Saturday, August 20, 2022

Fantasy Basketball: Tyrese Haliburton’s impending rise and two other major storylines

Some expected moves were made ahead of the 2022-23 season’s league year on Friday, and they’ll continue to happen ahead of the weekend. Several players received hefty contracts that suggest larger roles on the way, while others found new homes via trades that could have a significant impact on the upcoming year’s top performers. There’s a lot to keep track of, but we’ve picked out three storylines that Fantasy managers should prioritize keeping an eye on as things unfold.

Pacers free up Tyreese Haliburton by trading Malcolm Brogdon to Celtics

The Indiana Pacers are making way for their young core and sent Brogdon to Boston for a host of role players and a future first-round pick on Friday. Boston shored up its bench and point guard rotation, but its new personnel group seems likely to limit the potential of both Marcus Smart and Brogdon. The winner in this scenario is Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who could explode in his next campaign after putting together a career year in 2021-22.

Everyone was shocked when the Sacramento Kings shipped off Haliburton to the Pacers in exchange for Domantas Sabonis last season, and the young point guard is poised to have a monster season in his first full year with Indiana. The 22-year-old was a top-6 Fantasy point guard last season and his team’s decision to move Malcolm Brogdon will raise his ceiling even more. Haliburton only played eight games alongside the often-injured point guard and averaged 14.9 points, 8.5 assists, and 4.6 assists per game in those contests. Now he has a clear role as Indiana’s premier playmaker and perimeter defender. Buddy Hield is his only real competition on offense, but he could be moved before the 2022-23 season even begins.

Hawks form dynamic backcourt with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray 

The San Antonio Spurs sent their star point guard to the Atlanta Hawks in this week’s first jaw-dropping trade. It only took Danilo Gallinari, three future first-round picks and a pick swap to acquire Murray. The Hawks now arguably have the best backcourt in the Eastern Conference, and the defensively unaware Trae Young gained one of the league’s best perimeter defenders as a backcourt partner. While the duo might help the Hawks win more games, Young’s days as an automatic top-five point guard could be in danger.

Young’s essentially been a nightly double-double threat since he entered the league and cracked the league leaders in points and assists in two of his past three seasons. He’s undoubtedly a more skilled scorer and passer than Murray and should continue acting as Atlanta’s lead guard for the most part moving forward. However, he’s also likely to spend more time off the ball than he has in his career, even if Atlanta staggers his court time with Murray. 

Young’s decreased workload could cause him to slip into a late first-round or early second-round target in Fantasy drafts next year because Murrray is fairly healthy and stuffed the stat sheet himself as a regular triple-double threat in his first All-Star season. Both players cracked the top five in last year’s season-long standings. While it’s possible for them to do so again on the same team, it’s highly unlikely. James Harden and Russell Westbrook accomplished the feat in Houston by posting 61.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 14.5 assists per game. Fantasy managers should be prepared to bump both guards down a few spots, but Murray will likely slide more as he’s asked to score and create a little less on a more talented team.

Trail Blazers make long-term commitment to Anfernee Simons

Simons made it clear that he was ready to take a big step forward last season while filling in for Damian Lillard. Portland opted to sign the young combo guard to a four-year, $100 million extension rather than pursue the most coveted free agents on the market. Fantasy managers soon will find out whether the 23-year-old was just putting up empty stats on a bad team, as it appears like he’s set to be a starter from Day 1 in 2022-23.

Simons wasn’t a top-30 shooting guard last season, but tallied 22 points, 5.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from deep in 30 games without Lillard. He averaged 34.3 minutes per game during that span. CJ McCollum got similar playing time over his previous five seasons with the Trail Blazers and finished as a top-five Fantasy point guard four times between the 2015-16 season and his departure. I’m not saying that Simons will crack the top 10 at his position, but he seems very likely to shoot up the standings despite playing next to an elite, ball-dominant point guard if he’s afforded more opportunities next season.

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