Familiar faces in new places
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - A number of fantasy stars were on the move this summer, trading Hollywood for H-Town, the Mile High City for the Bay Area and the A-T-L for the Motor City, among others.
How will they fare in their new digs?
Dwight Howard, Houston - Howard was never comfortable playing with demanding assassin Kobe Bryant and handling the expectations of Los Angeles, but he should find the Rockets, with James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, more agreeable. Howard is another year removed from his back surgery so he should begin regaining his superstar form. Even if he won't be a 20-ppg guy with Harden around, Howard should improve upon his numbers from 2012-13, when he averaged 36 minutes 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals over 76 games while recovering from his back injury and dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder. The Rockets have the infrastructure, with Hall of Fame big men Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon as head coach and mentor, respectively, in place to help Howard thrive. Just don't expect a free-throw percentage better than .500.
Josh Smith, Detroit - Smith, who left Atlanta to sign with Detroit, has averaged 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.1 blocks over the last seven seasons. That includes 18.1 points the last two seasons, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect him to reach that with the Pistons. He won't get 16.1 field goal attempts per game with Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey and Greg Monroe around him.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte - "Big Al" is a legitimate 20-10 contender on this Bobcats team, even though he's been more of an 18-9 player in four seasons since tearing his ACL in 2008-09. Jefferson is Charlotte's top offensive threat, which means he could see upwards of 17 field-goal attempts and 3.5 free-throw attempts per game. Plus, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist aren't exactly the most efficient shooters in the NBA, so there will be plenty of rebound and put-back opportunities.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta - The Hawks enlisted Millsap, Jefferson's former teammate with the Utah Jazz, to help replace Smith's production at power forward. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 steals in just 30 minutes per game last season. Given Atlanta's lack of depth behind Millsap and center Al Horford, Millsap will undoubtedly receive an increase in minutes to the 34-35 range. That means 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.7 steals are in reach.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State - Iguodala has career averages of 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals, numbers he should have no problem reaching with his new team, but it's his scoring average I'm concerned about. Iggy averaged 13 points on 11 field-goal attempts and 3.4 free-throw attempts per game last season, but I don't expect him to see the ball that much with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Harrison Barnes on the roster. He especially won't be jacking 3.6 threes per game again.
Paul Pierce, Brooklyn - Pierce has averaged at least 18.3 ppg in every season of his career besides his rookie year in 1998-99, but he has joined a stacked roster in Brooklyn that won't need to rely on him like Boston did last season. Look what happened to Joe Johnson's shot attempts last season when he went from Atlanta to Brooklyn -- they declined from 15.5 field-goal attempts and 3.1 free-throw attempts to 14.6 field-goal attempts and 2.2 free-throw attempts, and his scoring average fell from 18.8 to 16.3. The Nets also have a strong bench, with Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche, so they are likely to limit the minutes of both Pierce and Kevin Garnett with an eye on the postseason.
Brandon Jennings, Detroit - Fantasy owners shouldn't expect Jennings' 2012-13 production -- 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 2.2 threes -- to change much now that he's in Detroit. If he does see an uptick in ppg, it will be because he's shooting for a better percentage rather than taking more shots per game. He shot 39.9 percent on his 15.6 shot attempts per game last season. However, with a career percentage of .394, it's unlikely he'll improve much in that area.
O.J. Mayo, Milwaukee - After playing in a reserve role with Memphis for most of 2010-11 and all of 2011-12, Mayo joined Dallas, started all 82 games and averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.7 threes per game. With the Bucks, Mayo will have the freedom to shoot the ball 15-plus times per game, which he hasn't done since his rookie year in 2008-09. He averaged 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.8 threes that season and should be able to match those numbers in his first season in Milwaukee.
Monta Ellis, Dallas - Ellis was able to average 19.2 points on 17.5 shot attempts last season while sharing a backcourt with Jennings, so playing with Dirk Nowitzki isn't a major concern. However, there's no way he'll be getting off that many shot attempts in Rick Carlisle's offense (Mayo only took 12.5 last season). Ellis still will find a way to take 15 shots per game, but his poor shooting will keep his scoring under 18 ppg.
10/29 20:44:53 ET