The fantasy basketball season is just around the corner and you might want to do some prep work before the big draft. For the next few weeks at BFantasyHoops, you’re going to see every team’s fantasy preview right here… So far, I’ve covered the Atlantic and Central divisions and the previous post was on the Milwaukee Bucks. This time we’re going to A-Town!
Notable Arrivals: Dwight Howard (Houston), Jarrett Jack (Brooklyn), Taurean Prince (rookie), and DeAndre’ Bembry (rookie)
Notable Departures: Al Horford (Boston), and Jeff Teague (Indiana)
In back-to-back years, the Atlanta Hawks got swept by the Cavaliers in the playoffs! It seems like they are locked in for an early round exit in the playoffs every year. Thus, the front office decided to do a little bit of remodelling on the roster. The Hawks aren’t exactly rebuilding their roster, just a little bit of refurnishing. They used Jeff Teague as a trading chip to trade for the 12th pick of this year’s NBA draft, which resulted in rookie Taurean Prince. At the same time, they signed three-time defensive player of the year in Dwight Howard to replace Al Horford. They’re trying to have a younger roster while attempting to remain competitive in the Easter Conference. Fantasy wise, the new look of the team changed the scenery for some players and might result in some potential breakout studs. Let’s take a look at the fantasy stock for these players for this upcoming season. KA-KAW!
Paul Millsap – I think we can dub him to be the new Mr. Consistency or Mr. Reliable, as Paul Millsap probably won’t let any fantasy owners down. The three-time All-Star averaged 17.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 threes, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks. He also shot .470 from the field and .757 from the charity stripe, making him an attractive pick for roto leagues. With the departure of Al Horford, and the arrival of Dwight Howard, these changes might tweak things a little bit for Millsap. He might increase his scoring output to make up for Howard’s lack of an offensive game. However, his rebounds and blocks might take a slight dip as Howard’s an elite rebounder and defender. But no matter what happens, Millsap is always going to be an enticing pick, because of his contributions to threes, steals and blocks (fantasy gold!) on a fantasy team. He had top-10 value at the end of the season, and his Yahoo! rank and his ADP is hovering around that vicinity. He’s a solid second round pick, and you can’t go wrong with Millsap.
Dennis Schroder – A potential breakout candidate for this coming year is the German Maestro, Dennis Schroder. With the departure of Jeff Teague, it opens up minutes for Schroder to flourish in the starting point guard position. Schroder’s per 36 minutes stats were 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.7 threes, 1.6 steals and 4.1 turnovers. I’ve never been a big fan of using per 36 stats to project someone’s ability to play. Specifically, Schroder’s stats from last year was mainly from playing with the second unit as the primary scorer, thus resulting to a stat inflation. However, Schroder only started for 6 games last year which was a small sample size. You can expect a Reggie Jackson-esque type of breakout from Schroder, where he’s going to increase his stats with inefficient shooting and turnovers. I expect his minutes to be at the early 30s at best, since he’s going to have a pretty steep learning curve in his first full season as a starter. I feel like he’s not truly a sleeper candidate with all the fantasy sites hyping him up, there’s a potential of hyping him too much resulting in a bust. His Yahoo! rank is at 60, which is above players like Goran Dragic and Nicolas Batum. Picking the German point guard at the 60th pick is a bit too high for me, he’s more suitable around the 70th pick.
Dwight Howard – The ATL just changed their identity with the new acquisition of Superman, Dwight Howard, as a replacement for their four-time All-Star, Al Horford. The two centers cannot be any more different in terms of play style. One is a pick and roll player, another is a pick and pop. One has no offensive game, whilst the other can stretch the floor and take you down low. One’s an elite defender and shot blocker, while the other one is solid but not as good at these things. It’s going to be interesting to see how Mike Budenholzer integrates Howard into the offense. During this summer, we’ve all seen Howard’s videos on social media of him shooting free throws and 18 foot jumpers on social media (Why?! Just stick to what you’re good at Dwight!). He’s been making it a priority this offseason to get better at that aspect, but we’re probably not going to see much improvement in those areas. Last year, he averaged 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 1.6 blocks. It couldn’t be more obvious that he wasn’t happy playing alongside James Harden. There was no motivation in his game, and his shot attempts were the lowest since his rookie year. Personally, I feel like he’ll have a bounce back year with the Hawks, and play well in his hometown. An optimistic look for the season would be around 16 points, 11 rebounds with a steal and flirting with two blocks, but I don’t think Superman is at his prime athletically to block that many shots. If you’re drafting Dwight, you’re complimenting your poor free throw shooting bigs (Andre Drummond’s and the DeAndre Jordan’s) with him, as he can singlehandedly ruin your free throws. A solid seventh-round pick for Dwight would be reasonable in head-to-head leagues.
Kent Bazemore – The swingman position for the Hawks won’t be as clearcut as last year. With players like Kent Bazemore, Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha, Tim Hardaway Jr. and rookie, Taurean Prince all fighting for minutes at the two and three spot, it will be tough to see which one of them can gain consistent minutes all throughout the year. One of the fantasy relevant players that owners can consider with a late-round pick is Kent Bazemore. I was one of the lucky few GMs who picked Bazemore up from the waiver wire last year, as I watched him shoot lights out to give me some of the fantasy goodies for my team. This summer, after signing a 4-year contract worth $70 million, I just don’t think he’ll have the urge and the desperation to perform as well as he did last season. He averaged 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 triples and 1.3 steals in 27.8 minutes of play. That was good enough for seventh-round value according to Basketball Monster in 9-cat leagues. He dipped a little bit towards the second half of the season with teams starting to figure him out more, so don’t expect him to match his efficiency that he had last year. He’s still worth a late-round pick (around the 100th pick).
Kyle Korver – Another wing man that you might want to consider if you need threes, is Kyle Korver. He has been shooting lights out for many years in the NBA, but after suffering injuries (ankle and elbow) in 2014 playoffs, he wasn’t really the same going into the season. He shot .435 from the field, which was down from .487 in ‘14. He also shot .399 from the threes which was the lowest since his ‘08 season. We might be witnessing the downfall of Kyle Korver now that he’s approaching his 14th year in the NBA. The 35 year old averaged 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.0 triples and 0.8 steals last year. Which was eleventh round material according to Basketball Monster. His value comes from his ability to hit the three but with the league’s transition to shooting more threes, you’d expect him to flirt with three triples a game in consideration to his elite shooting skills. It’s reported that he’s had a healthy offseason to train and had the chance to work out this summer instead of rehabbing his injuries. Korver might have a better season compared to the last one but he’s not worth anything more of a late-round flier from fantasy owners. More importantly, the Hawks might want to give young guys like Hardaway Jr. and Prince some minutes to develop for the long run. Sefolosha would also be his old reliable self to play some solid defense and guard the opposing team’s best scorer if they need to shut down someone. Thus, picking Korver is a risky late-round flier with not much upside. Personally, I’d stay away from him in 12-team leagues unless you’re desperate for threes.
- Early-Rounds: Paul Millsap
- Mid-Rounds: Dennis Schroder, Dwight Howard
- Late-Rounds: Kent Bazemore
- Deep Leagues: Kyle Korver
- Sleepers: Dennis Schroder
- Busts: Kyle Korver
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