touches in a Harden-less offense.
Fred VanVleet (and Dillon Brooks) to Houston
VanVleet will serve as a savvy veteran leading a pack of kids in Houston, as the Rockets have one of the more promising young foundations in the league. The acquisition of Brooks is a bit of a head-scratcher though, and Memphis fans were probably happy to see him go. I’m not sure how he fits with the youth movement in Houston, but if anything, he’ll keep things interesting for the Rockets.
Jalen Green, Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun should all take a step forward this season, but VanVleet will be handed the keys to the offense. Look for VanVleet to have a resurgence in Houston after a handful of solid years in Toronto.
With Kristaps Porzingis in Boston and Bradley Beal in Phoenix, the Wizards will have a new look with both Poole and Jones penciled in as starters. Poole has a chance to lead the league in scoring, which is good news in Yahoo points leagues, while Jones now looks like a nice point guard sleeper if he’s handed a major role in Washington.
They’re not going to be a very good NBA team and Poole’s value varies greatly depending on what scoring system your league uses, but the bottom line is he’s going to score a ton of points for one of the league’s worst teams.
Kristaps Porzingis to Boston
Porzingis will make Boston a better team this season, and the Celtics should once again battle the Bucks, Sixers and Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals. But as far as fantasy hoops are concerned, Porzingis will be a third wheel to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, potentially limiting his fantasy appeal. Add in the constant injury worries that come with Porzingis, and he’s a risky option in just about every fantasy format. However, he’s coming off a career year and played in 65 games last season. I doubt Porzingis will score more than 20 points per game, and the rest of his numbers could take a hit in Boston, as well. Nonetheless, Porzingis will likely make the Celtics a better NBA team than they were a year ago, and as long as he’s healthy, he’ll still be a viable fantasy option, even with fewer touches and a smaller role on his new team.
Bradley Beal to Phoenix
Beal’s lower leg problems throughout his career have presumably ended the days of him being a first- or second-round fantasy pick. Add in the fact that he’ll be battling with guys like Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton for touches, and Beal’s fantasy appeal is clearly spiraling downward. However, a healthy Beal could be a nice complement for the Suns’ aforementioned core, and he could actually have a bounce-back season in Phoenix.
Beal is now a mid- to late-round fantasy option with his new team but could provide some nice value if he can find a way to mesh with Durant and Booker.
Smart, thought of as a defensive specialist, will help fill in the hole left by a 25-game suspension to Ja Morant, making his arrival in Memphis one of the more important moves of the offseason. It’s not getting a lot of attention, but Smart, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson should all be selected early in fantasy drafts with Morant spending the first third of the season in street clothes. Smart should be a fun two-way player in fantasy this season, at least until January or so.
Schroder is a journeyman who just won’t go away and might have stumbled into the starting point guard gig in Toronto. With Fred VanVleet in Houston, Schroder will have weapons at his disposal like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl. And if Schroder’s age (soon turning 30) catches up with him, the Raptors can simply roll with Barnes at point guard and move on. But, for now, Schroder looks like an interesting way to burn a late fantasy pick as the de facto starting point guard in Toronto.
I’m not sure how this is going to work out for Paul, who had a pretty disappointing season with the Suns last year, averaging just 13.9 points in 59 games. Stephen Curry is the point guard in Golden State, while Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green will all have the ball in their hands often. Paul is now 38 years old and may be relegated to a bench role with the Warriors.
If the Clippers could just keep everyone healthy and if Westbrook can co-exist with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, they could do some real damage in the West this season. They’ve got an old and underwhelming version of their own Big Three with those guys, but Westbrook often does more harm than good (in both fantasy and reality), and you never know when Leonard and George are actually going to play. Nonetheless, they will at least be interesting to watch on nights when they’re all on the court.
Collins is seeking new fantasy life and a fresh start in Utah after wasting away in Atlanta for years, and this move could give him a fantasy boost. I like Collins in Utah as long as he can get enough touches alongside players like Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson. However, I think Collins may fare better as a role player instead of being in the spotlight, and I look forward to drafting him in later rounds with the hope that he can turn things around, starting with his three-point efficiency.
DiVincenzo to the Knicks isn’t an earth-shattering development, but he’s a solid player who will help shore up their backcourt. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle will do the heavy lifting for the Knicks, while Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart and DiVincenzo play solid secondary roles. I don’t even know if DiVincenzo will be worth drafting in 12-team leagues, but if nothing else, he’ll help make the Knicks a better team in 2023-24.