The fantasy basketball season is just around the corner and you might need 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 in the Central Division, I’ve covered the Bulls, the Cavs and the previous post was on the Pistons. This time…The Hoosier State.
Notable Additions: Jeff Teague (Atlanta), Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn), Al Jefferson (Charlotte), Aaron Brooks (Chicago), and Jeremy Evans (Utah)
Notable Subtractions: George Hill (Utah), Ian Mahinmi (Washington), Ty Lawson (Sacramento), Solomon Hill (New Orleans), and Jordan Hill (Minnesota)
In this offseason, Indiana Pacers parted ways with their longtime coach, Frank Vogel. They decided to overhaul their roster and speed things up a little bit. Thus, they decided to hire Nate McMillan (whut?) as their head coach. In the 7 years that McMillan coached for the Blazers, he wasn’t known for having a fast paced and up-tempo system. Rather he was known for his hard-nosed coaching style. However, because of the personnel that Pacers have this season, there’s no choice but to play with a faster pace, as you’ll probably see them ranked in the top-10 in pace this season, which potentially could correlate to fantasy goodies! Let’s take a look at which players can benefit the most this season!
Paul George – After playing in 81 games last season and a couple more in the Olympics, Paul George has shown that the rated PG-13 injury (too soon?) he suffered is behind him, which is good news for fantasy owners or NBA fans in general. He came off the year as the 14th best player in 9-cat according to Basketball Monster, averaging 23.1 points, shooting .418 from the field, 7.0 boards, 4.1 dimes, 2.6 triples, and 1.6 steals but with 3.3 turnovers. He was required to make plays and carry the load on the offensive end, so the efficiency from the turnovers and field goal attempt is expected. This coming season, help is on the way. With new acquisitions in Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, that’ll reduce George’s usage rate on the offensive end. Hopefully the efficiency will become more tolerable. If he can play more efficiently and lowers the turnovers a bit to ~2.5, which is reasonable since Teague would be handling the ball more, you may want to target a late first-round pick on PG-13 in a 12-man league.
Jeff Teague – Jeff Teague is having a homecoming! Bet you didn’t know he was from Indiana! Hopefully playing for his hometown would be giving him extra motivation to play better this coming season, as he disappointed quite a few owners with his play last year. Coming off a career low in minutes (28.6) since becoming a starter in the league, he averaged 15.7 points on .439 from the field, with 2.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He also had 1.2 steals and 1.4 threes. The points, percentages, assists and steals all took a dip from the previous year Teague played in. I see his usage rate and stats sinking further down this coming season as he’s going to play with some ball dominant teammates in Monta Ellis and Paul George as well. He’s still a solid mid-round pick but keep in mind you’re not drafting him because of upside. The Yahoo! Expert’s rankings has him listed at rank 43, which is a really high reach when there’s so much depth in the point guard position. I’ll have him in the late 50’s if not early 60’s in 9-cat leagues.
Thaddeus Young – Another player that the Pacers traded for is Thaddeus Young. I feel like he’s going to be rejuvenated and motivated to play ball on a winning team after losing for so long with the Nets, Wolves and Sixers. The combo-forward averaged 15.1 points on an efficient .514 from the field. He also grabbed 9.0 boards, 1.9 assists with 1.5 steals. He finished as the 40th best player in 9-cat leagues according to Basketball Monster and with the move to a competitive team, and specifically, in a fast-paced system that fits Young perfectly, there are going to be expectations for him to play well. The lack of triples and blocks, he can make it up with his efficient shooting, boards, and steals for his position. He’s a good fit if you already have blocks and threes on your team and an even better fit if you’re punting either category. Yahoo! Experts ranked him at 72, when he should be way higher. A solid fifth-sixth round pick for Young would be ideal.
Monta Ellis – In a system where Paul George is the lone scorer on the team, with minimal help, Monta Ellis went in to a situation where he can shine as the second scoring option last year. However, he finished the season leaving a bad taste in owners’ mouths. He wasn’t attempting and making as much shots than previous years. Last year he averaged 13.8 points on .427 from the field (the lowest since his rookie season) to go along with 3.3 boards and 4.7 dimes. He also had 1.1 threes and 1.9 steals in 33.7 minutes per game. His usage rate was at 21.2 percent, which was the lowest usage rate since his rookie year as well. You’d think in a faster pace team, it would fit Monta’s game better but with the additions of Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, would he really get the ball more and hike up his usage rate? His value really comes from the steals department and he doesn’t really hurt a team in any categories but with Yahoo! ranking him at 68, above Thaddeus Young, something’s probably wrong with their drinks. He finished the year as the 72nd best player in 9-cat, and I expect that number to drop even more, and I wouldn’t touch him until the late 90s to 100s.
Myles Turner – Larry Bird, the team president for the Pacers, emphasised the importance in the development of Myles Turner. Letting go of Ian Mahinmi and Jordan Hill is the beginning stages of that transition. The acquisition of Al Jefferson shouldn’t eat into his minutes as he’s probably signed to be the go-to-scorer for the bench unit. The rising star averaged 22.8 minutes per game in the 60 games he played. His minutes should increase up to the late 20s this year. Turner averaged 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. They don’t seem much but that was already tenth-round value according to Basketball Monster in a 9-cat league. What makes Turner special is his ability to block the ball on defense and stretch the floor on offense. Don’t let the 0.1 from downtown fool you, as he has shown that he is capable of shooting from range. It was reported that Turner wants to score 15-20 points per game this coming season. That’s a little bit of a reach, as he’s only the fourth or fifth scoring option on the team, but I think a stat line of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks is rather reasonable to expect. Yahoo! listed him at rank 107, below players like Mason Plumlee and Jared Sullinger just to name a couple. His upside and potential is causing his fantasy stock to shoot up as his ADP as of now is around the 100th pick range. You should expect that number to go up by October, since everyone’s riding on the Myles Turner train. There’s going to be a premium on Turner, but even if he’s drafted at late 80s pick, it’s still justifiable (I’m a big fan of Myles, just saying).
- Early-Rounds: Paul George
- Mid-Rounds: Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young
- Late-Rounds: Myles Turner, Monta Ellis
- Deep Leagues: Al Jefferson, C.J. Miles
- Sleepers: Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner
- Busts: Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis
Follow me @bfantasyhoops on Twitter for more previews, updates, and fantasy goodies! Come back tomorrow for the Milwaukee Bucks preview and my take on the Greek Freak!