If you take the summer off to follow baseball or get ready for fantasy football, the offseason is always a crazy time and it can be difficult to revisit the NBA . Knowing where players have moved, seeing the new starters, and who slides into the rotations can be a daunting task especially if you’ve taken the summer off. Being in a keeper league myself, this is not an option, as trades are always viable and being ready for draft day is of the utmost importance. So gladly, I am here with a series of preseason articles to help with some of the bigger and smaller moves that will give you the edge when drafting this season. We are still a few weeks away from the main draft weeks for basketball, but one who is prepared will always have the leg up.
Clearly the biggest moves this off-season have been the creation of the Evil Empire in South Beach, where as we all know, Mr. LeBron James and Mr. Chris Bosh have decided to “bring their talents.” So we know they are going to be good, we know they are going to win a lot of basketball games, but that is not what we are concerned with here. We want to think of what the fantasy implications of this will be.
The main issue here is that three of the top 15 (or top 10, depends how much you like Bosh) have all been placed on the same team. They are no longer three alpha dogs but must share the ball and there are not going to be enough touches to go around. Let’s look at the three players and their per game averages from last season:
Bosh: 24.0 Pts., 10.8 Reb., 2.4 Assists, 0.6 Stl., 1.0 Blks., 51.8 FG%, 6.7 FTM
Wade: 26.6 Pts., 4.8 Reb., 6.5 Assists, 1.8 Stl., 1.1 Blks., 47.6 FG%, 6.9 FTM
LeBron: 29.7 Pts., 7.3 Reb., 8.6 Assists, 1.6 Stl., 1.0 Blks., 50.3 FG%, 7.8 FTM
OK, so the main thing we can notice is that if these three guys all have the same averages, they would go on to score 80 pts per night, every night, just the three of them. We can definitely say that will not happen. The main reason is that there are just not enough shots to go around, unless they manage to play with two balls at once, which I hear is illegal. I think the main assumption has to be that they will all see a bump down in production. Sure, we will still have nights when these guys get their monster lines. Bosh will get his double-doubles, Wade will get close to his 5×5 (five-plus stats in five categories) and LeBron will get his triple-doubles. The issue is averages. There will be a night when all LeBron does is pass and then the next night he’ll need to score 40. There will be nights when Wade will be the point guard and get 10 assists, but then revert to a scorer the next game.
Here are my feelings on each guy going into the season:
LeBron takes the biggest hit of the three. Once the no-brainer top choice in fantasy leagues he has relinquished that honor to Kevin Durant. I had LeBron last year and he cost me my championship week by sitting out the final week of the season. Durant played till the end and that can make a huge difference in a match up league. With all of the guys averaging close to 20 field goal attempts per game (LBJ 20, Wade 19.6, Bosh 16) it will be very difficult for LeBron to average that once again. That is why I see him diverting (as he has mentioned in interviews and comments) to a Magic Johnson type of role. I think that we will see his assist numbers go up, possible near 10, but a drop in point totals – potentially below the 20 PPG mark – is reasonable. The only saving grace for LeBron this season is the idea that he could average a triple double. Now, this would be an amazing feat but he does have an outside shot. Say he averages 15 Pts, 10 Reb, 10 Assists a block and a steal. Where does that put him on draft day? I think LeBron is still very much in the top five picks, it just comes down to your gut feeling on how the division of labor of the Evil Empire will go. Is LeBron going to be the Emperor, or just Darth Vader? Not to say Vader is bad, but he’s not the head honcho, which is what we are used to from King James. My predicted line for LBJ this season:
Lebron: 18 Pts., 9 Reb., 10 Assists, 1.5 Stl., 1.0 Blks., 50.3 FG%, 6.0 FTM
Wade becomes the wild card of this scenario. Many have him pegged as the one to take over alpha dog status on this team and become the finisher with LeBron being the Pippen to his Jordan. I think this is viable and will help Wade maintain the fantasy value he has always had (when healthy). Again, I see it as hard to average 20 shot attempts on this team but if anyone can do it, it’s going to be Wade. With LeBron on his wing it will open up the floor for Wade (and all players on the Heat) and what can a team do when they have to double team 3 guys on the floor? I think Wade will end up with the largest scoring numbers of his teammates. The question for Wade is the peripheral stats that make him so valuable.The gaudy steal numbers, the crazy assist lines, will those continue? I think yes, but on what scale is unpredictable. There have been reports that both Wade and LeBron will play point guard this season and whoever ends up with the lions share of ball handling duties will end up with the most assists at seasons end. I think Wade will be fine and I’d be OK with drafting him in the top five. But the question becomes, who is more valuable on draft day, the question marks from Wade or the sure thing you get from a guy like Kobe Bryant? My predicted line for Wade this season:
Wade: 19 Pts., 4.0 Reb., 5 Assists, 2 Stl., 1 Blks., 50.0 FG%, 6.0 FTM
Do not confuse Bosh’s change to jersey number, 1, as a sign that he is anywhere close to what that number represents. Bosh takes a hit, but I think he will be the model of consistency on this team. Now, that might not be good consistency but what you draft I think is what you will get. He has dropped out of the first round conversation for sure, but I think he will still be worth a late second round pick (especially if I drafted Wade or LeBron in round one, what could be better than having 2/3 of the Evil Empire?). In addition, if either LeBron or Wade gets injured at any point in time, the Heat will have to rely on Bosh to score. This season, Bosh will still average his double-double, but again, like all Heat members, their point totals will suffer. Bosh has no choice but to get rebounds, as there is really no one else to help him out. Big-Z plays out by the perimeter half the time and let’s say, I’m not buying stock in the Canadian duo of Joel Anthony or Jamaal Magloire. Bosh says he doesn’t want to play center but I don’t think he has a choice. Especially since the Heat’s best lineup will be to go small, play Bosh at the five and cause match-up problems at every position. As a Torontonian myself, I have seen Bosh first hand for many years. Though I think he is not as soft as everyone says he is, and his defense is not as atrocious. When you’re surrounded by the likes of Bargnani, Turkoglu and Calderon, you’re sort of on an island. Bosh did forget to name his island though. That said, I think Bosh will be able to battle down low. The one nice thing might be an uptick in blocks, as he’ll be forced to fight near the glass and deep into the paint. My predicted line for Bosh this season:
Bosh: 15 Pts., 12 Reb., 3 Assists, 1.0 Stl., 1.5 Blks., 51.8 FG%, 6.0 FTM
In review, I think that all members of the Evil Empire will take a hit in some areas and may see a boost in certain aspects of their game. I think Bosh (a lowly Stormtrooper) is the safest pick at where you will get him in a draft, but LeBron and Wade have the most upside. When it comes to drafting, managers are going to want a piece of this team on their fantasy squad and so they may reach for LeBron and Wade, making it worth it to avoid this headache and get a better more “sure thing” player. That manager could be rewarded with a record setting triple double season from LeBron, but if I’m deciding between him and Durant at #1 overall, KD is the no brainer choice. Wade makes an interesting pick as he could finish the year in the top 5 but I still like guys like Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant before I’d take Wade off the board. As for Bosh, I mentioned I think he is a late second round selection to early third. Where I used to want Bosh before the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Danny Granger, Carlos Boozer and David Lee, I think he has slipped behind that group now.
Thanks for reading and look for more articles coming soon about other teams and off-season moves. Can finally get a break from all this Miami Heat coverage. Did you know there are 29 other teams in the NBA?
This post was submitted by Maxmillien Rosenberg.