Central Division Player Movement Analysis

 In Free Agency, Rankings, Recaps, Trade Analysis

Chicago Bulls

Notable Additions: Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, Thaddeus Young, Luke Kornet, Daniel Gafford

The Bulls’ starting point guard spot looks like it’s going to become a major headache for fantasy owners. Coach Boylen has already penciled in Kris Dunn as the Bulls’ lead guard ahead of Satoransky, who is making $10 million this year, and White, who was the seventh-overall pick in the 2019 draft. We’ll see how long that arrangement lasts. Both Satoransky and Dunn have mid-round upside when they play 30 MPG. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that neither reaches that mark. White should be a top-eight pick in rookie drafts even though he doesn’t currently have a clear path to major minutes. He can play both guard spots and his three-ball is already in a good place. White couldn’t buy a bucket in Summer League but shot it reasonably well from deep in his only year at UNC (35.3 3P% on 6.6 3PA). He’s more of a scoring guard than a pure point guard, but he should eventually end up as a 5.0 APG+ player. Like all rookie guards, he’s a good bet to struggle from the floor. White only shot 42.3 percent from the field at Carolina and took 52.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He’s just a final-round flier in re-draft leagues.

Young loses a little bit of value now that he will be coming off of the bench behind Lauri Markkanen but should still play enough minutes to remain in the standard league conversation. Thad was a top-70 player in 30.7 MPG in his final season in Indiana and should see minutes in the upper-20s in his first year in Chicago. Young’s value is dependent on the build you are rolling with. In a Roto setting, he’s only a late-round option. In the punt FT% build (64.4 FT%), or in the punt threes build (0.6 3PG), he can be more than that. Thad should continue to be an excellent source of out-of-position steals (1.5 SPG) and an underrated source of field goal percentage impact (52.6 FG%).

I included Kornet and Gafford as notable additions because I like both as long-term prospects. Kornet is only 24 and was a top-30 per-minute player last season. Gafford is a very good athlete who dominated the big man categories at Arkansas. In his sophomore year, Gafford averaged 16.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. He also shot a very healthy 66.0 percent from the floor. He had his issues at the line (59.1 FT%) so he’s a much better dynasty stash for those punting free throw percentage. Kornet and Gafford will battle for the Bulls’ backup center spot behind Wendell Carter Jr. Whoever wins that battle could be very relevant to standard league players if Carter were to go down again.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Notable Additions: Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler 

Garland is a bit of a mystery. His college career ended after only five games and the Cavaliers chose to hold him out of Summer League. A player not suiting up in a competitive game for 10 months is usually a good reason to stay away during draft season. However, Garland comes with something that many of his fellow lottery picks lack – opportunity. He’s expected to see significant minutes in a Cavaliers backcourt that includes Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and not much else. Sexton played 31.8 MPG in his rookie year which suggests that Garland is a good bet to break the 30 MPG mark in his maiden campaign. Garland could take over as the team’s primary ball-handler and creator as Sexton is more of a scoring guard than a true setup man. However, I wouldn’t expect more than low-end assists from the rookie. The Cavaliers will run a lot of their offense through Kevin Love and Sexton will have a healthy usage rate once again. Garland’s best skill is his shooting and he should be a reliable source of threes next season. Everything else is up in the air. He was turnover-prone in high school and with Team USA so the rookie is a better late-round flier in eight-category leagues than in nine-category leagues.

Porter and Windler will fight for minutes on the wing with Windler being the favorite to get the first crack at being Cedi Osman’s backup. Porter was a volume scorer off the bench for USC and nothing in his college line suggests that he’ll be a valuable fantasy asset in his rookie year. In order for a rookie wing to be valuable, especially one that is not a creator (1.4 APG), he has to score efficiently, be an average threat or better from deep, and have an impressive steal rate. Porter is unlikely to meet any of those requirements. Porter’s shot selection is one of his glaring weaknesses, his three-ball is on pace to be solid (41.2 3P% on 3.2 3PA) but still needs work, and his steal rate at USC was forgettable (0.8 SPG in 22.1 MPG). Windler spent four years at Belmont and is a more NBA-ready prospect. He should be a legitimate threat from deep right out of the gate (3.0 3PG on 42.9 3P%) and post respectable numbers on the boards (10.8 RPG).

Detroit Pistons

Notable Additions: Derrick Rose, Tony Snell, Sekou Doumbouya, Christian Wood, Markieff Morris

Rose was a feel-good story last season. The former MVP brought his career back from the brink. However, his comeback season didn’t translate into much fantasy value. Despite averaging 18.0 PPG, Rose only managed a top-110 finish in nine-category leagues. Rose will be 31-years-old when the season starts which makes it unlikely that he can improve on last year’s surprising finish. He may be worth owning next year, but it’s better to target upside late in drafts. Snell has never been a factor in fantasy and I don’t expect that to change. He’ll be a low-end threes streamer and could eventually fall behind Bruce Brown in the rotation.

Doumbouya is a long-term project for both the Pistons and for dynasty owners. The 18-year-old will be the youngest player in the league next year and it is very unlikely that he becomes relevant in re-draft leagues. He’s only an option in dynasty leagues for those who can afford to eat at least a couple of years of minimal production. Sekou has only been playing basketball for seven years and is an extremely raw prospect.

Anyone who was still playing fantasy basketball in the final week of March knows who Christian Wood is. Wood dropped league-swinging performances after league-swinging performances during the most important stretch of the fantasy calendar. Over the Pelicans’ final eight games, in only 23.6 MPG, the big man averaged 16.9 PPG, 0.8 3PG, 7.9 RPG, 0.9 SPG, and 1.3 BPG while shooting 53.3 percent from the field. Wood will battle Thon Maker for the Pistons’ backup center spot. That is a camp battle that he can win. The problem is that Wood will be behind one of the most durable players in the league in Andre Drummond. Drummond has missed only 10 games over the past six years.

Morris will back up Blake Griffin which is not a bad position to be in given Griffin’s injury history. He won’t play enough when Blake is healthy to be relevant to standard league owners, but he’ll have top-100 upside anytime Griffin is out of the lineup. Morris produces a “glue guy” type of line when given big minutes. He doesn’t provide standout production in any category, but the veteran has the ability to give you a little bit of everything.

Indiana Pacers

Notable Additions: Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, T.J. Warren, Goga Bitadze, Justin Holiday

The Pacers had themselves a great offseason and look like they’ll be full of intriguing fantasy options this year. Brogdon has top-50 potential as the Pacers’ primary ball-handler until Victor Oladipo returns. The former Buck has always been valuable due to his divine percentages (50.6 FG%, 92.8 FT%), but has never had the opportunity to post flashy popcorn numbers. That should change with the Pacers. To give you an idea of how much Brogdon’s value will benefit from being on the ball, let’s look at his splits with and without Eric Bledsoe on the court last year:

With Bledsoe on the court: 18.1 PP36, 3.0 AP36, 17.7 USG%

With Bledsoe off the court: 21.3 PP36, 5.1 AP36, 22.6 USG%

That is a significant difference. It’s fair to expect all of Brogdon’s counting numbers to increase this season. He will likely suffer a small dip in his field goal percentage, but it should be more than offset by the benefits of his increased usage.

Lamb and Warren should eat until Oladipo returns and should be top-100 options after the All-Star is back on the court. Lamb was a borderline top-50 player in nine-category leagues last year as the Hornets’ second option. He’ll slide into Bojan Bogandovic’s spot and could lead the team in scoring until Oladipo returns. Lamb should be a consistent source of triples (1.5 3PG) and an above-average source of rebounds from the wing (5.5 RPG). The swingman is a lot more valuable in nine-category leagues than he is in eight-category leagues due to his minuscule turnover rate (1.0 TOPG).

Warren is also a candidate to lead the team in scoring while Oladipo is healing. The former Sun is coming off of one of the biggest improvements from three in recent memory. In 2017-2018, Warren averaged 0.3 3PG and shot an ugly 22.2 percent from deep. Last season, he hit 1.8 3PG on an absurd 42.8 percent from three. That massive swing means we’re due for some regression. It’s probably safe to assume that Warren will be a decent three-point shooter going forward, but it is also safe to assume that he is not one of the best three-point shooters in the league like last year’s results suggest.

Bitadze is an intriguing prospect who has landed in a tricky situation. The good news is that he is joining a team that has done a great job developing young big men. The bad news is that those well-developed young big men are still on the roster. Expect Bitadze’s playing time to be inconsistent in his rookie year. Both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are expected to start for the Pacers this season, but there will be games when Sabonis takes the lion’s share of the backup center minutes. The Georgian should be able to do some damage if he does find a way to earn some extra minutes. He won the EuroLeague Rising Star award as a 19-year-old. That award is given to Europe’s top young player and was won twice by Luka Doncic when he was playing in Europe. Bitadze’s strong play was backed up by strong box score numbers. In 13 games in the EuroLeague, the big man averaged 12.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in only 24.2 MPG. Bitadze is talented, it’s just hard to predict when he will get his shot.

Milwaukee Bucks

Notable Additions: Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Kyle Korver

The Bucks are returning most of their 60-win team and are going to be one of the easier teams to project. The only notable player going out the door is Malcolm Brogdon. Milwaukee will use a committee approach to replace the newest Pacer. Matthews, Korver, Sterling Brown, and George Hill will all see minutes at shooting guard. Donte DiVincenzo will be in the rotation as well. Matthews and Korver are on their last legs and shouldn’t be drafted. Both are just threes streamers. Hill may be viable in deeper leagues. The veteran was playing major minutes in the playoffs, even after Brogdon returned. Robin Lopez joins his brother Brook to form one of the league’s most entertaining center rotations. Robin won’t have any value when Brook is healthy but would be a must-own player if his twin were to miss time. Over the final two months of the 2018-2019 season, Robin averaged 14.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 30.1 MPG while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor.

Follow me on Twitter @AdamGStock for the latest fantasy basketball news and analysis. I will gladly answer any fantasy basketball questions that you may have. 

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