The entire outlook of the Western Conference shifted significantly Saturday, as the New Orleans Pelicans reportedly agreed to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers will send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks to New Orleans for Davis.
Davis will join forces with LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma to form a potential title contender in L.A., while the Pels are in line to have a deep and talented roster with Ball, Ingram and Hart joining Jrue Holiday and likely No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
On the heels of one of the biggest blockbuster trades in NBA history, here is a look at what fantasy players can expect out of Davis, Ball and Ingram in their new surroundings next season.
When healthy, Davis has been the pre-eminent big in fantasy basketball for the past few seasons. Although injuries and the drama surrounding his impending departure from New Orleans limited him to just 56 games last season, he averaged 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals.
That came on the heels of a career year in 2017-18 when he put up 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per contest en route to finishing third in the MVP voting.
Davis will have more talent around him in L.A. next season than he did in New Orleans last season, as James and Kuzma will provide him with some quality support. The Lakers could also look to land a star guard such as Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving in free agency.
If the Lakers do manage to sign another star, Davis may see a slight dip in his scoring numbers. From a rebounding and blocks perspective, however, Davis should be as good or better than ever in Los Angeles.
Aside from Davis and Kuzma, the only other big on the Lakers roster currently is Moritz Wagner, which suggests Davis will be leaned on heavily in the interior.
Davis could also see his assist numbers continue to rise since he will have more quality scorers to pass the ball to in James, Kuzma and potentially a free-agent acquisition.
All signs point toward Davis being a top-five overall player in fantasy next season, and provided he stays healthy, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that he could be the best player in fantasy.
Davis’ role in L.A. is already clearly defined, but things are a little more uncertain when it comes to how the new pieces will fit in New Orleans.
Ball could potentially start the year coming off the bench if head coach Alvin Gentry opts to continue starting Holiday at point guard, but since Holiday has experience at shooting guard, they figure to see the floor at the same time often.
Injuries limited Ball to 52 and 47 games in his first two seasons, respectively, and it adversely impacted his development.
After averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as a rookie, Ball’s numbers dropped off last season. During his sophomore campaign, Ball put up 9.9 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.
He did improve significantly as a shooter, though, going from 36.0 percent to 40.6 percent from the field and from 30.5 percent to 32.9 percent from three.
While Ball may never be a great shooter at the NBA level, his ability to find his teammates in scoring positions and attack the glass from the point guard position makes him a valuable fantasy player in much the same vein as Jason Kidd.
Kidd was a more complete player since his shooting was more consistent, but Ball’s counting stats could get to that point as long as he stays on the court.
With a new, exciting supporting cast around him-including likely No. 1 overall pick Williamson, who figures to be on the receiving end of many lobs-Ball has a chance to enjoy his best season yet, and he is worth drafting as a do-everything guard in fantasy.
Ingram is perhaps the biggest X-factor of the Davis trade since blood clots cut his 2018-19 season short and it isn’t yet known when he will return.
If the 2016 No. 2 overall draft pick is ready for the start of the 2019-20 campaign, he has the skill set to be the Pelicans’ leading scorer, even with Williamson and Holiday also on the roster.
In 52 games last season, Ingram averaged a career-high 18.3 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He also shot a career-best 49.7 percent from the field and shot 33.0 percent from three.
Improving his three-point shooting will be a big key to Ingram’s success in New Orleans since it is a skill most of the Pels’ other top players don’t possess. Also, if he can get open beyond the arc, both Holiday and Ball will find him more often than not.
The Lakers took him early in the 2016 draft because of his pure scoring ability, and he has shown flashes of it during his young career.
ESPN’s Mike Schmitz believes Ingram could be a breakout star in New Orleans next season provided he is healthy enough to play regularly:
Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz
Strong bounce-back situation for Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in NOLA. Less pressure, Zion coming to town. Fun young trio, not to mention Holiday, Hart and #4 pick. Lonzo-Zion should make for an exciting open-floor duo. Could see a healthy Ingram blossoming in New Orleans.
It is easy to envision Ingram being the RJ Barrett to Williamson, meaning that while Zion will receive more fanfare and perhaps contribute more elsewhere, Ingram may lead the Pelicans in shots and scoring based on his volume.
If that happens and Ingram maintains the impressive shooting percentage he registered last season, then he has All-Star potential as soon as next season.
Because of that, Ingram is well worth a starting spot on your fantasy roster as long as reports regarding his health are positive.