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NBA Offseason: Eastern Conference Free Agency

I was waiting to write this article until after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving got traded, but as each day passes, that idea seems less likely. While a KD and/or Kyrie trade would completely alter the NBA landscape, this year’s offseason moves will still affect many teams’ usage rates for their players. NBA roles are constantly in flux, and at Fantrax, we’ll help you stay on top of the changes. Let’s get into the Eastern Conference changes for the 2022-2023 NBA season.

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Eastern Conference Changes

Miami Heat

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Nikola Jovic (27th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Heat haven’t made many moves this offseason. Most likely because they’re gearing up for a trade for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell. Making a trade for either of those players would be quite the miracle work from Pat Riley, considering the team doesn’t have much to offer either team (relative to what other teams around the league could offer). If this is the team that Miami starts the season with, I don’t expect many changes in usage, but Nikola Jovic has a real chance to be the starting power forward on this team. He’s a great three-point shooter, and his height (6’10”) allows him to be a decent enough rebounder. He’s got a slight frame, as a stretch four, so his defense could use work. I expect him to garner around 20 minutes per game, which is a negative fantasy impact for Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, and Max Strus.

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Boston Celtics

NBA Free Agents Added: Danilo Gallinari

Trades: Malcolm Brogdon

Notable Draft Picks: JD Davison (53rd overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Boston Celtics have had a truly incredible offseason. Brad Stevens may have been a good coach, but he’s an excellent GM. He truly understands what is missing from his team, and he’s a fantastic judge of talent. Ime Udoka also knows how to manage/use that talent, to perfection. This organization seems to be in complete harmony. In terms of fantasy impact, Gallinari is a huge add at the “4”, which likely means Grant Williams’ playing time will take a hit. Further, Malcolm Brogdon is a true point guard, something the Celtics have been lacking. But he’s also been told to be comfortable coming off the bench. So I assume Marcus Smart’s impact is safe, but Brogdon will get starter’s minutes, so expect Derrick White’s role to shrink. Brogdon averaged 19/6/5 last season. He’s also a 50/40/90 guy. An incredible get for the Celtics. JD Davison had an incredible summer league and also proved he can play the role of a natural point guard, while also scoring. I think it’ll be hard for him to take Payton Pritchard’s minutes, so I look at him as more of a fantasy stash in case of injury.

Milwaukee Bucks

NBA Free Agents Added: Joe Ingles

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: MarJon Beauchamp (24th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Bucks didn’t do much and didn’t need to do much. Quite frankly, we could be talking about the back-to-back NBA Champions had Khris Middleton been healthy enough to play in the playoffs last year. He provides enough on both ends that it could’ve changed the entire outcome of the Bucks/Celtics series. Regardless, I don’t expect any roles to change dramatically. Joe Ingles should soak up a majority of those Allen/Connaughton minutes, but he’s coming off of an ACL injury, and shouldn’t be expected to have a usage rate above 20% on this team.

Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Free Agents Added: Danuel House, Trevelin Queen, and P.J. Tucker

Trades: DeAnthony Melton

Notable Draft Picks: None

Fantasy Impact: The changes made this offseason are more likely to affect the real-life team, than they are to affect any fantasy prospects. P.J. Tucker has been brought on to play defense and hit his corner threes. The same role he’s had on every team he’s ever been on. He’s never been a must-have fantasy asset. House and Queen aren’t fantasy assets either. Melton is a great backup point guard but only becomes interesting for fantasy if there’s an injury. It’ll be the usual suspects for the 76ers in fantasy this upcoming season.

Toronto Raptors

NBA Free Agents Added: Otto Porter Jr. and D.J. Wilson

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Christian Koloko (33rd overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Raptors have been in playoff contention limbo for the past few years. They have All-Star caliber players in Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, but those two aren’t enough to make them make noise in the playoffs, or even guarantee them a spot. They are also too good not to build around. It’s an interesting situation and there are rumors that they may be in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes for that reason. In terms of this particular offseason, they didn’t make any moves to change their fringe situation. Otto Porter will garner 25+ minutes per game, and possibly negatively impact Chris Boucher, who is a fantasy favorite for blocks, steals, and the occasional huge game. The fantasy impact will remain from FVV, Siakam, Trent Jr., OG, and Barnes.

Chicago Bulls

NBA Free Agents Added: Andre Drummond

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Dalen Terry (18th overall)

Fantasy Impact: I love, love, love what the Bulls have been doing the past couple of years. Any time you can turn Tristan Thompson into Andre Drummond, you’ve had a great offseason. Nikola Vucevic is the 30+ minute per game stud at Center, the Bulls managed to re-sign Zach LaVine, and Demar DeRozan is coming off of a career season. They have a respectable “Big 3” and added Andre Drummond to the mix for rebounding and paint defense. The rookie will provide “3 and D,” while a full season of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso will make Chicago the best perimeter defense in the league. There’s no reason the Bulls won’t improve on last year’s 6th seed. The fantasy impact and usage will continue to come from the “Big 3.”

Brooklyn Nets

NBA Free Agents Added: T.J. Warren, Edmond Sumner

Trades: Royce O’Neale

Notable Draft Picks: None

Fantasy Impact: Last season was a mirage, and so is this offseason. As things stand right now, we are looking at a full season from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. That immediately makes the Nets a contender to win the East. I don’t care what you may think of Kyrie. He’s elite any time he plays. If they stay healthy, they are a championship contender. They were lacking in defense last year, which is why they added Royce O’Neale. Further, they don’t have to depend on 2nd year Cam Thomas to contribute, because T.J. Warren can get you 20+ points per game. Cam Thomas contributing would be icing on the cake. Seth Curry is also a nice mid-late round addition for your fantasy drafts, but don’t expect anything outside of points and three-pointers. If one of Kyrie or KD gets traded, throw this entire paragraph out the window.

Atlanta Hawks

NBA Free Agents Added: Aaron Holiday and Frank Kaminsky

Trades: Maurice Harkless, Justin Holiday, and Dejounte Murray

Notable Draft Picks: A.J. Griffin (16th overall)

Fantasy Impact: I HATE what the Atlanta Hawks did this offseason and I don’t care who knows. The Hawks traded for Dejounte Murray to make Trae and Murray and one, two punch in the backcourt. I don’t get it. Trae Young is a ball-dominant point guard, who has never really played off-ball. Dejounte Murray is a ball-dominant point guard, who has never really played off-ball. Both players are made worse by playing off-ball because neither is a 40% 3-point shooter. What scares you most about Trae is him getting in the lane and putting your team in foul trouble. So, basically, the Hawks have made their 8th seeded team much worse, in my opinion. Cool beans. For the early round price, you’d have to pay on Trae Young in fantasy, I’ll be avoiding both him and Murray, at all costs. I don’t like Hawks players in real life or in fantasy after this trade.

Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Free Agents Added: Robin Lopez, Raul Neto, Ricky Rubio

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Ochai Agbaji (14th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Cavs are a growing team, but I’ll admit they were a lot better, a lot earlier than I anticipated. From here, they’ve solidified that base, adding Ricky Rubio who was great for the Cavs before injury. And they’re adding front-court depth in Lopez. I worry a little bit about Darius Garland taking a step backward in fantasy production if he’s going to be sharing the court with Collin Sexton, who is very ball-dominant. But the Cavs just gave Garland a max, so maybe they’ll have Sexton come off the bench and use him as 6th man scoring. Mobley and Allen are as solid as they come for big men. I expect their production to stay the same. Same goes for Caris LeVert and Kevin Love. Expect similar production from last year from a fantasy perspective.

Charlotte Hornets

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Mark Williams (15th overall)

Fantasy Impact: Expect a HUGE year from LaMelo Ball. Melo has a chance to be the MVP and the 1.01 pick in my opinion. With Miles Bridges in legal trouble, and still technically a free agent, the only sources of output on this team are going to be Ball, Rozier, and Gordon Hayward (maybe). This team is going to be bad. Wenbanyama sweepstakes bad.

New York Knicks

NBA Free Agents Added: Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Trevor Keels (42nd overall)

Fantasy Impact: I think Jalen Brunson is good. I really do. He should most definitely be a starter in this league. But to commit $100M+ to him, isn’t how I would spend my cap room, if I ran the Knicks. But I don’t run the Knicks. If the Donovan Mitchell trade doesn’t materialize, then expect Brunson and Julius Randle to be the 1A and 1B in fantasy and real life. RJ Barrett has also gotten better every season, but I worry about his fantasy outlook with Brunson in the mix now. The Knicks appear not to have a desire to develop their young talent, but rather to make news. Whatever. We just need to respond to the realities, not judge the transactions. Mitchell Robinson’s fantasy outlook is unchanged in my view. Quickley’s minutes should stay the same, as Brunson and Keels’ addition caps guard minutes.

Washington Wizards

NBA Free Agents Added: Taj Gibson and Delon Wright

Trades: Will Barton and Monte Morris

Notable Draft Picks: Johnny Davis (10th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Wizards should be comfortably average this year. Maybe even fighting for a play-in tournament spot this year. Davis isn’t really a natural point guard, but I think the Wizards want him playing that role this year. Bradley Beal is a high-usage, and sometimes inefficient player, but his value is undeniable. He’ll be healthy this year, and that alone makes the Wizards a 10th seed. The addition of Barton and Monte Morris makes them a real NBA team, so hopefully, they don’t get bought out or anything (I’m a Wizards fan, full disclosure). The fantasy assets on this team remain Beal, Morris, Barton, and Kristaps Porzingis. Anybody else on the roster like: Deni, Rui, Wright, etc. are players you use on a specific week via the waiver wire.

Indiana Pacers

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: Aaron Nesmith and Daniel Theis

Notable Draft Picks: Benedict Mathurin (6th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Pacers got rid of Brogdon and they’re on the Wenbanyama sweepstakes list, and I don’t blame them. I think he has the ability to be the best player of all time. He should have the same hype that LeBron had. In terms of Pacers’ fantasy assets, judging by Mathurin’s Summer League performance, he’s got a chance to win Rookie of the Year, so he should be on your radar. I also expect him to eat up a lot of usage. Tyrese Halliburton is the only other player I would target. Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are on the trade block and have been for the past year or so. You don’t want to draft a player for his role to change in a few months. The Pacers will be bad this year. Don’t expect much out of this group.

Detroit Pistons

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Kemba Walker

Notable Draft Picks: Jaden Ivey (5th overall) and Jalen Duren (13th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Pistons have built something special. They are full of young players who have the ability to get buckets. Very simply. They also have veterans on the team that will keep them from doing things like tweeting about every win (I’m talking to you Memphis). From a fantasy perspective, it’s tricky. Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey can both be 20+ ppg scorers. On or off the ball. I love their backcourt. In the front court, they lost Jerami Grant, but that opens up a lot of usage for Jalen Duren, Livers, Bagley, and Stewart. I didn’t even mention Saddiq Bey who dropped 51 in a game last year. I don’t know that the Pistons will be good, but they will know who to build around after this season, and that’s more than many teams can say. The only fantasy studs who I’m sure will have usage and success are Cade, Bey, and Ivey.

Orlando Magic

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Paolo Banchero (1st overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Magic are giving Paolo the keys to the franchise. The #1 pick should have the highest usage rate on the team, despite being a rookie. He looked great in Summer League, outside of his turnovers, but he’ll be a solid fantasy asset that you can count on. Suggs and Isaac are good, but they won’t stop the Magic from repeating as the worst team in the East. It’s possible Paolo is good enough to propel them out of the basement, but it’s unlikely. Banchero is the only one of the group you can trust in fantasy.

Got a take on Bradlee’s NBA Offseason Changes? Share it in the comments below and then head on over and check out our 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

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