Fantasy Review For 2017/18 Season:

It was a mixed bag.
On one hand there were injuries which derailed a promising start and few players simply played worse than expected [Brook Lopez, Ingram, Lonzo] but on the other hand they had multiple surprises in Pope, Hart, Randle’s career year and especially Kyle Kuzma’s stellar debut. Maybe more importantly it all lead to this…

Changes in the offseason

Lost = Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas
Added = LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Moritz Wagner, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

It’s a long list of changes but how many of them would happen without LeBron’s decision to switch teams?
Only 2 rookies would still join the Lakers, right?

Projected Depth Chart:

PG SG SF PF C
Lonzo Ball K. Caldwell-Pope Brandon Ingram LeBron James JaVale McGee
Rajon Rondo Josh Hart Josh Hart Kyle Kuzma Ivica Zubac
K. Caldwell-Pope Svi Mykhailiuk Lance Stephenson Michael Beasley LeBron James

Positional Battles:PG, SG, C

With revamped roster they have a lot of options for starting lineup. I assume LeBron and Ingram are locks to start, healthy Lonzo is close to it [but he will be replaced if he struggles with injuries or shooting] and the rest of the lineup could be in a constant flux.

At SG there’s a possibility of Rondo/Lonzo backcourt [as a longshot] but it will probably come down to Pope vs Hart. I assume both will play enough minutes to matter in some way though obviously you should move them up/down if they announce one of them the winner.

At C is the most complex situation. McGee [or occasionally Zubac] will technically start but they won’t play a lot minutes so the question is who will complement them? Will Moritz Wagner emerge?

There are experimenting with Kuzma at center so if it’s works it will be a path for him to start. There were also rumors about LeBron at center though I don’t buy them – sure, he will play there in certain situations but he won’t learn new position in his 16th season.

Fantasy Relevant in leagues with 12- to 15-teams:

LeBron James

54,5 FG%, 72 FT%, 1,53 3PM, 25,28 PTS, 8,55 REB, 6,04 AST, 1,33 STL, 0,76 BL, 3,28 TO

I interpret his move to LA as a break from long runs in the playoffs and as a decision to start less demanding chapter of his career [which shouldn’t be surprising considering his age and mileage]. Because of that I expect significantly less minutes played than usual and less ball-handling duties and both of those will be negative for his fantasy value [something close to career-low in points and assists if we exclude rookie season]. Though obviously one of the best players of all-time has a lot of room to decline before he stops being a first round pick. Also for the first time in over a decade there’s a real a possibility he will miss the playoffs which would further lower his expected minutes and games played or even the level of effort.

Brandon Ingram

45,5 FG%, 70,5 FT%, 1,44 3PM, 16,87 PTS, 5,53 REB, 2,54 AST, 0,79 STL, 0,76 BL, 2,08 TO

While I think he will improve I disagree with the popular sentiment he will have a huge jump in value for 3 main reasons:
– last year he played a lot of minutes and he had often the ball in his hands so there’s no room to grow from a typical increase in usage. Sure, he will shoot more but next to LeBron and Rondo he has to decline in assists per game.
– he was very selective with his three-point attempts [which lead to better percentages] but teams with LeBron usually shoot a lot of them. That means even if Ingram can make them at a high clip, he will still dip significantly in FG%… and he also can be only average three-point shooter with increased volume.
– in 3 seasons [I include one in the NCAA] his defensive stats didn’t match his potential based on length so I assume it’s a feature, not a bug and he would have to do it to make a huge jump in fantasy.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

42 FG%, 78,5 FT%, 1,95 3PM, 11,57 PTS, 4,04 REB, 1,58 AST, 1,16 STL, 0,17 BL, 1,09 TO

With increased competition for playing time and shot attempts he’s a prime candidate to have a worse season than last year but a durable proven 3&D player is almost guaranteed to be useful 2nd or 3rd guard in fantasy. So he’s a low-upside high-floor pick which is often needed in second part of the draft.

Lonzo Ball

38,5 FG%, 54,1 FT%, 1,55 3PM, 8,85 PTS, 5,33 REB, 4,55 AST, 1,43 STL, 0,59 BL, 1,86 TO

As a rookie he was great in non-scoring categories but his shooting numbers were one of the worst in NBA history. Even if we assume some improvements his sophomore campaign will be worse because the addition of LeBron and Rondo will eat away some of his rebounds and assists and he’s a lock to play less minutes per game. But the most important thing to monitor is his jumper, will he be able to shoot not horribly? Because this year that’s his ticket to anything more than border-line starter.

Kyle Kuzma

44,5 FG%, 70,5 FT%, 1,87 3PM, 13,95 PTS, 5,54 REB, 1,46 AST, 0,56 STL, 0,41 BL, 1,54 TO

Amazingly he had one of the best rookie seasons in fantasy for 27th pick [or lower] but to be fair he also played very unusual amount of minutes for this type of player… and that’s the main challenge for his sophomore campaign. Will he be able to play anything close to 31 minutes per game? If not, he’s going to decline in fantasy value even with some improvements along the way.

Could be useful with trades/injuries [or in deeper leagues than 15 teams]:
Josh Hart, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee
Josh Hart should be in the Top150 if he wins the starting job but at this point it would be a pure speculation bet.

Just don’t bother with:
Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Ivica Zubac, Moritz Wagner

Don’t forget to check the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers fantasy basketball projections..

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