With multiple big name players hitting free agency, this summer promised to be one of the busiest of recent memory. For the most part, the hype was fulfilled. Numerous stars signed with new teams, and multiple trades followed. Here's our first preseason Barometer, focusing primarily on the fantasy impact of players involved in all of the roster turnover.
Darren Collison, G, IND - Collison probably saw the biggest boost in fantasy value of any player in the NBA this offseason. Following a trade from New Orleans to Indiana, Collison went from backing up arguably the league's best point guard to running a fast-paced offense of his own. The 23-year-old point guard averaged an impressive 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 1.4 steals while filling in as the starting point guard for an injured Paul in 37 games last season. He's also proved to be solid in the percentage categories, hitting 48.5 percent of his shots from the floor and 85.2 percent from the charity stripe. The only weakness in Collison's game is his propensity to turn the ball over (4.1 as a starter last season), but that should improve as his game matures. With questions surrounding his playing time now a thing of the past, Collison should already be considered a top-10 option at point guard and top-50 player overall, especially in eight-category leagues.
Raymond Felton, G NY - Felton parted ways with the Bobcats this summer, opting to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks. Gone are the days of Larry Brown and slow-paced offenses. Instead Felton will be able to cut loose under Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni and his up-tempo system. Even Chris Duhon was a fantasy force under D'Antoni during the 2008-09 season, so it's not much of a stretch to expect a career-best fantasy campaign from Felton.
Paul Millsap, F, UTA - While Millsap is still in Utah, his value goes up thanks to the departure of Carlos Boozer, who left via free agency to sign with the Bulls. With Boozer out of the picture and Mehmet Okur (see "Stock Down") suffering from an Achilles injury, Millsap is set for a big role in the Jazz's frontcourt this season. The 24-year-old rebounding machine has been a nightly double-double threat whenever he's in the starting five the past two seasons, so look for his numbers to see a healthy spike now that he's all but guaranteed an increased role.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C, TOR - Like Millsap, Bargnani will benefit from the departure of a teammate. With Chris Bosh taking his talents to South Beach, Bargnani is the top dog in Toronto. The seven-foot Italian posted career-highs of 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds last season. Those are numbers he should easily eclipse now that he has been handed the keys to the franchise. And given his rare ability to contribute in both blocks and three-pointers, Bargnani will be one of the more versatile big men in fantasy this year.
Kevin Love, F/C, MIN - Love quietly averaged a double-double last season, pouring in 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds per contest. That's pretty impressive for any player, let alone one who came off the bench on most nights. Well, Love's double-double prowess is about to increase. Following Minnesota's offseason trade of Al Jefferson to Utah, Love is in position to see a significant jump in playing time. He managed to do all his damage last season while playing under 30 mpg, so all you need to do is look at his per 36 minute stats - 17.7 points, 13.8 rebounds - to see what he's capable of. Yeah, there might be a challenger to Dwight Howard's rebounding crown. Bump him up your cheatsheets.
J.J. Hickson, F/C, CLE - When browsing over the Cavs' roster, it's hard to believe this is a team that won over 60 games each of the past two seasons. With LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas out of the picture, Hickson will have a chance to grab a significant role on a rebuilding squad. Hickson's per 36 minute averages (14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds) show he's a nightly double-double threat when given playing time, so feel free to grab him as a sleeper once other proven options are off the board.
Terrence Williams, G/F, NJ - Williams' overall rookie stat line of 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists isn't all that impressive, but when you take a peek at his averages of 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists over the final two months, you realize we're looking at one of the more versatile young players in the league. With Courtney Lee traded to Houston, Williams appears to be a lock to start at shooting guard. Target Williams if you're looking for a sneaky source of assists late in drafts.
Andrew Bogut, C, MIL - Bogut's career-best campaign came to an abrupt end last April when he suffered injuries to his elbow, wrist and hand in a gruesome fall. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter and has been rehabbing all summer. The Bucks are still optimistic Bogut will be ready once the regular season begins, but a concrete timetable for his return won't likely surface until training camp gets under way.
Blake Griffin, F, LAC - Griffin is looking to make his NBA debut this season after missing all of his rookie campaign with a knee injury. He's still rehabbing from kneecap surgery, but Clippers coach Vinnie Del Negro has optimistically penciled in Griffin as the opening night starter at power forward. All signs point to the former No. 1 overall pick being back to full strength at the start of the season, but keep an eye on him during training camp.
Andray Blatche, F/C, WAS - Blatche spent the offseason recovering from surgery to repair a rupture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Despite the surgery, Blatche has been able to hit the weight room, adding muscle tone and enhancing his durability. Early indications are he'll be ready for training camp, but any player coming off an injury of this significance is worth monitoring closely.
Rodrique Beaubois, G, DAL - Beaubois underwent surgery to repair a hairline fracture in his foot in early August. He was originally expected to get a shot at the starting shooting guard job, but his injury will likely cost him that gig as he's expected to miss training camp and might not be at full strength to start the regular season.
Jonny Flynn, G, MIN - Flynn is rehabbing from summer surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He recently was able to put his crutches down, but Flynn will have to rehab for a couple of months before returning to the hardwood. The Timberwolves don't expect their young point guard to be ready until early November or December.
Chris Bosh, F/C, MIA - Of the new Big Three down in Miami, Bosh figures to be the one who takes the biggest dive in terms of fantasy value. Instead of being the focal point of the offense like he was in Toronto, Bosh will take a back seat to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Bosh will still be a quality player, and will likely be a great asset in field-goal percentage and rebounds, but his days among the league leaders in scoring have passed.
Yao Ming, C, HOU - After seeing their franchise player miss all of the 2009-10 campaign with a foot injury, the Rockets have decided to limit Yao's minutes this season to a maximum of 24 per game. Houston has made it clear that Yao won't surpass that limit regardless of a game's circumstances. With such a strict limitation on his playing time, it'll be difficult for Yao to live up to his current ADP of 86.
Andris Biedrins, C, GS - Biedrins spent most of the 2009-10 campaign sidelined by injuries, leading to averages of 5.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in 33 appearances. Even when he was healthy, Biedrins was consistently in Warriors coach Don Nelson's doghouse. With David Lee now on the team, Nelson has the perfect type of center to fit his offensive scheme. Biedrins remains a good rebounding and defensive option, but he'll have a tough time finding the court enough to make the type of impact we saw from him during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
Brendan Haywood/Tyson Chandler, C, DAL - As in other sports, timeshares aren't a good thing when it comes to a basketball player's fantasy value. Dallas is sporting two starter caliber centers on its roster this season with Haywood and Chandler. Both players have shown the ability to average a double-double while contributing in blocks, but their production will likely be down as they split time. Unless one of them gets injured, avoid this situation like the plague.
Trevor Ariza, G/F, NO - Ariza was part of a three-team trade in early August which saw him move from Houston to New Orleans. With the Rockets, Ariza was able to launch a career-high 13.9 shots per game, leading to an average of 14.9 points, well above his output of 8.9 ppg from the previous season with the Lakers. He's sure to benefit from playing alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans, but it's unlikely the Hornets will rely on Ariza from an offensive standpoint to the extent the Rockets did. Don't be surprised if Ariza's production lands somewhere in between what we saw in his stops in Houston and Los Angeles.
Ricky Rubio, G, MIN - Rubio is a popular name in most keeper leagues. The 2009 fifth overall pick has been stashed away on benches with hopes that he'll come to the NBA sooner or later and become a superstar. Don't bother holding your breath for that to happen. Rubio is on record saying the earliest he'll make the jump to the NBA is the 2011-12 season, but he's signed with FC Barcelona through the 2015-16 season, so he can stay overseas longer if he chooses. The 19-year-old point guard has modest stats while playing for Barcelona and is coming off a World Championship tournament in which he averaged 4.4 ppg and hit just 11-percent of his three-point attempts. If he's taking up valuable real estate on your keeper league roster, don't hesitate to release him for a prospect that can help you sooner and possibly to a greater extent in the long run.
Mehmet Okur, C, UTA - Okur had surgery on a ruptured Achilles in April. He's been rehabbing all summer, and the Jazz currently expecting a return in December or January. Achilles injuries typically need extensive rehab, so even if Okur can make a return at that time, there's a good chance he won't be at full strength until well afterwards. Target a healthier option with fewer question marks and let someone else grab Okur this year.