*** *** ***
DWIGHT HOWARD, Houston Rockets
In a down year with the Lakers, Dwight averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. The offense he played in ran mostly through ball-dominant guards and injuries plagued his inconsistency. Meanwhile, in Houston, Omer Asik broke out, putting up 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. No knock on Asik, but if he can put those numbers up in Kevin McHale’s system, then the sky is the limit for Howard in his new home. Because of James Harden‘s presence, it’ll be tough for him to get up to 20 points per game, but he’ll be among the league leaders in field goal percentage and does enough for your defensive stats to warrant a first-round pick in head-to-head formats. You can expect Harden’s scoring average to be slightly affected by the post presence and Asik is about as useful as Marcin Gortat was before he was freed from Howard’s shadow.
ANDRE IGUODALA, Golden State Warriors
There are very few instances where you can leave George Karl‘s fantasy friendly system in Denver (RIP) and not lose any value, but Iggy managed to do just that by agreeing to sign in Golden State. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will give him the space he needs to attack the paint every night and a hard-nosed coach like Mark Jackson should stay on top of him enough to fix his inconsistency issues. Iguodala is an unselfish player who might even approach the six-plus assists he averaged in Philadelphia, but his presence severely cuts the value of Harrison Barnes, who might have to slide to a role off the bench. In his rookie season, Barnes averaged 9.2 points in 25 minutes last season, but it will be tough for him to build on that from the sideline.
JOSH SMITH, Detroit Pistons
The addition of Josh Smith has me drooling over the prospects of the Pistons frontcourt. The trio of Smoove, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond should be swatting shots left and right for years to come, but Detroit also presents an opportunity to succeed offensively for the former Hawk. The Pistons ranked 22nd in the league with just 94.9 points per game last season and were in serious need for some scoring punch. I’m not saying he’s going to do it efficiently, but unless rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brings some serious fire from day one, Smith will have no choice but to put the ball in the hole. He’s never averaged more than 18.8 points in a season, but if there were ever a year for him to do it, this would be the one.
TYREKE EVANS, New Orleans Pelicans
At what point do the obligatory Pelican jokes stop? New Orleans was able to make a name for itself through free agency and did so by scooping up Evans through a sign-and-trade with the Kings and Trail Blazers. As a result, Greivis Vasquez will be headed to Sacramento, where he’ll find it much harder to average the 9.0 assists per game that he did last year. As for Evans, New Orleans presents a wonderful opportunity for him to get his career back on track. Partially due to injuries, he never came close to putting up the 20-5-5 that he did as a rookie, but a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. Things are a little crowded in the Pelicans backcourt between ‘Reke, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, but whether it be off the bench or not, Evans should be able to find his niche. I don’t know if 20-5-5 is doable, but his shooting guard and possible small forward eligibility make him a great add if you miss out on some point guards.
AL JEFFERSON, Charlotte Bobcats
From 2007 to 2009, Jefferson averaged 22.1 points and 11.1 rebounds on a decimated Timberwolves roster. I don’t think that it’s out of the question for him to do it again in Charlotte. With Kemba Walker (and maybe Byron Mullens) as the only legitimate offensive threats in place, it’s possible that a lot of scoring onus could be placed on his broad shoulders, which already are dominant on the glass. In each of the three seasons that Jefferson has put up double-digits in rebounds, he’s averaged at least three offensive boards per game, and since the Bobcats have been dying for a big man since Emeka Okafor left, Jefferson should be able to step right in and succeed.