Fantasy Basketball: Familiar faces in new places

RotoWire breaks down how 6 of the biggest names donning new uniforms this season could fit on their new squads.

Cleveland’s newest star Donovan Mitchell is expected to make a significant impact in 2022-23.

As is the case every offseason, there was a player movement around the NBA as teams looked to reshape their rosters for a potential championship run or, in some instances, unload big names to kickstart a rebuild.

Below, we break down how six of the biggest names donning new uniforms this fall could fit on their new squads.

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers

Mitchell was the biggest name in the Jazz’s fire sale this summer, and the three-time All-Star now has a chance to become part of a resurgence for a Cavs franchise that already showed promise last season with a 44-38 record.

Still just 25 years of age but with five seasons already under his belt, Mitchell should be an excellent fit after another stellar campaign in 2021-22, where he finished with 25.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals across 67 games. 

There may be an acclimation period with another dynamic young guard in Darius Garland (27.2 percent usage rate last season) now serving as his backcourt mate. Still, Mitchell’s prior body of work suggests he’ll carve out his sizable niche on a first unit with more than enough talent to help keep defensive attention off him.

Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

Brogdon is slated to operate as the Celtics’ sixth man, but that will be a robust assignment that should afford him minutes in the high 20s. The 29-year-old’s body will benefit from the slight downtick in floor time after battling multiple injuries during his three Pacers seasons, though he still averaged 18.9 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds across 33 minutes per game.

Derrick White, Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard ran a bench unit that propelled the Celtics to the Finals, but adding Brogdon – who’s shown proficiency as both a role player and top option – should offer a notable boost. His trademark stingy defense should keep his minutes stable.

Collin Sexton,  Utah Jazz

Sexton, the “other” name guard that swapped unis in the Donovan Mitchell trade, is hardly an afterthought. However, the 2018 eighth overall pick has been off NBA fans’ radar for a spell considering his 2021-22 campaign ended after just 11 games due to a meniscus injury. Now reportedly back to full health as training camp approaches, Sexton finds himself in conditions ripe for a career year.

Sexton put up 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steal across 35.3 minutes in 2020-21, shooting an impressive 47.5 percent (37.1 percent from three-point range) in the process. The 23-year-old projects as Utah’s No. 1 option, especially with the assumption that Mike Conley will be traded sooner than later.

Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks

Murray’s late-June trade to the Hawks seems like ages ago following a summer of other notable transactions. But it can impact the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, given that the 26-year-old now joins forces with Trae Young to form one of the most explosive backcourts leaguewide. Murray is coming off a stellar 2021-22 season that saw him average 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals across 34.8 minutes (68 games) while matching a career-best 46.2 percent shooting. 

The assist numbers will naturally take a hit as he operates out of the two-guard spot. However, his efficiency should improve with the attention teams will be forced to devote elsewhere. Moreover, Murray’s defense should continue to be a significant part of his contributions, particularly if he’s less weighed down by the pressure of shouldering a heavy load on the other side of the floor.

Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves

Gobert’s July 1 trade to the T-Wolves was a head-scratcher to some. However, Minnesota saw benefits in the addition of the three-time All-Star. It bolsters Minnesota’s defense around the rim and frees up Karl-Anthony Towns — whose rim protection was lacking — to become even more of an offensive force at power forward.

Gobert is a strong offensive contributor, averaging between 13.5 and 15.9 points per game over the last six seasons. The seven-footer also shot a career-high 71.3 percent last season while also pulling down a career-best 14.7 rebounds. Gobert’s game and role are firmly established and shouldn’t change much in his new setting. But there could be some intriguing two-man game between Towns and Gobert, and Towns’ presence could draw enough attention to garner even easier looks for Gobert around the hoop.

Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets

Simmons has technically been in his “new place” since Feb. 10, but if he’s healthy for Opening Night as planned, that Oct. 19 game against the Pistons will mark Simmons’ long-awaited Brooklyn debut. Offseason surgery to correct the herniated disc that caused him to miss all last season went well, and Simmons is cleared for training camp. The full year away from the court could have an impact, especially early in the season.

However, the 26-year-old has the talent to serve as a complementary offensive option around the basket and mid-range while offering lockdown defense. Simmons’ passing is his main offensive strength, as his career figure of 7.7 assists per game attests. Irving and Durant will naturally do a lot of the heavy lifting, but we’ve seen players like Draymond Green thrive by distributing to stars while reaping the benefits of the attention his teammates draw.

Other notable faces in new places:

Bojan Bogdanovic, Detroit Pistons

Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers

Monte Morris, Washington Wizards

Will Barton, Washington Wizards

P.J. Tucker, Philadelphia 76ers

Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls

Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

Dennis Schroder, Los Angeles Lakers

Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks

JaVale McGee, Dallas Mavericks

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz

Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz

John Wall, Clippers