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Fantasy Spin: The Anthony Davis Trade

DraftKings FanDuel daily fantasy basketball

Well, it finally happened. Anthony Davis has been traded.

After months of speculation and the deal not getting done before the trade deadline because the Pelicans reportedly wanted to wait to see what the Boston Celtics would offer in the Summer, Davis has been the exact team that he's been rumored to since this started, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers gave up Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first round picks, including the fourth pick in this year's NBA Draft, for Davis. Let's break down the fantasy implications of this deal.

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What The Lakers Get

Anthony Davis

Exactly what the Lakers will look like next year is going to be heavily dependent on how free agency goes, because after this trade, I believe the Lakers have the following players under contract: Davis, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Moritz Wagner, and Isaac Bonga. They're going to have a lot of decisions to make as they try to build out a winning roster around the James and Davis core.

But what a core that is. Even though he'll be turning 35 next season, James remains one of the game's best players, and while injury held him to just 55 games last season, he still averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. He saw a slight drop in his efficiency, but his 58.8 true shooting percentage was still higher than the first season of his second Cavaliers tenure was. James will hit that age wall at some point, but if he's healthy, his floor at age-35 will still be being a top 10 player.

Davis will be the best player that LeBron has played with since the first couple of years of his pairing with Dwyane Wade in Miami, and LeBron is the best player that Davis has ever played with. That means Davis should end up being in the best position of his career to put up strong numbers, as he won't be facing the same pressure from opposing defenses.

I'm not really sure how much higher Davis' fantasy value can be in Los Angeles than it would be in, like, any other setting, because Davis has been one of the league's most viable fantasy plays for awhile now. A healthy and engagEd Davis is neck and neck with James Harden for the first overall pick in any fantasy format, but the question of which one to go with will become more clear once we see what the Lakers will put around Davis and James. If they can add another high-quality player, Davis' 2019-2020 numbers could look a lot like his 2018-2019 numbers, but if the Lakers struggle to fill in the roster, we could see Davis asked to shoulder the team's scoring load to an even greater degree, especially in the regular season as a way of reducing the load on LeBron James and keeping him healthy. In that case, Davis might rocket past Harden into being the best choice with that first pick.


What The Pelicans Get

Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the #4 overall pick, two future firsts

The Pelicans got a lot for Davis, and they're going to look a lot different next year. Let's talk a little about each player.

Lonzo Ball

Here's your starting point guard for a Pelicans backcourt that should be really intriguing on the defensive end. You can have Jrue Holiday guard a team's best guard if you want and let Ball develop more on that end by taking on opposing team's second guard, or you can have Ball check opposing points.

Offensively, Ball gets to bring the ball up the floor but with Holiday around, doesn't have to run the offense in the half-court. Of course, an off-ball Lonzo has to get his shooting numbers up, as he shot just 31.8 percent on catch-and-shoot threes last year, a lower mark than he shot on pull up threes. He showed the ability to shoot at UCLA, though, and I think it's fair to expect improvement in that part of his game. With how fast this team can run, Ball's ability to throw lobs to future Pelican Zion Williamson, and shooting improvements, I could see Ball giving top-60 fantasy value.

Brandon Ingram

A shoulder injury and blood clots ended Ingram's season early, but if he comes back fully healthy and ready to go, he gives the Pelicans a scoring option who can absorb possessions and provide some consistent offense on a team that will very likely be trying to work multiple top-five picks into the rotation.

Ingram hasn't developed into the player that Lakers fans were expecting, but I don't really see a reason why he couldn't average something like 17 points and five rebounds per game. Those point totals could go higher if he's able to continue to increase his efficiency, and I see this move as being a pretty decent one. He's not going to be a huge break out or anything, but I'd peg his fantasy value as top-80, which is a slight step up from where I had him in Los Angeles.

Josh Hart

Hart's the big mystery in this deal, because his value depends on what else the Pelicans do with their backcourt. If Hart can end up as the first guard off the bench, that consistent playing time would have me higher on him than I was on him in Los Angeles. The Pelicans aren't a team that will be actively trying to make the playoffs, so they can give Hart a little more playing time, let him shoot more, and just see what happens. In that scenario, I think Hart becomes an intriguing late-round guy for fantasy owners to take a swing at.

Now, Hart's value depends on another factor though...

The #4 Pick

The Pelicans have two of the first four picks, and if they take a guard or wing, that player could cut into Hart's playing time. I'm not going to speculate in this post over what the Pelicans will do, but I will say that if I were them, I'd go with someone like Jarrett Culver. Yes, the biggest hole right now for this team is at center, but the best center in this year's draft is Jaxson Hayes, who I don't think the Pelicans should be thinking about at four. Maybe they trade down? The Hawks have eight and 10, and that would be a range where they could still get a wing plus add Hayes, but...yeah, who knows! I don't think this pick will really affect Ball or Ingram's standing in New Orleans, but it could hurt Hart's value.

Zion Williamson

And let's not forget that the Pelicans will be taking Williamson with the first pick. We still have to see if the Pelicans hold onto Jrue Holiday, but if they do, having Holiday plus the scoring ability of Ingram allows the Pelicans to ease Williamson in a little more than they might have been able to if this deal had looked different. I think we expected Zion to be a point forward kind of guy, but with Ball and Holiday, maybe we see him play less with the ball in his hand? Can he be used as an off-ball shooter? Will his first year see him used more as a traditional post option? Will a Holiday trade happen and unlock Point Zion?

Zion's hype is going to lead to him going early in fantasy drafts, but I'm actually slightly more worried about taking him early than I was before, since his ability to run the floor in transition was a big part of why I liked him so much. He'll still be running and catching lobs and all that, but I'd think we see fewer assists than we would have seen.

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