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Rebound & Rant: Downer Edition

Ken "K-Train" Crites

An early RotoWire contributor from the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Tweet him @KenCrites or e-mail him at Ken won the FSWA 2014 Humor Article Of The Year award. He's also the 2015-16 champion of the prestigious RW NBA Keeper League. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.

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 isnít so). But what about the players who suddenly find themselves possibly demoted? Every new beginning is someone elseís end. Letís take a look at players whoís fantasy value appears to have dropped due to off-season moves.

Dennis Schroder
Atlanta Hawks management made it very clear they are in love with Trae Youngís 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 thatís 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. Heís used to having the ball in his hands. That doesnít 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.

Marcus Smart
To be very clear, Marcus Smart is, as of this writing, a restricted free agent. Heís 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 Smartís fantasy value taking a dip.

Letís 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 ďstarĒ expected to save the eternally messed up organization, handed a starting position and given the green light to shoot. I LOVE Smartís game-changing defense, but for four years heís been a 36% shooter. Suddenly with the Kings, heíll 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 canít, because it hasnít happened.

But letís say Boston matches any offer. Suddenly Smartís 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 Smartís role reduces to 22-25 minutes per game.

Wesley Matthews
After trading for Luka Doncic, Iím guessing Mr. Matthewsí creaky old legs screamed ďThank You!Ē. Matthews is only 31 year old, but itís an old 31. A stress fracture in his right leg had him miss the last 16 games of the Mavsí 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.

Darren Collison
Despite being a 6í-6Ē 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. Iím 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 donít always do what they ďshouldĒ, 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. Heís 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.

Spur Bigs
Watch out Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol! Itís time to make room for Davis Bertans and his glorious Amish beard. The 6í-10Ē Latvian just signed on for four more years in San Antonio. Who needs Kawhi Leonard when youíve got the nine-and-a-half fingered Latvian Enforcer locked up for four years?

Well, thatís 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.)
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