The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 4)

This preview will focus on what happened over the off-season, how it should affect fantasy relevant players for the upcoming season, and most importantly, what you should be looking for this preseason to help you make a more informed decision.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Too Early Preview

Part 4: How’s that guy going to fit in?

Toronto Raptors

DeMarre Carroll has moved North of the border after emerging in Atlanta’s team ball system. Taking more of a jack-of-all-trades role with the Hawks, the Raptors hope his talent and defense will play a bigger role in their rotation. His usage and minutes should increase with Toronto, but how effective he will be is questionable.  Carroll is 29 years old and had his best two seasons in Coach Bud’s system, playing with four other All-Stars around him (yes I know the East All-Star team is weak), all of which spread the floor.

The Raptors are exactly teaming with All-Star big men with good spacing. There have been rumors of Carroll starting at the 4 during small ball lineups. How often this happens is yet to be seen, but should make him PF eligible eventually this year. How Carroll adjusts to his new team, how they play around him should show itself during preseason. He is a little more valuable in 9-cat leagues since he is good across the board, but elite at nothing other than TOs, but that was when he wasn’t expected to do much with the ball.

Who will actually play the 4 spot with the departure of Amir Johnson is an interesting unknown for the Raptors. I’m sure they’d like to go small with Carroll, but that would require Terrence Ross to learn how to shoot. Stretch-4 Patrick Patterson is slated as the starter, with block specialist Biyombo and old man game Scola slated behind him in the depth chart. Each bring a little something to fantasy, none of them are slated to break out and they all probably won’t break 30 minutes per game.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride Jonas Valanciunas might get his big moment this season. Coach Casey has indicated it is time to play Jonas in the fourth quarter.  When it comes down to stopping teams in close games, Jonas is still going to have to earn the right to close games down, but he should get a bump to starter’s minutes which will increase his value as a good FT% center.  Still how often he earns the right to play 30+ minutes will be dependent on his development.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs were kicking as the most efficient offensive team in the NBA during the first part of the season last year; until Rondo showed up. Rondo is gone and in his place a wild Deron Williams has appeared. Deron Williams is minor injury prone. He will probably miss a handful of games here and there due to something. In fact, he is due to miss the preseason opener due to a calf injury and has not been cleared for contact. Precautionary I’m sure.  That said, Deron has more talent around him and more reason to produce (home in Dallas, playing for a contract). Also, he has the skill to produce elite assist an ability that has reduced across the league as more teams deviate from true point guard systems.  The main thing to watch is his shooting. If he looks like he has rediscovered his stroke, he should sneak his way up in drafts.

Rondo leaving is great, but Monta Ellis leaving is not so great. An amazing pick-and-roll catalyst to the offense is now being replaced by the recovering Wes Matthews who is out until Christmas. The Mavs would be wise to not rush his return, as he is a longer-term investment.  In the meantime, expect Devin Harris or J.J. Barea to run two guard sets. John Jenkins could also get run at the two spot, but I would be surprised if he became the starter. These players are probably only relevant in deep leagues.  Chandler Parsons battled injuries most of last year. He should see a bounce-back.

The departure of Tyson Chandler has created a center battle between Zaza Pachulia, Sam Dalembert, and ‘Shaqtin a Fool’ favorite JaVale McGee.  It’s been a while since Dalembert or McGee has been healthy. Zaza played well enough to be fantasy relevant down the stretch for the Bucks. He should be the favorite for minutes, but I’m sure (just like everyone at some point) will be convinced that McGee’s raw talent can be harnessed. Good luck with that.

Sacramento Kings

If you could look at the mess of the Kings team and say, “Man, who’s a guy we can add to this situation that would add more uncertainty and drama on top of all the crazy stuff we already got going on, plus won’t help us win games and will undercut the playing time of a guy we just paid” you gotta pick Rajon Rondo. Darren Collison’s solid season last year now means he can play with or behind Rondo really hurting his value. How Coach Karl wants to use him along with Ben and Marco Belinelli will play itself out, but there are now a lot less minutes to go around for everyone in the back court. Collison’s production can hopefully convince Karl to give him the bulk of the minutes, even if the front office wants to showcase their new signing.  Rondo took a good thing (Dallas’s offense) and made it bad. Now lets see what Rondo can do with a bad thing (the whole King’s franchise). I’m sure him and Boogie will get along swimmingly…

Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein will be competing for the center starter role. With Cauley-Stein reportedly coming in out of shape, I’m sure Koufos can win this battle.

Houston Rockets

Ty Lawson has been ran through the ringer this off-season. His substance abuse problem made public, and then was traded for literally nothing. Then article after article stating how he is a horrible fit in Houston or with Harden. His AVP and fantasy rankings dropped.  All this has seemed to put a chip right on Lawson’s shoulder. He’s called out CP3 and Steph Curry, and seems to really want to prove a point this season.

All that said, Lawson regressed hard last year. Unable to hit the broad side of a barn, and even decreasing his FT% dropped his value down as the season progressed.  Like Deron Williams though, even with his flaws he produces elite assists, which is a rare commodity these days.  How much playing time Lawson will get, who he will play with, and how that will change the dynamic of the team will unfold during the preseason. I think Lawson’s value has fallen so hard that he is now underrated. He could be a nice mid to late round guard that produces above his draft position. Harden owners should consider that the ball out of Harden’s hands every possession has an ability to decrease his stats, but I don’t think it will be detrimental to his overall value.

The rest of the team is back to where they were last year. With a little less Josh Smith, Motiejunas and Terrence Jones should battle it out for the 4-spot. Both recovering from injury, T Jones is the more intriguing fantasy game as a stretch shot blocker, though Donatas has the better range.

Phoenix Suns

Marqueff Morris is begging me to put this write-up in the “What the %$*@#!!!” section, but that section is getting too crowded. So, I’ll focus Tyson Chandler. Chandler bolted from Dallas after the whole drama-filled DeAndre standoff toward the organization who has a “fountain of youth” training staff.  This does take away from the development of Alex Len, or this could mean that they share minutes.  Chandler was still effective as a FG/REB big man in short minutes (29-30), and will probably see the same amount of playing time here.

Everyone is staying away from Marqueef, and when other’s zig, you gotta zag. The guy is trying to take the lunatic championship belt from Boogie (good luck), but he is still starting. He is still going to try to play his way out of Phoenix, which means he will still be fantasy relevant (finishing 70th in averages 9-cat).  Obviously don’t reach for him, and don’t be surprised when he just disappears, but seeing him go the last few rounds makes him grossly undervalued.

Ronnie Price and Devin Booker should battle for those backup guard minutes.  P.J. Tucker has a boring, but solid 9-cat valued player as he contributes across the board and doesn’t’ really hurt you.  He should be the starting 3 for the Suns, but T.J Warren could take his minutes depending on how well he develops. Preseason should give indication who will get the minutes in these battles.

San Antonio Spurs

See my Spurs write-up on Reddit at /r/fantasybball

Next: Part 5: What the %#$*@ is happening here!!!


4 thoughts on “The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 3) | Watch the Boxes

  2. Pingback: The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 2) | Watch the Boxes

  3. Pingback: The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 1) | Watch the Boxes

  4. Pingback: The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 5) | Watch the Boxes

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