The NBA season is right around the corner and it is about time for you to start thinking of the players you want to draft for your fantasy teams. Over the coming weeks, you’re going to see every team’s fantasy outlook for this upcoming NBA season…So far, I’ve covered the Atlantic Division, you can check it out here and the previous post is on the Bulls. This time we’re heading to Cleveland.
Notable Additions: Mike Dunleavy (Chicago), Chris Anderson (UFA)
Notable Subtractions: Matthew Dellavedova (Milwaukee), Timofey Mozgov (Los Angeles)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s Cavaliers motto for this offseason. Having re-signed Lebron James, they look set to try and repeat as champions and bring a second Larry O’Brien trophy to “The Land”. With the added competition in the Eastern Conference, the stroll to the finals won’t be as smooth anymore. Hopefully the increase in competition would turn out better for fantasy owners. Let’s dive in on the fantasy outlook of the Cavs this season.
Lebron James – At this point in Lebron James’ career, the extravagant numbers game-in-game-out is probably gone. Even though you won’t see the 30-10-10 stat lines every game, you can lock him down for an automatic 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists with efficient field goal percentages, which is still pretty good and more importantly, a little underrated. He’s played a career low 35.7 minutes per game last season and it looks like the minutes are going to continue to trend down this year as well, while he’s transitioning the load to Kyrie Irving for the regular season. Lebron has mastered the art of pacing himself in the regular season to get himself steamrolling come playoff time, so you can expect him to start the season on autopilot. He’s still a late first-round pick, but you need to keep in mind that Lebron might some rest if when the Cavs are locked in for the first seed towards the end of the fantasy season. Meaning, when fantasy playoff comes, The King might be unavailable for your team, causing you to miss out on a first-round pick for that matchup. If you draft Lebron, just remember that 25, 7 and 7 is about as high as the ceiling goes for the soon-to-be 32 year old.
Kyrie Irving – Kyrie Irving started his season one and a half months later than other players last year as he was plagued by a fractured knee cap that he suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals. He only played in 53 games and was clearly shaking off the rust and adjusting to his knee for the first month. He averaged 19.6 points, which was his career low since his rookie year, along with 3.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. Everything else also took a dip, .448 from the field compared to .468 the previous season. He shot 1.6 threes compared to the 2.1 threes that he shot in 2014-15. It’s pretty evident that it was a disappointing year for Uncle Drew and the owners who drafted him, but if you were watching the finals, he was ruthless against the regular season MVP in Stephen Curry. After getting a ring and now a gold medal, he should hit the ground running come end of October. He finished off as the 55th best player according to Basketball Monster, but his ADP is going to be way above this number. The Fantasy Fix has him at rank 32, while ESPN listed him at rank 25. I think somewhere along the middle line of the two ranks is more suitable for Kyrie, but keep in mind that peak Uncle Drew had first-round value in 2014-15, so if you’re punting assists, snipe him off.
Kevin Love – Let’s just face it. We’re not going to see the 20-20 machine in Kevin Love anymore. Being the third option of the team will do that to you, and in exchange you get a ring and a $110 million contract. I’d say it’s pretty worth it. The front office of the Cavs are saying they’re not even considering trading Love, so the big man has a high chance of staying put in Cleveland. But hey, you never know. Kevin Love ended the year as the 39th best player, and that’s fourth-round value. He brings a lot of goodies to your fantasy team, such as 16 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 threes, and good free throw percentages. He also has a lot of cons that you might not want in your big man on your team, .419 from the field, 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks. If you’re drafting him, you should already be punting some categories such as field goal percentages or blocks, depending on your first two picks, because that field goal percentage will be detrimental to your team. I’d have him near the sixth-round in a 9-cat instead of the fourth-fifth round on ESPN. His value will change depending on the drafting strategy you adapt to, but that’s another blog for another time.
J.R. Smith – J.R. Smith got married over the summer after winning his first chip. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He still has yet to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but we’ll assume he will. He had himself a solid season, averaging 12.4 points, 2.6 threes and 1.1 steals. Those are the three categories that you should look at when it comes to Smith, as he’s not really going to contribute anything else. He’s established himself ahead of Iman Shumpert, so there’s no need to worry about the minute sharing. The problem I have with Smith is whether he has a championship hangover and would come back outta shape for the coming season. The Fantasy Fix has him at rank 164, and ESPN listed Smith at rank 113. I’m leaning towards the 110s mark, towards the ninth-tenth-rounds for Smith which is around the same ADP as last year. You might want to take a look at Shumpert if Smith does leave the Cavs as a late round pick also.
Tristan Thompson – Meanwhile big man Tristan Thompson probably proved he deserved his 5-year, $82 million deal for his performance in the finals. You’re not going to expect him to be an integral part of the offense, as he’s one of those players that you won’t run a play for. Instead, he’s going to hustle and pad his stats on the boards. If you’re league has offensive rebounds, his value should be way up higher than his ADP. He came off the season averaging 7.8 points, 9.0 rebounds with 0.5 steals, and 0.6 blocks. The block department is a little disappointing but after 5 years into the NBA, we’re not expecting Thompson to be a block machine. He’s worth a late round pick if you’re in need of rebounds and a big man.
- Early-Rounds: Lebron James, Kyrie Irving
- Mid-Rounds: Kevin Love
- Late Rounds: J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson
- Deep Leagues: Iman Shumpert
- Sleepers: Kyrie Irving (relatively), J.R. Smith
- Busts: Kevin Love
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