Fantasy fallout of pending Love deal

Kevin Love's numbers likely take a dip playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the regular season, this was my early projection for the 2014-15 top 10:

After Thursday's summer-capping trade leak, my top 10 was left looking like this:

Nowitzki moved up to 10 with Paul George's injury, LeBron drifted further toward James Harden, and Kevin Love slid four spots to 8.

(By the way, we haven't talked Paul George yet. He'll be back and as good as new in 2015. If they're saying there wasn't any ancillary damage -- nerve, soft tissue -- with his makeup, he's a good bet at that age to make a full recovery.)

Back to the top 10. Why did Kevin Love slide so far? It's simple: You don't assemble a big three without projecting at least a 10 percent statistical drop for each player. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone/Gary Payton. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All these configurations resulted in dinged fantasy value.

Let's look at the big three that most closely resembles LeBron-Love-Kyrie Irving: LeBron-Bosh-Wade.

That's an aggregate drop of about 10 percent in fantasy value.

Obviously, some different factors are at play. LeBron is older. Love and Irving are still years away from their basketball peak. But as you can see, someone has to take a big hit, and in this case it's likely to be Kevin Love. Here's what Cleveland's new Big Three did in 2013-14:

As Kirk Goldsberry pointed out, Love is in for a boost in efficiency thanks to all the open looks LeBron and Kyrie will generate. His 3-point production could remain around 2.5 per game even with fewer attempts. But he won't be the No. 1 option on offense anymore. I'd anticipate a drop in points per game, perhaps all the way down into the 20 to 20.5 PPG range.

That's a large divot, and it owes to a factor that goes beyond sharing the ball: pace.

Love's 2013-14 Minnesota Timberwolves were fourth in the league in pace at 97.3 possessions per 48 minutes. Love's individual pace was a sky-high 101.6, a full five to seven ticks higher than Irving's and LeBron's. Going into what will surely be a Princeton-heavy David Blatt offense is going to slow Love down while decreasing his touches.

Let's talk touches. Here's another comp to the 2009-10 Chris Bosh: usage rate. 2009-10 Bosh had a usage rate of 28.8 percent. 2013-14 Love had a usage rate of 28.4 percent. 2010-11 Chris Bosh dropped all the way to 23.0 percent. That's probably about what's in store for Kevin Love in 2014-15.

As I wrote a month ago, I'd expect LeBron's value to drop by about 10 percent playing alongside Love. He's now entrenched as the No. 3 fantasy player overall. A healthy Stephen Curry should put some distance between him and LeBron on the Player Rater this season.

Kyrie Irving is interesting because before adding LeBron and Love, he was due for a leap in fantasy value. It's a different comp than 2010 Wade, because Irving is still four to five years away from his NBA peak. Now, he'll get to develop as a player, while seeing his fantasy value capped in the late-second-round range. Anticipate gains in efficiency with a slight drop in volume.

One fascinating statistical aspect of this grouping will come in the distribution of distribution: assists. Like Wade, Irving is more of a combo guard, and now he's sharing the ball with two of the best passing forwards in basketball.

One of the biggest hits Wade took in 2010 was in the assists column, dropping from 6.5 to 4.6. I think a similar slide is in store for Irving in 2014-15, but he'll gain steam in that stat over the next few seasons.

Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota

The aftershock moves contain exciting new combinations of variables. They're the kind of combinations that open up great fantasy storylines for 2014-15.

Andrew Wiggins was looking like a fantasy afterthought in Cleveland. Maybe it was that the trade was already a fait accompli and there was no point in ballyhooing his arrival. But he was going to be a role player at best alongside LeBron and Irving, and now he joins a vastly improved fantasy situation.

Expectations are key. In Cleveland, Wiggins was going to be under a microscope, playing alongside LeBron in a championship-or-bust dynamic. Now he goes to a rebuilding team.

Minnesota's roster already has some intriguing fantasy players: Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng and Kevin Martin, all will help owners in 2014-15.

Wiggins showed a little more polish to his offense than expected in summer league. With his defensive chops, he should carve out an immediate spot in the rotation and could start sooner rather than later. And don't forget Wiggins in Minnesota is in store for a boost in pace, on top of lowered expectations and increased minutes.

With his staggering athletic upside, Wiggins makes for the kind of player who could take a massive fantasy leap overnight. Upside alone should make Wiggins a savvy late-round pick in medium-to-deep leagues. Depending on how things shake out in training camp, seventh round feels about right.

Which means I still wouldn't reach for Wiggins. Don't fall for name value in a non-keeper league. Don't forget that Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer will probably enter training camp ahead of Wiggins on the depth chart. As of this writing, Zach LaVine is also with the Timberwolves. That's enough of a glut on the wing to prevent Wiggins from being penciled in as an immediate starter.

On the rookie scale, I'd still rank Wiggins behind Jabari Parker and Elfrid Payton (and maybe Dante Exum), but this (rumored) trade at least puts Wiggins into the immediate fantasy conversation.

Thaddeus Young to Minnesota

This one stings just a little. Any time a player leaves the high-paced environment with the Philadelphia 76ers, he's going to take a fantasy hit.

After shifting to power forward, Young became one of the most underrated players in fantasy last season, posting career highs in points (17.9) and 3-pointers (1.1).

He suffered a hit in field goal percentage, but that was due to the increase in 3-point attempts. While Young was mediocre from downtown (31 percent), but the Sixers didn't particularly prize efficiency within their volume-charged system. Again, anyone who leaves that fantasy situation is going to suffer. Look at what happened to Spencer Hawes after being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The good news is that a Love-less Timberwolves lineup should teem with offensive touches for everyone involved. No one is going to command the defensive attention Love demanded, so efficiency could drop.

With an outside shot as terrifying as anything we saw out of the "Ring" franchise, Rubio is primed to be a pure distributor. But the loss of Love means 18.5 field goal attempts per game are suddenly up for grabs.

Martin, Brewer, Pekovic, and Dieng should all see small boosts in value. But a Sam Hinkie-less Thaddeus Young drops to a sixth-round player.

Anthony Bennett to Philadelphia

This could be a sneaky-good fantasy move. Bennett looked like a changed man this summer. He was in shape and displayed some of the offensive range that made him the (mildly shocking) No. 1 pick in 2013.

Any player who suddenly finds himself a 76er immediately becomes a fantasy commodity. This is a developmental squad here to play Washington Generals-style basketball with at least 100 possessions per game. If Bennett is there to mop up Thaddeus Young's vacated minutes and touches, things could get very interesting.

Think about it: Who the heck is going to be the No. 1 option in Philadelphia? Michael Carter-Williams? Nerlens Noel? Hollis Thompson? Joel Embiid's Twitter account? Bennett could be that guy just as easily as anyone else currently on Philadelphia's roster. Training camp will be key here, but Bennett might just be a low-rent fantasy Cinderella by Halloween.