Omer Asik, C, HOU - Asik will find it difficult to live up to his three-year, $25.1 million contract, even though Rockets coach Kevin McHale will do his best to effectively implement his skill set into the team's scheme. When you look closely at his first two seasons, he only improved modestly as a rebounder - from 11.0 to 13.0 rebounds per 36 minutes - while remaining steady across the board statistically. In a compressed 2011-12 schedule, he managed just 3.1 points (on 50.6 percent shooting), 5.3 boards, and 1.0 blocks in 14.7 minutes per game. Asik's output doesn't suggest that such a robust deal, including a quasi-ludicrous $15 million in the third year, is a viable one. However, as the only decent option at center, he will rack up a fair amount of minutes, unless of course his propensity to commit fouls - 5.2 per 36 minutes during his career - follows him to Houston.
Elton Brand, PF, DAL - Yet another in a line of amnesty casualties, Brand was grabbed by Dallas before he could reach free agency. Unfortunately for him, he'll be backing up a top-10 talent in Dirk Nowitzki, who will see his typical 35 minutes per game. With Chris Kaman, another minutes maven, starting at center, gathering up to 30 more per night, playing time in the Mavericks' frontcourt will be somewhat limited. Brand should again put up modest block numbers and a solid field goal percentage in a limited role, but don't draft him expecting the same production he had with the Sixers.
Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL - Following an offseason of wheeling and dealing, Bryant's Lakers will again reside at the pinnacle of the league's hierarchy, next to Miami and Oklahoma City. However, Bryant himself is set to stomach statistical declines throughout his line with the arrival of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Bryant will no longer be asked to be the Lakers' primary ballhandler with Nash on his side, thus limiting his assist potential. This could allow Bryant to find his spots on the floor more comfortably, helping his field-goal percentage bounce back from its lowest mark (43.0) since the 1997-98 season. Moreover, Howard's presence as the league's reigning rebound king should further limit Bryant's chances on the boards. On the whole, he should finish the season as a top-20 player, but his years as a top option in fantasy may be a thing of the past. We're also a little worried about how playing with the US National Team all summer will affect his endurance and efficiency this season.
Tyreke Evans, SG, SAC - Evans has let it be known he prefers playing one of the guard spots, and it's possible discontent could lead to another disappointing season for the swingman. The Kings signed Aaron Brooks in free agency this summer. And with Isaiah Thomas, they have too many small point guards not to play Evans off the ball, where his shooting touch has not improved over three NBA seasons. In fact, he shot career lows from both 16-23 feet (30 percent) and three-point range (30.3 percent) last year. If this trend isn't reversed, his fantasy value will certainly plummet as his scoring, percentages, and assists decrease simultaneously.
Devin Harris, PG, ATL - Many fantasy players may not realize the impact Harris' trade to Atlanta had on his overall worth, but he should slot into the backup point guard role behind Jeff Teague. As a reserve guard, he will have to contend with Lou Williams for minutes behind Teague and starting shooting guard Anthony Morrow. Harris should may find difficulty earning 25 minutes per game in the Hawks' guard rotation, what with Teague's baseline as a starter established last year (33.1 minutes). Even if Harris were to win the starting shooting guard spot, it might be a fools endeavor. He's been a point guard the bulk of his career, and he's too small to play shooting guard against most teams. The Hawks have committed to Teague as their point guard of the present and future. Harris' acquisition was a means to end to clear cap space for the 2013 offseason.
Jason Richardson, SG, PHI - Philadelphia coach Doug Collins is known for giving preferential treatment to veterans, which would seem to favor Richardson. However, Collins' tough love in the development of Evan Turner over his first two seasons, along with the addition of Andrew Bynum, could force the coaching staff to reconsider its strict socialist offense, which has stifled scorers and floor generals alike. If Turner and Bynum take on a majority of the offensive load, Richardson, whose field goal percentage has tailed off each of the last five seasons, could see himself on the outside looking in, only able to contribute with his three-point shot as he embarks on his 12th NBA season.
Brandon Roy, SG, MIN - Roy is less than a year removed from a forced medical retirement by Portland, this after enduring multiple surgeries on his knees during the previous five seasons. As a member of the Blazers, he took part in 321 out of a possible 410 contests, playing the role of late-game hero a number of times. A wait-and-see approach is best when considering Roy, who could return to his great heights and fulfill one of the Timberwolves' great needs, a wing scorer with three-point range. On the other end of the spectrum, he could completely wash out, suffering yet another season- or career-ending injury. Be cautious with Roy this season.
Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, NY - A season and a half into the Carmelo/Amar'e experiment, the duo has failed to mesh effectively, culminating in the dismissal of coach Mike D'Antoni midway through the 2011-12 season. Stoudemire's output has also suffered dramatically as he posted his worst scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounding numbers (7.8 rebounds per game) since his rookie year in 2002-03 (13.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg). Adding injury concerns over his back, and historically questionable knees - he shouldn't be drafted as high as he has been in past seasons, even if he has consulted with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer in order to hone his post-up game.
Kemba Walker, PG, CHR - As with many rookies who enter the league in less-than-ideal situations, Walker struggled a fair amount with Charlotte last season, averaging 12.1 points (on 36.6 percent shooting), 4.4 assists, 3.5 boards, 1.0 treys, and 0.9 steals in 27.2 minutes while appearing in all 66 games (25 of them starts). To make matters worse for Walker, management brought in guards Ramon Sessions, as a free agent, and Ben Gordon, via trade. New coach Mike Dunlap intends to implement an up-tempo style with a trapping, aggressive defense, which would presumably favor Walker. However, if Walker decides it's in the team's best interests for him to chuck up shots, Sessions could take over as a more traditional point guard. If Walker is put in a reserve role, he would likely be stuck behind Gordon in the pecking order off the bench, thereby minimizing any potential fantasy value he held going into the season. The murky situation in Charlotte will likely continue this season, but it'll be worth watching in training camp and the start of the season to see if hidden value arises.
Dorell Wright, SF, PHI - After a breakout 2010-11 season, in which he provided prescient fantasy owners with a surprising 2.4 treys per game, Wright fell back to earth last season. The hot shooting of Brandon Rush and emergence of Klay Thompson lead to Wright's role on the Warriors being marginalized. Overall, he started 61 contests, averaging 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 three-pointers, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steals in 27 minutes, or nearly 11.5 less minutes per game than in the previous season. A change of scenery to Philadelphia, where he was traded to this offseason, leaves Wright in a logjam on the depth chart with fellow wings Evan Turner, Jason Richardson, Nick Young and Thaddeus Young. Under this new reality, he'll be hard-pressed to surpass 25 minutes per game this season, with his one plus stat, three-pointers made, barely able to survive on standard league rosters.