With the 2009-10 fantasy season in the books, it’s time to start looking forward to next season. As usual, there are a variety of reasons that fantasy values for certain players will change – free agency, age, team dynamics, etc. For those in keeper leagues and for those planning on participating in fantasy leagues in 2010-11, it’s never too early to start thinking about which players will fall and rise next season. So, here’s a quick look at some changes in fantasy values to expect next year.
David Lee had himself a monstrous fantasy season. Without question, he was a top-six fantasy asset in most leagues and exceeded even optimistic expectations by a mile. While this probably boosts his reputation in fantasy realms, it’s unlikely that he’ll be this successful next season. He’s a free agent who finds himself in a no-win situation: if he re-signs with the Knicks, a team that will likely nab a couple big free agents, Lee will probably find himself on a team with more offensive firepower, which means he’ll have a reduced role, which means smaller stats. If he signs with another team, it’s highly unlikely he’ll find a system similar to one that coach Mike D’Antoni runs, on a team that will be as shoddy and in need of his talent as the Knicks. The bottom line is that his fantasy value has only down to go after an incredible 2009-10 run.
Manu Ginobili was a man possessed in the last half of the fantasy season and showed that he has some gas left in the tank after all. However, part of his success came thanks to Tony Parker’s absence for much of the season. Toss in his new, fat contract in the mix and it’s well within reason to expect Ginobili to take a step back in 2010-11. He’ll be a year older on a Spurs squad that will be healthier, while his own health remains sensitive.
Kevin Garnett had himself a fair fantasy season, based on averages. He didn’t really fall short of most reasonable expectations and will surely generate some buzz next fall because there will be reports that his knee will be healthier, his confidence turned up, etc. Don’t buy any of it. KG, while still a big fantasy brand name, is falling apart as we speak. He’s no longer anything resembling a fantasy stud and his recent health record is anything but pristine, which makes him easy to pass up until the middle rounds of most drafts.
Chris Bosh went ballistic for much of the season and played up to expectations this season, finishing as a top-12 stud. But with free agency looming, and with most signs pointing to Bosh signing with a team that will have more offensive potency than the Raptors, it’s very likely that he’ll find himself on a squad that will cut into his scoring and rebounding. Keep an eye on where he lands and what other big names he ends up flying with, but his fantasy value probably has nowhere to go but down.
Carlos Boozer outdid himself by playing like a beast for many parts of 2009-10 and staying healthier than many expected. Maybe it’s cynical, but it seems highly likely that his strong play and resiliency were, at least in part, due to his free agency this summer. If Boozer leaves Utah, he’ll probably find himself on a squad that will put a lower ceiling on his fantasy potential. Also, Boozer appears to be vulnerable to the post-cushy-contract lull that many players find themselves in.
Ben Gordon had a very forgettable year, by all standards. While he turned things up at the very end, he was one of the biggest disappointments of the season. But with the Pistons reportedly planning to shop Richard Hamilton, the SG spot should open up for Gordon, who has nowhere to go but up.
Brandon Jennings was an intriguing, albeit frustratingly inconsistent fantasy player this season. But he’s a prime candidate to have a sophomore year breakout party, which means that he’ll be an appealing option come draft time and remains a solid candidate to trade an older, soon-to-be-less-valuable fantasy player for.
Jonas Jerebko flew under most radars but had himself a very fine fantasy season. With Tayshaun Prince’s days in Detroit probably numbered, Jerebko should find himself with more minutes on a depleted Pistons squad. He could end up putting up similar numbers to Prince and is a great sleeper pick in next year’s drafts.
Paul Millsap’s story is already known: he thrives when Boozer doesn’t play but struggles when he fills in for him off the bench. But should Boozer finally leave town, Millsap’s potential could be unleashed and his ceiling shattered. While expectations shouldn’t get out of hand, he should see his stock rise in 2010-11.
Tony Parker was almost a non-factor for most fantasy squads this year, thanks to numerous health issues. However, Parker remains a top-tier NBA talent who should regain major minutes next season. He’s probably fallen out of favor with many owners, especially those who had him this season, and while his lack of threes hurts his fantasy value in leagues that count that category, Parker should have a nice bounce-back season in 2010-11. Don’t forget about him.
Call it a Comeback (guys who missed most or all of last season and will require varying levels of patience, but will be factors next year):
Follow Jason on Twitter at @fbasketballblog.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.