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. These are players that stand to benefit from the changes their teams made this offseason.
PG Damien Lillard, Portland (Average Draft Position 11.0)
The sole remaining member of an excellent starting 5, Lillard will have to carry a huge offensive load for Portland this season. His efficiency numbers may suffer, but he’s a guard with a career .505 eFG%, as he’s averaging 199.7 made three-pointers over his three pro seasons. Lillard also has not missed a game during that span, which makes him a very safe selection at the beginning of the second round. He finished as the 14th best player in 9-cat leagues last year, and is only going to have the ball in his hands more often this season.
PF Greg Monroe, Milwaukee (ADP 52.7)
Not only is Monroe free from sharing minutes in Detroit’s crowded back court, he’s moving to a team that should provide tons of rebounding opportunities while playing a fast-paced style. Monroe finished 2014-15 as the the eighth best rebounder on a per-game basis (10.2 RPG) and provided solid percentages without turning the ball over. He’s a gifted passer that should be able to rack up assists by hitting the Bucks athletic wings on dives to the basket. Overall, a great big man to target in the middle rounds.
PG Isaiah Thomas, Boston (ADP 60.3)
Technically we saw how Thomas performed after a change of scenery last season, as he revitalized the dormant Celtics offense and brought an exciting brand of basketball after getting traded to that historic franchise. The diminutive PG hit 2.3 three-pointers per game while scoring 19 PPG and handing out 5.4 APG over 21 appearances with Boston last season. Even though he’s dealing with a mild injury this preseason, we can expect more of the same from IT2 this year. The addition of two “dive men” at PF in David Lee and Amir Johnson should increase his assist numbers, and a solid passer like Lee should develop a great rapport with the quick PG, which means more open looks from three as well.
C Roy Hibbert, LA Lakers (ADP 102.0)
After a couple of ugly seasons playing for the dilapidated Pacers, Hibbert gets to make a fresh start in La La land. The best part about his role with the Lakers for potential drafters is that his only backup at center (Tarik Black) is far from a threat to steal his starting job. Despite winding up as the butt of jokes two years ago, Hibbert actually produced a solid fantasy line with 10.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.6 BPG while playing just over 25 MPG for Indiana last year. He also shot 82% from the FT line, which is very hard to find with a shot-blocker, and should log well over 30 MPG while playing for his new team.