This article is part of our Centers of Attention series.
What a wild first few days of NBA free agency. The news came fast and furiously when things began Sunday, leaving major fantasy implications across the league. While there are still moves to be made, let's take stock of where things currently stand and discuss some of the winners and losers in terms of their fantasy value.
Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: After struggling to find steady playing time with the Raptors, Valanciunas took off after being traded to the Grizzlies last season. Not only did his playing time increase to 28 minutes a game, but his usage rate jumped up to 31.4 percent. The end result was him averaging 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks across 19 games. Now the recipient of a three-year deal to stay with the team, Valanciunas should once again carry significant fantasy value next season.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks: The Knicks are having an offseason to forget, striking out on all of the big-name free agents that they wanted to pursue. They've managed to remain busy despite missing out on that top tier, by bringing Randle, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson into the frontcourt. Randle received the biggest deal at three years, $63 million, and is expected to be one of the focal points of their offense. Don't be surprised if he matches, or surpasses, the 27.8 percent usage rate that he had with the Pelicans last year.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: Adebayo didn't change teams, but the trade that sent Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers has opened up a huge opportunity for him. He largely came through when given added playing time last year, averaging 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals across 13 games in which he logged at least 30 minutes. It seems likely that he'll assume the starting center job over Kelly Olynyk, leaving him primed for a breakout campaign.
Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers: The aforementioned trade of Whiteside to the Blazers is something that he desperately needed. Things weren't working out well for him lately in Miami and they had a viable replacement in waiting in Adebayo. He'll have much better talent around him in Portland and will be locked into a starting role until Jusuf Nurkic (lower leg) returns, making him a nightly double-double threat who will provide plenty of blocks. It is important to keep in mind, though, that he could be moved to a reserve role in the later stages of the season once Nurkic is healthy.
Enes Kanter, Boston Celtics: The Celtics have already made some significant changes, the most notable of which was signing Kemba Walker to replace Kyrie Irving at point guard. Another big loss that they suffered was Al Horford departing for the Sixers. Horford should remain a valuable fantasy asset as the starting power forward with the Sixers, but there is also plenty of appeal here with Kanter, who was brought in to replace him on the Celtics. Kanter might not be a good defender, but he's a walking double-double when given consistent playing time. Another positive about Kanter is his efficiency since he is shooting 54.1 percent from the field and 78 percent from the charity stripe for his career.
Derrick Favors, New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have done an excellent job of remaining relevant despite trading away their best player in Anthony Davis. Drafting Zion Williamson and trading for Lonzo Ball (ankle), Brandon Ingram (shoulder) and Josh Hart (knee) certainly helps, but they've also made some keys moves in free agency. Not only did they add a great shooter in J.J. Redick, but they also filled their hole at center with Favors. Although he saw his playing time dwindle to 23 minutes a game last year, he still managed to average 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He should see at least a slight uptick in playing time, making him one of those under the radar mid-round picks that could pay off in a big way.
Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets: The Nets themselves have to be considered one of the winners of free agency after signing Irving and Kevin Durant (Achilles). They also brought in Jordan, who was reportedly highly recruited by Irving and Durant. The problem is, the Nets already had a promising young center in Allen. This situation is now a mess with both players eating into each other's fantasy upside.
Dewayne Dedmon and Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings: The Knicks loading up with similar players at power forward and center left many people scratching their heads. Things are just as confusing in Sacramento, where the Kings brought in Dedmon and Richaun Holmes. They also re-signed Harrison Barnes and brought in Trevor Ariza, leaving them with an extremely deep front court, in general. The promising Giles should now be stuck in a reserve role while Dedmon could also average fewer than the 25 minutes a game that he did with the Hawks last season – a mark that was the highest of his career.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are one of the top teams in the East despite the loss of Jimmy Butler. They were able to retain Tobias Harris, bring in Horford and get Josh Richardson in the deal that sent Butler to the Heat. The addition of Horford is big since he can take some pressure off of Embiid and play center at times. The Sixers also signed Kyle O'Quinn, who is a very reliable backup. I envision a lot more maintenance days for Embiid and could also see him averaging fewer than the 34 minutes a game that he did last season. The Sixers won't need to push him to get into the playoffs.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: Leave it to the Knicks to whiff on the top free agents, then sign a bunch of players who block one of their promising young talents. Robinson proved to be the best per-minute shot-blocker in the league during his rookie campaign, averaging 2.4 rejections in only 21 minutes a game. With added playing time, he was set to be a league-winner in that category while also approaching a double-double on a regular basis. He could still start, but it's going to be hard for him to see significantly more playing time with Randle, Portis and Gibson all now in the fold. If there is a silver lining, it's that Portis and Gibson signed contracts that make them attractive for contending teams to trade for at the deadline. If one or both of them are dealt, Robinson could be in line for a strong finish to the season.