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Southeast Division Fantasy Basketball Preview


It might seem like the NBA season just ended, but we're just a month away from the start of the 2018-2019 NBA season! Time flies in basketball world.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be bringing you division-by-division analysis of the upcoming NBA season and providing you with some fantasy nuggets for each NBA team that can help you make the best decisions as you head into your fantasy basketball drafts.

Today, I'll be looking at the NBA's Southeast Division.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NBA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive Preseason Draft Kit, 10 In-Season Lineup/DFS tools, and daily Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Southeast Division Fantasy Preview

Atlanta Hawks

What will the backcourt rotation look like for the Hawks?

Specifically, what will playing time for Jeremy Lin and Kent Bazemore look like, what will playing time for Trae Young and Kevin Huerter look like, and when will these things flip?

Lin and Bazemore are projected to open the season as the Hawks backcourt. Lin's played just 37 games over the past two seasons, but at his best he's a capable ball handler, a good shooter, and a good mentor for Young. Bazemore is a former three-and-D guy whose ability to do the defense part of that is declining. I'd expect Trae Young to play major minutes as the third guard quickly and to see a lot of sets with him beside Lin. Huerter, meanwhile, projects to be the fourth guard on a bad team. I'm avoiding him for fantasy purposes.

What's the fantasy ceiling for John Collins?

If you watched Summer League, you left feeling good about John Collins, even if you know that a non-rookie dominating in Summer League should always, always be taken with a grain of salt. But among players to play 100 or more minutes, he ranked second in Player Impact Plus/Minus (PIPM) and he showed off a much more developed three point shot than we saw during the regular season. Collins will start at the four, but they'll run lineups with him at center. Collins rebounding on the defensive end plus his versatility on the offensive end? It's fascinating. He could very well be Atlanta's best player this year.

Charlotte Hornets

Can Malik Monk play a key role for the Hornets?

We're moving from a promising second-year player in Collins to a less promising one in Malik Monk. The 11th pick in 2017 only played 13.6 minutes per game as a rookie and nothing about his play has left me worrying about Jeremy Lamb's hold on the starting two-guard job in Charlotte. Monk's negative-4.35 PIPM last season puts him 526th out of 541 NBA players and surrounds him with guys like Bismack Biyombo, Cristiano Felicio, Jameer Nelson, and Jamal Crawford. Sure, he should improve in his second season, but to expect him to suddenly be a reliable player after a disastrous rookie year is asking too much.

Are there any good sleepers here?

Honestly, the Hornets are a team that don't excite me, so here is one of those really generic questions -- who could be a fantasy sleeper.

My favorite candidate is Miles Bridges. The Hornets feel poised to either fight for one of the last playoff spots or go into a rebuild; if the latter happens, expect Bridges to see a lot of playing time. He can play both the three and the four, defends well, and while there's work to be done as a shooter, the potential is there.

Miami Heat

What can we expect from Dwyane Wade's last ride?

I'm not expecting much, unfortunately. Nekias Duncan, a writer for Miami Heat Beat, does a lot of great work predicting minutes breakdowns and putting out 2k roster updates based on those breakdowns. Here's what he projects for Miami this year:

Wade playing around or under 20 minutes per game at this point makes sense. He can't be trusted to shoot the ball from distance, is nowhere near the scorer he used to be, and he just posted the worst box plus/minus of his career. There's not going to be a resurgence this year. He'll give you 10 points per game, not much else, and you'll be best served looking elsewhere for a fantasy option.

Hassan Whiteside or Bam Adebayo?

At some point, the Hassan Whiteside Era will end in Miami and Bam Adebayo will get his chance to shine, but with Whiteside's contact virtually untradeable and the Heat hoping to make the playoffs, don't expect them to radically shift anything. Adebayo is still raw, but his defensive upside and good decision making make him a valuable asset for the Heat. Adebayo doesn't showcase the same offensive talents as Whiteside, but he's capable of making plays at the basket. For this current season, Whiteside is still the player to own, but should the relationship between him and coaching/ownership continue to deteriorate, keep an eye on Adebayo. (He's also someone I'm really interested in dynasty leagues -- the Heat don't have a great future outlook in terms of bringing in new talent, so a cheap and talented player like Adebayo should have plenty of future opportunities on this team.)

Orlando Magic

Can someone on this team record an assist?

Despite finishing 11th in the NBA in assists last season, the team didn't have a go-to passer after trading Elfrid Payton, with Shelvin Mack ending the year as the team's assist leader. Sharing the passing load can be fine from a real life perspective, but for fantasy purposes you'd like to be able to identify a player who can break out of the pack.

Enter Jerian Grant. Acquired in a trade from the Bulls back in July, Grant is expected to open the year as the backup point guard, but the Magic would be wise to give him more minutes instead of putting D.J. Augustin out there for the 34th consecutive season. Grant averaged 4.6 assists per game last year for the Bulls in 22.8 minutes per game. His assist percentage of 30.1 ranked 17th in the NBA among qualified players.

Length, length, length: On the big rotation in Orlando

The Orlando Magic got obsessed with wingspan this offseason:

Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon also have wingspans of over seven foot.

Despite all of this size, there are other factors that matter in the NBA. Skill. Shooting. Instincts. And the young big who presents the most interesting combination of skills at this point is rookie Mohamed Bamba. The team will likely bring the rookie along slowly, leaving Nikola Vucevic in the starting lineup, but Bamba showed some ability to step out and hit jumpers in college and has the potential to be devastating interior defender; in his one year at Texas, Bamba blocked 111 shots in 30 games. While he won't contribute as much at the start of the year as fantasy owners will want, keep an eye on him as the seasons wears on.

Washington Wizards

Another year, another new team for Dwight Howard

I have not given up on Dwight Howard. From a raw numbers perspective, Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. There were issues -- his field goal percentage was one of the lowest of his career, he's still not remotely useful at the free throw line -- but his ability to put up nightly double-doubles is enough reason to roster him in fantasy, especially in free throw percentage punting builds. Does he fit with the Wizards? Will they like watching him demand post touches instead of working in the pick-and-roll? Maybe not, but Howard will likely get those touches.

John Wall or Bradley Beal?

Hypothetical question: you're only allowed to draft one of Washington's guards. You can take Wall in the 15-20 range, or take Beal in the 20-25 range. Which one is a better value?

My money is on Beal this season. Even putting aside injury concerns, Wall was less efficient and saw his per game numbers drop last season. Beal saw some efficiency issues as well, but he increased his rebounds and assists. Both players have high ceilings, but in a situation where I can only have one, Beal gives you numbers close enough to Wall that being able to pick someone else in the second round and grabbing Beal in the third could help strengthen your overall lineup.

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