Over the course of what was one of the wildest and craziest free agency frenzies in recent NBA history, a record number of contracts were handed out. Of course, due to all this movement, the fantasy fallout will be felt far and wide.
Of course, many of the players that switched teams will be impacted, and we've covered many of those stars here in the Offseason Beat over the last few weeks. However, there are also plenty of players that have benefited from free agency even though never hit the open market. Today, I'll highlight a few such beneficiaries.
* Pascal Siakam - Toronto Raptors:
Siakam busted out last season, averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.0 treys per game in 31.9 minutes, while shooting a robust 54.9 percent from the floor and 78.5% from the free-throw stripe. Those terrific all-around numbers landed him inside the top-50 overall in nine-category fantasy leagues. Well, expect even better stats from the 25-year-old forward now that Kawhi Leonard has landed in Los Angeles.
With Kawhi skipping town, Siakam will be one of the focal points of the Toronto offense going forward. How strongly do the Raps feel about Siakam's ultimate upside? There were credible reports this summer that Thunder GM Sam Presti offered Paul George and Russell Westbrook to Toronto for a package centered around Siakam, but the Raptors declined the offer. For fantasy purpose, it's important to note that without Kawhi on the floor in 2018-19, Pascal's posted the following per-36 stats: 20.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 treys with solid percentages. Lastly, Siakam has been durable, missing a total of only three games over the last two seasons combined.
* Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett - New York Knicks:
The Knicks entered this offseason with high expectations. With enough cap space to sign two superstar free agents to max contracts, New Yorkers were hoping that some combination of Kevin Durant and either Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker or Kawhi Leonard would agree to call MSG home. However, New York failed to lure in any max-level players and instead had to settle for a mix of promising youngsters and some established vets. Yet, this is may be good news for their second-year center and their first-round pick.
The Knicks added plenty of depth along the front line with the signings of Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris. Nevertheless, none of those bigs are expected to bump Mitchell Robinson out of his spot as the team's starting center. This means Robinson should be looking at 27-30 minutes a night (assuming he can stay out of foul trouble). Last season, over the Knicks final 11 contests, Mitch Rob averaged 11.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.5 blocks in 29.4 minutes, while, incredibly, shooting over 72 percent from the floor. You may have to spend a late-second, or early-third round pick if you want to snag Robinson in drafts come October.
RJ Barrett will be available much later in drafts, but he also benefits from the Knicks failing to sign top-tier guard or wing this summer. Personally, I think Barrett has been underrated heading into his rookie season. Yes, inefficiency on offense will be a significant concern, but this kid has been stuffing the stat sheet in basketball games all his life. Last season, as a freshman at Duke, he became the first-ever underclassmen in NCAA history to average more than 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer throughout an entire season. And, earlier this month in Las Vegas, he became the first player in the history of the Summer League to average more than 15 points, more than eight boards and more than four assists per contest.
* Robert Williams - Boston Celtics:
Last season in Boston, Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and Aron Baynes played exclusively at power forward or center for the Celtics and accounted for a total of 4,145 minutes. Now, Horford is in Philly, Morris is in NYC, and Baynes is in Phoenix. The only big man Boston signed this summer was Enes Kanter, who has averaged just 23.0 minutes per game over the last four seasons. Thus, it's clear that there is playing time up for grabs.
Yes, Jayson Tatum will slide over at times and play some PF, but Robert Williams has an opportunity to log a bunch of minutes if he can earn coach Brad Stevens' trust. Williams' remarkable talent has never been an issue; he simply needs to avoid mistakes and exhibit maturity both on and off the floor. In summer league action this month, Williams looked solid, averaging 9.0 points, 9.8 boards, 2.0 dimes, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks in just 19.5 minutes. He's someone I'm definitely targeting as a late-round flier.
* Miles Bridges - Charlotte Hornets:
Kemba Walker walked away from Charlotte and took a massive chunk of the Hornets offense with him. Last season, he posted a Usage Rate of 31.5 percent, which ranked just ahead of Russell Westbrook and just behind LeBron James. Jeremy Lamb also left via free agency, signing with the Pacers. Those two players, Kemba and Lamb, accounted 3,310 points 2,663 FG attempts. That's over 36% of the team's total points and shots. Obviously, there are plenty of shots and slices of the offensive pie up for grabs.
This is where Bridges comes in. Newly signed Terry Rozier will see a major boost in his value as well, but among remaining Hornets, I think Bridges will step in and step up. Assuming Nicolas Batum slides over to shooting guard, that will open up a spot in the starting lineup for Bridges permanently. He started 25 games for Charlotte last season and, in those final 12 contests, averaged 12.0 points, 5.8 boards, 2.9 assists, 1.5 triples, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks and just 0.8 turnovers, while shooting 52.7% from the floor, 40% from downtown and 80% from the charity stripe. You don't need me to tell you that averaging more steals, blocks and treys than turnovers (along with stellar percentages), is a recipe for fantasy goodness. Bridges ranked 39th overall in nine-category leagues over those final three weeks of the season.
* Zach Collins - Portland Trailblazers:
Much like the Celtics, the Blazers have limited depth up front as well. Al-Farouq Aminu, who left via free agency this summer, logged over 2,000 minutes at power forward last season as a starter. Starting center Jusuf Nurkić is recovering from a leg fracture and may be sidelined into February. Enes Kanter, who replaced Nurk late in the season, signed with Boston. Jake Layman signed a three-year, $11.5 million deal with Minnesota. Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless were dealt to Miami.
Portland did receive Hassan Whiteside in exchange for Leonard and Harkless, and signed 34-year old veteran Anthony Tolliver, but there is an excellent opportunity for Collins to stake a claim for significant playing time. A former top-10 pick out of Gonzaga, Collins been underwhelming his first two years in the league; however, he's hasn't been given much a chance to shine, averaging just 16.8 minutes per game over his 143 appearances. Last season, Collins did post some decent per-36 minutes numbers: 13.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 made triples, and 1.8 blocks, while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 74.6 percent the stripe. If he logs 25+ minutes per game, he should be a dependable source of 3PT's and blocks. I like him a lot as a later-round sleeper.
* Ish Smith - Washington Wizards:
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis admitted recently that he doesn't expect John Wall to play at all during the 2019-20 season as he recovers from a torn Achilles. Staring down that reality, the Wiz needed a stopgap at point guard and settled on Ish Smith, inking him to a two-year, $12 million deal. As we know in fantasy, sometimes being in the right place at the right time is just as important as overall talent and skill.
Smith is in the right place, as he pegged to be one of only 30 starting point guards in the NBA. PG's is a tough position to fill in all fantasy formats, which is why I think Smith is may be one of the more undervalued players headed into fantasy drafts in October. Yes, Washington also signed Isaiah Thomas, but IT just hasn't been able to stay healthy over the last two years. In 2018-19, Thomas appeared in only 12 games. It would be great to see him finally bounce back, but I'm not betting on it. Thus, Smith is primed to vacuum up minutes and accrue stats, similar to how D.J. Augustin for the PG-bereft Magic last season. If Smith logs around 28 minutes a night, he should be able to land in the top-125 overall in standard fantasy formats.