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Veteran Losers After the 2022 NBA Draft: Jonathan Isaac, Eric Gordon, Cory Joseph

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We're just a few days removed from the 2022 edition of the NBA Draft. As is always the case, just a couple of picks were virtual locks with the rest of the picks going left and right and handing us more than a few surprises. And that is without even entering the trade realm and the whispers popping up all around the league boasting star-player names such as Kyrie Irving and Dejounte Murray.

All of Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith retained their expected no. 1-2-3 spots, but the draft became an (also expected) crapshoot starting with Sacramento's no. 4 selection as the Kings pivoted from drafting another guard (Jaden Ivey) and instead opted to draft a forward (Keegan Murray). And that was only the start. The excitement only grew inside of us all watching, but we weren't the only ones glued to the TV. Who else, you say? Vets all around the Association trying to come up with a clear vision of where they'll fit into their teams' rotation factoring in the freshly drafted rookies.

With the draft in the rearview mirror and free agency around the corner, let's take a look at a few veteran players who can be considered losers after the moves that happened on the night of the draft. This is mostly focused on fantasy basketball, but there might be a few takeaways that look at the broader picture.

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!

 

Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF & Wendell Carter Jr., C & RFA Mo Bamba, C - Orlando Magic

I could have written those three names here once we knew the results of the 2022 draft lottery. With such a clear top-three and all members of it playing the PF/C position, it didn't matter that much who the Magic ended picking--all of their big men were going to get negatively impacted by the addition of either of Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, or Jabari Smith. Even more, and even though Banchero was a "surprising" no. 1 pick, he is closer to the impact that the other most-probable Magic pick (Smith) would have caused than Chet's would (Holmgren is more of a bona fide center).

With Banchero joining the Magic, all of Jonathan Isaac (still to return after having missed the last two seasons entirely), Wendell Carter Jr. (acquired from Chicago in 2021), and Mo Bamba (if Orlando decides to re-sign him; he's a restricted free agent) suffer a little bump down the projections and upside leaderboards. Carter and Banchero should be the starters at the C and PF positions, respectively, with the latter providing some legit playmaking and ball movement thanks to his fantastic all-around game and complete skill set.

Bamba is the greatest loser here though he might bolt away from Orlando come July. Isaac was already a question mark given his shaky health and the rust he might come back with, and Carter shouldn't be that impacted but of course, he'll definitely lose some rebounds and scoring chances with Banchero around him and roaming the floor. Carter posted his first double-double season last year (15-10 with nearly three dimes) but the usage rate will most probably go down below the 20% line (career-high 20.9 last year) next season, and the same will happen to the RBD% (17.4 in 2021, 18.5% in 2022, most probably back to the 15s% next season) and maybe the AST% too (15.4% last year compared to prior-highest 11.2%).

 

Isaiah Roby, C - Oklahoma City Thunder

Slowly but surely, it can't be argued that Isaiah Roby has stayed on a developing path since he entered the league after getting drafted by OKC back in the summer of 2019. He went from laying just three games as a rook to 61 in 2021 (finish as a top-160 fantasy player) and then 45 last season (top-250). On a per-game and per-minute basis, he went from 20.7 FPPG to 21.7 last year, and from 0.88 to 1.03 in 2022. The evolution is there and Roby is still entering his age-24 campaign. The future is bright for the center... or is it?

Not so much, considering the Thunder drafted their darling prospect, Chet Holmgren, with the no. 2 overall pick. Holmgren, though physically similar to Aleksej Pokusevski, is definitely not Poku on arrival. He's a legit starter and the new Thunder starter at the center position from Day One. No discussion about that, folks. Roby is the main casualty of this move, as he'll be sent straight to the second unit to keep honing his game coming off the pine in Chet's relief.

Roby, again, is still super young and part of a franchise that gets plaudit for the way it develops talent. The team is loaded with youngsters and no (true, old) veterans at all. Perhaps Darius Bazley flops a bit next season and that opens a slim door to Roby for getting more minutes while Chet downsizes to play PF instead of C (he can surely do it and his rail-thin body might actually class for that change). For now, and until we see this thing in motion, Roby gets the loser tag.

 

Eric Gordon, SG/SF - Houston Rockets

It's been a while since we first heard whispers (now turned into straight shouting) of Houston dangling and offering Eric Gordon's services to his higher bidder in the past. After the draft last week, that only makes even more sense for the Rockets to pursue throughout the offseason and also into the 2023 regular season if needed. Gordon has spent six seasons with the Rockets since he got there in time for the 2017 campaign. That's insane and probably more than you thought--time flies, folks.

Gordon started more than 46 games in Houston just once (in 2019) prior to last season. Last year's minutes and usage were possible for Gordon to reach, of course, only because Houston sucked and had to showcase their lone valuable veteran (the other, not-so-valuable one because he just never made it to the court, is John Wall) in case anyone decided to jump at him at some point. The problem is that playing so much didn't really help Gordon in 2022, who got to put on one of his worst-ever seasons in terms of efficiency.

Gordon posted a measly 0.74 FP/min and finished as a borderline top-200 fantasy player (82nd-best guard...). Gordon had to watch Houston drafting both Jabari Smith and Tari Eason on Thursday, and that means that his days as a starter are over (I have to assume Smith goes to man the PF position while Jae'Sean Tate becomes the starting SF) and also that Eason will make it hard for him to get minutes off the pine too. This could still turn into something good for Gordon if Houston's trade partner is a good fit for him, but Gordon's worst seasons are now surely ahead of him.

 

Cory Joseph, PG/SG - Detroit Pistons

Joseph's situation is pretty much the same as that of Eric Gordon (read above). In fact, I could copy Gordon's section, paste it over here, change this and that details, and I'd be good to go without anyone noticing. Joseph has played for five different franchises in his 11 years of NBA play. He has been in Detroit for one-and-change seasons starting 13-of-63 games in 2020 and 39-of-65 last season. That late development/rise in playing time is about to revert, though, with the Pistons drafting Purdue's Jaden Ivey with the no. 5 pick of the 2022 draft.

Detroit might have already completed the bulk of its rebuilding and it barely took the Pistons a couple of seasons to do so. It's a rather impressive work, all things considered. Ivey joins Cade Cunningham on the backcourt, Saddiq Bey was a surprisingly nice addition to the rotation, and Isaiah Stewart looks like a legit starter. While Marvin Bagley is just a reclamation project that won't (most probably at this point) ever amount to much, Detroit has tons of cap room to target and offer a max-contract to players such as Deandre Ayton come July.

As far as Joseph's upside goes, it's true that he's nothing close to a top-tier real or fantasy player these days (or ever, for that matter...) but he'll be losing a good chunk of minutes and opportunities next season with Ivey and Cade around manning the starting guard positions. Joseph was a top-175-ish player in fantasy leagues in 2020 and 2021 but dropped his production last year, finishing outside of the top-200 overall--that was, starting more than half of his games and playing 24+ MPG. If he goes to the second unit and is limited to some 20 MPG, it's over for him and fantasy GMs with shares of the combo-guard.

 

Trey Lyles, PF/C & Harrison Barnes, SF/PF - Sacramento Kings

Half of the Kings lineup came out as winners of the draft while the other half suffered a clear negative impact after Sacramento named its fourth-pick selection: wing/forward Keegan Murray bombed the big-man rotation while the guards (De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell) saved their lives. This was an interesting turnaround for the Kings, though, and one not quite clear until Murray's name got written in Sacto's history books because the clear-cut and consensus fourth-best player in the 2022 class was surely combo-guard Jaden Ivey.

The Purdue product shared some not-very-kind-to-the-Kings words prior to the draft, and welp, he found a way to Detroit with Sacramento gambling on Murray instead. The instant aftermath: it's the forward/wing group the one suffering the impact of Murray's arrival. Of course, a player like Harrison Barnes won't suffer any massive downgrade because of this addition because he still is one of the better players in Sacramento along with Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Trey Lyles, on the other hand, is as good as done in the starting rotation after Murray's arrival.

While Barnes will lose some touches here and there and see his USG% rate drop (Murray is a walking bucket and will definitely command shots in bunches), Lyles is straight getting back to the bench after starting at the PF position last season. It's going to be (I assume) a downsized lineup for the Kings next season as Barnes and Murray will share SF/PF duties on a rotating/dynamic basis nightly with Lyles waiting on the wings--literally. Lyles played so much last year compared to prior seasons that he was kind of a viable low-end fantasy asset (top-141 overall and top-52 forward) but that's definitely not going to happen in 2023. Barnes retains most of his upside but you'd do well taming your expectations a bit and slotting him in the top-70-to-80 range more than inside the top-60 players of 2023.



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Tight End Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5: Top Free Agent Adds Include Tyler Conklin, Mo Alie-Cox, Taysom Hill, Robert Tonyan

2022 has not exactly been the Year of the Tight End in fantasy football. Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts has no touchdowns and three games of 25 receiving yards or less. San Francisco’s George Kittle has all of 28 yards thanks to an early injury. Dallas’ Dalton Schultz has 80 yards on the season and has done... Read More