Now that one half of the Banana Boat collective is back together, I've been tasked with evaluating the fantasy fallout both for Wade in Cleveland and with the young roster he leaves in Chicago.
With Isaiah Thomas reportedly sidelined until January with a significant hip ailment, Wade's arrival offers needed playmaking support for a Cleveland team seeking to replace or approximate Kyrie Irving's inventive offensive contributions. Irving, after all, was 10th in the NBA in usage rating (a measure of team plays consumed by a given player), 11th in scoring average and 23rd in player efficiency rating last season.
Right off the bat, I can declare Wade's skill set doesn't marry seamlessly with the Cavs' system, as Cleveland was second in the NBA in percentage of their points that come from 3-point range. He's not here to replace Irving's offensive workload, that's Thomas' task once healthy, yet Wade's intimate familiarity working alongside LeBron James should prove rewarding for his offensive opportunities.
Wade enters with an advantage for touches and usage ahead of a more unfamiliar import like Derrick Rose, for example. There is a great deal of overlap in the games of Wade and Rose -- they are both ultimately reliant on driving to the basket to create offense -- Rose was 12th in the league last season with 10 drives per game, with Wade checking in with 6.2 (among the leaders for shooting guards).
Then again, a few seasons ago, ESPN's Tom Haberstroh detailed that even without much touch from beyond the 3-point line, Wade's unique off-ball gravity could serve to help space the floor. Essentially, I think Wade is the better on-court complement in lineups featuring James and, thus, could play into earning him more meaningful minutes and touches.
Getting down to the Marquette legend's fantasy value in Cleveland, the real basketball impact will almost surely outweigh the fantasy influence Wade's acquisition signals. Brand recognition is a real force in fantasy, especially in a star-driven climate like pro hoops, so it's not entirely surprising to see a former superstar like Wade taken 69th overall on average in ESPN live draft results.
Since value is determined by what the market will pay, it appears unlikely you'll net the scale of discount necessary in fantasy drafts for Wade to provide a profit via his production in Cleveland. Even as he averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 boards, 3.8 dimes and 1.4 steals during 60 games for the Bulls last year, Wade finished 95th on the Player Rater (an index that reveals contextual value across several statistics). Can we realistically see him approximating 80 percent of these numbers this season? How about when Thomas returns to consume such a heavy share (he was fourth overall in usage rate last season)?
With such overlap in skills and potential responsibilities with Rose, and without the requisite 3-point range to shine in Tyronn Lue's space-driven scheme, I don't see how Wade lives up to his average draft position, even if it dips 20 spots. For an approximation of his expected value, I have Wade currently projected as the 112th player in ESPN points leagues this season (even that might be lofty).
Rose, by proxy, sees his already compromised fantasy stock take another costly hit. Even as he averaged more half-court touches than James and Irving, Rose finished 91st on the Player Rater last season with the Knicks. Don't think of selecting Rose until the twilight rounds, if at all.
The real fantasy value is left in Chicago, as Wade's heavy usage and steady minutes will filter throughout the Bulls' young roster. This past April, ESPN's Kevin Pelton and Chad Ford re-ranked the top 10 of the 2016 NBA draft with a year of evidence at their disposal; point guard Kris Dunn -- who was a centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade -- wasn't even mentioned by the analysts, despite going fifth overall to Minnesota the previous June. The quick way to say this is that Dunn's stock is extremely depressed in both real and fantasy regards after an abysmal rookie campaign. The Providence product finished 336th out of 355 qualified players in PER last season.
I'm willing to forgive this disastrous rookie effort, mostly because the Bulls appear willing to feature Dunn as their heavy-usage point guard this season. Butler averaged fewer points and minutes as a rookie under coach Tom Thibodeau back in 2011-12 than the 3.8 PPG and 17.1 MPG Dunn did with the Wolves last season. This is only referenced to suggest there is still a great portion of Dunn's narrative yet to play out.
Digging through Dunn's rookie campaign, it is at least encouraging to see he averaged two steals and one block per 36 minutes, proving his defensive prowess from college did translate to a degree on the next level. Afforded at least 30 minutes per game and with ADP at 169th overall -- plus the absence of Wade's high-usage, ball-dominant game -- has me interested in Dunn as an end-of-bench lottery ticket. In a roto format, Dunn might provide enduring value via steals.
If Dunn's upside (and pronounced downside) comes at a price essentially free of risk, then Zach LaVine presents a more difficult value proposition. The uber-athletic shooting guard inflated his scoring average from his second to third pro seasons by 35 percent and was en route to an awesome shooting season (2.6 3PG would rank in the top 25 last season), but an ACL injury suffered in early February felled his ascent. A recent report from ESPN's Nick Friedell suggests LaVine won't take contact in practice until mid-November, placing his projected return in December.
Once again, the market isn't leaving much room for profit, as LaVine is being drafted 78th overall in recent ESPN results. If your league allows for LaVine to fall past 100 and into the double-digit rounds, there is a good bit of scoring and shooting upside found in his potential outcomes. Healthy, LaVine could be the key beneficiary of Butler and Wade leaving the Bulls' offense. Fred Hoiberg has long wanted to employ a space-drive offense, so I can imagine LaVine lofting even more than the 6.6 3-pointers he shot per game last season.
My final fantasy appraisal is that we should be hunting shares of Nikola Mirotic more than any player on Chicago. I dig the long-term upside supersized stretch Lauri Markkanen presents, but it's unrealistic to expect much more than fun atypical shooting rates from him as a rookie. Mirotic, however, is the main veteran holdover of the previous roster construction in Chicago.
With so many minutes and shots available in Chicago, citing Mirotic's per-36 rates last season isn't blasphemous as a reference: He averaged 16 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.2 BPG and 2.8 3PG over this clip last season. Found at 153rd overall on average in ESPN drafts, the void Wade leaves might benefit Mirotic and his emergent fantasy stock more than any other player between these two central division rosters.