Sometimes summer comes and goes with little impact in fantasy outside of the latter rounds of drafts. That sure wasn't the case this summer in the NBA, with stars like Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade changing locales. Victor Oladipo, Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose were among others on the move.
Those signings and trades impacted not only the players' fantasy values for the coming season, but also those of the teams they left and joined.
Add to all of that an NBA draft that produced a few players who should make some level of impact as rookies, and I had to make quite a few changes to my 2016-17 fantasy basketball rankings, based on season-long rotisserie formats.
Let's take an early look at the top 130 fantasy basketball players for this season. As always, I value your feedback, so feel free to hit me up @AtomicHarpua.
My top four remain the same, but the order is different. In my last set of rankings, I had Stephen Curry at the top, followed by Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. As I noted at the time, Curry, coming off of his mind-blowing 2015-16 campaign, had to stay No. 1, but the other three players could be swapped around, based on your personal expectations or drafting game plan.
However, there is no way to get around the fact that as teammates, Curry and Durant will put a cap on each other's upside. The big question is just how much they will be capped. I dropped them down to only Nos. 3 and 4, respectfully, so I expect both players to remain stellar fantasy assets. In fact, working with each other should raise their field-goal percentages and efficiency even further.
With that pair sliding down a couple of notches, the big debate in my mind was whether Westbrook or Harden belonged at No. 1.
The case for Harden is that as great as he has been in fantasy, offensive-minded coach Mike D'Antoni could push the star to a new level this season. It would be shocking if Harden doesn't average more than 30 points and three 3-pointers per game.
As for Westbrook, we've seen him rack up massive triple-doubles whenever Durant was forced to miss games in recent seasons. So fantasy folks should be drooling at the idea of Westbrook being unleashed on his own for an entire campaign. Could he be the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for a season?
I give the edge to Westy, because he brings more to the table in dimes, boards and swipes, but you can easily make a case that Harden is the top option.
I moved Oladipo up only a few spots to 19th, but I could see him rising further as the season nears. The 24-year-old surely is in a position to bust loose in a big way, running alongside Westbrook in a wide-open offense.
One more impact player with Thunder ties who moved is Ibaka, who went to the Orlando Magic in the Oladipo trade. Ibaka, now ranked 26th, faded in fantasy value the past couple of seasons but has a great chance to rack up big blocks again, while being leaned on more offensively. Don't forget he will be stepping into his prime this season at 27 years old and could return to form as a top-20 fantasy option.
The flip side of that is Nikola Vucevic, who not only has to deal with playing alongside Ibaka but also Bismack Biyombo in the Magic frontcourt. Because he contributes little more than scoring, rebounding and a quality field goal percentage, Vucevic (No. 52) needs high volume to make a big impact for fantasy teams. His value should slip somewhat this season.
At this point, I don't see Wade's value changing a whole lot; I kept him at No. 58. With Rajon Rondo handling the rock and Jimmy Butler being fed shots, it's difficult to imagine much upside for the 34-year-old Wade, though he should make up for that with increased efficiency.
The top rookie in my rankings is No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, who debuts at No. 62. As John Cregan noted, the 2016 class isn't likely to make as much noise as last year's bunch, so you won't want to go overboard betting on first-year players this time around. Still, a big man like Simmons, who can pass and will get all of the minutes he can handle, is in a great spot to pay off -- especially if he proves capable of scoring.
Offseason moves freed up point guards Darren Collison and Dennis Schroder to start for their respective teams, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks. Collision (No. 63) has shown in the past that he can be a successful fantasy option when given a large enough role. Schroeder (No. 61) has a ton of natural talent, but the question is whether he will prove to be reliable with more responsibility. Nonetheless, he clearly is a breakout candidate.
Another potential breakout candidate this season will be Enes Kanter -- assuming he starts with Ibaka out of the picture in Oklahoma City. Kanter (No. 74) doesn't provide hustle stats, but a big man who can score in the teens, hit the glass and sport quality percentages is a great glue guy in fantasy.
Brandon Ingram is the next rookie in the mix at No. 86. Talent and opportunity are always the primary keys for fantasy success, and he has both of those with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he will be barely 19 and is so scrawny, I can't see investing in him until the latter-middle rounds of drafts.
Buddy Hield isn't far behind Ingram, at No. 95. He, too, has talent and opportunity with the New Orleans Pelicans, but he likely won't be more than a 3-point specialist. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kris Dunn (No. 121) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric (No. 128) are the other rookies who made the list.
I'm not sure what to make of Phoenix Suns rooks Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. Had either landed in a better spot, where a large role awaited them, I might have put them in my top 130. But a pair of teenagers in crowded frontcourts doesn't seem like a recipe for fantasy success.