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Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat – Wade is obviously once again the alpha dog on the Heat with LeBron James back in Cleveland. It all depends on how many games Wade will actually make it through on his bad knees this season, but if the number approaches 70, he’s probably going to be a fantasy steal. Of course, this still doesn’t change the fact that he’s on my “never again” list after the torture he inflicted on me (and everyone else) last season.
Chris Bosh, PF/C, Heat – Just like Wade, Bosh is set to take a step forward this season, assuming that he’ll pull himself off the 3-point line long enough to grab some boards and block some shots this season. But with LeBron no longer dominating the offense, Bosh should join Luol Deng as the No. 2 or 3 scoring option in Miami, and the increased fantasy value should follow.
Derrick Favors, PF/C, Jazz – I never thought Marvin Williams would hurt Favors last season, but he basically started at Favors' natural position (PF) and then forced Enes Kanter to the bench, taking out two birds with one stone. Favors is clearly the starting PF this season with Williams in Charlotte, and if a breakout was ever coming, it’s coming now.
Enes Kanter, C, Jazz – If Favors starts at PF, as expected, Kanter should start at C. And if it happens, Kanter’s numbers should look a lot better this season. Kanter started in just 37 games last season, but that number should double this year, with solid production likely to follow.
Carlos Boozer, PF, Lakers – Boozer is set to start for the Lakers with Pau Gasol in Chicago. Additionally, Boozer won’t have to deal with Taj Gibson taking all his fourth-quarter minutes this season. Boozer is old and doesn’t block shots, but he should get a ton of minutes for the hapless Lakers and rack up big points and boards.
Markieff Morris, PF, Suns – Channing Frye is now playing for the Magic, clearing the way for Morris to have a breakout season. Morris didn’t start in a single game last year, yet still averaged 13.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t build nicely on those numbers this season. He can also steal, block and hit 3-pointers, making him a popular sleeper pick for the surprising Suns.
Luol Deng, SF, Heat – Deng will try to fill the huge shoes of LeBron James in Miami this season, so look out. He averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 boards and 2.5 assists in Cleveland last season, and 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in Chicago. It’s hard to see him not approaching those Chicago numbers in Miami this season, as long as he can stay healthy.
Jeremy Lin, PG, Lakers – Steve Nash hopes to be healthy and ready to play this season, but I’m not counting on that happening. Lin could start a ton of games for the Lakers, while Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar are no longer with the team. Yes, we could be on the verge of ‘Linsanity, the sequel.’
Darren Collison, PG, Kings – Isaiah Thomas is now with the Suns and the starting PG job is Collison’s. Collison managed 14.8 points, 5.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 3-pointers in 35 starts behind Chris Paul last season, and should be able to produce as the new starter for the Kings.
Josh McRoberts, PF, Heat – He averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 3-pointers per game last season for Charlotte and now looks like the starting PF in Miami. His ability to hit 3-pointers, rebound and hand out assists should come in handy for his new team, and he could even score and get a ton of open looks with a still-potent Miami offense.
Omer Asik, C, Pelicans – Asik is finally out of Dwight Howard’s shadow in Houston, and appears to be a lock to start at center for the Pelicans. He’s not going to be asked to score much, but he should be a reliable fantasy center, racking up some boards and blocks, while his free throw shooting is a concern. But Asik should be much better this year than last.
C.J. Miles & Solomon Hill, SF, Pacers – As you know, Paul George’s (broken leg) season is already over in Indy, clearing the way for Miles and Hill to split minutes at small forward. This is a battle you’ll want to keep a close eye on in training camp, but I’m guessing both players will be worth owning in most leagues (with late draft picks).
Tony Wroten, G, Sixers – Wroten could win the starting shooting guard job this season and should flourish if it happens. Even while (mostly) coming off the bench, Wroten averaged 13.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.6 3-pointers last season. His lack of threes is a concern, but he should basically be unchallenged to win the starting shooting guard job and could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Anthony Morrow, SG, Thunder – Thabo Sefolosha is in Atlanta and Morrow will have to beat out Reggie Jackson for the starting SG job in OKC. And if it happens, Morrow should rack up solid points, rebounds and 3-pointers. He’s a great way to blow a late draft pick this year, as long as he can hold of Jackson.
Vince Carter, SF, Grizzlies – Carter has missed just two games over the last two seasons and now looks like the starting SF for Memphis. He didn’t start a single game for Dallas last season, and still posted 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers. If he does beat out Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen for a starting gig in Memphis, the numbers should improve. And hopefully, his ability to stay healthy won’t be jeopardized by the extra minutes that could be coming.
Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat – Chalmers is another guy who should win with LeBron James not controlling the ball for the Heat. He’ll finally be allowed to play point guard and has solid options like Wade, Deng and Bosh to dish to. He’ll have to hold off Norris Cole, as usual, but after struggling for much of last season, it feels like the right time for a Super Mario comeback.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Suns – I’ve seen some rumblings that Thomas might start for the Suns, but I don’t see how if Eric Bledsoe is back with the team. And Thomas shouldn’t start over Goran Dragic after the big season Dragic had last year. Thomas may still be an effective fantasy player and hold some value either way, but it’s hard to see him being worth an early pick as long as he’s primarily backing up Dragic. Then again, if Bledsoe signs elsewhere, all bets are off on just what Thomas is capable of in Phoenix.
Ryan Anderson, PF, Pelicans – Anthony Davis is locked and loaded at power forward this season and Omer Asik is going to play center. And with Tyreke Evans and John Salmons at SF, Anderson simply has to come off the bench. He’ll still bomb threes and grab rebounds, but it’s hard to imagine him being a top fantasy weapon in a sixth-man role. I still like him, but he should be targeted later in drafts that he has been over the last few seasons.
Reggie Jackson, SG, Thunder – If Jackson spends his time backing up Russell Westbrook, he’s going to take a hit. But if he ends up beating out Anthony Morrow for the starting shooting guard job, you can flip-flop those two on this list.
O.J. Mayo, SG, Bucks – Mayo was a disaster last season, but still has talent. However, despite the new coach (Jason Kidd) and new life in Milwaukee, it would appear that Giannis Antetokounmpo is primed to start at SG, and hopefully break out for the Bucks. And if that happens, Mayo is going to struggle to be a prime fantasy threat off the Bucks bench.
Robin Lopez, C, Blazers – Lopez should be able to hold Chris Kaman off for the starting C job in Portland. But the fact remains that Kaman can still play and is probably going to be hungry after a lost season under Mike D’Antoni. I still like Lopez as a fantasy player, but this situation has timeshare written all over it.
Danny Granger, SF, Heat – Granger is going to back up Deng in Miami, and while the two could end up in a timeshare if Granger’s knee is actually healthy, Deng is clearly the guy you want to own here.
Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks – Middleton played in all 82 games last season and made 64 starts, averaging 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 3-pointers. The problem is that they drafted Jabari Parker, who should immediately replace Middleton in the starting five. Middleton still has a chance at fantasy success this season, but Parker would have to really stumble for it to happen.
Henry Sims, C, Sixers – Sims started in 25 of his 26 games in Philly last season and averaged 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds, making him a hot pickup late in the season. But this is the year we get to see Nerlens Noel man the paint for the Sixers, which almost has to hurt Sims. If he ends up starting at center with Noel at PF, then forget putting him on this list. And that’s a possibility with Joel Embiid’s season in doubt and the possible trade of Thaddeus Young. Just make sure you figure out who is starting in Philly before using a pick on Sims. If Sims does win a starting job, you can put him on the other side of this list.
Iman Shumpert, G/F, Knicks – Shumpert started 58 times for the Knicks last season, but still wasn’t exactly a fantasy dynamo. And with J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. locking up SG minutes, and the return of PF Andrea Bargnani pushing Carmelo Anthony back to SF, minutes may be tough for Shumpert to come by.