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Looming trade of Dwight Howard will drastically change the fantasy basketball landscape

by Stephen Fenech on 2/26/2012 12:42:20 AM

This weekend basketball world converges in Orlando, which for the time being is still Dwight Howard’s city. If you follow the NBA at all you may have heard that Howard has requested a trade from Orlando once or every fifteen minutes on loop. As the city of Orlando entertains the superstars of the NBA this weekend they also bring the full national media coverage with them. The arrival of the media will add more drama, suspense, and if you’re a Magic fan heartbreak. The odds of Howard staying in Orlando seem bleak at best and it seems like this weekend may be the final hurrah for Dwight Howard era in Orlando. The best center of the league will welcome his peers into the building he helped build to put on a final show for the hometown fans.


The looming trade of Dwight Howard will drastically change the fantasy basketball landscape. A trade of Dwight Howard will likely take three or four teams to pull off, this means that starting lineups, rotations, and minutes for four teams will change. In this article I will talk about the Orlando Magic roster and touch on how a potential trade will affect each player moving forward.


If you are lucky enough to own Howard on your team then I do not need to explain to you his amazing value. His numbers are outstanding as he averages 20 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 assists. Statistically Howard is great but he adds extra value due to his incredible defense that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. There is a reason Howard is the first person to ever win three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards. He changes shots all game and is always a threat to make a great play on the defensive end of the floor. Howard singlehandedly makes the Magic defense decent, without him the defense will be a train wreck. Simply put the guy is a beast and GM’s around the league are salivating for Number twelve to suit up for their team.


Howard was a first round draft pick so trading for him isn’t very likely. He is expected to be moved before the deadline meaning he will have to get used to a new system, coaches, and players. With that being said I do not foresee his production dropping, in fact I think the opposite will occur. Howard will be revitalized to be out of Orlando and his scoring will improve and be closer to the 24 ppg he was averaging last season. Howard is poised to be the top fantasy center for the next five to seven years.


Ryan Anderson has clearly emerged as the second best player on the Magic this year. He is having a breakthrough season both in the NBA and in the fantasy universe. After not being drafted in most leagues Anderson has made more three-pointers than any other shooter in the league. This alone makes him a must add. Anderson has a unique skill-set, to go along with his proficiency from behind the arc he is an excellent offensive rebounder averaging 3.6 a game. Anderson is almost completely dependent offensively to the open three. Anderson is most successful when the Magic are spacing the floor well and working the ball inside to Dwight. However when the Orlando offense isn’t clicking and Anderson isn’t getting open looks he tends to become rather ineffective.


I do not see Anderson getting traded, although the Magic did not pick up his contract and he will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. Anderson is a system player and the Van Gundy system is his optimal system. This alone has to decrease his value to other teams who, unless Anderson is packaged with Howard, will not have the advantage of playing with a dominant player that routinely draws double teams. When Howard leaves I think Anderson’s numbers will decrease slightly, although that is dependent on the players the Magic receive in return for Howard. For example, if the Magic were to acquire Andrew Bynum from the Lakers they would be able to play an offense similar to their current one. This is probably the only situation I can see that would allow Anderson to remain his current level of productivity. I own Anderson on my fantasy team and am considering moving him and selling high based on his current value before the trading deadline.


After Anderson there is a serious decline in production, this is the area that contributes to majority of the teams woes. These players include starting point guard Jameer Nelson, shooting guards Jason Richardson and J. J Reddick, small forward Hedo Turkoglu, and power forward Glen Davis. In terms of fantasy production Davis is only a decent asset in very, very deep leagues and even then his production may not warrant that. Davis spells Howard at center and when Howard is moved Davis may become the starting center, although this would make the Magic frontline extremely undersized. Davis may be a guy to watch when Howard is moved because he may get more minutes.


In the 2008 season Jameer Nelson seemed to be emerging as a star point guard, unfortunately an injuries plagued him the next couple of years and now although mostly healthy has been unable to match the production of his 2008 season. I do not see Nelson getting traded before the deadline because he isn’t a player other teams are lining up for. He is undersized and is on the third tier of point guards. I also do not see Nelson’s production taking jump after Howard is dealt, in fact I would expect the opposite occur. I see Nelson’s numbers decrease on night tonight basis, with perhaps Chris Duhon taking some of his minutes. Nelson is owned in 58% of fantasy leagues. Oh and one other thing, Chris Duhon is even worse than un-ownable.


Hedo Turkoglu is the starting small forward for the Magic and was on the team that made it to the NBA finals. After that season he was lured to Toronto by a big contract. In Toronto, Turkoglu failed to live up to his contract and was traded to Phoenix for Leonardo Barbossa and Dwayne Jones. Turkoglu was traded back to the Magic in December 2010 and for the most part has not been as productive as he was during his first stint in Orlando. Turkolgu averages 11.2 fantasy points a game and is owned in 88% of ESPN fantasy leagues. Hedo is a decent option in most leagues as he does have the ability to get hot from the field and is often used as a point forward which positively affects his assist numbers. Turk may be moved with Dwight Howard due to his contract and general lack of production. Turkoglu is owed 11 million dollars a year over the next three years and the Magic will be eager to make that contract someone else’s problem.


Jason Richardson came to Orlando in the same trade as Hedo Turkoglu with the hope being that Richardson would be the great scorer that he was in Phoenix. Unfortunately for the people of Orlando this has not been the case on a night to night basis. Richardson has showed flashes of brilliance like his 31 point explosion against Milwaukee earlier in the month. On a whole though Richardson has been the third leading scorer on the team at 12 points, he also averages about 3 rebounds and two assists a contest. The Magic signed him to a four year deal before the season and to this point must be a little disappointed with his overall performance. Richardson is owned in 65% of ESPN fantasy leagues and is a decent option when the Magic have a soft matchup or preferably a strong string of matchups. The same can be said of J. J Reddick who is a solid pick up when he plays a bad team. Reddick can easily get you over 20 points in a game but is just as capable of shooting 1 of 6 and getting you 3 fantasy points. I think there is definitely a chance that the Magic will package Reddick with Howard. Other teams may be looking to pick up a pure spot up shooter and the Magic may be looking to move Reddick and his inflated contract.


The Magic area team in flux, in a month we will know a lot more about the future of the franchise. Howard will almost definitely be donning another uniform by the end of March but at least the fans in Orlando will have the memory of an amazing All-Star weekend where Superman was the star.  


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