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 Atlanta Hawks. This time we’re going to Buzz City!
Notable Arrivals: Ramon Sessions (Washington), Roy Hibbert (Los Angeles), Christian Wood (Philadelphia), and Brian Roberts (Portland)
Notable Departures: Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn), Courtney Lee (New York), Al Jefferson (Indiana), and Tyler Hansbrough (FA)
The Charlotte Hornets were surprisingly good last year, and they were really entertaining to watch! Credits to Steve Clifford, as he’s changed the team’s identity to a three-point oriented team. They won their first ever playoff game since Michael Jordan became the majority owner of the Hornets/Bobcats era. And now all signs are pointing towards the right direction for this Hornets team. Heading into this offseason, many players that played significant roles for the Hornets last season did not return which left gaping holes in their rosters. Let’s take a look at what the Hornets did this offseason and see what has changed for some of the players’ fantasy stock. If it’s too much, you can scroll down at the bottom for a TL;DR section. Let’s go!
Kemba Walker – Kemba Walker had a breakout year last season and exceeded every owner’s’ expectations. He set new career highs in almost every stat and led Buzz City to the third best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, along with 2.2 triples, 1.6 steals and 2.1 turnovers. Nobody should doubt Kemba’s ability to stuff his stats but his efficiency on the floor was always questioned (averaged below 40 percent from the field in ‘13 and ‘14). Last year, with new players like Nicolas Batum sharing the offensive load and playmaking role, it allowed Kemba to make better decisions on the floor and have improved shot selections, shooting a career high .427 from the field. Last year, he finished the year as the 18th best player according to Basketball Monster and with this year’s draft coming up, Yahoo! listed him at 33, which is also around his ADP. Kemba’s at his prime right now and entering into his sixth year in the NBA, he should have figured the in’s and out’s of the game in order for him to be push himself to be a star in the league. This might be Kemba’s year and he’s a solid early-round point guard for you to draft.
Nicolas Batum – Personally, I’m a big fan of Batum and was definitely riding on the hype train this time last year. It paid off for fantasy owners, as the change in environment allowed him to have a bounce back season of sorts. He had a career high in usage rate (21.4 percent), and the Hornets trusted him with the ball to make plays. He had an all-around stat line of 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.0 triples, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks. He’s capable of flirting with triple doubles every night along with the ability to have a triple one in threes, steals and blocks (I love players who can do this). He finished the year with fifth-round value in 9-cat according to Basketball Monster. However, heading into this years draft, Yahoo! has him at rank 74 with his ADP at 70. Which I think is really disrespectful to Batum, so you might want to sneak him up a couple rounds earlier than what his ADP projects. He should continue along the same path that he had last year and with departures to Courtney Lee, and Jeremy Lin, Batum could potentially increase his usage rate even more this coming season. Picking Batum in the fourth-round or in the vicinity of the 50th pick seems reasonable.
Marvin Williams – I really liked Marvin Williams last season, not enough to draft him but luckily enough to pick him up from the waiver wire early on in the season. There were signs in last year’s offseason that pointed to a breakout year. He got into the best shape of his career for probably his last opportunity to scoop up a big paycheck. Now that he signed a, four-year $54.5 million deal to stay in Charlotte, what’s going to change this coming season? Probably not much, but maybe a slight regression now that he’s entering in his twelfth-year. He averaged 11.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 threes, 0.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, while shooting at a decent .452 from the field. He excelled in playing the small ball four for the Hornets and was able to grab a decent amount of boards, blocking shots and at the same time shoot threes at a good percentage (shot .402 from range). Again, I’d like to reaffirm my appreciation for players that have the ability to get triple ones (threes, steals and blocks) and Williams has the ability to do just that. The 30 year old finished the year as the 47th best player in 9-cat and Yahoo! still sleeps on him! He’s listed at 214, while his ADP is at 130. That’s blasphemy, and owners are getting a steal come draft time if his ADP still remains the same. His backups aren’t going to pose huge threats to share minutes with Williams and Coach Clifford would likely stick with what worked last season. There’s no reason to suspect any major changes with Williams and you would still get value if you move him up to mid-late-rounds.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – The second pick of the 2012 NBA draft played seven games last season and more importantly, in his four-year career, 3 of them has been plagued by injuries. At what point do you start putting the injury prone label on a player? What’s for sure is that he is still young and has upside. He’s also an elite defender and rebounder for his position. What he lacks is the ability to score and shoot the ball, but in the small sample size of seven games from last season, he showed improvements of making the three ball. He averaged 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 threes, 0.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 29.3 minutes per game in seven games. He also shot .541 from the field and .429 from range! Nobody could predict that coming off a shoulder injury, MKG could hit threes let alone even have the balls to attempt them. If MKG can show improvement in this department, his stock is definitely going up, but we’ve all seen videos of his broken jump shot and it’s safe to say that it’s not the prettiest. However, what we can focus on is that he’s had a healthy offseason to improve on his game, and with the departure of Courtney Lee, he’s heading into this season as the starting small forward. Yahoo! ranks him at 366 (please have your own rankings!) and his ADP is at 148 as of now. His averages from last year is worth an eleventh-round pick according to Basketball Monster and if you expect him to develop and improve his shot, having him near the 100s would be justifiable, as he has the potential to have a mini-breakout this coming year.
Cody Zeller – Cody Zeller, the youngest of the Zeller brothers, is heading into this coming season as the starting center, with Roy Hibbert backing him up. His performance from last year fluctuated like that period of time that comes once a month. He averaged 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks whilst shooting .529 from the field, which are all career highs for Zeller. Heading into this season, his minutes should spike up (averaged 24.3 minutes last season) considering Roy Hibbert has absolutely been terrible over the last couple of years. I’m a firm believe that there’s no space for a big man like Roy Hibbert in the league, as he’s just too slow and ineffective on the court. Heading into his fourth season, Zeller should be expected to have a bigger role on the team and heavier minutes. His Yahoo! rank is at 167, and his ADP is at 142 but if you’re in need with some low-end big men on your team with some good source of rebounds and maybe a block or two, you should find yourself looking at Zeller towards the late rounds.
- Early-Rounds: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum
- Mid-Rounds: Marvin Williams
- Late-Rounds: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller
- Sleepers: Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
- Busts: N/A
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