Magic deal for Arenas, J-Rich alters fantasy values across league
On Saturday, the Magic pulled off the ultimate fantasy-style trade and completely revamped their team by sending away a couple underperforming players (Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis) in exchange for a few guys who look great together on paper (Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu). Someone should formally invite Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith to a celebrity fantasy league next season.
Here's a player by player breakdown of those involved in the trades and the other players who are affected.
The Arenas era has come to its much anticipated end Washington. The talented-yet-troubled guard will take his talents to Orlando and will either come off the bench as their sixth man or start at shooting guard alongside Jason Richardson at small forward. Had this trade just been about Arenas, he'd be a good bet put up similar numbers with the Magic as he had with the Wizards this season. However, throwing Jason Richardson into the mix raises some questions, like how are all these scorers going to get their shots off? Arenas has averaged 15.7 shot attempts per game this season, Richardson 15.6, Dwight Howard 13.3, and Jameer Nelson 12.1. These four players would have to account for nearly 70 percent of the team's 82 shot attempts just to keep their scoring numbers steady. That high usage rate will not be sustainable on this team, meaning all four players will lose attempts to some extent. If Arenas' decrease in shots is offset by a better shot selection, his field goal percentage may finally climb above 40 percent, and fantasy owners should be able to live with that. Overall, it's not a great move for Arenas, but he should be able to maintain most of his fantasy value even if he comes off the bench.
Richardson joins the Magic to either start at shooting guard in a traditional lineup or small forward if the Magic decide to play small. He provides the team with a much needed slasher to collapse defenses and get his teammates open looks. But like Arenas, it's going to be difficult for Richardson to maintain his 19 points-per-game scoring average with Orlando. The Suns are currently sixth in the league in possessions per game, while the Magic are 25th. This means fewer possessions and fewer scoring opportunities for the talented scorer. On the positive side, he should continue to hit more than two threes a game in an offense geared around the three point shot. If Richardson can play like he did in 2009-10 -- with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 threes a game -- fantasy owners should take it.
While he won't be changing teams, the team around him is certainly changing, and Nelson will suffer the biggest hit fantasy-wise as a result. Nelson has been on his way to making up for a disappointing 2009-10 season by averaging a career high 7.3 assists. But Arenas and Turkoglu are players who thrive with the ball in their hands, so expect Nelson to play off the ball more often and his assists to fall back into the five per game range. Nelson will still be a low end fantasy point guard, but his value is definitely heading down.
Turkoglu is worth a speculative grab if he's available in your league to see if he can regain some of the success he experienced with the Magic from 2004 to 2009. Whatever Turkoglu's role, it will be better than what he managed to scrape together as the eighth guy in the Suns' rotation. He can start at either forward position for the team, so his minutes and numbers should increase across the board. If the Magic use him in a point-forward role again, his assists could jump back into the 4-5 per game range.
The trade of Lewis opens up a starting spot for Bass at power forward. In the games where Bass has played 25 minutes or more this season, he has averaged 16.6 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, so clearly he can put up numbers when he gets the minutes. Bass is worth a pickup in all leagues, although don't expect too much extra from him since Turkoglu will likely see some time at the position and Ryan Anderson is expected back from injury this week.
It's unlikely that a change of scenery is going to stop the slide in Lewis' game that began as soon as he arrived in Orlando. So far this season, the 31-year-old Lewis has experienced the lowest production of his career since 1999-00 and was a liability on the court for the Magic. While the point of the trade from the Wizards' perspective was move beyond Gilbert Arenas, Lewis will slide into the starting small forward spot and push Al Thornton to the bench. Like Hedo Turkoglu, Lewis can't possibly be any worse on his new team than he was on his old one. As long as he gets minutes, he'll at least continue to hit a lot of threes for fantasy teams.
Arenas' departure means an opening at guard for Young or Hinrich as well as a bump in fantasy value for both. Young is the closest thing in the league to a "points specialist", he can drop 30 on a team without making much of an impact anywhere else on the court. Still, Young is worth adding in deeper leagues if you need a pure scorer. Hinrich is also worth an addition. He isn't as good of a scorer as Young, but he will contribute some in assists, rebound and steals. For now, both will be starting while John Wall is out with a bone bruise under his kneecap.
Given the assumption that both Carter and Steve Nash are going to get back close to 100 percent healthy, Carter is going to be "Vinsanely" good in Phoenix. Look at what Richardson was doing in Phoenix. Now adjust for slightly more assists from Vince in a system that favors an extra pass to find the open man. Playing for the Suns might not get him back to being a top 20 fantasy player like he was in his prime, but being set up by Nash should give him an across the board improvement in his offensive numbers and a huge bump in fantasy value. The one concern about Carter is that he will be 34 in January, so there is a chance that injuries stop or slow him.
Go back to the unfortunate Shaq trade to see that Phoenix has been struggling for a while to find a real center. Now they have one. Gortat has shown he's capable of delivering decent rebounding and block numbers in limited minutes behind Dwight Howard. In the five games he's started in place of Howard, Gortat has averaged 9 points, 11 boards and 2.5 blocks. Add in the fact that Nash makes everyone he plays with better, and Gortat could be the big fantasy surprise from this trade. He still has to contend for minutes against Robin Lopez and possibly Channing Frye, though the departure of Turkoglu means that Frye should see the majority of his minutes at power forward from now on.
Pietrus is currently sidelined with a knee injury and has shown an inability to stay healthy over his career. When he returns, he'll be competing for playing time with Vince Carter, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. Stay away from him in fantasy leagues.