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NBA Sleepers Unleashed: Dennis Schroder and Mario Hezonja


The NBA recently saw two massive trades take place.  One sent Jeff Teague to Indiana, George Hill to Utah, and the 12th overall pick (Taurean Prince) to Atlanta, while the other sent Serge Ibaka to Orlando for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis to Oklahoma City.  While it's exciting to debate how these players will fit in their new scenery, from the perspective of fantasy basketball, the change in their respective values is only going to be marginal.  For fantasy owners, the headliners in these deals are two guys who weren't traded at all, but rather stand to gain a lot of extra playing time after the shake-up that took place.

 

Dennis Schroder Helms the New Hawks Offense

Dennis Schroder will clearly benefit from the trade that sent Jeff Teague to the Pacers. When we last saw the Hawks, they were being swept in convincing fashion in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. It was not a decent outing for the ATL, but Schroder scored 20+ points in two of those games and was in general one of the few Hawks who could consistently generate offense. He was especially impressive in Game 4, in which he took over to score 21 points on 10/18 shooting with 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 three, 2 steals, and 1 block in only 25 minutes of playing time.

Playing well in the playoffs will certainly help his confidence (not that he wasn't already brimming with swagger) as he starts this season as the Hawks starting point guard. His shooting and ball security could use some work, which hopefully be his focus this offseason. He only shot 32% from three and had 4.1 TO per 36 minutes (a rate topped only by Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who do a lot more good things to make up for it). Other than that, he attacks the rim and is a fairly difficult to guard.

If his shooting remains streaky and his ball security sloppy, it does make him a risky fantasy option. Even if he does bring nice value in points, assists, and steals, he could blow away much of his fantasy value in some formats with a poor FG% and high turnover rate. I say this cautiously in hopes Schroder finds a consistent shot, but I could see him averaging about 14-15 PPG with around 8 APG. He averaged 11.0 PPG and 4.4 APG last season and I expect that to improve dramatically assuming that he manages to secure 30-35 minutes per game. That is a generous assumption but the Hawks have some solid shooters that are going to help Schroder thrive.

 

Is Super Mario Ready to Spit Fire?

Magic fans got a glimpse of hope from Mario Hezonja near the end of last season, after he was buried on the bench for much of the year by known rookie-hating coach Scott Skiles. They'll be getting a chance to see what the talented Croatian can do much earlier and more often this upcoming season. With Victor Oladipo now on the Thunder, there is a massive void in the Magic wing rotation which Hezonja will be expected to fill.

Along with Nikola Vucevic, the 6’8" Hezonja is one of the best pure offensive talents the Magic have. He has the talent to hit long range shots, get his teammates involved, and provide a fiery presence on the court.  Unfortunately, he didn't show much of it in his inconsistent opportunities in year one.  Per 36 minutes, he only averaged 12.2 points on 43% shooting (35% from three), while committing 2.5 turnovers.  While experience and a more consistent role should help, for all his talent, he hasn't proven anything yet. He needs to take better shots and attack the basket more if he's going to live up to his potential.

Until he becomes a consistent scorer, he is almost irrelevant in DFS formats. In seasonal leagues, he will be a risky option but has a high upside. He can shoot really well, key word being CAN. He needs to become comfortable in the offense to start being a legitimate option. For all his confidence you would think he would be selfish, but Mario is surprisingly too unselfish at times. His intention to get his teammates involved is good but needs to be a more animalistic scorer.

I don't feel comfortable even guessing how Hezonja will do -- he could be amazing, or he could be awful. Since he doesn't bring much value in categories other than scoring and treys at this point, I would leave him alone in standard formats until he proves he can be the great scorer he needs to be in order to be an elite fantasy player.  But if you feel like taking a late flyer on his talent, he's going to get a big chance to prove himself in year two.