The Russians have a long and storied history of coming in second place, so instead of moaning and bitching about his team’s inability to get Carmelo Anthony to agree to a trade, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov immediately had his team shift gears and make an arguably more impressive move (at least in terms of cost/benefit ratio) by acquiring Deron Williams from the Jazz.
Coming on the heels of the Melo to the Knicks, the internet has again blown up with today’s surprising trade. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Deron Williams has been traded to the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two future first-round picks and cash.
So, what are the fantasy implications of this deal?
New Jersey Nets
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Here is the new depth chart for the Nets.
PG: Deron Williams, Jordan Farmar
SG: Anthony Morrow, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Travis Outlaw, Quinton Ross
PF: Kris Humphries, Brandan Wright
C: Brook Lopez, Dan Gadzuric
Both the Nets and the Jazz are in the bottom half of the league in possessions per game at 91.8 and 93.6, respectively (by comparison, the Knicks average 98.6 and the Nuggets 98.2). So neither player is heading to a significantly better or worse team in terms of pace. They also play the same position, so on the surface the trade doesn’t seem to affect their fantasy value in a significant way.
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Both players had a tenuous relationship with their coaches/front office this season (or former coach in the case of Williams). Despite the fact that Williams is apparently not happy with the trade, it is possible both these guys come to their new teams slightly more motivated and ready to kick some ass. If you believe in that kind of intangible bullshit. Which I do. A little.
The best news for Williams’ owners is that the Nets are currently 29th in the league in points per game at 92.4, so they could use ball dominating PG who can score in much the same way that the world could use less Justin Bieber in it. And by that I mean desperately. The team’s third leading scorer is Anthony Morrow at 12.5 points a game. Williams comes to the team averaging 21 points and nearly 10 assists per game this season, and based on the collection of talent the Nets have, I would not be surprised to see his scoring numbers take a bit of a jump with a small decline in assists.
Of course, having a guy like D-Will barreling to the hoop also good news for the team’s spot up jump shooters, like Morrow, Sasha Vujacic and… Brook Lopez. Morrow especially could benefit from D-Will’s arrival, in the way that Raja Bell would have in Utah if he wasn’t 50 years old.
Unfortunately, not everyone wins in a trade. Even Jordan Famar’s biggest fans would admit his limited fantasy relevance has all but disappeared with Williams coming to town. The often injured Harris was averaging about 32 minutes a game this season. While Williams has had his share of injuries over the past few years, he’s been averaging nearly 38 minutes a game this season. Will that decrease under Avery Johnson? Possibly a little, but Lopez is averaging 34 minutes a game and Williams immediately becomes the team’s best and most important player. So in theory he should see at least as much court time as Lopez, if not more.
Overall, it will probably end up being a neutral fantasy move for Williams.
Here is more or less what the new Jazz look like.
PG: Devin Harris, Earl Watson
SG: Raja Bell, C.J. Miles, Gordon Hayward
SF: Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles
PF: Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Francisco Elson
C: Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur
Unless the Jazz have something else up their sleeves, Harris will become the team’s starting PG and does about 75% of what Williams does on the court. Harris has averaged 15 points and 7.6 assists in 54 games with the Nets, but he wasn’t loving his reunion with Avery Johnson and the team wasn’t loving Harris’ lack of commitment this season.
Again, on the surface, things don’t seem like they are going to change all too much for Harris. Harris gains a few nice offensive weapons in Utah, like Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and CJ Miles when he’s rolling. So, Harris could see his assists jump up slightly on the Jazz, although 7.6 is already a career high for him. If his minutes increase back to 34-35 per game like he was averaging a few years ago, he could be in for a nice bump in fantasy value with stats up in the 18 point, 8 assist range. That’s all speculation at this point, so we’ll see how it plays out.
Any value that Favors had this season (which wasn’t much) is gone now that he’s clearly behind both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson on the depth chart. But now that I think about it, now is the time of year for Jefferson’ yearly knee blowout, so at least there’s that opportunity for Favors.
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