Everyone needs a change of scenery from time to time. For basketball players, addition can be made by subtraction at times, and the absence of other great players could result in a rise in production. In this article we look at players that stand to benefit from the changes their teams made before the 2016-17 NBA season, along with their average draft position (ADP) in fantasy basketball drafts.
2016 Change of Scenery Candidates
People might have the impression that Pau is going to play significantly fewer minutes under Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, but he's not quite as worn down as Duncan was in his last years and could develop a different relationship with his new head coach. One thing is for sure, Gasol will be very productive in this offense. We could be looking at a big man average over 4 APG with all the movement and screening off the ball from the Spurs, and he's a great source of blocks and rebounds of course. Per 36 minutes last season, Gasol average 18.7 points, 10 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.3 blocks, so a slight decrease in those numbers with lower playing time isn't a huge concern.
The Thunder's Big Three have broken up, and while Kevin Durant might see a huge decrease in usage as a member of the Warriors, both Westbrook and Ibaka are bound to step up in their new situations. Westbrook, the consensus top pick heading into the 2016-17 season, bears little discussion as an elite option if you get the top pick in your draft, but Ibaka seems like a relative bargain at this ADP. As per usual, he's going to play a huge role on the defensive end and he compliments Orlando center Nikola Vucevic well on both ends of the floor by stretching the defense on one end and covering up Vooch's weak post defense on the other. Serge should find a home as one of the primary scorers on this team and he'll face a softer schedule in the Eastern Conference.
No longer operating behind the shadow of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Barnes is bound to see a dramatic increase in usage and therefore points and assists with his new team. He's already showcased some of his natural talent by hitting some nifty threes off the dribble during the preseason and the Mavs badly need a wing scorer in his mold to resurrect their struggling offense. Dirk Nowitzki is probably playing his final season in the NBA, so Barnes could see heavy minutes at PF when Dirk needs nights off to rest, and his only real competition at the SF position is inexperienced wing Justin Anderson.
Here's one of my favorite picks for the upcoming season, as Anderson should be an absolute killer on this team. The Rockets have pioneered a metrics-based approach to either drive to the cup or kick out for open threes, and James Harden is able to execute that strategy effortlessly with his aggressive game. With Harden slated to run the point this year, Anderson should make a living spotting up for threes, and he's been as deadly as any shooter in the league with 2.2 3PTM per game at a 37% clip.
Pachulia is a player that can look really good when he's surrounded by the right talent. He's rarely going to look to score now that he's a member of the run-and-gun Warriors, but he's definitely capable of moving the ball from side to side and racking up assists like Draymond Green does for the defending WCF Champs. Sure, Andrew Bogut is the nominal starter for the Dubs, but he only played 20.7 MPG last season and he'll probably get a lot of rest with the Warriors expected to blow the competition away, thus opening the door for Zaza to pile up stats with the second unit.