This article is part of our Rebound & Rant series.
During the off-season and Summer League, hope springs eternal as rookies are drafted, vets change teams and super teams become more super. (Oh, Boogie, say it isn't so). But what about the players who suddenly find themselves possibly demoted? Every new beginning is someone else's end. Let's take a look at players who's fantasy value appears to have dropped due to off-season moves.
Atlanta Hawks management made it very clear they are in love with Trae Young's potential when they swapped the rights to Luka Doncic for Young and a protected first round pick. If Doncic blossoms into the NBA star many expect, the Hawks will be mocked for years. They are going to give Young every chance to succeed, and that's gotta mean smaller minutes for Dennis Schroder. Schroder and his unique blond hair streak were pretty darn effective last year, delivering 19.4 points, 6.2 dimes and 1.1 steals over 31 minutes per game. And his turnovers were down from 3.3 to 2.7 per game, despite similar minutes. With three more years and roughly $47 million left on his contract, I wonder if Schroder will be trade bait come February.
Young and Schroder are just too small to play the backcourt together. Remember, in addition to hitting some crazy outside shots, Young also averaged 8.7 assists per game at Oklahoma. He's used to having the ball in his hands. That doesn't bode well for Schroder. Eastern shooting guards like Bradley Beal and DeMar DeRozan will abuse Atlanta if the Hawks try playing both diminutive point guards at the same time.
To be very clear, Marcus Smart is, as of this writing, a restricted free agent. He's rumored to be receiving offers from either Sacramento or Brooklyn over the next few days. Should he sign an offer, Boston has the option to match the agreement and keep the versatile defender. But, either way, I see Smart's fantasy value taking a dip.
Let's say Sacramento does indeed give Smart a big fat contract and Danny Ainge decides to thank Smart for his services but lets him walk. Suddenly, Smart is the shiny new "star" expected to save the eternally messed up organization, handed a starting position and given the green light to shoot. I LOVE Smart's game-changing defense, but for four years he's been a 36% shooter. Suddenly with the Kings, he'll go from 10 shots per game to 16-17. Now that dreadful FG% is a real problem. The fans get on his case. And his volatile temper, which made him a bulldog for the Celtics, turns him into an angry malcontent with the Kings. Name a former-Celtic who has done better than when he was coached by Brad Stevens? You can't, because it hasn't happened.
But let's say Boston matches any offer. Suddenly Smart's minutes per game are going to dip with a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving around. Those assists, steals and made threes are going to dip as Smart's role reduces to 22-25 minutes per game.
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) July 10, 2018
After trading for Luka Doncic, I'm guessing Mr. Matthews' creaky old legs screamed "Thank You!". Matthews is only 31 year old, but it's an old 31. A stress fracture in his right leg had him miss the last 16 games of the Mavs' meaningless last season. Believe it or not, Matthews will make $18.6 million next year. Regardless, the future is Doncic, a favorite to win rookie of the year. That means old man Matthews can enjoy some pine time this year. Matthews has had a string of eight seasons averaging 33 minutes per game or more. Amazing. But that streak will end this season.
Despite being a 6'-6" wing, Tyreke Evans has a career average of 5.1 assists per game. Darren Collison, a true point guard, has a career average of only 4. 9 assists per game. I expect the Pacers to play a lot of minutes with an Evans and Victor Oldadipo backcourt, which means Collison and Cory Joseph might spend much more time on the bench. I'm expecting a drop in counting stats across the board for Collison.
Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren & Marquese Chriss
Trevor Ariza ($15 million one-year deal) and Mikal Bridges (10th overall draft pick) should both see monster minutes in Phoenix. That said, the Suns don't always do what they "should", and Bridges probably won't immediately see big minutes. But at some point Phoenix will have to admit that the forward combo of Bender, Warren and Chriss has never translated to winning. Bridges is 21 and a proven winner. He's ready. Frankly, even when one of the three downward projected forwards sticks in the starting rotation (probably Warren), said starter will still be giving up many shots to Ariza and first overall selection Deandre Ayton. Phoenix should package one of Bender, Warren or Chris for some point guard depth.
Watch out Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol! It's time to make room for Davis Bertans and his glorious Amish beard. The 6'-10" Latvian just signed on for four more years in San Antonio. Who needs Kawhi Leonard when you've got the nine-and-a-half fingered Latvian Enforcer locked up for four years?
— theScore (@theScore) July 9, 2018
Well, that's it for my Downer Edition. This fantasy train wreck has hit the END OF THE LINE! CHOO-CHOO!
(BTW, if you enjoy this little column, give our AWARD WINNING Friday NBA podcast a try, where I usually join Shannon McKeown and D.J. Trainor for some epic NBA conversations.)