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Winners from the 2021-22 NBA Offseason Trades

By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Eric Bledsoe) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The NBA offseason has turned into a matter of days--hours, if you push it--when it comes to player movement. Tampering present or not, the truth is that franchises lose no time in inking their new acquisitions to healthy deals, wheeling and dealing rookies and draft picks left and right, and pulling off trades with other teams around the nation. That's why entering September pretty much all the dust has already settled leading up to next season.

With virtually all free agents already signed and rookies knowing where they'll start their careers, I will cover some of the trades that took place in the past few weeks to declare fantasy winners and losers involved in them.

Let's take a look at some players who changed teams via trade who should find their stock rising up this season.

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 more with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Kemba Walker, PG - New York Knicks

Traded from Boston to Oklahoma City, later acquired as a bought-out FA

How things change in the NBA... I know this is cheating a bit because Kemba wasn't actually traded to New York, but here we are. What was a clear losing trade for Kemba, going from a contending (at least to a certain extent) Celtics squad to a molly-whopped OKC Thunder that are just starting to put together the first pieces of what looks like a years-long rebuild ahead of them, turned out to be his salvation. After getting off the plane in Oklahoma, Walker only had to wait a mere couple of months to reach a buy-out agreement with the Thunder, hit free agency, and sign a deal with his hometown New York Knicks to man the point come 2021 donning Knickerbocker threads. Not bad.

Now, seriously, Kemba--and the Celtics, by extension--needed a change. Boston just never got Walker right nor could exploit the talents he had shown in Charlotte during the largest part of his career as the franchise player of the Bobcats/Hornets. Two seasons in Beantown, two letdowns. From 75 games played per year in Charlotte to just 56, then 43 in Boston. Kemba never topped his 1,792-minute mark as a rookie as a Celtic, just imagine.

Kemba is a bucket, that's for sure. Even facing demons and struggling, Walker was able to drop 20.4 and 19.3 PPG in the past two seasons while keeping up average 42/37/87 shooting splits, dishing out almost 5 APG, and pulling down 4 RPG to go with 1 SPG. Even with those positives in his resume, Kemba just didn't click in Boston as he had earlier in his career.

Now a Knick, that could absolutely change. New York sent staring-PG Elfrid Payton packing off Manhattan, coach Thibs comes off a year in which he turned Julius Randle into a supernova and 6MOY, and RJ Barrett should only keep growing. Oh, and it is not that anyone will oppose Kemba shooting that last shot--or any other in the middle--in close games played at MSG. The offense never left Kemba, and the defense (fantasy translation: MPG) will sky-rocket in New York with Thibs manning the lines. And we fools were thinking getting flipped to OKC would mark the last blow on Kemba's career no longer than three months ago...

 

Al Horford, C - Boston Celtics

Acquired from Oklahoma City

Going in the opposite direction to Kemba's (read his blurb above) was Al Horford as both were part of the same mid-June trade between Boston and OKC. I guess Horford was always going to be a winner this summer wherever he ended at--mostly because he was shut down at the end of the 2021 season for tanking reasons--but he was lucky enough to only get ultimately traded away, but actually to a franchise that 1) he already knows and is familiar with and 2) has a gaping hole in the middle of the paint that Big Al will gladly fill in 2022.

I know, I know. The C's just signed Enes Kanter to a multi-million deal and re-inked Robert Williams III for a bunch of money and years, probably seeing him as the future leading big-man of the squad. Keyword: future. I actually kind of hate Horford's arrival in Boston because I'd have loved to watch Ro-Will starting games as soon as this season, but alas.

Horford is entering his age-35 season, which isn't young by any means. He's also as good as he's ever been, and just two years removed from his three-year prior stint with the Beantowners. His numbers in that 2017-19 span? 13.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.9 stocks per game. Oh, and don't think those came at Horford's peak and that he's already past that level of play. In the last two seasons, Al's per-game line read  12-7-4-1-1 so it's not that he's changed that much, if at all.

A low-maintenance guy, Horford has only topped a 22% usage rate once in his career (2014 in Atlanta; 24.7%) and he doesn't need a lot of touches to put up his near-dub-dub lines (he finished at least 8-8 in 29 of his last 95 games played). Horford is still as durable as a rock (he has started 871 of his total 881 career games; 89-of-95 since the start of the 2020 season) and is fresh off a resting 28-game campaign in OKC. Win-win for Horford and the Celtics--and fantasy GMs, of course.

 

Eric Bledsoe, SG - Los Angeles Clippers

Traded from New Orleans to Memphis, later acquired from Memphis

Quite the coup for the city of Los Angeles: after landing James just a few years ago, the STAPLES will now grace the talents of Mini-LeBron after the Clips went all in to bring back to town their 2011 first-round pick. Out of left field. Bledsoe, can't argue about that, was just bad in his short Pelicans stint and had been subpar as part of the underachieving Bucks in the three years prior to last season. To make matters worse, which clearly had Bledsoe as a sore loser earlier this offseason, he got moved to the still-growing Grizzlies via trade. Well, how things change in a matter of days.

Nine nights after becoming the latest man in Memphis, the Griz re-routed him to LA in exchange for the trio of Patrick Beverley, Daniel Oturu, and Rajon Rondo. Bledsoe, once more, is a Clipper entering 2022--only now he makes $18 milli a year instead of his putrid rookie-scale $1.5. That sounds like a ton of money, but it could very well be worth paying for. Kawhi Leonard, remember, suffered an ACL injury last offseason and will miss most of the 2022 campaign. That means Paul George will be the clear honcho of the Clips, but no other options are clear-cut picks to fill the second-banana role next to him.

Enter Eric B, 2022 Clips starting SG. Even though he's not played to otherworldly levels of late, Bledsoe has never been a bench microwave. That won't change next season, and you can start projecting his numbers on a healthy 70-games-played basis, if not even more. Bledsoe is going to log close to 30 MPG while filling in for Kawhi, and that means he will also see himself handling some very high usage rates (Leonard is vacating a team-leading 33% usage rate, his 2021 mark).

Even with George taking most of the shots, and being a capable ball-sharer himself, Bledsoe will have more than a few changes for putting up numbers in LA. His fantasy rank went down around 20 spots from almost a top-60 player to the 84th-best last season, but he should be in position for pulling off a bounceback into the top-60, top-50 players of the 2022 season if all stars align, the chemistry is there from day one, and Kawhi indeed misses all of the regular season while gearing up for a healthy postseason run.

 

 

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