Pacific Division Player Movement Analysis
Golden State Warriors
Notable Additions: D’Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman
Russell’s primary role this year will be to make sure that Steph Curry doesn’t break before Klay Thompson returns from his ACL tear. It is a weird fit, but the sign-and-trade makes a lot of sense for the Warriors. The Warriors get a good, young asset that they can move later and Russell’s shot-making ability should help Steph stay upright. Russell is a trap for nine-category players. Last season, as the clear first option on the Nets, Russell was a top-60 player in nine-category leagues. Despite the mid-round finish, he’ll likely cost you a top-40 pick on draft day. It would not surprise me if Russell ended up only being a top-80 player in nine-category leagues this year. He won’t come close to matching last year’s usage rate of 31.9 percent and his poor percentages (43.4 FG%, 78.0 FT%), weak rebounding numbers (3.9 RPG), and ugly turnover rate (3.1 TOPG) will continue to limit his upside in fantasy.
Cauley-Stein will split the Warriors’ center minutes with Kevon Looney. It should be close to an even split with Cauley-Stein the slight favorite to see more run. The Warriors love Looney but have been hesitant to play him heavy minutes. Looney didn’t hit the 30-minute mark in any regular season game last year. Cauley-Stein was a borderline top-50 player in the punt FT% build last season (55.1 FT%) in 27.3 MPG and that performance feels repeatable. The Warriors should turn him into an excellent source of field goal impact (55.6 FG%). DeMarcus Cousins posted the second-best field goal percentage of his career on a bad wheel last year and both Looney and Damon Jones hit over 60 percent of their attempts from the floor.
The Warriors’ starting small forward spot is up for grabs and their options at the three are extremely underwhelming. It will likely either be Alfonzo McKinnie or Glenn Robinson III getting the nod. McKinnie is a very good rebounder (8.9 RP36) who is non-factor on offense and contributes little on the defensive end (0.7 SP36, 0.5 BP36). Robinson was part of arguably the worst wing rotation in the league last year in Detroit but could only carve out a 13.0 MPG role for himself. Unless you play in a 30-team league or are a Warriors fan, you can forget these two exist.
Los Angeles Clippers
Notable Additions: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Moe Harkless
Kawhi is going to get his. The Finals MVP is going to eat first and then everyone else, including George, will get whatever is left over. Leonard’s move to the Clippers shouldn’t have a major impact on his numbers. He should still have a usage rate close to 30 percent and be a top-seven per-game player. In his introductory press conference, Kawhi hinted that he wouldn’t need to be load managed this year. I’m not buying that yet. If we get a clear signal closer to the start of the season that load management won’t cost Kawhi 20 games again, he’ll be an obvious first-round selection. Until then, I have him in the second.
George is going to be hard-pressed to repeat last season’s top-three finish in nine-category leagues. The MVP candidate is not a lock to be ready for the start of the regular season and is due for some regression. George’s numbers last year were way out of line with his career averages. The swingman set or matched his career-high in points, three-pointers made, free throws made, free throws attempted, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists, and steals. Playing alongside Kawhi instead of Russell Westbrook also presents some problems for George. Westbrook has his faults, but you cannot deny that he is a very good setup man. Kawhi is the opposite. His game is almost perfect with his one flaw being his passing. Westbrook’s presence was a major boon for George’s field goal percentage in 2018-2019. When both players were on the court, George shot 45.4 percent from the floor. When Westbrook was getting a breather, George only shot 40.4 percent from the field. George will also likely be asked to do more work in isolation this year. That’s not great news for his efficiency numbers. Last season, George only shot 36.8 percent in isolation situations. Expect George to regress in most categories but still be a first-round player on a per-game basis. If George is healthy to start the season, I’ll likely have him ranked around eighth-overall in nine-category leagues.
Leonard and George joining the Clippers is bad news for Lou Williams. The Sixth Man of the Year sported a ridiculous 32.4 percent usage rate last season. He won’t come close to matching that number this year. The Clippers will likely stagger Leonard’s and George’s minutes and there’s a good chance that one of them regularly plays with the bench. Sweet Lou’s points, threes, dimes, and free throw percentage impact are all going to drop this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
Notable Additions: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Quinn Cook, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley
Davis is still a top-five pick and I don’t have any beef with him at one in nine-category leagues. The superstar was on his way to another comfortable first-place finish in nine-category leagues before his trade demand last year. That being said, I expect his counting numbers to take a hit on both the offensive and defensive end. The reason for the upcoming drop in offensive numbers is obvious. Both LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins are huge usage hogs who get theirs regardless of who is on the floor. Cousins somehow managed to post a usage rate of 28.1 percent last season despite sharing the court with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. Cousins joining the Lakers is also why I expect Davis’ defensive numbers to drop. In 2017-2018, before Cousins blew out his Achilles, Davis was averaging “only” 1.1 SPG and 2.1 BPG. After Cousins went down, those numbers jumped to 2.0 SPG and 3.2 BPG. When he shares the court with Cousins, Davis has to spend more time defending on the perimeter and that makes accumulating defensive numbers more difficult.
Cousins was a top-35 player in only 25.7 MPG during his brief stay in Oakland. His impact on the court isn’t what it once was, but the former All-Star still brings the heat in fantasy. I expect Cousins will end up with an ADP somewhere around the third round and that feels like a fair price. He can still put up big numbers on the defensive end (1.9 SP36, 2.1 BP36) and is going to average a monster double-double (22.8 PP36, 11.5 RP36). He’ll also be working with a man who does wonders for his centers’ field goal percentage. When JaVale McGee shared the court with LeBron last year, he hit 66.8 percent of his shots. When LeBron wasn’t on the court, McGee only connected on 57.7 percent of his attempts. James had a similar impact on Tristan Thompson in his final year in Cleveland. When LeBron was on the court, Thompson shot 57.7 percent from the field. When LeBron sat, he only hit 52.2 percent of shots.
Green is going to regress and possibly in a major way. In his only season with the Raptors, Green shot 10 percent better on shots that were open or wide open than he did during his final two seasons with the Spurs. He should still be good for 2.0 3PG, but a repeat of last year’s 2.5 3PG and top-85 finish in nine-category leagues isn’t happening. Green is now 32 and is just a late-round option who gets a boost if you are punting points (10.3 PPG) or assists (1.6 APG). He’s someone to avoid if you play without turnovers. Green derives a ton of value from his nonexistent turnover rate (0.9 TOPG).
The rest of the Lakers’ additions are not very interesting. Bradley hasn’t been good since he left Boston and Brad Stevens’ system. He will only be a late-round player who contributes in the points and threes categories while hurting you everywhere else. Bradley has been an absolutely atrocious per-minute player the past two seasons. About 400 players were better than Bradley on a per-minute basis in both 2018-2019 and 2017-2018. Cook probably won’t play enough minutes to be more than a threes streamer (2.8 3P36). He’s just not a good enough defender to play major minutes on a team that has the option of playing LeBron at point guard. In his final season with the Warriors, Cook finished 507th out of 514 players in DRPM. He wasn’t quite “Trae Young bad” on defense, but he was close.
Notable Additions: Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Frank Kaminsky, Aron Baynes, Cameron Johnson, Ty Jerome, Cheick Diallo
Last season, for the first time in his career, Rubio failed to finish the year as a top-100 player in nine-category leagues. The move to Phoenix should help Rubio get back on track. The Spaniard set a career-low in minutes played (27.9 MPG) in his final season in Utah and should be back over the 30 MPG mark now that he’s a member of the Suns. The Suns still lack point guard depth and wouldn’t have given Rubio $17 million per year if they planned on limiting his minutes. Don’t expect Rubio’s assists to return to what they were in Minnesota. Similar to his time in Utah, Rubio will be paired with an extremely high-usage shooting guard who will limit his assist opportunities. As always, Rubio will be a great source of steals (1.4 SPG) and a major drag on his owners’ field goal percentage (40.4 FG%).
The Suns are a great landing spot for Saric. He should see close to 30 MPG and could crack the top-100 in nine-category leagues. The last time Saric played more than 29 MPG, he finished as a top-80 player. His 2017-2018 campaign gives us an idea of what his line could look like this year. That season, in 29.6 MPG, Saric averaged 14.6 PPG, 2.0 3PG, 6.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.3 BPG. The Croatian will be an especially good fit for the punt blocks build and the punt FG% build (45.3 FG% in 2017-2018).
Baynes will backup Deandre Ayton and will likely play about 17 MPG. That’s how many minutes Richaun Holmes averaged as Ayton’s backup. Holmes was a good enough per-minute player to be useful when Ayton was healthy, but Baynes will need an injury to Ayton to be relevant in standard leagues.
Cameron Johnson was a surprise pick by the Suns near the end of the lottery. The former Tar Heel had a five-year college career and is already 23-years-old. He projects as a very good three-point shooter (2.7 3PG on 45.7 3P%) with a limited all-around game. His defensive numbers at UNC were forgettable (1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG) and since he’s not much of a creator (2.4 APG), his only hope for fantasy relevance lies with his field goal percentage (50.6 FG%). If Johnson can turn himself into a 2.5 3PG/48 FG% type of player, he could be valuable down the road. If he ends up as a 2.5 3PG player who shoots 43 percent from the floor, it will be hard for him to be more than a late-round player due to the holes in his line. Johnson looks like he’ll be an afterthought in the Suns’ rotation this year. He’ll be competing for minutes with two better prospects in Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre.
Ty Jerome was a very good college player who may not have the physical tools to succeed at the next level. Jerome is a 6’5” point guard who will be held back his below-average athleticism and 6’4” wingspan. He could back up Rubio and be a low-end source of threes (2.1 3PG), dimes (5.5 APG), and steals (1.5 SPG). Jerome isn’t an appealing pick in rookie drafts since he doesn’t have much upside outside of those three categories.
Cheick Diallo is someone you will need to keep an eye on all year. He’ll start the season as the Suns’ third-string center and would be useful in deeper leagues if Baynes were to be moved. Diallo produces very juicy lines whenever he is given decent minutes. The former Pelican has been a top-80 per-minute player two seasons in a row and could be a difference maker in the big man categories late in the season when the Suns’ focus shifts to ping pong balls (13.4 RP36, 1.3 BP36, 62.0 FG%).
Notable Additions: Dewayne Dedmon, Richaun Holmes, Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph
The Kings did a nice job adding depth to their roster and improving their center rotation. Dedmon will start and will have an ADP that is far too low. The big man was a top-50 player last season and a top-30 option over the final two months of the year. Somehow fantasy players barely noticed. His ownership percentage was similar to late-round duds like Dennis Schroder and Andrew Wiggins. Dedmon averaged 1.3 3PG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in only 25.1 MPG. He was also respectable from the floor (49.2 FG%) and better than most big men at the line (81.4 FT%). Dedmon should be a mid-round pick next year but he won’t be due to his low scoring numbers (10.8 PPG). His lack of scoring makes him an obvious target for the punt points build and the Kings’ starting center should also fit nicely into the punt assists build (1.4 APG).
Holmes will back up Dedmon and will likely see minutes in the high-teens. Marvin Bagley will get some run at the five so Holmes’ minutes could fluctuate from game-to-game. The former Sun is an outstanding per-minute player and is a fine late-round flier in deeper leagues. He’ll just be a strong streaming option in standard leagues as long as Dedmon is healthy.
Ariza’s days as a reliable three-and-D fantasy option are probably over. The 34-year-old was a top-100 player last season but only because he played 34.0 MPG. He won’t play nearly as much in Sacramento with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harrison Barnes on the roster. He’s a candidate to be overdrafted next year due to his name and history. He’ll only be a decent threes (2.2 3P36) and steals (1.4 SP36) streamer. Joseph will back up De’Aaron Fox and will be worth grabbing on nights where you need four dimes and a swipe.
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