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NBA Offseason: Western Conference Free Agency

Donovan Mitchell is the big Western Conference domino that we’ve all been waiting to see fall. He’s not my favorite player by any stretch. I find him to be an inefficient scorer that doesn’t really turn a team into a championship contender as the #1 player on a team, but that’s not really fair to him considering only a handful of players are that. While we are waiting to see what happens with Mitchell, the rest of the league has still been making moves. Let’s recap the Western Conference and see where it affects fantasy basketball.

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Western Conference Changes

You can also check out my take on the Eastern Conference.

Phoenix Suns

NBA Free Agents Added: Damion Lee and Josh Okogie

Trades: Jock Landale

Notable Draft Picks: None

Fantasy Impact: The Suns only added role players so you can expect the usage rates to come out of the same “Big 3,” in Devin Booker, CP3, and DeAndre Ayton. I’d say Ayton’s stock is down though, because there is still a chance he could be traded, and the guy got benched in the playoffs. If you can get benched in the playoffs, you can get benched in the regular season. I think there is legitimate damage to the relationship as the Suns refused to max offer Ayton, so he could only take the smaller max offer another team could give him. This caused him $30M+ and the knowledge of how the front office and owner view him. Booker and CP3 are the fantasy assets to trust, and quite frankly CP3 might be on the decline. Don’t expect Phoenix to repeat as the #1 seed this year.

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Memphis Grizzlies

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: Danny Green

Notable Draft Picks: Jake LaRavia (19th overall) and David Roddy (23rd overall)

Fantasy Impact: The #1 option on this team in fantasy and real life is Ja Morant. I’m expecting another big year from the future legend. They lost Kyle Anderson and Melton, so I’m expecting more regular rotation minutes for Tyus Jones this year. He’s demonstrated that he’s a starting caliber point guard, so having him as depth is valuable. If there’s any injury to Morant, Jones is a must-own. JJJ and Dillon Brooks are the other high-usage assets on this team and their roles should be similar to last year. In terms of waiver wire adds, I love Kenny Lofton Jr. if he makes the team. Watching him bully Chet Holmgren and also provide versatility offensively has been quite the experience. He can become a fan favorite. Brandon Clarke and Desmond Bane are in the same boat as potential waiver wire depth, in my eyes. I like Danny Green, but I think he’s there to be the adult in the room, more than provide two-way basketball. Especially coming off of his injury. The bottom line is that Morant is the player to own. If you can’t get any other players from this roster, don’t seat it. There are other/better assets out there.

Golden State Warriors

NBA Free Agents Added: Donte DiVencenzo

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (28th overall)

Fantasy Impact: I’m off the Draymond Green train as a fantasy asset. He’s become useless in the points category, so you’re essentially paying up for an assists/rebounds guy. He’s more valuable in real life. I’m starting to be wary of Klay Thompson too. You have to pay up with an early-to-mid-round pick based on what he’s done in the past, but I’m not sure he’s still that player. Can he give you a game or two where he drops 40+ points? No doubt. But he’s not that threat nightly anymore. At the same time, it takes most athletes two years or more to return to old form, so perhaps he just needs more time. Regardless, I’m not going to gamble an early pick on him. Steph is Steph. You know what to expect from him. I’m excited to see what James Wiseman looks like, but just like Klay, it might take him some time to get back to himself. And we don’t even know if he’s good, to be honest. Without Otto Porter, Gary Payton, and Damion Lee, some backup guard minutes are free, so look to Donte DiVencenzo on the waiver wire or for a late-round pick. He is a good source of all stats when he gets the minutes. He’s 14/7/4 per 36 minutes for his career.

Dallas Mavericks

NBA Free Agents Added: JaVale McGee

Trades: Christian Wood

Notable Draft Picks: Jaden Hardy (37th overall)

Fantasy Impact: No Brunson means more work/usage rate for Luka Doncic. He’s a comfortable pick for 1.01 or MVP pick this year. He’s similar to LaMelo Ball in his usage rate for the 2023 season but probably more talented. My favorite sleeper pick for this year is Tim Hardaway. He’s a starting caliber player that will give you points and threes, boards, and assists, and I think he’s been forgotten about by most people considering he hasn’t played in a year. Brunson leaving opens up a lot of usage for him, and Jaden Hardy may not be ready to contribute on a daily basis. Love Wood and McGee in the front court. Dallas couldn’t win with Kleber and Powell at Center. Kleber had great playoffs, but I’m not going to depend on him during season-long fantasy. Luka, Bullock, Hardaway, Wood, and McGee will be the fantasy assets to keep on your radar.

Utah Jazz

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, and Jarred Vanderbilt

Notable Draft Picks: Walker Kessler (22nd overall)

Fantasy Impact: I don’t know what to make of this team. If Donovan Mitchell gets traded, this is one of the worst teams in the league. They’ve already lost Rudy Gobert. If Mitchell sticks around, he’s got the potential to lead the league in usage rate, making him an incredible fantasy asset. He currently averages 26/5/4 per 36 minutes for his career, and that could increase significantly with him being the only scoring option along with Jordan Clarkson. Patrick Beverley is someone you can always count on for effort regardless of how good/bad his team is. He should be on your fantasy radar. Jordan Clarkson’s stock is up, as well. He might even be forced into a starting five role again. Bogdanovic probably closes out who you should be interested in on the Utah Jazz. Walker Kessler is interesting, but I don’t expect much offensive output out of him. That wasn’t his M.O. in college either.

Denver Nuggets

NBA Free Agents Added: Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan

Trades: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith

Notable Draft Picks: Christian Braun (21st overall)

Fantasy Impact: Mr. Back-to-Back MVP: Nikola Jokic. I don’t need to tell you how valuable he is in fantasy basketball or real life. 27/14/8. Come on. He’s incredible. You can choose him as your 1.01 and nobody would bat an eye. I don’t know if this team got better this offseason though. MPJ is coming back, but you know what they say about back surgeries. There’s no such thing as one. I’m scared of him, no matter how talented he is. Jamal Murray will be coming back too. And I think it’s foolish to expect him to hit the ground running. He’ll be brought on slowly and need to get back into the swing of things and the speed of NBA basketball. That won’t happen overnight. I’ll be avoiding Murray,  too. Bones Hyland and Bruce Brown are the crown jewels of this offense for fantasy. Both are spark plugs…even in limited minutes. Bones is all offense and Bruce Brown is a stat stuffer. I was surprised to see the Nets let him go, and so cheaply. He must’ve wanted a different environment. All-in-all, I think there are three players to covet on this team.

Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA Free Agents Added: Kyle Anderson, Bryn Forbes, and Austin Rivers

Trades: Rudy Gobert

Notable Draft Picks: Wendell Moore (26th overall)

Fantasy Impact: KAT, Anthony Edwards, and Rudy Gobert. Those are the fantasy assets you’ll draft and start. In terms of depth for your team, I like Greg Monroe if he gets 20+ minutes, and he might since both Gobert and KAT are starters. I also like D’Angelo Russell, but his role is admittedly not defined. He could still be traded, quite frankly. I’ll be avoiding him unless he falls to me in the later rounds, and he won’t. They gave up a lot for Gobert, but they are a better team. Expect them to finish better than the 7th seed this year.

New Orleans Pelicans

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Dyson Daniels (8th overall)

Fantasy Impact: This team didn’t make any moves, and I’d like to think they’re in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Further, technically they’ve added Zion Williamson this offseason as he’s going to be healthy and ready to roll this upcoming year. The jewels of this team are Zion, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum. Herbert Jones and Jaxon Hayes are the only other names you’ll need to know on this team. I’m not sold on Dyson Daniels yet, but if you can get him on the waiver wire, he has the tools to be special. I just don’t know where he gets his minutes from unless there’s an injury.

LA Clippers

NBA Free Agents Added: John Wall

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: None

Fantasy Impact: I have no idea what to expect from John Wall, but I think he has plenty in the tank. My biggest fear is that if he has to play off-ball, and they let Kawhi and Paul George run point. If that’s the case, John Wall isn’t worth the draft capital. If they let him run the show, I think he has the potential to be a 15/10 kind of asset. Time will tell. You know what to expect from Kawhi and PG. They are both 1st and 2nd round caliber. Reggie Jackson will be great for depth, especially if John Wall has injury or conditioning issues. Norman Powell is a 20+ point per game threat, but you won’t get anything else from him. I’m off the Brandon Boston train. He doesn’t have a path to usage.

San Antonio Spurs

NBA Free Agents Added: Isaiah Roby

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Jeremy Sochan (9th overall), Malaki Branham (20th overall), and Blake Wesley (25th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Spurs gave away Murray, Walker, and Gallinari, so it’s official. They are in the Wenbanyama sweepstakes. When a team is so obviously tanking, all the rookie draft picks are in play for minutes. You won’t have to reach for them, so they can win you your league if you stay vigilant in the late rounds. They’ll get plenty of minutes. Keldon Johnson, Primo, and Vassell, Poeltl, and Josh Richardson are the “veterans” that will likely start. Though I can’t rule out that Poeltl won’t be traded. Or that come the middle of the season, the starters get shut down for the rookies and 2nd year players to get more playing time. You’ll need to monitor this team as the tanking teams provide lots of opportunities for fantasy value.

LA Lakers

NBA Free Agents Added: Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Lonnie Walker IV

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: None

Fantasy Impact: This team is quite the mystery right now. Russell Westbrook is in every single trade rumor. His own agent gave up on him and spilled the beans about his desire to be traded over Twitter. If he stays on the Lakers, I think his relevance in fantasy is slim to none. You can count on LeBron, but I’ve sworn to myself I will never draft Anthony Davis again. He’s too injury prone. Frankly, LeBron has been piling up the injuries too. He’s also not getting any younger, so the days of him spraining an ankle and healing the next day like the Wolverine are likely over. The Lakers certainly got better this offseason, but I don’t think they’ll be contending for a title unless they make a splash trade. I’m not sure I’ll have any Lakers on my fantasy roster. There’s just too much in flux.

Sacramento Kings

NBA Free Agents Added: Malik Monk

Trades: Kevin Huerter

Notable Draft Picks: Keegan Murray (4th overall)

Fantasy Impact: Keegan Murray showed that he could’ve been the number one draft pick in Summer League. I was blown away by his fluidity, his defense, his touch around the rim, and his ability to shoot. This is the best pick the Kings have made since Tyrese Haliburton (who they inexplicably traded away????). Keegan Murray and Sabonis are bigs you’ll be able to count on in fantasy. Further, De’Aaron Fox has gotten better every year. I expect Davion Mitchell to take a jump, and Huerter is a nice addition on the wing. Those are the five players you should be targeting in fantasy. I think Harrison Barnes’ fantasy stock took a hit with the addition of Murray. I’m not sure I’d rather him start over Huerter at the 3, which relegates him to the bench.

Portland Trail Blazers

NBA Free Agents Added: Gary Payton

Trades: Jerami Grant

Notable Draft Picks: Shaedon Sharpe (7th overall)

Fantasy Impact: The Blazers have apparently done enough not to get Dame to ask out. So that means he should still remain a high-usage player on this team, even though we haven’t seen him play in a while. Just a few years ago he average 30 points in a season. That’s the kind of prolific scoring he’s capable of. Jerami Grant adds another 20+ points per game onto that, along with Nurkic, but that concludes the bucket-getters on this team. GP2 is there for defense and transition points, but that’s the extent of his role. Shaedon Sharpe injured his shoulder in Summer League, and he’ll be learning the NBA game as a rookie. In my view, there are only three fantasy assets on this team, unless there’s a significant injury to Dame, Grant, or Nurkic.

Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: None

Notable Draft Picks: Chet Holmgren (2nd overall) and Jalen Williams (12th overall)

Fantasy Impact: I think the Thunder made the right pick with Chet. I really do. But I think we need to acknowledge that he is a project. A project that I think will pan out, but I don’t expect his rookie year to bring fantasy success. I watched Kenny Lofton Jr. bully him in the post. If a raw rookie can do that, I expect grown men playing NBA Center to do the same. Chet will be a nice source of blocks and rebounds. Three-pointers too, but don’t reach. He’s going to have ups and downs and stretches of poor performance. Josh Giddey is the player to own on this team. He has the ability to average a triple-double and you may be able to draft him after the third round. He has the potential to be the steal of the draft. You know what to expect from Shai. He’s going to fill up the stat sheet, but with Giddey in the ball-handling role, Shai’s role will be to get buckets, so I won’t be reaching for Shai, either. Lu Dort is an underrated source for “3 and D.”

Houston Rockets

NBA Free Agents Added: None

Trades: Sterling Brown, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, and Marquese Chriss

Notable Draft Picks: Jabari Smith (3rd overall) and Tari Eason (17th overall)

Fantasy Impact: Watching Jabari in Summer League gave me the impression that he’s going to have a steep learning curve and not an immediate fantasy contributor. He certainly has a large skillset, though. I’m excited to see how he grows. Tari Eason looks like a veteran and he’s ready to contribute right now. It’s a bit sad though, because I’ve been on the Alperen Sengun bandwagon for a year+ now, and it’s hard for me to see where he gets the usage between Smith and Eason in the front court. He may be the casualty. It’s going to be hard for him to get going in a backup role. We saw how that went last year with Chris Wood taking his minutes. Jalen Green and KPJ are the stat stuffers in this lineup, and that won’t change.

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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