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Winners from the 2022-23 NBA Free Agency - Wings and Big Men (Part 1): Ben Simmons, Bruce Brown, Joe Ingles

Free agency can be a great opportunity for players to find new homes that mesh with their playing styles and help them achieve their potential. But it can also be a chance for players to think they're doing that and then wind up in a bad situation where they're unable to find NBA success.

This article is about the former, and while it's only been hours since the market officially opened, we're here to analyze some of the deals that have been confirmed in advance of the 2022-23 season tipoff later this fall.

Let's take a look at some players who changed teams who should find their stock rising up this season.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Fantasy Basketball: Winners from 2022-23 Free Agency - Wings and Big Men

Ben Simmons, PG/SF - Brooklyn Nets

I might be cheating writing about Simmons as a wing. Maybe the word isn't even cheating, or maybe it is just that Simmons is so unique that he should have his own particular and personal category. Anyway, Ben Simmons is a winner for me entering 2023. I know that won't probably be the consensus opinion out there, and that's a very valid and reasonable way of thinking about it. At the end of the day, Brooklyn is most probably moving on from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving so who's going to be left in BKN to help Simmons and elevate his game? Royce O'Neale? LOL. That lack of superstars around Simmons also calls for Ben to step up and become the bona fide no. 1 player and visible head of the new Nets – obviously, pending the return of the Kyrie/KD trades and whatever those bring to Barclays Center.

Simmons sat out last year after passing a ball instead of dumping a layup in the 2021 playoffs when he was still a Sixer. Simmons wasn't even close to his best version the last time we saw him, posting an average of 36.6 FPPG in 2021 compared to his prior best of 42.1 as a sophomore in 2019 at just 22 years of age. That was also a season in which Embiid was the only true star in Philadelphia. Something similar might be around the corner for Simmons assuming Brooklyn gets another star-level player to put on the court next to him, and he excelled in that type of scheme. This is all confabulations, though, as Simmons has to make it back to the court first. He should have no trouble doing so come tip-off day, but we'll see. Simmons can do it all from scoring 14+ PPG to dropping 8+ APG to grabbing 7+ RPG. He won't be shooting any three-point shot, yes, but other than that he's a do-it-all one-man army now into a prime position to do whatever he wants as the lone leader of a retooling/depressing/can't-sink-deeper franchise.

Joe Ingles, SF - Milwaukee Bucks

This is perhaps more of a real-life winner than a fantasy one, but Ingles might still be a good addition to fantasy squads by the time the season enters its final stretch of games past the trade deadline. Ingles is coming off an ACL season and still recovering from it. The most optimistic of returns would probably happen with a month-and-change left in the regular season so he can gear up for the Bucks' postseason run. If that's the case, then you'd probably be well served by adding him because the fit looks astonishingly great on paper. Joe Ingles played a fantastic role in Utah mostly from 2018 on (coinciding with the arrival of Donovan Mitchell) and will keep pretty much the same on once he steps onto Milwaukee's court next season.

Ingles will do what he does best: heating up games from the bench. Yes, the counting stats will never be great because he is limited in what he does (expect something around 10-3-3 at the very best) in limited time. Ingles will give you buckets at a high clip and mostly excel on threes. He's a niche player and had a rough 45 games last year (0.71 FP/min; league average at 0.90) compared to years prior (0.93 as recently as in 2021, for example). The Bucks are an all-out team when it comes to shooting (they had three players launching 5+ 3PA per game last season and Joe Ingles will make it four; Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis averaged 4.8 and 4.7 respectively, too), so there will be plenty of touches and open shots for Ingles to take advantage of. Limited upside because of a limited skill set/usage profile, but surely a nice late-season addition to snatch from your WW.

Bruce Brown, SF - Denver Nuggets

What the hell is Bruce Brown, even!? He can find gaps inside, he can shoot from beyond the arc with such gusto, he can rim-run, he rebounds, he passes, he scores, he steals balls... He can do it all! Of course, let's keep our excitement at bay and not overdose on BB's upside, please. Brown signed with the Nuggets after spending time in Brooklyn and becoming an oft-used player there with 45 starts in 72 games last year while playing nearly 25 MPG. Not bad for a role player doing it next to the likes of real deals such as James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving.

Brown won't find such top-tier talents in Denver but it's not that things will change that much for him in terms of role and context. There is another legit PG in the Rockies (Jamal Murray), a great wing (Michael Porter Jr.), and a two-time MVP in the paint (Nikola Jokic). Brown, though, should fit the team like a glove and slide into the starting SF at least until MPJ is fully healthy and will also have chances of staying in the starting unit if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope flops a bit like the starting SG. Brown has back-to-back seasons at above-average FP/min levels (though just by a hair) and has averaged 9 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1 SPG in the past three seasons doing it in wildly different roles as PG in the 2020 and 2021 campaigns and SF in 2022, never commanding a USG% above 17.9 percent (he didn't even reach 16% in any of his two years in Brooklyn). He's coming off a 50.6/40.4/75.8 shooting-splits season (one of only three players to hit those averages while shooting 7+ FGA and 1+ 3PA per game in 2022) so one can only marvel at what he can do with Jokic finding him in possible angles all around the court.

Juan Toscano-Anderson, SF/PF - Los Angeles Lakers

I have a bunch of Bay Area friends and I can assure you they're all hating this free agency acquisition by the Lakers. It makes sense, obviously, as the Warriors and Toscano benefited each other, had to fight to the death to find their way toward a first-squad reunion, and ultimately grew into a championship together last June. It's a fairytale, but it's not that Juan-T was the reason it happened for the never-ending Warriors' dynasty. As Toscano has put it himself, this is just another step in the career of a borderline NBA man seemingly always fighting just to live another day.

Toscano is now joining LeBron and AD in Los Angeles. There is not really that much of a change in terms of the context/situation he will find in Hollywood as he's pretty much moving on from a core built around Steph/Klay/Dray to another one made out of Russ/LBJ/AD. The pine awaits once more, and that will never change for Juanito. That said, LeBron is widely known for elevating players such as Toscano-Anderson throughout his career as those ancillary pieces have just to wait for their turn and to be on the killer end of LBJ's plays to hit paydirt. JTA projects to be the SF2/SF3 of the Lakers as the depth chart reads right now, and he can play way higher than that up to manning the five. Forget about bulky raw and counting stats, but expect high FG% on the limited touches he'll get with defenses clearly putting the clamps on whoever happens to be playing next to him more than on the very Juan. Nice flier to get from the WW but nothing more than that, mind you.



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