Playoffs

New King DeMar DeRozan among NBA free agency’s fantasy basketball winners

New King DeMar DeRozan among NBA free agency's fantasy basketball winners

Free agency has shaken up the NBA and, with it, the fantasy basketball landscape. Some players are heading to greener pastures, while others might see their value take a hit. And let's not forget those who benefit from teammates moving on. I won't touch on every trade because some dominoes need to fall regarding notable players like Brandon Ingram, Zach LaVine … and whatever the Blazers plan to do with all their veterans in the thick of a rebuild.

In this two-part series, I'll deliver a rundown of the biggest winners and losers in free agency thus far and how they could impact your draft strategy next season. First up, the risers.

One of the most durable and most clutch players in the NBA, DeRozan's arrival adds that extra sauce for the Kings to get back into playoff contention. Spacing might be an issue, but I'd expect the Kings to utilize his athleticism and pace up to create more opportunities on offense. There will be some sacrifice here, but a floor of 22/5/5 is nothing to sneeze at.

Draft projection: Fifth-Sixth round

I like the landing spot, but I don't see much change in George's fantasy outlook as a member of the Sixers. He effectively replaces Tobias Harris, and he'll be a far better shot creator, playmaker and defender IRL and fantasy. Playing with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid will increase his assist percentage and, if everything else holds firm, George will be a valuable asset in the early rounds.

Draft projection: Second round

Giddey's stock is up after falling out of favor in Oklahoma City over the past year. His size and versatility offer a unique opportunity in Chicago alongside Coby White and Zach LaVine (for now), and Giddey should see an uptick in both minutes and production in the Windy City.

Draft projection: Seventh round

Sign me up for the CP3 & Wemby experience. I don't care that Paul is almost over the hill — he was in the top 12 in assists and top five in assist-to-turnover ratio despite playing 26 minutes a night. We're officially done with Coach Pop's experiments at point guard, and CP3 gets a fresh start at point guard, where he'll provide leadership, mentorship and a lot of assists and steals.

Draft projection: Ninth round

J.V.'s role diminished in New Orleans, so moving onto a rebuilding Wizards squad gives a surprise bump to his fantasy value. Valančiūnas becomes a solid late-round pick, especially if you're looking for a cheap double-double threat. The Wizards were bottom 10 in rebounding last season and, despite playing his lowest minutes in six seasons, Valančiūnas ranked seventh in rebounding percentage in the league.

Draft projection: Ninth round

The Trae-Dejounte duo didn't work out, and Young no longer has to share playmaking duties. Averaging 25 points with 10 assists is Ice Trae's floor, and with no additional high-usage players joining the mix, Trae is about to go off like the 2021-2022 season before Dejounte came through.

Draft projection: Early second round

No Paul George means that Harden has to get back into his scoring bag. His scoring dropped to 16 points per game last year, the lowest mark since 2011-2012. He'll be turning 35 in August, so while he's way past his prime, he can still achieve 18 points with eight assists and respectable counting stats across the board as the second option in L.A.

Draft projection: Third round

Mikal Bridges' trade to the Knicks kicked off Brooklyn's rebuild, and Thomas is in a position to level up in fantasy. He saw a 30% usage rate and was one of nine players 23 and under to average at least 20 ppg last season. I understand the inefficiency knock, but I'm anticipating his rise in points, rebounds and assists will be enough to warrant being a mid-to-late-round pick who will likely outperform his ADP.

Draft projection: Eighth round

I'm not a big Williams guy, but I can't deny the void he'll help fill in Chicago with DeMar DeRozan headed to Sacramento. Williams averaged 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes per game without DeRozan the past two seasons. Going forward, that's a reasonable expectation, with the possibility of more if Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević are also traded.

Draft projection: 12th round

The second-year pro is seeing valuable minutes with the French National team as they prepare for the Paris Olympics. With Deni Avdija now with Portland, Coulibaly can take that momentum into a starting role with the Wizards by next season. While still a late-round option, he's already shown flashes of his potential defensively. Assuming he'll take a more significant role offensively, Coulibaly is an intriguing, sneaky pick for fantasy managers looking for a young player with upside.

Draft projection: 12-14th round

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