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Fantasy Spin: Kawhi Leonard And Paul George To The Clippers


Well, the Kawhi Leonard saga has finally ended, and it happened in the most unexpected way, as Leonard signed with the Clippers late on Friday night in a move that also resulted in the Oklahoma City Thunder sending Paul George to the Clippers for approximately 36 first round draft picks.

It's a big deal, one that completely shifts the balance of power in the West. But it's also got a ton of fantasy basketball ramifications, as the moves impact a lot of teams.

Let's take a team-by-team look about how Friday's deals impact the Clippers, Lakers, Raptors, and Thunder.

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Los Angeles Clippers

Kawhi Leonard - SF

The big fish in this deal is Leonard, but he's probably the least interesting one to talk about when it comes to fantasy production because...well, because a player going from the first option on one team to the first option on another team isn't really going to see too much of a statistical shift in performance.

What we can expect from Leonard as a Clipper is the same as what we could have expected if he re-signed with the Raptors, which is that he'll be a 25-ish point per game scorer with seven or so rebounds, two or three assists, and a high 40s shooting percentage in 60ish games. With Paul George also in tow and a deep bench, the Clippers won't hesitate to let Leonard rest when he needs to. Obviously, Leonard's load management pushes him down a little on fantasy draft boards, as he has the potential to be one of the best picks there is, but the realities of the situation mean he's got a late first grade on him.

Paul George - SG/SF/PF???

Paul George goes from being the 1A/1B option with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City to be the number-two guy in Los Angeles. I think we see a slight dip in George's production on a night-to-night basis, but because Leonard is bound to miss 20ish games, George will have those nights where he's dominant.

George averaged 3.7 made shots per game off Russell Westbrook passes last year. Patrick Beverley isn't going to set George up at that kind of volume that Westbrook -- who has led the NBA in assists per game in back to back years -- did, which means George has to create for himself more. We're probably looking more at a better version of Indiana George -- where he averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in his final season -- than last year's Thunder George. That's still a good player who is worth a late first/early second in fantasy drafts, but I don't think we see 28 points per game again.

(Also, George is potentially going to start at the four, which will be interesting!)

Other Current Clippers Players

With Gilgeous-Alexander gone, expect a rise in production for Patrick Beverley, who is now in firm control of the starting point guard role. His best season in terms of assists was when he averaged 4.2 per game with the Rockets, and he could challenge that this season. He'll also get some more open looks from deep.

Landry Shamet should also benefit from more open looks from deep. He could end up as one of the NBA's best shooters this season as defenses will have to account for Leonard and George.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers missed out on Leonard, which means they've resorted to the free agent market to fill their roster out. Here are some of the players they've picked up so far and what we can expect from them.

Danny Green - SG

I guess Green is the big addition for the Lakers in free agency?

Green's a good player, and a great piece to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis because he's a two-way player who can hit open shots and provide strong defense.

Last year, Green averaged 10.3 points and four rebounds while shooting 45.5 percent from three. That shooting percentage was far and away Green's best of his career and I'd expect some regression on that this year. But I'd also expect Green to get a few more shot attempts per game playing with the Lakers, which means that his raw numbers are likely to remain about the same, even with a dip in his shooting percentage. He'll be about as valuable as he was last season.

Quinn Cook - PG

Oh boy. Advanced stats hate Cook, as he had the lowest PIPM in the league last year and was near the bottom in RPM. But unless you're playing in some wild, advanced stats fantasy leagues (and if you are, shoot me a Twitter DM and invite me in!), those numbers don't really mean that much to you on a practical level. Cook's going to get plenty of playing time as the team's backup point guard, and he'll deliver something like nine points and three assists on 40 percent shooting from deep. He won't do much else and will be a liability on the other end of the floor, but there's definitely a place for a guy like Cook on a fantasy roster.

JaVale McGee - C

Lakers are bringing McGee back. He gave them 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last year. With Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the mix, McGee will see both of those numbers drop. If he winds up starting over Cousins, he'll still hold some fantasy value, but who knows at this point.

DeMarcus Cousins - C

The newly signed Cousins could also end up starting at center for the Lakers. Cousins isn't his old self after his Achilles tear, but he can still give a team offensive production. But will his defensive issues lead to JaVale McGee playing more than him? Maybe! I'm steering clear of Cousins in fantasy.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - SG

Caldwell-Pope was also brought back, but Danny Green will more than likely see the bulk of the playing time at the two, which leaves Caldwell-Pope looking at a diminished version of his role from last year. There's still value here in deeper leagues, but the upside is gone. Best-case scenario is probably 10 points and three rebounds per game on 41 to 43 percent shooting. Meh.

Rajon Rondo - PG

Oh yeah, Rondo got re-signed by the Lakers. He'll have more assists this year because he gets to pass the ball to Davis and James, but he's not a great shooter and isn't a super exciting option. Ehh.

 

Toronto Raptors

Toronto doesn't add any new players with this deal, but losing Leonard and Green leaves things pretty different in the Six. Here's how some things might end up shaking out.

Pascal Siakam - PF

Siakam is looking like the big winner for the Raptors, as he'll now more than likely be their top scorer. Expect more shot attempts, more rebounding chances...more everything, really, for Siakam next season. The biggest question is if the fourth-year forward will be able rise to the occasion, but his career trajectory has basically been "succeeds in a larger role every year," so I'm pretty confident we're getting a 20-point, eight-rebound per game season out of him and a field goal percentage that remains over 50 percent.

Kyle Lowry - PG

Things will be a little tougher on Lowry, who'll probably shoot a couple more times per game and probably sees his assist numbers drop back into the six-ish per game range like they were before Leonard arrived in Toronto. Overall, I think the best way to gauge Lowry's future performance is to just look at everything he did before Leonard came to Toronto.

Stanley Johnson - SF

The Raptors signed Stanley Johnson on Saturday. That...is not very exciting news, but Johnson is still young and a former lottery pick who'll get a chance to play as a backup wing in Toronto. It's not a terrible landing spot for him, but I also don't think anyone in the fantasy sports world should be counting on Stanley Johnson to produce for you.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Let's go ahead and put an INCOMPLETE warning on this since there are already rumors swirling about a Russell Westbrook trade that would once again shake things up for the Thunder, but for now, here's what things look like.

Danilo Gallinari - PF/SF

Gallinari had a really good year for the Clippers serving as one of their top offensive options, but his outlook in Oklahoma City is...complicated.

The problem? Before Paul George, we'd been looking at a pretty solid track record of players having better numbers when not playing with Russell Westbrook. Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo blossomed after leaving. Dennis Schroder didn't really work beside him. What's to say Gallinari will be any different?

Well...ignoring the fact Westbrook might be traded, Gallinari has been a pretty consistent catch-and-shoot guy for awhile now, and the fact that he can score without the ball in his hands plays right into what Gallinari is good at doing. I think he should be fine. (Let's re-visit this after a Westbrook trade.)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - PG

I really, really like SGA, and last year ended strong for him as he averaged 14.4 points per game in March and April. I also have no idea what he's going to do in Oklahoma City.

If Westbrook stays, he's probably playing as an off-guard for the time being, in a role that players just haven't really succeeded at so far. I think his value takes a huge hit in this situation, with SGA falling from being a guy who had a ton of upside to being a guy with a very capped ceiling that looks to about what his production was last year.

Other Current Thunder Players

Well, there's Russell Westbrook, who goes back to being the first option offensively and is heading towards the title of "best bet to be the top scoring player in fantasy" if he stays in Oklahoma City, but a trade would change that. If he does open the year as a member of the Thunder, Westbrook could be back to the 30/10/10 guy he was when he won the MVP. So, in theory, he could actually be the big fantasy winner of this deal, but let's take a wait and see approach to this.

The rest of the Thunder players aren't worth discussing yet, because we want to see how the Westbrook situation goes. Check back with RotoBaller later on when we have more clarity with this situation.




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