Just when I was starting to get excited about the fantasy prospects of Otto Porter after his 25 point, seven rebound performance Saturday, the Wizards go out and sign Paul Pierce to replace the now departed Trevor Ariza.
As per ESPN, Pierce has agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with the second season being a player option. This move seemingly came out of nowhere and helps keep the Wizards as a legitimate top four aspirant in the now wide-open Eastern Conference. From an initial look, it’s at least a break even for the Wizards, but what about Pierce’s fantasy value. For a start, he’s moving on from the Nets, who played at a league worst pace last season. That’s not to say they would’ve continued at that pace with new coach Lionel Hollins, but it should be a significant upgrade for Pierce in terms of style of play.
Even with the slow, Jason Kidd offense in Brooklyn, Pierce was a decent fantasy contributor in less than 30 minutes of court time.
As you can see, Pierce was comfortably a top 100 fantasy player and his play really took off when Kidd moved him to the four in a small-ball lineup.
Now that he’s a member of the Wizards, does anything change? Well for a start, he should be the unquestioned starter at the small forward position. Ariza is off to Houston and Martell Webster faces a prolonged stint on the sidelines with a back injury, leaving only Pierce and Porter to fight for minutes. I predict Porter will get more than the nine minutes per game he got last season, but it won’t be enough to truly impact Pierce’s value.
I don’t think it’s folly to project Pierce at around 30 minutes a night like last season, with Porter playing around 20 minutes a night and Webster getting the bulk of his time at the backup shooting guard slot. And don’t forget, Pierce can also play at power forward when the inevitable Nene injury occurs.
So if he does play 30 minutes and the Wizards keep up their pace from 2013-14 season, how will his numbers look?
If Pierce can do what I think he will, and it’s not too much of a stretch, he’s a borderline top 50 player. I think, however, you’ll be able to get him around the seventh or eight round, and that could be a nice pickup. Don’t sleep on the old men this season — there’s plenty of value to be had.