1. Derrick Favors, New Orleans Pelicans
I am a big fan of the New Orleans Pelicans move for Derrick Favors. This is a very young team with a promising future. Favors gives them a veteran presence, but we don’t get fantasy points for veteran presences. So, what can Favors deliver in a new city? Do not expect monster minutes, because he has never been that guy, and his durability is best suited in the 25-28 minute range. Health is a reoccurring concern for Favors, but he has played over 75 games in each of the last two seasons. His rebounding ability is going to be solid, and he can deliver on more than a block per game.
Favors has averaged 11.8 points per game in his career and 7.4 assists. He is an efficient shooter around the rim, but don’t expect him to step outside and shoot. He has averaged seven-plus rebounds in the last two seasons, and 1.2 blocks per game. Favors is going to bring consistency to the table, even though it won’t be with stellar numbers considered to the names around him. He is currently floating around the 15 mark for center rankings, and can finish in the 10-15 range.
2. Thomas Bryant, C, Washington Wizards
The name Mitchell Robinson for the Knicks is the young center that will be on everybody’s radar. Thomas Bryant isn’t too far behind for the Washington Wizards. Bryant’s minutes fluctuated a lot last season. He started 53 games, but played 23 minutes per game. Bryant averaged 11.4 points per game, and 7.1 rebounds per game. He also notched 0.9 blocks per game, even though he isn’t a notable shot blocker. Bryant projects to be a better minutes player this year, and should push 30 or in a perfect world, more than 30. I wouldn’t expect a major jump in blocks, but with a minutes increase he will get over the 1.0 per game mark. Being efficient around the rum helps his cause, and his rebound ability will push him up to 8-9 per game.
Only Ian Mahinmi is the true center backing up Bryant, and it would be moronic for them to even split the workload. The Wizards have already had encouraging words for Bryant being a big part of their future but also getting minutes this season. Turning 22 over the offseason, he is looking to be one of the major second year players to make an impact in fantasy.
3. Wendell Carter Jr, C, Chicago Bulls
Wendell Carter Jr. played just 44 games in his rookie season due to injuries. The Chicago Bulls drafted him 7th overall last season, and it was a position of need for them. He shot a mediocre 48%, which wasn’t ideal for his range. He averaged 10 and 7 with 1.3 blocks per game. Carter had to adjust to the NBA life, struggling against bigger centers and also foul trouble. I don’t see him creeping over 30 minutes, but should be in the 28 minute range. His block potential is there, and should get up to over 1.5 blocks per game. Carter has proven to be a strong rebounder, and he won’t be an offensive weapon on this team, but double-digit points per game is in his range of outcomes.
The name is someone we know, so he isn’t a sleeper type guy, but being drafted as a mid tier center gives us some value. There have been talks of him making more moves offensively, but he is still a secondary option. Out of the second year guys, I feel he is being overlooked. As someone who can contribute across multiple categories, he is a high upside option in middle to late rounds.
4. Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Golden State Warriors
Both Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein can be lumped together here, although WCS is being drafted later. He signed a deal with the Golden State Warriors, and I can’t think of a better spot for him. His shot blocking ability is poor, which is a disappointment given his length and athleticism. But, he does generate elsewhere. He has averaged 27 and 28 minutes per game over the last two seasons, and splitting with Looney will likely put him in that range again. Another 11 and 7 type year is incoming, and Looney is in the same boat. I would prefer WCS coming off the bench with the second unit, and still getting run with one of the staggering point guards.
WCS has more points upside and can average over two assists per game. Both Looney and WCS have poor free throw and three point shooting numbers, although Steve Kerr did mention he wants Looney to be a 30+ minute guy who takes threes. I wouldn’t buy into that transition fully.
5. Robert Williams, C, Boston Celtics
This is more of a deeper league format type play and being ahead of the curve. Robert Williams was a late first round pick in Boston last season, who was buried on the depth chart. The Boston Celtics brought in Enes Kanter, resigned Daniel Theis, and also signed Tacko Fall. This is not exactly a strong suit for Boston, and Brad Stevens rotation is going to be one to watch. Kanter is solid offensively and on the boards, but is one of the poorer defenders. In comparison to Williams, he measures more of a shot blocker, averaging 1.3 last season in limited minutes. Williams also can play well on the boards and offensively fits well with the modern day NBA.
There is still ground to gain on Kanter and Theis, but Williams is someone that can gain minutes throughout the season. Averaging over 2.0 blocks per game is in his range of outcomes, and if he can gain Stevens trust, he could be a high flying 20 minute guy that has fantasy value. He has been working on his conditioning, which is a positive step given last year’s debacle heading into the year.
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