John Wall (Achilles) out for the year; Wizards not shopping Beal
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said that he doesn’t expect John Wall to take the court at all during the 2019-20 season as he recovers from a torn Achilles. That pretty much completely removes Wall from the radar in all re-draft formats, and I wouldn’t necessarily be aggressive in targeting him in keeper settings. He’s had a tough time staying healthy over the past few years, making it through a total of 73 games from 2017-2019, and he’s currently recovering from one of the most brutal injuries in basketball. Because Wall’s game was built on athleticism, he could have a tough time returning to the player he once was, and we won’t even really know if he’s back or not until two years from now. This is the year he’ll take off to recover, the next year they’ll be cautious with him, and then in 2022 we’ll know where he’s at; but he’ll be 31 years old at that point. I’m always rooting for a comeback story, but there’s scant evidence of players regaining their form after Achilles tears.
Interestingly, the Wizards have also gone on record saying that they won’t be shopping Bradley Beal while he has two years left on his contract, so it seems likely that he’ll spend the entire 2019-20 season in Washington. That’s both bad and good for his fantasy outlook, as he’ll have the opportunity to flirt with first-round value as the lead dog on the Wizards, but he’ll also be a risk for lots of random rest given that Washington is unlikely to compete for a playoff spot next year. That said, it’s not like the Wizards were at all relevant this past season and Beal still suited up for all 82 games (for the second year in a row), so I wouldn’t downgrade him too much. He was a top 15 player on the year as a whole this past season and was a top-8 stud after the break with averages of 27.0 points, 6.1 dimes, 4.8 boards, 2.6 triples, 1.6 steals and just 2.4 turnovers per game on 47.9% shooting. He’s entering his prime at 26 years old and should be in for a career-year with Wall on the sidelines.
Jayson Tatum Expecting an All-Star Season
Jayson Tatum said he’s looking to average over 20 points a game and make his first All-Star team next season. Tatum was somewhat disappointing during his sophomore season, but there were some pretty obvious chemistry issues going on in the locker room, and he should definitely be ready for a larger role with the departures of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris and Al Horford. Irving’s replacement, Kemba Walker, hasn’t really been a high-usage player for most of his career, so I wouldn’t be worried about new additions Walker and Enes Kanter stealing shots from Tatum.
If he settles for less long-twos next year, and ups his 3-point attempts, him averaging over 20 a game is completely reasonable, and with marginal (and expected) across the board improvement, that would easily put him in the top-40 conversation. I like Tatum as a mid-round target with upside.
Griffin Hypes Favors & Williamson; Downplays Hayes and NAW
David Griffin hyped up the addition of Derrick Favors during a recent interview, saying he’ll serve as a “vital piece” to their core moving forward. Favors was a bit muted in Utah, as it was tough for him to share the floor with a guy as dominant as Rudy Gobert, but he’ll now get to move back to his natural position at the five-spot, and he could be in for a career-year running in Alvin Gentry’s system. Favors has had some knee issues in the past, but he’s been fairly healthy over the past two years and should see his minutes jump to the 30s in New Orleans. Per-36 minutes last season, Favors put in averages of 18.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.2 swats per contest. He’s another mid-round target with early-round potential.
During that same interview, Griffin gushed about Zion Williamson, saying:
“The thing about Zion, though, that excites us is, it’s not that he’s going to carry you offensively, it’s that he’s going to be able to facilitate offense. If you look at him as an extremely athletic Draymond Green type who may be able to facilitate all things for others and get out in transition and make plays … that’s exciting. And because that’s what he natively really does, we’re not going to ask him to carry an undue burden (offensively). We’re going to ask him to be Zion, to figure out how that player interfaces with the rest of the pieces we have and how it can be equative to winning.”
Williamson is one of the most hyped rookies we’ve seen since LeBron James, but it’s easy to see why. He’s a guy who’s literally bigger than Rob Gronkowski, yet he has the finesse and athleticism of a point guard, and there’s really not a single weak spot in his game. Williamson should be ready to put up big numbers all over the box score on Day 1, and I’m fine with taking him midway through Round 2.
Unfortunately, Griffin did pump the breaks on what we can expect from Summer League stars Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, essentially saying that he expects the rookies to be brought along slowly with so much depth in front of them. Hayes will need to fight Jahlil Okafor for the reserve minutes behind Favors, and NAW is buried behind J.J. Redick, Josh Hart and E’Twaun Moore, so it’s tough to see either of those guys making much of an impact right away. I love their potential and would be happy to own them in dynasty settings, but I’m not sure I’ll be looking their way in most re-draft formats.
Jordan Bell smells opportunity in Minnesota
Jordan Bell again said that opportunity was the primary reason who chose to sign a minimum-level deal with the Wolves, and it’s feasible that he could be looking at close to 20 minutes a night in Minnesota. The presence of Karl-Anthony Towns and Robert Covington obviously limit his upside, but Bell is capable of hitting value in just 20 minutes a night due to his shot-blocking prowess. He makes sense as a late-round target.
Is Kevon Looney a Starter?
Steve Kerr said he would “love” to play Kevon Looney 30 minutes a night next season, which implies that he’s thinking about starting him over Willie Cauley-Stein. That could make some sense, as Cauley-Stein could serve in a similar, lob-threat, energy guy off the bench role that JaVale McGee used to have with the club, and it’s obviously great news for Looney’s outlook. Even if he’s not an every-night starter, he figures to see a seriously expanded role with the departures of Damian Jones and DeMarcus Cousins, so he could be a solid late-round target on draft day. Per-36 minutes last season, Looney put in averages of 12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 swats per contest.