The fallout from the 2016 NBA draft is going to radically alter the fantasy landscape in the weeks and months to come. Between a handful of blockbuster trades and the infusion of dozens of rookies into the Association, a number of incumbent players have seen their fantasy stocks soar or plummet over the past few days.
Though free agency will only further complicate the equation for fantasy owners, here’s a brief look at three veteran players who came out of the draft looking more enticing than before and three whose fantasy value received a blow on draft night.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
According to multiple reports, Jimmy Butler spent much of draft night on the trade block, but the Chicago Bulls ultimately opted against moving him. In the wake of Wednesday’s deal that sent Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, Chicago’s refusal to deal Butler bodes well for his short-term fantasy upside.
Chicago’s addition of Michigan State swingman Denzel Valentine at No. 14 overall helps round out the team’s depleted backcourt depth, but he doesn’t figure to cut into Butler’s minutes considerably. The Bulls are still without a league-average point guard—no, the 34-year-old corpse of Jose Calderon doesn’t count—unless Jerian Grant makes a major leap as a sophomore. That means Butler may be forced into even more of a playmaking role after averaging 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this past season.
Considering the dismal state of the free-agent point guard market (save for Memphis’ Mike Conley), the Bulls may struggle to add an impact floor general at this stage of the offseason. Butler is looking more and more like a top-15 overall pick, barring any major surprises from Chicago in free agency.
Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic’s decision to include Victor Oladipo in a package for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka opened the door for Mario Hezonja to take a huge leap in his sophomore season.
The Croatian sharpshooter only played 17.9 minutes per game last year under then-head coach Scott Skiles, averaging 6.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 triples and 0.5 steals.
With ‘Dipo now plying his trade in OKC, the Magic can slide Evan Fournier over to the 2 (assuming they re-sign him in restricted free agency) and move Hezonja in the starting lineup at the 3. Considering the spacing concerns that stem from Elfrid Payton’s lack of a consistent jump shot, it’s imperative for new head coach Frank Vogel to pepper the starting lineup with long-range threats. Hezonja fits the bill.
If the Magic don’t round out their wing rotation in free agency—say, by signing Florida native Chandler Parsons—Hezonja has the makings of a late-round sleeper. Those who own him in dynasty leagues (hi!) should be giddy about the Oladipo trade.
Marco Belinelli, Charlotte Hornets
Less than an hour before the draft started, Marco Belinelli received a “Get Out of Sacramento Free” card, courtesy of the Charlotte Hornets. As The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the Hornets flipped the No. 22 pick—which later turned out to be Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson—for the 30-year-old Italian sharpshooter, which perhaps signals the end of the Courtney Lee era in Charlotte.
Belinelli never found traction during his lone season in Sacramento, shooting a career-worst 38.6 percent overall and 30.6 percent from three-point range, but all hope isn’t necessarily lost when it comes to his fantasy value moving forward. Prior to his disastrous 2015-16 campaign, he shot 39.2 percent from downtown while attempting 3.4 triples per game, chipping in 9.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.6 steals as well.
If the Hornets aren’t able to retain Lee once he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Belinelli could be in line for a 25-plus-minute-per-game role, perhaps even as Charlotte’s starting 2-guard. We’ll have to see what the Hornets do come July 1, but as of now, Belinelli could be a late-round value pick, particularly for those in deeper leagues.
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets
Those who own Gary Harris in dynasty leagues had to grow nauseous as the first round progressed Thursday night, as the Denver Nuggets added not one but two major competitors for his playing time.
In Kentucky combo guard Jamal Murray, who Denver selected seventh overall, the Nuggets have a player who could feasibly slide in at either guard spot next to Harris or Emmanuel Mudiay. Florida State 2-guard Malik Beasley, the 19th overall selection, is a direct threat to Mudiay’s minutes, having knocked down 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts during his lone season in college.
After the draft, Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said the starting 2-guard job still belonged to Harris, according to BSN Denver’s Harrison Wind, so dynasty owners shouldn’t rush to rid themselves of him outright. The increased amount of competition for playing time doesn’t bode well for the odds of Harris replicating his top-75 production from this past season, however.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon might be the biggest draft-night loser when it comes to his 2016-17 fantasy value. The Arizona product, who is best suited to play the 4, will now have to compete with the newly acquired Serge Ibaka for minutes at that spot or could be relegated to playing out of position at the 3. It’s a lose-lose either way, particularly with Ibaka entering a contract year.
Gordon didn’t move into Orlando’s starting lineup until mid-January this past season, having averaged 7.2 points on 48.6 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.6 steals and 0.5 treys in 19.5 minutes per game off the bench. Upon becoming a starter, his per-game averages jumped up to 11.3 points on 46.5 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.6 triples.
There’s enough playing time to go around in Orlando’s frontcourt to accommodate Gordon, Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic, particularly if the Magic are willing to occasionally trot Ibaka out as a small-ball 5, so Gordon won’t be entirely useless for fantasy purposes. Whereas he once had the makings of a breakout candidate, the rising junior now may struggle to crack the top 100 in eight-category leagues.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ selection of Kris Dunn at No. 5 overall sent a strong signal about the future direction of the franchise at the point. According to Wojnarowski, the Wolves had the Providence floor general atop their draft board, seemingly suggesting new general manager Tom Thibodeau didn’t select Dunn solely as trade bait to dangle in front of the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers.
Meanwhile, Wojnarowski reported Minnesota had “been shopping Ricky Rubio throughout the week,” adding, “His future in Minnesota is likely coming to an end.” The Wolves reportedly offered Rubio and Dunn to the Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, although Chicago held out for Dunn and Zach LaVine instead.
Unless (until?) the Wolves move on from Rubio, the presence of Dunn and LaVine on the roster will cap his fantasy upside. After a resurgent 2015-16 campaign in which he finished as the 33rd-best player in eight-category leagues, Rubio now falls behind the likes of Reggie Jackson, D’Angelo Russell and Goran Dragic, making him more of a seventh- or eighth-round pick rather than a fifth- or sixth-rounder.
All player rankings via ESPN’s Player Rater.