Now that the Kevin Durant drama is behind us and the Donovan Mitchell situation has been resolved, the fantasy landscape is slowly unfolding, and preparations are underway for the 2022-23 draft season. Below you'll find a recap of all the biggest storylines from the past week and be sure to follow me on Twitter for NBA news and fantasy analysis.
Lonzo Ball can't catch a break
Lonzo Ball had meniscus surgery on his left knee way back in January, but after a few setbacks he's now expected to miss training camp as well as the beginning of the 2022-23 season. If you recall, Lonzo's original timetable was just 6-8 weeks… Yikes.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported that her source reiterated that Ball's knee is structurally sound, but he “continued to experience pain while attempting basketball activities as he spent the summer rehabbing in Los Angeles.”
This is the same knee that Lonzo had surgery on back in 2018, so you better believe the Bulls will take every precaution here. I would've been happy to gamble on Lonzo in the middle rounds for his obvious upside in dimes, 3s and steals before this news (he was 26th in per-game 9-cat value last season), but now you can't really look his way until after the top-100.
With Coby White out of favor and on the trade block, this could catapult Ayo Dosunmu onto the standard-league radar and it makes Alex Caruso much more intriguing as one of the best sources of steals in fantasy basketball.
Donovan Mitchell Trade Breakdown
The Cavaliers sent three future first-round picks (2025, 2027, and 2029) and the right to swap two others (2026 and 2028) on top of Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and first-round pick Ochai Agbaji to secure Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz. Mitchell is thrilled to team up with the likes of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland and the “reports” that he is not are simply made up for clicks.
This trade has massive fantasy implications for both teams, so let's touch on that for both teams:
Cleveland- For starters, this trade is a slight hit to both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. I originally had Garland as a top-15 guy in 9-cat, but this pushes him to the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3. Much like we saw when Collin Sexton was around, you can't put a high-usage guard like Donny next to him and expect him to maintain his production. I also ranked Donny as a mid-to-late second rounder before the trade, but this pushes him into the early Round 3 range.
I'm not going near Caris LeVert now that he'll be the sixth man at best, as he's a player that needs a ton of touches to make up for the holes in his stat profile. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen should be fine, and if anything, they should get a ton of easy looks with this revamped supporting cast. Isaac Okoro is the current favorite to start at small forward and could get heavy minutes with Cleveland desperate for perimeter defense, but I'm not in love with his fantasy appeal. In 30 minutes per game last season, Okoro wasn't even a top-200 player in 9-cat and doesn't stand out in any category.
Utah- Collin Sexton is probably the biggest winner from this trade. Yes, Mike Conley is still around, but that dude is washed and the Jazz are trying to trade him immediately. In his last healthy season as “the man,” Sexton put up 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 triples. I'd expect at least some load management to be clear.
Lauri Markkanen is another big winner and can play positions 3-5 if needed. Lauri was a top-70 player last season and now has even more usage coming his way. Just be mindful that every notable rotation player in Utah may play off and on when the tank picks up speed late in the season. The stakes have never been higher because Victor Wembanyama is one of the most hyped prospects I've ever seen and I think it's 100% warranted.
Ochai Agbaji could become a dark horse for the Rookie of the Year Award, but that's assuming the Jazz can find new homes for Malik Beasley, Conley and Jordan Clarkson. As a senior at Kansas, Agbaji put up 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 0.9 steals and 2.6 triples on 47% from the field. He's now on the late-round radar for re-draft.
I'm not touching any of the Jazz veterans as things stand, but my plans to be all-in for Jarred Vanderbilt remain unchanged. He can comfortably play alongside Lauri and the Jazz view him as a valuable part of their future, at least from what I've heard so far. Vanderbilt was a 10th-rounder in 25 minutes per game last season, and now we get to see what he can do with a featured role. I'm warning you now, he's a way better playmaker than people realize, and I think Utah will unlock it.
Walker Kessler remains one of the most blatantly obvious sleeper picks in the late rounds with a truly absurd block rate – he swatted 4.6 shots per game in 25 minutes at Auburn.
The Fire Sale is coming to Utah
With Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert moving on, the Jazz are now expected to dump veterans Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Bojan Bogdanović. Bogdanovic will be the easiest of the four to move, as the 33-year-old has an expiring $19M deal and has plenty left in the tank as a career 39% shooter from deep. The Suns have already shown interest and plenty more teams will likely inquire as well.
Clarkson and Beasley could be depth pieces on contenders, but I don't see a path to top-100 value for either no matter where they land, while Conley looked pretty washed last season and will be 35 when the season starts. The Lakers have been mentioned as a suitor if they are able to flip Russell Westbrook in the process.
Danilo Gallinari tears ACL, out for season?
Contrary to initial reports out of Italy, it turned out that Gallinari tore his left ACL at Eurobasket which puts his status for the entire 2022-23 season in doubt. The Celtics have predictably been linked to Carmelo Anthony in recent days, but keep an eye on Grant Williams in deeper fantasy leagues if Boston stands pat.
Williams will never blow you away in any one category, but he can play multiple positions and can hit enough 3s with defensive stats and rebounds to at least be somewhat interesting in category leagues.
Chet Holmgren undergoes surgery
Chet Holmgren underwent successful surgery to address his Lisfranc injury on August 30, but his timetable remains unchanged. He'll sit out the entire 2022-23 season but should be ready to roll for training camp the following year. If anything, Chet's season-ending surgery solidifies what should be one of the most outrageous tank races in history with Houston, Detroit, Utah and San Antonio all eyeing Victor Wembanyama.
With Chet on the shelf, Aleksej Pokusevski immediately jumps back onto the fantasy radar and has some sleeper appeal in the late rounds. In his last 17 games, Pokusevski averaged 12.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.5 triples in 29 minutes. He also doesn't turn 21 until December. With the reports of Poku improving his 3-point shot, I'm all the way in.
Cam Reddish want out, or does he?
There have been conflicting reports on whether Cam Reddish wants out of New York, but I tend to believe that he does as he's not even expected to be in the opening night rotation. The Lakers have been mentioned as a possible suitor, but I expect several other teams to inquire as well. Yes, he's been frustrating and inconsistent, but he's exactly the type of player that teams should be gambling on as someone who can create his own shot and defend at a high level. If you can pick him up for pennies on the dollar in a dynasty league, do it.
RJ Barrett gets paid
The Knicks and RJ Barett agreed to a new four-year extension that could be worth up to $120M, but that didn't stop them from making one final offer for Donovan Mitchell. According to Shams Charania, the Knicks offered Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and two unprotected first-round picks before the Cavaliers swooped in. There was a report from a certain beat writer in New York that claimed that Barrett “was not one of [New York's] guys", but that makes zero sense after the financial commitment the Knicks just made. My reading of the situation is that the Knicks love Barrett and were only looking to move him if they could get a guaranteed superstar. Look for Barrett to be the focal point of the offense this season after a strong end to the 2021-22 campaign. If you draft Barrett in fantasy this season, make sure it's in a punt-FG% build so you can better optimize him.