Depending on what team you root for, you’re either looking forward to the upcoming NBA season, or you’re just so entrenched into football season that you don’t really care. And if you’re from North Carolina, you’ve always got the Tar Heels. For the rest of you, here’s a breakdown of what you can look forward to for fantasy basketball, or just the NBA in general.
The Atlanta Hawks seem poised to make another run at the postseason. That said, there are a few questions fantasy owners will have to ponder. Will the Hawks trade Mike Bibby if Jeff Teague, the rookie from Wake Forest has an immediate impact? Will Al Horford put up the same numbers he did last year? Is this going to be the breakout year for Marvin Williams? Even if the Hawks keep Bibby for the whole season, don’t expect him to put up the same numbers he did last season. His assists may increase a bit but with Joe Johnson, Horford, and Jamal Crawford sharing the court, Bibby won’t be looked at to score. Since the Hawks didn’t do the conventional thing in drafting or signing another big man, Al Horford should take advantage and put up nearly a double double like he did last season. While I don’t think that Marvin Williams will ever live up to his draft hype, he’ll be a decent pickup for fantasy owners, provided he’s drafted late. Sleeper- Jeff Teague
The Celtics will continue to be the Celtics. Unselfish, intense, and a 50-plus win team. That said, I wouldn’t personally draft anyone on that team except for Pierce and Rondo. KG is still trying to come back from that knee injury, and Ray Allen isn’t the same player he once was. Adding Rasheed Wallace makes sense from a team standpoint because they need someone to bolster that frontcourt, but he won’t make much of an impact for fantasy owners. Sleeper – Rasheed Wallace
The Charlotte Bobcats are another one of those teams that are hard to decipher for fantasy owners. Larry Brown can never really make up his mind about his lineup and the only go-to scorer on the team is Gerald Wallace, who I expect to be a middle round pick. Fantasy owners who liked Tyson Chandler’s production last season shouldn’t expect him to duplicate those numbers. Chandler benefited from playing with a borderline MVP in Chris Paul and the last time I checked, neither Ray Felton nor DJ Augustin was Chris Paul. Sleeper- DJ Augustin
Chicago, like Charlotte, has a lot of different people that play their own roles. The offense runs through Derrick Rose with Luol Deng as his scoring option, and a lot of guys with question marks. Now that Ben Gordon is gone, this is Rose’s team, and his production should reflect that. Sleeper – Kirk Heinrich
Any fantasy owner that had Lebron James last season (like me) will tell you that LBJ can win you a league. King James will lead his team in points, assists, rebounds, and blocks… which is exactly what Bron-Bron did. Danny Ferry did a good job bringing in another option for Lebron in Danny Green. Plus, he’s a native New Yorker and I like that. Mo Williams should have another good season and may average close to 20 points a game again. Also Shaq and Leon Powe make this Cavs team very balanced to make Lebron happy. And a happy Lebron, is a productive Lebron. Sleeper- Danny Green
The Pistons are an intriguing team because they went out and brought in the pieces they needed to reclaim their place at the top of the Eastern Conference. At the same time, those very pieces could make the Pistons a very potent offensive team. Richard Hamilton is a model of consistency and Rodney Stuckey should have one of those “I’m finally coming into my own” seasons. Throw in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva with a little bit of Dajuan Summers, and you’ve got a recipe for fantasy success. Sleeper – Rodney Stuckey
When it comes to the Pacers and Danny Granger, there are only three necessary words. Poor. Man’s. Lebron. Danny Granger has the capability to lead his team in most categories and can be an integral part of any fantasy team. His numbers have increased every year since he was drafted and he may even come close to averaging 30 points a game. There aren’t too many other scoring options, so that helps too. Sleeper – AJ Price
Consider this the last hoorah for the Miami Heat. If this team doesn’t make a serious run at the playoffs, there’s a good chance Dwayne Wade is going to skip town when his contract is up. But fear not fantasy owners, Flash will put up his MVP-type numbers. Jermaine O’Neal won’t put up his career numbers, which is sad considering he’s only 30. Michael Beasley fresh out of rehab should be focused enough to have an increase in production but only time will tell. Wade will be a top five pick, and might even be enough to carry a team ala Lebron. Sleeper- Mario Chalmers
I’m apologizing ahead of time if you happen to be a Bucks fan. You’re asking yourself, “Why Stan? Why are you apologizing?” Well, the Bucks aren’t very good, they have no scoring threat along the perimeter and there isn’t one player worth drafting before the sixth round. The lone bright spot on the team is Brandon Jennings, and that, my friends, is a stretch. Michael Redd is coming off of knee surgery and there’s no indication that he’ll be the same player he once was. One thing to consider is that Redd is a jump shooter and without knees, it’ll be hard to jump. Joe Alexander
The Nets’ Brook Lopez had a surprisingly good season for a rookie.big man. His production should definitely increase from his averages of 13 points and 8 rebounds a game. The Nets are still a team in transition getting ready for the Sweepstakes Summer of Lebron… as I like to call it. Alston could emerge as a statistical leader on this team, but he’ll struggle for playing time behind Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. As far as Harris goes, he’ll still put up his 20 points a game, and Lee’s value as a scoring option will increase. Sleeper – Sean Williams
I may be a little biased here, but the Knicks… who am I kidding? They’re so inconsistent, there’s no one worth drafting outside of David Lee. Lee was among the league leaders in double doubles and might consider showcasing himself for another team. He’s one of the hardest working players in the league and his point totals are going to show it. Wilson Chandler is another player with a similar skill set to a Danny Granger. He can shoot, he can get to the rim and he can finish when he gets there. Chandler averaged 14 points a game last season but over the last few months consistently scored 20 points or more. Sleeper- Eddy Curry… yeah I know, but he lost like 50 pounds.
The Orlando Magic took a step back when they let Hedo Turkoglu go to Toronto. They’ll have to try to replace him with an aging Vince Carter but I don’t think it’s going to work because Hedo’s versatility and the mismatches he caused made him a valuable asset. Vince Carter’s value will increase because of the double teams that Dwight Howard demands and Mickael Pietrus’ perimeter shooting. Sleeper – Matt Barnes
The Sixers have a new logo and new uniforms, but the same team. Jrue Holiday was pretty underwhelming at times at UCLA, and I have a feeling he’ll slip through the cracks in the NBA. The question to ponder is whether or not the Sixers will finally play at the slow pace they said they’d play at since before last season. If they do, Elton Brand should put up the same kind of numbers he put up in LA. If not, it should be another subpar season for the Sixers. Either way, Andre Igoudala should maintain an average of 20-25 points a game. Sleeper – Sean Singletary
The Toronto Raptors will… I repeat… WILL underachieve once again this season. Jose Calderon will shoulder the load as the best guard on the team, unless you count Marcus Banks. The forward-heavy Raptors signed Hedo Turkoglu (forward), gave Andrea Bargnani (forward) a huge deal, and drafted, you guessed it… another forward in DeMar DeRozan. Bosh’s numbers won’t waver, and he’ll have some help in Hedo, whose value should stay the same because essentially, Bosh = Dwight. Sleeper – Marco Belinelli
The Wizards look good on paper so I’ll crown them my Eastern Conference Paper Champions. They have good perimeter shooters in Mike Miller, Deshawn Stevenson and Randy Foye. They have a guy ready to make the leap to superstardom in Caron Butler, they have a young project in JaVale McGee, and a legitimate scoring threat in Gilbert Arenas despite his injury. I think Arenas is going to want to prove that he’s hasn’t lost a step and will try to put up the same kind of numbers he was able to put up a few seasons ago. Sleeper – Caron Butler
So there you have it. There’s a little preview of the upcoming NBA season for the Eastern Conference. If you have the first overall pick there isn’t anyone you should draft outside of Lebron James. If you don’t have the first overall pick, good luck to you. Lebron’s pretty good. Happy drafting.