The NBA Loser Lineup: What do non-playoff teams have to do to move the fantasy basketball needle in 2024-25?

Trading one of Trae Young or Dejounte Murray. After failing to make the playoffs and the duo carrying a -6.5 net rating when sharing the court this season, it's time for a change. Clint Capela has one year left on his contract so trading him for some future draft capital before next summer would also be a wise move. Onyeka Okongwu is next up and signed through 2028 so Atlanta already has a sizable investment in their frontcourt. Okongwu is a fantasy sleeper you’ll want to keep an eye on heading into next year.

Should the Bulls decide to re-sign UFA DeMar DeRozan, there will be significant fantasy fallout. Chicago reportedly offered DeRozan a two-year deal worth $80M. Bringing DeRozan back signals Zach LaVine will likely be traded because the Bulls can't afford to keep both players. With LaVine still on the books for three years and $138M, the Bulls could opt to keep LaVine over DeRozan, but the results with LaVine on the court this season were not promising. Coby White is in a great position to replicate his numbers from his breakout season if either situation occurs. Keep an eye on Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso too, as they'll also take on more prominent roles.

Warriors GM Mike Dunleavy Jr. has his work cut out for him. Re-signing Jonathan Kuminga should be the Warriors' top priority. Then, trading Andrew Wiggins ASAP would accelerate getting the highest salaried roster under the luxury tax. If Klay Thompson doesn't want to take a discount to keep the Hall of Fame trio intact, let him walk. Finally, move Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis into full-time starters next year, as the Warriors have no choice but to embrace their youth movement.

Fox and Ox (De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis) are one of the best guard-center tandems in the Association. However, the Kings' success hinges on whether Keegan Murray can take that next leap. The Kings are objectively better when Murray is aggressive offensively, and heading into his third NBA season, he's on my short list of players to watch for.

Keon Ellis is a keeper, and he proved late in the season that he should be the team's starting shooting guard. Ellis offers far more defensively than Kevin Huerter. As a corresponding move, inserting Huerter with the second unit adds more firepower alongside Sixth Man of the Year contender Malik Monk.

The Nets are in a holding pattern until summer of 2025, when they'll have significant cap flexibility and the draft capital to make moves. Considering their limited frontcourt depth, re-signing unrestricted free agent Nic Claxton makes sense. But the real move the Nets need to make is leaning into more of Cam Thomas.

It sounds crazy, but I believe he has untapped potential as a playmaker. The Nets could've been harboring a Donovan Mitchell-lite all this time. Thomas averaged 4.3 assists in March, and the Nets should be at least curious if that was a fluke. He's still just 22 years old, and while he's been typecast as a chucker, this team desperately needs someone who scores and creates for others, and Thomas could fit the bill if given the opportunity.

The primary focus for the Hornets is ensuring LaMelo Ball is healthy. His repeated ankle injuries have been a setback, causing him to miss ~65% of games over the past two seasons. As the Hornets' franchise player and, recently, a consensus first-round pick in fantasy, his availability is crucial to Charlotte's resurgence from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. I'd expect Ball's average draft position (ADP) to fall to the third round by next season because of his injury history. However, he could be a value pick (similar to Kawhi Leonard this year) if he can stay healthy. Getting Mark Williams back in the lineup would also help fortify that frontcourt.

After achieving 14 wins and an NBA record 28-game losing streak, it's clear that change is overdue for the Detroit Pistons. Monty Williams' 0.5-second offensive scheme isn't working, and he's not the right fit for this rebuilding squad. Getting rid of him might be a challenge with Pistons GM Troy Weaver (somehow) still employed, plus the financial commitment tied to Williams. However, change needs to happen for the team's progress.

Williams did a horrible job managing the development of his young players, and it didn't improve as the season wore on. Fantasy managers will always remember Killian Hayes (a free agent) starting 31 of his 42 games with the franchise over the likes of Marcus Sasser and Jaden Ivey. Another tank-a-thon could push budding star Cade Cunningham to look elsewhere when his rookie deal expires. The clock is ticking in the D.

Amen Thompson becoming a shooting threat. He shot an abysmal 14% from 3-point range and under 32% from beyond 10 feet. That certainly won't help keep defenses honest or maximize his playing time. He's a top-tier athlete and is becoming one of the league's best young defenders. He has such a high fantasy ceiling, any improvement in his shooting will help the Rockets and fantasy managers alike.

Jalen Green also has a big season ahead after closing out '23–24 in epic fashion. When assessing his year-over-year performance, he continually starts slow and comes on after the All-Star break. Green's late-season surge can't be another flash in the pan; he must be consistent for an entire season. If Green can pull it off, the Rockets will be a playoff team, and he'll finally live up to his mid-round ADP in fantasy drafts.

Stay healthy; that's all we need. Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane combined to play 62 games. Ja Morant missed 73 games between a 25-game suspension and undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January. An unintended benefit of this rash of injuries was the emergence of versatile G/F Vince Williams Jr. Fantasy managers can confidently spend a late-round pick on him with his expanding role heading into his third season.

Anfernee Simons stressed the need to win in his exit interview. However, that's a challenging feat without chemistry in the starting unit. The Blazers had 41 different starting lineups this season, ranking second in the league behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Continuity is critical to turning around a franchise searching for an identity post-Damian Lillard era. It doesn't help that their financial situation is in shambles, so I'd expect them to move some vets like Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon and possibly Deandre Ayton in the offseason — which would be great news for players like Scoot Henderson, Jabari Walker, Kris Murray and Duop Reath.

It's time to go star-hunting for a true point guard to pair with Victor Wembanyama. Tre Jones looks like a solid backup, but the Spurs need to accelerate the development timeline after Wemby's historic rookie year. And please, no more Jeremy Sochan experiments from Gregg Popovich. Also, let's ramp up Wemby's minutes over the 30-minute threshold. In 30+ minutes this season, he averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a ridiculous five stocks per game.

Sign Immanuel Quickley — quickly. He will become a restricted free agent this summer unless the Raptors extend him a $6.3M qualifying offer. However, his production across 38 games warrants a new, lucrative deal. What's more encouraging is that in 25 games with Scottie Barnes in the lineup, Quickley averaged 17 points with six dimes, four boards and one stock, proving that he's more capable of running the show alongside one of Toronto's prized assets.

Invest in their youth movement. The Jazz have draft picks for days and ample cap space to use in the years ahead to form a competitive roster. I expect Danny Ainge to find new homes for John Collins and possibly Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton, which could open up big minutes for Walker Kessler, Taylor Hendricks, Brice Sensabaugh and potential All-rookie team honoree Keyonte George.

The Wizards need a reliable anchor in the frontcourt, or they'll continue to be barbeque chicken in the post. The combination of Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes and Tristan Vukčević ain't cutting it. They were in the bottom three in points allowed in the paint and second-chance points this past season, so an upgrade here would drastically help Washington become more competitive next year. Oh, and of course, one of their franchise players actually living up to his lofty four-year, $128 million contract would do wonders for them offensively (looking at you, Jordan Poole).