Fantasy Review For 2017/18 Season:

Outside of one unlucky and serious injury which happened to Cousins they were a fantasy gold mine.
Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore had career-best years, Mirotic joined the party mid-season for a really strong finish and even Rajon Rondo managed to have a solid season. It’s no wonder they finally reached a second round of the playoffs but how much of this positive outlook will carry over to 2018/19?

Changes in the offseason

Lost = DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Dante Cunningham
Added = Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Jahlil Okafor

Projected Depth Chart:

PG SG SF PF C
Elfrid Payton Jrue Holiday E’Twaun Moore Nikola Mirotic Anthony Davis
Jrue Holiday Ian Clark Solomon Hill Julius Randle Julius Randle
Frank Jackson DeAndre Liggins Darius Miller Cheick Diallo Jahlil Okafor

Positional Battles: F, maybe PG?

At each forward position there are two options, one is more friendly for the offense and one is more friendly for the defense. Based on last year’s success and Gentry’s pedigree I think Moore and Mirotic are the favorites to start but there’s a decent chance either Hill or Randle will start to create a more well-rounded starting lineup.

Finally I assume Payton will fill Rondo’s role but there’s a possibility Jrue will start at PG to make room for both Moore and Hill [especially if Payton disappoints in some way].

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

Anthony Davis

53,746 FG%, 81,446 FT%, 0,74 3PM, 28,88 PTS, 11,07 REB, 2,16 AST, 1,56 STL, 2,57 BL, 2,27 TO

Projecting the best 9-cat player last year to be the best again may seem boring but expecting reigning #1 to improve his value significantly is basically unheard of in fantasy. So why do I expect him to improve?
Because his stats without Cousins on the floor jumped up a level and this year he should play more of his minutes at center. Moving one of the best finishers and shot-blockers in the league closer to the basket has to be good for his overall value, right?

But keep in mind two things:
– in the past Davis had a lot of small injuries so by drafting him you sign up for a roller-coaster ride of emotions as you will have a headache anytime he falls hard [and he usually has many of those incidents]. He’s so valuable that even one missed game could make a difference in the final standings.
– Randle probably will have a negative effect on Davis’ stats [in a similar way to Cousins] so it’s a key information how many minutes will they play together. If the answer is “a lot” above stats will be too high.

Jrue Holiday

46,509 FG%, 78,594 FT%, 1,5 3PM, 18,07 PTS, 4,15 REB, 5,73 AST, 1,54 STL, 0,69 BL, 2,64 TO

Jrue was finally healthy and for the first time he was more of SG than PG but the downside of having a career-best year in 9th season is it’s really hard not to treat it as a fluke in some way.
By far career-high in FG% was the biggest outlier in his stat-line so let’s examine what happened there: he cut down his mid-range shots [which should stick] but he also was simply way more efficient from anywhere inside the arc [which does not seem sustainable].
What’s more he had a career-high in blocks, rebounds and second-most shots attempted in his career which could be explained by the void left out by Cousins mid-season but with new additions to the roster I’m sceptical he will repeat any of them.

If you find this projection too conservative or in your opinion it was the birth of improved Jrue bump him up in your rankings.

Nikola Mirotic

42,772 FG%, 80,498 FT%, 2,27 3PM, 14,25 PTS, 7,08 REB, 1,39 AST, 0,87 STL, 0,79 BL, 1,16 TO

Acquired in a mid-season trade he turned out to be a perfect fit next to Davis for one glorious playoff run but his outlook for this year became muddied by the addition of Julius Randle. Because of that move Mirotic is no longer a lock to start and even if he does, his minutes will be affected so I’m less bullish on his stats than I would have been without Randle. Also keep in mind he started last season scorching hot in Chicago which may not happen again this year but despite those obstacles his game is versatile enough he should be above average player in most formats.

E’Twaun Moore

49,24 FG%, 72,222 FT%, 1,44 3PM, 11,81 PTS, 2,8 REB, 2,27 AST, 0,92 STL, 0,25 BL, 1,16 TO

For the first time in his career he played more than 30 minutes per game which made him a very good pick up or draft-day steal. What’s more, he delivered this nice complimentary stat-line mostly on the basis of more playing time and the skills were there earlier so he could easily repeat something similar given the chance. The toughest part to predict is “will he hold the starting job for the whole season?”.

Julius Randle

52,453 FG%, 72,284 FT%, 0,17 3PM, 14,56 PTS, 7,97 REB, 2,7 AST, 0,58 STL, 0,5 BL, 2,51 TO

Tight market for big guys helped Pelicans sign Cousins’ replacement rather cheaply but the question is did it involve any promises regarding role or playing time? With better players on board that he played with in Los Angeles Randle will have to become more of complementary player so I expect a significant drop in usage. While this situation probably will better suit his skills it will also affect negatively most of his counting stats. The only hope is it will be masked by more playing time but it’s not a sure thing, I assume Pelicans will choose Mirotic as their main PF.

Elfrid Payton

47 FG%, 64,486 FT%, 0,46 3PM, 10,14 PTS, 3,97 REB, 6,01 AST, 1,29 STL, 0,35 BL, 2,25 TO

Louisiana native came back to the home state but it was mostly out of necessity, Pelicans were one of the last teams in the league which could offer him a starting point guard job. His career trajectory kind of stalled because it’s a tough era for non-shooting guards [especially when they are not top defenders]. Will it help that he cut down his hair which may have affected his field of vision? We’ll see but time is running out on that best-case scenario comparison of Rondo whom accidentally he will replace in New Orleans.

Could be useful with trades/injuries [or in deeper leagues than 15 teams]:
Ian Clark, Darius Miller

Just don’t bother with:
Jahlil Okafor, Solomon Hill

Don’t forget to check the rest of the New Orleans Pelicans fantasy basketball projections.

Posted in Teams preview