|ESPN.com: 2010||[Print without images]|
That gasp you heard this morning was a collective response from Chicago sports fans when they found out that Dwyane Wade was going to tag-team it with Chris Bosh in Miami, instead of bringing the All-Star duo to the Windy City. Now Chicago Bulls fans have to join Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers fans as finger-crossers until LeBron James makes his announcement Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Of course, it's still possible the Miami Heat could land LeBron to create a triumvirate, arguably the likes of which the league has never before seen. Let's set the speculation aside for a minute and look at how Bosh moving to the Heat will affect the fantasy value of his new and former rosters as they stand today.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh: We can look at them together because there is a very obvious comparison. Wade and Shaquille O'Neal played together for several seasons, beginning with the 2004-05 campaign. Shaq's body began to give out on him by the second season, because he was entering the latter stages of his career. Bosh, on the other hand, is entering his prime. So let's compare Wade and Shaq's initial campaign, when Shaq was still on top of his game, with Bosh's digits from last season:
|Dwyane Wade has already shown he can share the floor with premier big man and generate fantasy value for both.|
Shaq, 2004-05: 22.9 points per game, 10.4 rpg, 15 shots per game, 10.5 free--throw attempts per game at 46.1 percent
Bosh, 2009-10: 24.0 points per game, 10.8 rpg, 16.5 shots per game, 8.4 free-throw attempts per game at 79.7 percent.
Clearly, Wade is fully comfortable keeping his big man happy by sharing the wealth and Bosh's field-goal and free-throw attempts are in line with what Shaq did with Wade. So I don't see Bosh losing any fantasy value with this move.
How did Wade fare in his second NBA campaign running alongside O'Neal?
Wade, 2004-05: 24.1 ppg, 17 shots per game, 9.9 free-throw attempts per game.
We may not see Wade flirt with 30 points per game again, but he should still score 25-to-27 per contest. I think having a second stud on the team is going to alleviate a lot of pressure on Wade, which I expect to be reflected by a boost in shooting percentages. Bosh will create extra space on the floor, which will allow Wade to complete more of his shots. With less stress and a more competitive team, I think Wade's focus at the charity strip will increase and we'll see his percentage rise away from 76 percent and back toward 80 percent.
Michael Beasley: He may well end up being a sign-and-trade piece with the Raptors, but he's in a pretty sweet spot if he stays with the Heat. With defenses having to contend with Wade and Bosh, Beasley will see plenty of open lanes and shots. The trouble is that he won't see enough shots to make a big splash in fantasy terms, especially since he hasn't shown an ability to hit threes or block shots.
Mario Chalmers: Until Wade and Bosh sign, Beasley and Chalmers are the only players currently under contract with the Heat. With Wade being the primary ball-handler, Chalmers isn't going to make much more noise than he has during his first two seasons. Expect him to chip in enough dimes and swipes to have some minor relevance in deep leagues.
Backcourt: Bosh's departure from the Great White North won't have much of an effect on the Toronto Raptors backcourt. I guess it's possible we could see a resurgence from Jose Calderon after his awful performance last season, but it's hard to see how removing the best finisher on a team could improve a point guard's assist totals. The same can be said for Hedo Turkoglu. Maybe he gets more shots off with Bosh gone, but Bosh's absence means Turk would face tougher defenses, too. Jarrett Jack probably has the most realistic shot at carving out a fantasy niche this season and is worth keeping an eye on.
Frontcourt: Andrea Bargnani is the wild card for the Raptors. He's been wildly inconsistent during his first four seasons, but he's displayed tremendous fantasy potential for stretches when he scored in the upper teens while knocking down treys, blocking shots and maintaining quality percentages. The Raps will be looking to Bargnani to be their primary scorer now, and the question is whether he can do that without a Bosh-type player owning the paint. Bargnani is seven feet tall, but his game is more like a small forward's because he likes to float around the arc and slash. He may be forced to spend more time in the paint because the Raps are weak there. I loved his potential last season, and I think he retains most of it going into this season. But I will be a little bit leery about drafting him too early this fall.
The other big winner here is rookie Ed Davis, who will have two of the most important things going for a fantasy rook: talent and playing time. There are concerns about his maturity and dedication, but he should get all the court time and touches he wants if he does put out the effort. Definitely worth a close look in keeper leagues and in the latter rounds of redraft leagues.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.