DRAFT KIT TABLE OF CONTENTS RANKINGS & PROJECTIONS REVISIONS........................................... 3 TOP 150 RANKINGS ................................................................. 4 RANKINGS BY POSITION............................................................ 5 POSITION PROFILES
POINT GUARD............................................................ SHOOTING GUARD........................................................ SMALL FORWARD........................................................ POWER FORWARD........................................................ CENTER..................................................................
6 10 14 17 21
OFFSEASON MOVES................................................................ 25 SLEEPERS & UNDERVALUED PLAYERS........................................... 33 BUSTS & OVERVALUED PLAYERS ................................................ 35 IMPACT ROOKIES................................................................... 37 NBA MOCK DRAFT.................................................................. 40 STRATEGY & ADVICE FOR FANTASY HOOPS.................................... 43 NBA DEPTH CHARTS............................................................... 46 PLAYER NEWS & NOTES........................................................... 49
RANKINGS & PROJECTIONS REVISIONS PLAYER (TEAM) JaVale McGee (DEN) Al Harrington (ORL) J.J. Hickson (POR) Samuel Dalembert (MIL) Brandon Roy (MIN) Nene Hilario (WAS) Brook Lopez (BRO) Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) George Hill (IND) Kevin Love (MIN) Chase Budinger (MIN) Derrick Williams (MIN) Andrei Kirilenko (MIN) John Wall (WAS) Baron Davis
REVISIONS Downgrade - did not start in preseason; decreased projected minutes. Downgrade - out until mid-December with knee staph infection. Upgrade - Won starting center job. Downgrade - slightly decreased minutes per game. Upgrade - Slightly increased projections are strong preseason. Downgrade - nagging plantar fasciitis inury. Upgrde - Adjusted FTP to be closer to career average. Downgrade - out six weeks after knee surgery. Updgrade - nagging injuries not serious. Downgrade - out 6-8 weeks with broken hand. Upgrade - increased playing time with Kevin Love out 6-8 weeks. Upgrade - increased playing time with Kevin Love out 6-8 weeks. Upgrade - increased playing time with Kevin Love out 6-8 weeks. Downgrade - out eight weeks with foot injury. Downgrade - out for season with knee injury.
DATE Oct. 27 Oct. 26 Oct. 25 Oct. 24 Oct. 24 Oct. 24 Oct. 23 Oct. 19 Oct. 19 Oct. 18 Oct. 18 Oct. 18 Oct. 18 Sept. 28 Sept. 24
TOP 150 RANKINGS Rising =
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC 2. LeBron James, SF, MIA 3, C, hris Paul, PG, LAC 4. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC 5. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA 6. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL 7. James Harden, SG, OKC 8. Al Jefferson, C, UTA 9. Kevin Love, PF, MIN 10. Paul George, SG, IND 11. Josh Smith, PF, ATL 12. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO 13. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR 14. Pau Gasol, PF, LAL 15. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA 16. Marc Gasol, C, MEM 17. Danny Granger, SF, IND 18. Greg Monroe, C, DET 19, C, armelo Anthony, SF, NY 20. Mike Conley, Jr., PG, MEM 21. Ty Lawson, PG, DEN 22. Serge Ibaka, PF, OKC 23. Deron Williams, PG, BRO 24. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS 25. DeMarcus Cousins, C, SAC 26. Al Horford, C, ATL 27. Ersan Ilyasova, PF, MIL 28. Nicolas Batum, SF, POR 29. Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE 30. Goran Dragic, PG, PHO 31. Danilo Gallinari, SF, DEN 32. Joe Johnson, SG, BRO 33. Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC 34. David Lee, PF, GS 35. Wesley Matthews, SG, POR 36, C, hris Bosh, PF, MIA 37. Anthony Davis, PF, NOR 38. Ryan Anderson, PF, NOR 39. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM 40. David West, PF, IND 41. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL 42. Andrew Bynum, C, PHI 43. Paul Pierce, SF, BOS 44. Tyreke Evans, SG, SAC 45. Stephen Curry, PG, GS 46. Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN 47. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL 48. Andrea Bargnani, C, TOR 49. Klay Thompson, SG, GS 50. Mo Williams, PG, UTA
51. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI 52. J.R. Smith, SG, NY 53. Kyle Lowry, PG, TOR 54. Andre Iguodala, SF, DEN 55. Joakim Noah, C, CHI 56. Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA 57. Luol Deng, SF, CHI 58. Manu Ginobili, SG, SAN 59. Kawhi Leonard, SF, SAN 60. Louis Williams, PG, ATL 61. Brook Lopez, C, BRO 62. Roy Hibbert, C, IND 63. Kris Humphries, PF, BRO 64. Tony Allen, SG, MEM 65. Monta Ellis, SG, MIL 66. Jeff Teague, PG, ATL 67. Tim Duncan, PF, SAN 68. Nene Hilario, C, WAS 69. Anderson Varejao, C, CLE 70. Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL 71, C, arlos Boozer, PF, CHI 72. Steve Nash, PG, LAL 73. Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET 74. George Hill, PG, IND 75. Jason Terry, SG, BOS 76. Thaddeus Young, PF, PHI 77. Tony Parker, PG, SAN 78. Elton Brand, PF, DAL 79. Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN 80. Tyson Chandler, C, NY 81. O.J. Mayo, SG, DAL 82. Danny Green, SG, SAN 83. Mario Chalmers, PG, MIA 84. JaVale McGee, C, DEN 85. Arron Afflalo, SG, ORL 86. Andrew Bogut, C, GS 87. Nikola Pekovic, C, MIN 88. Kemba Walker, PG, CHR 89. Andrei Kirilenko, SF, MIN 90. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS 91. Gerald Wallace, SF, BRO 92. DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC 93. John Wall, PG, WAS 94. Amar'e Stoudemire, C, NY 95. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM 96. Jared Dudley, SF, PHO 97. Spencer Hawes, C, PHI 98. Anthony Morrow, SG, ATL 99. J.J. Redick, SG, ORL 100. Alonzo Gee, SF, CLE
101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113. 114. 115. 116, 117. 118. 119, 120, 121. 122. 123. 124, 125. 126. 127. 128, 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147. 148. 149. 150.
Blake Griffin, PF, LAC Ed Davis, PF, TOR Brandon Rush, SG, GS Kevin Martin, SG, HOU Trevor Ariza, SF, WAS Nate Robinson, PG, CHI Eric Gordon, SG, NOR Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL Jarrett Jack, PG, GS Mike Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHR Dwight Howard, C, LAL Drew Gooden, PF, MIL Greivis Vasquez, SG, NOR Dorell Wright, SF, PHI Jason Kidd, PG, NY C, ourtney Lee, SG, BOS Jose Calderon, PG, TOR Shawn Marion, SF, DAL C, arlos Delfino, SF, HOU C, hauncey Billups, PG, LAC Raymond Felton, PG, NY DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR Luke Ridnour, PG, MIN C, hase Budinger, SF, MIN Brandan Wright, PF, DAL Marvin Williams, SF, UTA Jamal Crawford, SG, LAC C, hris Kaman, C, DAL Luis Scola, PF, PHO Amir Johnson, PF, TOR Derrick Williams, SF, MIN Kyle Korver, SF, ATL Ray Allen, SG, MIA Stephen Jackson, SG, SAN Bradley Beal, SG, WAS Evan Turner, SG, PHI Brandon Bass, PF, BOS Jerryd Bayless, PG, MEM Lamar Odom, PF, LAC Mike Dunleavy Jr., SG, MIL Devin Harris, PG, ATL Rodrigue Beaubois, SG, DAL J.J. Hickson, PF, POR Andre Miller, PG, DEN Derrick Favors, PF, UTA Randy Foye, SG, UTA Brandon Knight, PG, DET Tiago Splitter, C, SAN Taj Gibson, PF, CHI Ekpe Udoh, C, MIL
POSITION RANKINGS & PROFILES Rising =
POINT GUARD 1. Chris Paul, LAC 2. Russell Westbrook, OKC 3. Brandon Jennings, MIL 4. Mike Conley, Jr., MEM 5. Ty Lawson, DEN 6. Deron Williams, BRO 7. Kyrie Irving, CLE 8. Goran Dragic, PHO 9. Stephen Curry, GS 10. Mo Williams, UTA 11. Jrue Holiday, PHI 12. Kyle Lowry, TOR 13. Louis Williams, ATL 14. Jeff Teague, ATL 15. Steve Nash, LAL 16. Rodney Stuckey, DET 17. George Hill, IND 18. Tony Parker, SAN 19. Ricky Rubio, MIN 20. Mario Chalmers, MIA 21. Kemba Walker, CHR 22. Rajon Rondo, BOS 23. John Wall, WAS 24. Nate Robinson, CHI 25. Jarrett Jack, GS 26. Jason Kidd, NY 27. Jose Calderon, TOR 28. Chauncey Billups, LAC 29. Raymond Felton, NY 30. Luke Ridnour, MIN 31. Jerryd Bayless, MEM 32. Devin Harris, ATL 33. Andre Miller, DEN 34. Brandon Knight, DET 35. Jameer Nelson, ORL 36. Darren Collison, DAL 37. Aaron Brooks, SAC 38. Kirk Hinrich, CHI 39. D.J. Augustin, IND 40. Jimmer Fredette, SAC 41. Patrick Mills, SAN 42. Terrence Williams, 43. Ramon Sessions, CHR 44. C.J. Watson, BRO 45. Derrick Rose, CHI 46. Gilbert Arenas, 47. Jose Barea, MIN
48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66.
Eric Bledsoe, LAC Daniel Gibson, CLE Shaun Livingston, HOU Steve Blake, LAL Beno Udrih, MIL Derek Fisher, Norris Cole, MIA Earl Watson, UTA Chris Duhon, LAL Toney Douglas, HOU Iman Shumpert, NY Reggie Jackson, OKC Eric Maynor, OKC Will Bynum, DET Nolan Smith, POR Jonny Flynn, FA Keyon Dooling, Cory Joseph, SAN Darius Morris, LAL
SHOOTING GUARD 1. Dwyane Wade, MIA 2. James Harden, OKC 3. Paul George, IND 4. Joe Johnson, BRO 5. Marcus Thornton, SAC 6. Wesley Matthews, POR 7. Kobe Bryant, LAL 8. Tyreke Evans, SAC 9. Klay Thompson, GS 10. J.R. Smith, NY 11. Manu Ginobili, SAN 12. Tony Allen, MEM 13. Monta Ellis, MIL 14. Jason Terry, BOS 15. O.J. Mayo, DAL 16. Danny Green, SAN 17. Arron Afflalo, ORL 18. Anthony Morrow, ATL 19. J.J. Redick, ORL 20. Brandon Rush, GS 21. Kevin Martin, HOU 22. Eric Gordon, NOR 23. Greivis Vasquez, NOR 24. Courtney Lee, BOS 25. DeMar DeRozan, TOR 26. Jamal Crawford, LAC 27. Ray Allen, MIA
28. Stephen Jackson, SAN 29. Bradley Beal, WAS 30. Evan Turner, PHI 31. Mike Dunleavy Jr., MIL 32. Rodrigue Beaubois, DAL 33. Randy Foye, UTA 34. C.J. Miles, CLE 35. Jordan Crawford, WAS 36. Delonte West, DAL 37. Landry Fields, TOR 38. Nick Young, PHI 39. Jodie Meeks, LAL 40. Vince Carter, DAL 41. Ben Gordon, CHR 42. Jason Richardson, PHI 43. Gary Neal, SAN 44. Wesley Johnson, PHO 45. Shannon Brown, PHO 46. Marco Belinelli, CHI 47. Alec Burks, UTA 48. MarShon Brooks, BRO 49. Thabo Sefolosha, OKC 50. Brandon Roy, MIN 51. Terrence Ross, TOR 52. Ronnie Brewer, NY 53. Leandro Barbosa, BOS 54. Daequan Cook, OKC 55. Reggie Williams, CHR 56. Richard Hamilton, CHI 57. Mickael Pietrus, FA 58. Willie Green, LAC 59. Martell Webster, WAS 60. Wayne Ellington, MEM 61. Mike Miller, MIA 62. Michael Redd, FA 63. Raja Bell, UTA 64. Tracy McGrady, 65. Josh Childress, BRO 66. Maurice Evans, 67. Sasha Pavlovic, POR 68. DeShawn Stevenson, ATL 69. Keith Bogans, BRO
SMALL FORWARD 1. 2. 3. 4.
Kevin Durant, OKC LeBron James, MIA Danny Granger, IND Carmelo Anthony, NY
5. Nicolas Batum, POR 6. Danilo Gallinari, DEN 7. Rudy Gay, MEM 8. Paul Pierce, BOS 9. Andre Iguodala, DEN 10. Gordon Hayward, UTA 11. Luol Deng, CHI 12. Kawhi Leonard, SAN 13. Andrei Kirilenko, MIN 14. Gerald Wallace, BRO 15. Jared Dudley, PHO 16. Alonzo Gee, CLE 17. Trevor Ariza, WAS 18. Mike Kidd-Gilchrist, CHR 19. Dorell Wright, PHI 20. Shawn Marion, DAL 21. Carlos Delfino, HOU 22. Chase Budinger, MIN 23. Marvin Williams, UTA 24. Derrick Williams, MIN 25. Kyle Korver, ATL 26. Corey Brewer, DEN 27. Al-Farouq Aminu, NOR 28. Michael Beasley, PHO 29. M. World Peace, LAL 30. Francisco Garcia, SAC 31. Shane Battier, MIA 32. Tayshaun Prince, DET 33. Wilson Chandler, DEN 34. Tobias Harris, MIL 35. Matt Barnes, LAC 36. Jan Vesely, WAS 37. Omri Casspi, CLE 38. Caron Butler, LAC 39. Donte Greene, 40. Linas Kleiza, TOR 41. Grant Hill, LAC 42. John Salmons, SAC 43. Corey Maggette, DET 44. Jordan Hamilton, DEN 45. Richard Jefferson, GS 46. Hedo Turkoglu, ORL 47. Austin Daye, DET 48. James Jones, MIA 49. Travis Outlaw, SAC 50. Sam Young, IND 51. Luke Walton, CLE 52. Tyler Honeycutt, SAC 53. Jamario Moon, FA 54. Ryan Gomes, FA
RANKINGS BY POSITION (cont...)
POWER FORWARD 1. Josh Smith, ATL 2. Kevin Love, MIN 3. LaMarcus Aldridge, POR 4. Pau Gasol, LAL 5. Paul Millsap, UTA 6. Serge Ibaka, OKC 7. Kevin Garnett, BOS 8. Ersan Ilyasova, MIL 9. David Lee, GS 10. Chris Bosh, MIA 11. Anthony Davis, NOR 12. Ryan Anderson, NOR 13. David West, IND 14. Kenneth Faried, DEN 15. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 16. Kris Humphries, BRO 17. Tim Duncan, SAN 18. Carlos Boozer, CHI 19. Thaddeus Young, PHI 20. Elton Brand, DAL 21. Zach Randolph, MEM 22. Blake Griffin, LAC 23. Ed Davis, TOR 24. Drew Gooden, MIL 25. Brandan Wright, DAL 26. Luis Scola, PHO 27. Amir Johnson, TOR 28. Brandon Bass, BOS 29. Lamar Odom, LAC 30. J.J. Hickson, POR 31. Derrick Favors, UTA 32. Taj Gibson, CHI 33. Boris Diaw, SAN
34. Channing Frye, PHO 35. Antawn Jamison, LAL 36. Bismack Biyombo, CHR 37. Markieff Morris, PHO 38. Charlie Villanueva, DET 39. Glen Davis, ORL 40. Jason Thompson, SAC 41. L.R. Mbah a Moute, MIL 42. Jeff Green, BOS 43. Udonis Haslem, MIA 44. Patrick Patterson, HOU 45. Dante Cunningham, MIN 46. Jason Smith, NOR 47. Tyler Hansbrough, IND 48. Nick Collison, OKC 49. Larry Sanders, MIL 50. Tristan Thompson, CLE 51. Kenyon Martin, FA 52. Rashard Lewis, MIA 53. Al Harrington, ORL 54. Carl Landry, GS 55. Marreese Speights, MEM 56. Tyrus Thomas, CHR 57. Anthony Randolph, DEN 58. D.J. White, FA 59. Vlad Radmanovic, CHI 60. Shelden Williams, FA 61. Troy Murphy, FA 62. Andray Blatche, BRO 63. Josh McRoberts, ORL 64. Jared Jeffries, POR 65. Jeremy Tyler, GS 66. JaJuan Johnson, HOU 67. Luke Harangody, CLE 68. Trey Thompkins, LAC 69. Shawne Williams, FA
70. 71. 72. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70.
Yi Jianlian, FA Hakim Warrick, NOR Marcus Morris, HOU Jeremy Tyler, GS JaJuan Johnson, HOU Luke Harangody, CLE Trey Thompkins, LAC Shawne Williams, FA Yi Jianlian, FA Hakim Warrick, NOR
CENTER 1. Al Jefferson, UTA 2. Marcin Gortat, PHO 3. Marc Gasol, MEM 4. Greg Monroe, DET 5. DeMarcus Cousins, SAC 6. Al Horford, ATL 7. Andrew Bynum, PHI 8. Andrea Bargnani, TOR 9. Joakim Noah, CHI 10. Brook Lopez, BRO 11. Roy Hibbert, IND 12. Nene Hilario, WAS 13. Anderson Varejao, CLE 14. Samuel Dalembert, MIL 15. Tyson Chandler, NY 16. JaVale McGee, DEN 17. Andrew Bogut, GS 18. Nikola Pekovic, MIN 19. DeAndre Jordan, LAC 20. Amar'e Stoudemire, NY 21. Spencer Hawes, PHI 22. Nikola Vucevic, ORL
23. Dwight Howard, LAL 24. Chris Kaman, DAL 25. Tiago Splitter, SAN 26. Ekpe Udoh, MIL 27. Marcus Camby, NY 28. Matt Bonner, SAN 29. Robin Lopez, NOR 30. Timofey Mozgov, DEN 31. Joel Anthony, MIA 32. Zaza Pachulia, ATL 33. Emeka Okafor, WAS 34. Cole Aldrich, OKC 35. Chris Andersen, FA 36. Andris Biedrins, GS 37. Enes Kanter, UTA 38. Kendrick Perkins, OKC 39. Chuck Hayes, SAC 40. DeJuan Blair, SAN 41. Ronny Turiaf, LAC 42. Jordan Hill, LAL 43. Jordan Williams, FA 44. Kurt Thomas, NY 45. Ben Wallace, FA 46. Brendan Haywood, CHR 47. Nazr Mohammed, CHI 48. Jermaine O'Neal, PHO 49. Mehmet Okur, FA 50. Johan Petro, ATL 51. Darko Milicic, BOS 52. Joel Przybilla, MIL 53. Kwame Brown, PHI 54. Hasheem Thabeet, OKC 55. Jason Collins, BOS 56. Ryan Hollins, LAC
POSITION PROFILES - POINT GUARD Rising =
1. CHRIS PAUL, CLIPPERS The move to Los Angeles didn’t phase CP3 one bit. He started his Clipper career the way he ended his run with the Hornets, averaging near a double-double (19.8 points, 9.1 assists per game) nightly. One might have expected to see more assists and less scoring from Paul now that he’s running such a talented team and setting up Blake Griffin, arguably the NBA’s best finisher. But that isn’t the case. Last season’s scoring average was Paul’s highest in four seasons. Strangely, his assists declined for the fourth consecutive season. He didn’t rebound as much as in years past either. Paul’s 3.6 rebounds per game set a new career low. Of course, those declines are minor and offset by the fact that he is better than average in every fantasy category. The larger concern with Paul is injuries. He hasn’t missed significant time due to a major injury since he was limited to 45 games in 2009-10, but he seems to suffer more than his share of nagging, minor problems. A hip issue during the playoffs and a thumb problem during Olympic training camp are just the latest examples. It’s hard not to worry that these things will catch up with him at some point, or that the Clippers will try to reduce his minutes to protect their investment. Paul is set to hit free agency after this season. Some may see that as a positive, if you’re one to believe that contract years impact fantasy performance.
2. RUSSELL WESTBROOK, THUNDER Westbrook might be the top point guard of his generation—a group that includes 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. His athleticism is nothing short of breathtaking. There isn’t a guard in the league that can stay in front of Westbrook when he gets room to operate off the dribble. And he’s developed a pull-up jumper that ranks as one of the league’s most unstoppable moves. The only real question is whether he’s a true point guard. He played off the ball in college and, at times, seems more comfortable as scorer than a facilitator. The numbers bear that out. His assist average dropped to 5.5 last year after spending the previous three in the eight-plus range. With extra seasoning, Westbrook continues to improve his shot. He hit almost twice as many three-pointers in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season as he did in 2010-11. The additional threes didn’t hurt his overall shooting numbers; he posted a career-high 45.7 FG percentage last season. He is also an excellent rebounder for his position. Probably the most reassuring thing about drafting Westbrook is that fact that he has yet to miss a game in his NBA career.
3. BRANDON JENNINGS, BUCKS One might think that the addition of a volume scorer like Monta Ellis would have hurt the production of a volume scorer like Brandon Jennings, but in their first half-season together in Milwaukee, that didn’t seem to be the case. In fact, Ellis’ presence—after the mid-season trade that sent Andrew Bogut to Golden State—seemed to take some of the pressure off Jennings, helping him be more efficient. Jennings finished the season with career-high averages in scoring (19.1 ppg) and shooting (41.8 percent from the floor). This will be a crucial season for Jennings; he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, and he’s already started making noise about big-money contracts. He could put himself in line for a very lucrative RFA offer.
4. MIKE CONLEY JR., GRIZZLIES Conley ratcheted up the defensive intensity last season, notching 2.2 steals per game, good for second in the league. He wasn’t a stalwart offensively but was serviceable, scoring 12.7 points per game on 43.3
percent shooting to go along with 6.5 assists. Though athletically gifted, the undersized Conley has yet to be an impactful rebounder in the NBA, and he actually fell from 3.1 boards per game in 2010-11 to 2.6 in 2011-12. However, with big bodies Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on the roster to pull down most wayward shot attempts, we can’t fault Conley too much for not producing better rebound numbers. Offensively, the signing of O.J. Mayo by the Mavericks in the offseason could liberate Conley in the backcourt, as he will most often be flanked at the two-guard spot by Tony Allen, a defense-first player who doesn’t need the ball in his hands as frequently. With Conley expected to command more control of the offense, his assist totals could climb a little, as could the amount of times he calls his own number. If that’s the case, he’d do well to attack the basket, as he shot a career-best 86.1 percent from the charity stripe last year. He’s also underrated as a marksman, making just under one three per game and shooting 37.9 percent from downtown for his career.
5. TY LAWSON, NUGGETS Lawson flourished in his first season as a full-time starter, posting career-highs in nearly all per game categories. Thanks to a bump in playing time of about 8.5 minutes per game, Lawson attempted four more shots per game, allowing his scoring to rise nearly five points per game from the season before. He showed even more scoring savvy in the playoffs, averaging 19 points on 51.4 percent shooting in the first-round series loss to the Lakers. The 24-year-old enters his fourth NBA season with even higher expectations, as he’ll have a bevy of options at his disposal to potentially increase his assist numbers. He’ll enjoy a full season playing alongside Wilson Chandler (signed midseason following a stint in China), JaVale McGee (acquired in a mid-season trade with Washington), and most notably, Andre Iguodala (acquired from the 76ers in the four-team Dwight Howard trade). Lawson will undoubtedly be an integral part of a high-octane Nuggets offense that should be the league’s highest scoring team.
6. DERON WILLIAMS, NETS Deron Williams went through much of last season as the Nets’ only real offensive threat, and had a major free-agent decision hanging over his head. Despite all the distractions, he turned in his usual excellent season, averaging over 21 points and just under nine assists, while shooting very good percentages from the floor and line. This season, his supporting cast got a major upgrade. Joe Johnson joined the team via trade and Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, and Kris Humphries re-signed with the team. Lopez (foot) should be healthy after limping through the five games he was able to play in last season. That might mean a slight dip in scoring for Williams, but don’t be surprised if his assist totals make up the difference.
7. KYRIE IRVING, CAVALIERS The Cavaliers got an immediate return on their investment in Kyrie Irving, as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft looks like a real star—and future Olympian. Irving is lightning-quick, has outstanding handle and superior court vision for a player his age, which enabled him to post impressive averages of 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and shoot nearly 40 percent from three-point range. The fact that he dealt with several nagging injuries during the season makes those overall numbers even more impressive. Cleveland was involved in several potential Dwight Howard trades, but the only major addition they made this offseason is Dion Waiters (fourth overall pick), a poor man’s Dwyane Wade type out of Syracuse. That means Irving—with Waiters and Tristan Thompson—will continue to be the focus of Cleveland’s 7
POSITION PROFILES - POINT GUARD (cont...) offense. Irving did suffer a hand injury while working out with Team USA’s select team—the group of up-and-comers that scrimmages against Team USA before international competitions—but is expected to be completely healthy before training camp.
8. GORAN DRAGIC, SUNS Opportunity knocked for Dragic last season in Houston when Kyle Lowry was sidelined in March with a bacterial infection. He averaged 15.0 points and 7.4 assists in the starting point guard gig in March, and stepped up that production to an even greater extent in April, registering 18.9 points and 7.7 assists per game, while also posting his first career triple-double. As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Dragic signed a lucrative deal to be the starter for the Suns, the team he made his NBA debut with 2008. He has big shoes to fill with the departure of Steve Nash to the Lakers, but will have an intriguing cast of teammates to work with, including Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, and former Rockets teammate Luis Scola. It wouldn’t be completely surprising to see Dragic replicate his April averages on a nightly basis throughout the season, but his March statistics may be more representative of his true talent. Dragic shoots well for a point guard, making 46.2 percent of his attempts last season, though that number could plummet as he assumes more of the scoring burden. Dragic will also need to trim his turnovers to be a top-tier fantasy point guard, as he averaged 4.3 turnovers per 48 minutes last season.
9. STEPHEN CURRY, WARRIORS This should be the year that Curry solidifies his place in the fantasy basketball top 10. He’s that good. He has a three-point stroke like Ray Allen, converting at percentages you ordinarily see from seven-footers working in the low post. And with Monta Ellis out of the mix, he’ll be the primary driving force for Golden State’s offense this year. The one significant thing to worry about is that he’s been a huge injury risk the last two seasons. Last season, he was limited to just 26 games (out of 66) in the lockout-shortened season. He had surgery in April to remove “loose bodies” from his ankle and has reportedly received a clean bill of health, but the time he missed over last season will almost certainly scare off a lot of potential fantasy owners. He’ll potentially be a buy-low candidate in the second, third, and fourth round of some drafts this season. Whether or not he’ll be worth the risk to draft him early will be based on the reports coming out of training camp. Make sure there are good indicators that he’s healthy before investing too heavily in him this season.
10. MAURICE WILLIAMS, JAZZ Williams moonlighted as the Clippers’ sixth man last season, scoring 13.2 points in 28.3 minutes per game. He’ll return to Utah, the place where he first began his career, and figures to be handed the starting job going into the regular season with Devin Harris being shipped to the Hawks this offseason. Given his adeptness as a volume scorer, Williams probably profiles better as a sixth man at this stage of his career, but he did manage to post decent assist totals during his previous starting experiences. He averaged 5.6 assists per game as a 22game starter for the Clippers in 2010-11 and should hover around that number with the Jazz. Williams’ career shooting percentages from three-point range (38.7 percent) and the free-throw line (86.9 percent) further build his case as an enticing fantasy point guard. Even if Williams struggles out of the gate, he’ll likely have a long leash since his backups – Randy Foye, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley – are all underwhelming veteran options with limited ceilings.
11. JRUE HOLIDAY, 76ERS Holiday seemed to be well on his way toward joining the ranks of the truly elite point guards, but he hit a bit of a plateau last season. His
overall stats took a minor across-the-board hit last season despite good percentages, and he still hasn’t matured into the elite ball-hawk many expected he’d become out of UCLA. Consistency is one of his biggest problems. Holiday can be very streaky. The Sixers offense will have a very different look this season. Last year, they were all about sharing the ball and had a glut of ball handlers on the roster. Lou Williams led the team in scoring with an average under 15 points per game. But the addition of Andrew Bynum and several space-the-floor wing shooters would seem to indicate a move toward a more insideout style focused on Bynum. It will be interesting to see how well Holiday adapts to that, and how well he plays with Evan Turner, a pretty good passer who will get more run now that Andre Iguodala is a Denver Nugget.
12. KYLE LOWRY, RAPTORS Kyle Lowry is one of the NBA’s biggest teases. He always plays well when given an opportunity, but always seems to get stuck in a platoon. Last year was another great example. Lowry was playing at an All-Star level, but wound up clashing with Rockets coach Kevin McHale—and missing time due to a sports hernia. He became “Plan B” for Toronto when they lost out on Steve Nash, and could thrive as the Raptors’ lead guard, but general manager Bryan Colangelo still hasn’t resolved Jose Calderon’s status. It seems unlikely that the Raptors will pay the Spaniard over $10 million to sit on the bench. As such, Lowry could be stuck in yet another job share—at least until Colangelo can move Calderon’s deal, which expires after this season. Lowry is a very good rebounder for his size and position.
13. LOUIS WILLIAMS, HAWKS Despite coming off the bench last season, Williams led the 76ers in scoring at 14.9 points per game, as the team relied more on an ensemble cast than one true star. He signed a multi-year deal with his hometown Atlanta Hawks during the offseason and should continue to be used in a bench role with Jeff Teague and Devin Harris on the roster. That doesn’t necessarily mean a diminished role for Williams, who still managed to see 26.3 minutes per game last season backing up Jrue Holiday. As a starter or a sixth man, Williams should get extensive use by the Hawks for his abilities as a pure scorer, with Teague and Harris being facilitator types. Williams isn’t expected to help in many categories beyond scoring and three-point shooting, but he does those things very well and should see ample opportunity to showcase those strengths with the Hawks. Be aware that his scoring does come with a shooting percentage that has typically hovered in the low 40-percent range.
14. JEFF TEAGUE, HAWKS Teague proved capable in his first season as a starter, doubling nearly all of his per game averages from the year before. Of course, such improvement is to be expected when a player’s minutes rise from just 13.8 to 33.1 minutes per game. He faces a much stiffer challenge for playing time this season after the Hawks added Louis Williams, Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow to the guard mix. As long as there’s a roster jam in the backcourt, Teague may see a slight cut in minutes. Though the time crunch could adversely affect many of Teague’s counting stats, he’ll likely be relied on to be more of a pass-first point guard, so his assists per game could actually rise. Similar expectations may be placed on Harris as well, which may ultimately force coach Larry Drew to decide which of the two players he trusts more as a floor general. Teague is just 24 and entering his fourth NBA season, so he would seem to have more upside at this point than Harris, who will turn 30 in February. Teague will look to stake his claim to a starting job on the strength of his improved shooting. His field goal percentage rose to 47.6 percent in 2011-12 despite hoisting nearly six 8
POSITION PROFILES - POINT GUARD (cont...) more shots per game. The Hawks have talked a lot about Teague this offseason, painting him to be a centerpiece of their future. With Harris’ contract expiring after this season, there’s little doubt that Teague will be given more of a leadership role than Harris or the newly acquired Williams.
playmaker, so make sure your fantasy roster has another capable assist man. On the other hand, this will be the first time in Hill’s career he’s been handed a full-time starting job as a point guard.
15. STEVE NASH, LAKERS
With Tim Duncan closing in on the end of his stellar career and Manu Ginobili always nursing one injury or another, Tony Parker has become the primary driver of the San Antonio offense. “Driver” is the operative word, of course—Parker has never been much of an outside shooter. Defenses play him to make plays off the dribble, but they still have no end of trouble staying in front of him. That said, he’s never been a top-tier option in standard fantasy leagues because points and assists—and a pretty good shooting percentage—are essentially all you’ll get. Parker has never been a particularly good source of steals, doesn’t rebound much, and is a poor three-point shooter. He was injured early in the offseason when caught in a nightclub melee involving two rappers, but was able to recover in time to play for Team France at the London Olympics. He should have a clean bill of health well in advance of training camp.
While the Knicks and Raptors were fighting over Nash with competing sign-and-trade offers and poison pill offer sheets, the Lakers stepped up and grabbed the future hall-of-famer. He immediately becomes (apologies to Smush Parker) the best backcourt mate Kobe Bryant has ever had. Even at his advanced age, Nash remains one of the best passers and most efficient shooters in the league. But how will the Lakers use him? Mike Brown is famous—maybe notorious is a better word—for running an isolation-heavy offense through a perimeter player, but Nash—and Dwight Howard—are too good to stand around and watch Bryant set himself up. Knowing that, Los Angeles is adding Eddie Jordan to the coaching staff this year, and he’ll be installing some elements of the Princeton offense he ran in Sacramento and New Jersey. That should play to the strengths of both Nash and Pau Gasol and prevent any drop-off in Nash’s fantasy value.
16. RODNEY STUCKEY, PISTONS Stuckey wasn’t particularly consistent in 2011-12 in the scoring department, but seemed to hit his stride in March, putting together five 20-plus point performances over a six game span. However, he suffered toe and hamstring injuries shortly thereafter and wasn’t the same when he returned, averaging just 10.4 points per game on 36.4 percent shooting in April. The injuries caused Stuckey to miss 11 games, his second consecutive season of missing 10 or more games. That doesn’t make Stuckey as big of a health-risk as some other highly-rated shooting guards (Eric Gordon, Kevin Martin, and Dwyane Wade have all missed more games), but it remains something to be wary of. Perhaps more concerning for Stuckey is the challenge posed by Brandon Knight as the team’s alpha dog in the backcourt. While Stuckey faltered down the stretch, Knight played his best ball of the season in April, averaging 13.6 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting and chipped in 4.1 assists per contest. Expect the 20-yearold Knight to shoulder more of the scoring burden in his second year in the league, though that doesn’t mean Stuckey will be rendered obsolete. If he can avoid having his season curtailed by injury, Stuckey has a chance to slightly bump up his scoring and return to his career assist and rebound averages after falling off a bit last season.
17. GEORGE HILL, PACERS Hill struggled early on as the Pacers’ third guard, and it wasn’t until March that he started to get comfortable with his new team. Soon after, Darren Collison went down with an injury and Hill became the starting point guard and never relinquished the job. The Pacers had better chemistry with him in charge. The organization was happy enough to hand him a five-year, $40 million contract, and ship Collison to Dallas. As a point guard, Hill’s been a better scorer than
18. TONY PARKER, SPURS
19. RICKY RUBIO, TIMBERWOLVES Rubio accomplished a remarkable feat in his first NBA season. He made general manager David Kahn look awfully smart. The Spanish phenom was having a rookie of the year-type campaign, averaging 10.6 points, over eight assists, four rebounds and two steals per game—and shooting a much better-than-expected 34 percent from three-point range—when his knee gave out. He suffered tears to his ACL and LCL on March 9, ending his rookie year and putting his status for the start of the 2012-13 season into question. When he does return, he’ll be the established starter on a Minnesota team that is quickly growing into a dangerous team, which will only help his overall numbers.
20. MARIO CHALMERS, HEAT Chalmers understandably gets overlooked playing alongside the troika of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, but he continues to remain a safe bet to get extended minutes because of the team’s limited depth at point guard. Chalmers logged over 35 minutes a game during the postseason, with his best moment coming in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, when he scored 25 points on a blistering 9-for-15 from the field to help lead the Heat to a 104-98 win over the Thunder. Chalmers may be a point guard in name only, but still managed to be a steady contributor when James and Wade weren’t handling the rock. He averaged 9.8 points and 3.5 assists per game, but he was perhaps most useful defensively, recording 1.5 steals per game. Chalmers further bolstered his value by knocking down 1.6 threepointers per game, most often after being setup for a spot-up look from James or Wade. The injury-prone Wade has missed 15 or more games in four of his nine NBA seasons, and will be returning from a knee injury this season. If Wade is forced out of action for extended time again, Chalmers could be primed to assume a larger role in the Heat offense. The one thing that could threaten his playing time this season is how often the team opts to run a lineup that features Ray Allen off the ball with Wade or James serving as the point guard.
POSITION PROFILES - SHOOTING GUARD Rising =
1. DWYANE WADE, HEAT Wade ended up taking on a greater supporting role to LeBron James in the second year of their union, dropping his scoring by over three points per game and seeing his rebounds fall by nearly two per game. The trend continued during the Heat’s title run in the playoffs, as Wade’s scoring and rebounding crept up only marginally despite receiving six more minutes per game. On the health front, Wade once again had issues staying healthy, missing 17 games during the season. He was also forced to sit out the Summer Olympics after undergoing left knee surgery in the offseason. Wade is expected to be fully healthy for training camp, but how long the good health will last will always remains a pertinent question. Wade will turn 31 in January, and with James at the apex of his career, Wade could be content to settle into even more of a sidekick capacity, especially after the team added sharpshooter Ray Allen in free agency. The potential for a reduced workload and a lengthy injury history make Wade’s value a bit tenuous, though he offers across-the-board production if fantasy owners can temper their expectations and accept that he is on the down slope of his career.
2. JAMES HARDEN, THUNDER Harden raised his game in 2011-12, achieving career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and all three shooting percentages. Deservingly so, the accolades began to pile up for Harden, as he took home the Sixth Man of the Year Award, helped lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals, and perhaps most impressively, earned a roster spot on Team USA for the London Olympics. Harden’s talent is unquestioned, but from a fantasy perspective, there remains concern about just how high his ceiling can be as the Thunder’s third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant and Westbrook both attempted a shade under 20 shots per game last season, leaving Harden to settle for about 10 on most nights. Although Harden could still see a small bump upward in minutes (he averaged 31.4 last season) to help him boost his stat line, it’s hard to imagine him ever becoming a 20-point per game scorer with the Thunder unless an injury to Durant or Westbrook occurs. The real coming out party for Harden might be next year. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season, and with significant long-term money tied up in Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder may not have enough cash to keep Harden on board. If Harden were to land on another team as the franchise player or even as the second banana, he’d surely rocket up his value in 2013-14.
3. PAUL GEORGE, PACERS George grew both as a player and in the literal sense in his sophomore campaign, as his statistics improved across all categories after he grew two inches during the offseason. George finished with averages of 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 three pointers per game. It was on the defensive end where George really left his mark, as his rangy 6-foot-10 frame created matchup problems for opposing guards, resulting in George collecting 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. If there is a nit to pick with George, it’s that he noticeably regressed in the postseason. Despite receiving roughly four more minutes of action per game in the playoffs, George provided only 9.7 points per game on a feeble 38.9 percent shooting from the field. Fortunately for George, he’s still just 22 years old, and part of his postseason struggles can be attributed to inexperience. More importantly, George is still bigger than any guard in the league, and should see his rebounds, steals and blocks per game increase with the
added minutes he’s expected to receive this season. George’s only real threat for playing time is Gerald Green, a former first-round pick who returned to the NBA last season with the Nets after a three-year layoff. Green may provide more offensive potential than George, but the identity of this Pacers team is rooted in defense, and George is a pivotal part of that mission.
4. JOE JOHNSON, NETS After striking out in their efforts to trade for Dwight Howard, the Nets acquired Johnson to co-star with the newly re-signed Deron Williams as the team relocates to Brooklyn. After turning in five consecutive seasons averaging over 20 points per game, and being handsomely rewarded with a max contract, Johnson regressed some the last two seasons, scoring 18.8 points in 2011-12 and seeing his assists fall to 3.9 per game. He’s unlikely to improve his assist total playing as an offguard with Williams, but Johnson could see his scoring climb with more clean looks from three-point range. Johnson has always been a good complimentary scorer. He shot 38.8 percent from three last season; his highest percentage since posting a 47.8 percent mark in 200405 when he was playing alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix. If Johnson does experience a bump in scoring, expect it to be modest, as Williams and Brook Lopez will receive a large volume of shots as well. Playing with Williams should nonetheless allow Johnson to become a more efficient scorer, so his field goal percentage stands to improve with Williams commanding the attention of opposing defenses.
5. MARCUS THORNTON, KINGS Thornton continued to thrive in Sacramento after being acquired from New Orleans the season before, proving to be one of the more productive scorers in the league at the position. He compiled 18.7 points per game, rewarding fantasy owners who believed his post-trade production during the 2010-11 campaign was for real. Thornton likely could have provided even more value had he stayed completely healthy the entire season, but thigh and calf injuries caused him to miss 15 games. Thornton missed nine games in each of his previous two seasons, but shouldn’t be viewed as especially fragile. Whether he’s used as a starter or sixth man, Thornton has no issue with attempting shots, particularly from three-point range. He knocked down 2.1 threes per game last season (albeit at an underwhelming 34.5 percent clip), tying for sixth in the league. His 1.4 steals and 3.6 rebounds per game are respectable totals for a shooting guard. The Kings gave Thornton a sizeable contract last year, but Tyreke Evans’ reluctance to play most of his minutes at small forward could force the team to move Thornton to a bench role or reduce his minutes. The uncertainty of the Kings’ rotation is Thornton’s biggest enemy.
6. WESLEY MATTHEWS, TRAIL BLAZERS With the retirement of Brandon Roy, Matthews filled the shooting guard slot for the Trail Blazers and excelled at just about everything, except the “shooting” part. While Matthews held steady across pretty much every category, a 41.2 field goal percentage cut his scoring average down two full points per game. Matthews was plagued by an over-reliance on the jump shot, as he attempted nearly half a shot more from beyond the arc per game and shot at a lower percentage than the year before. He also got to the line a lot less, dropping from 3.8 free throws per game to 2.6. If Matthews can curb his outside shooting and get to the rack more frequently, he could emerge as Portland’s most viable perimeter threat. The team will likely lean on Matthews early on with rookie Damian Lillard slated to handle point 10
POSITION PROFILES - SHOOTING GUARD (cont...) guard duties, which should only help his numbers. Ideally, fantasy owners would like to see Matthews add more assists to his repertoire, but he makes up for that with his dependable steals totals (1.5 per game in 2011-12) and low turnover rate (1.1 per game). Though he perhaps relied on the three-ball too much, he still nailed two threes per game, tying for 12th in the NBA. Matthews has the potential to work out the kinks in his game and become an upper-level shooting guard this season.
7. KOBE BRYANT, LAKERS Despite dealing with a wrist injury, a broken nose, and shin soreness at various points throughout the season, Bryant still appeared in 58 of 66 games while producing a small uptick in his numbers in 2011-12. His playing time climbed nearly five minutes per game, allowing him to post 27.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, averages he hadn’t reached in the same season since 2007-08. Unfortunately for Bryant, the Lakers fell short of their goals as a team, bowing out in the second round to the Thunder. While Bryant spent his offseason playing with Team USA in the Summer Olympics, general manager Mitch Kupchak revamped Bryant’s supporting cast, adding Steve Nash via free agency and Dwight Howard in a trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. The acquisitions make the Lakers formidable on paper, but the confluence of talent figures to result in a diminished role for Bryant this season. Nash has traditionally thrived with the ball in his hands while flanked by an array of spot-up shooters, a profile that Bryant might not necessarily fit, as shown by his mediocre 33.9 percent career three-point shooting mark. Furthermore, the formidable frontcourt of Howard and Pau Gasol should get its fair share of shots as well, meaning Bryant’s 23 field goal attempts per game are all but guaranteed to fall. In the end, the hyper-competitive Bryant will likely remain the go-to guy during crunch time but should surrender some production in deference to the collection of talent surrounding him.
8. TYREKE EVANS, KINGS The emergence of Isaiah Thomas ultimately led the Kings to deploy the 6-6 Evans at shooting guard and small forward last season, roles probably better suited for his frame. Even so, Evans’ scoring dropped for the third consecutive season, as did his minutes. He managed to shoot a respectable 45.3 percent from the field, and supplemented his 16.5 points per game with a respectable 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists, although both were also career-lows. With a full complement of players healthy going into the season, the Kings could theoretically go with a small ball lineup in the backcourt in 2012-13, using Thomas at point guard and Marcus Thornton at shooting guard, allowing Evans to see time at small forward. In the frontcourt, the Kings added Thomas Robinson via the draft, a player who figures to be at the receiving end of several Evans assists, though likely with the cost of fewer shots for Evans. In spite of a potential change in position and the glut of duplicative talent on the roster, Evans’ value probably won’t fall too far, though the numbers of his rookie season (20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.8 apg) seem like a distant memory. He’ll most likely be outpaced on shot attempts by the likes of Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins again this season, but somebody has to be there to feed them, and on many occasions, it will be Evans. For Evans to take the next step in his development he’ll need to improve his three-point shot and learn to balance his game to effectively capitalize on scoring from deep and from attacking the basket and drawing fouls.
across the board. As he enters his sophomore campaign, the biggest challenge for Thompson will be finding his way with a slew of returning players in the mix. Thompson’s ascension came mostly while the Warriors were without the services of Stephen Curry (ankle injury), Andrew Bogut (ankle) and to a lesser extent, David Lee (groin). With those players back in the fold, and the addition of Harrison Barnes in the draft, Thompson probably won’t have as many touches on offense as he did in the waning months of last season. However, he still seems destined to be undervalued by those who glance solely at his overall statistics from last season, which are skewed downward from when Thompson was riding the pine early in his rookie year. He’ll need to bring up his assist and rebound totals while maintaining his lateseason scoring numbers in order to take the next step, but Thompson certainly has the potential to raise his game in 2012-13.
10. J.R. SMITH, KNICKS Smith’s 2011-12 season could best be described as a whirlwind. Due to the uncertainty of a season brought upon by the NBA lockout, Smith elected to sign a contract with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association stipulating that Smith would have to play out the entire season with the team, even though the NBA ultimately opened up shop in December. He would promptly set the Chinese league on fire, averaging 34.4 points per game, including one 60-point effort. In March, he signed with the Knicks just as Linsanity was becoming a worldwide buzzword. Smith re-signed with the Knicks over the offseason, and figures to get the bulk of the minutes at shooting guard with Landry Fields in Toronto and Iman Shumpert recovering from a torn ACL. When you draft Smith, it’s primarily for his ability to hit three pointers and score in bunches. Though he’s not regarded as a good defender, he still chipped in a career-high 1.5 steals in 27.6 minutes per game last season, providing a nice supplement to his scoring totals. Free agent signee Ronnie Brewer may be inserted as the nominal starter at shooting guard for the Knicks, but Smith has proven he can get his shots coming off the bench. The percentages from the field and from three-point range may not be pretty, but the raw numbers should be nice enough to offset that inefficiency.
11. MANU GINOBILI, SPURS After two years of relative health, Ginobili missed 32 of 66 games and struggled to 12.9 points per game, his lowest output since 2003-04. Part of that decline can be attributed to Ginobili only seeing 23.3 minutes of court action per game, as coach Gregg Popovich limited the playing time of veterans like Ginobili and Tim Duncan during the lockout-shortened season, particularly in games played on back-to-back nights. Ginobili will be 35 this season and likely didn’t do his body any good by tacking on extra mileage with Argentina in the Summer Olympics, though he did finish as the tournament’s third highest scorer. No longer hampered by the hand injury that cut his season in half, Ginobili should rebound somewhat in 2012-13, even though his years in the NBA are likely numbered. Ginobili should produce somewhere between his level of production from last season and 2010-11, where he accumulated a stat line of 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. However, even if an improvement is in order, don’t expect Ginobili to exceed 30 minutes a game, no matter whether he’s used as a starter or as the sixth man. Ginobili’s best days might be behind him, but he can still bring considerable value if he’s drafted appropriately.
9. KLAY THOMPSON, WARRIOS
12. TONY ALLEN, GRIZZLIES
The midseason trade of Monta Ellis opened the door for Thompson, who averaged 17.0 points and two three-pointers per game after the All-Star break. In leagues that take into account shooting percentages, Thompson provided quality returns, shooting a sublime .440/.397/.867
Allen is among the top perimeter defenders in the game and was recognized as such in 2011-12, winning NBA All-Defensive First-Team honors. From a fantasy perspective, he can easily get overlooked because he doesn’t fit the mold of the prototypical scoring two-guard 11
POSITION PROFILES - SHOOTING GUARD (cont...) (just 9.8 points per game last season), nor does he rack up gaudy assist numbers (1.4 per game). As one might expect of an AllDefensive team guard, Allen was among the league leaders in steals per game with 1.8 while adding a quality 4.0 boards per game. More understated was his impressive 46.9 percent shooting percentage. While that percentage is an unusually high number for a two-guard, it was actually a step back for Allen, who has shot 48.2 percent for his career and shot 51.0 percent in both of the previous two seasons. The most optimal approach for your fantasy roster would probably be to pair Allen with more of a scoring threat at shooting guard, combining to produce elite numbers at the position. Of course, if you pair Allen with another guard and their teams happen to be playing each other, just note that you may want to insert Allen in your lineup in that situation, since he’s almost certain to shut down his counterpart defensively.
13. MONTA ELLIS, BUCKS Ellis was traded to Milwaukee mid-season, and despite moving from the West Coast to the Midwest, his on-court situation was fairly linear. He moved from playing an undersized shooting guard with one young, three-point shooting point guard in Golden State (Stephen Curry) to another in Milwaukee (Brandon Jennings). As such, Ellis’ numbers in 21 games with Milwaukee were virtually identical to his previous 37 games with Golden State last season. With Jennings healthy (as compared to the oft-injured Curry missing games), Ellis did give way in his scoring a little, and having the ball out of his hands more helped reduce his turnovers. His points per game fell from 21.9 to 17.6 following the trade, though some of that decline can be attributed to adjusting to a new system, teammates, and role. He found his place in April, notching three 30-point games and shooting 46.2 percent from the field during the month. A more positive trend was Ellis’ improved turnover rate, as the less frenetic pace of the Bucks’ offense helped him drop his turnovers from 3.3 per game with the Warriors to 2.6 with the Bucks. The improvement gave Ellis to the best assist-to-turnover ratio of his career (1.95). With a full offseason to get acclimated to his team, Ellis could reasonably be expected to reclaim his status as a 20-point scorer given the underwhelming wing and frontcourt scoring options on the roster. His productivity in points, assists, and steals, and his improving turnover rate, should see him remain a top-tier shooting guard this season.
14. JASON TERRY, CELTICS Terry followed up the Mavericks’ title run in 2011 with what we’ve come to expect from the 35-year-old veteran: a host of three-point field goals and a scoring average in the mid-teens. Terry actually shot threes with even more frequency last season, attempting 5.8 per game and knocking down 2.2, his highest totals in both categories since the 2008-09 season. He’s now headed east to Boston, where he’ll be asked to essentially replace Ray Allen, who signed with the Heat in the offseason. Like he did for much of his tenure with the Mavericks, Terry will be asked to come off the bench as a designated shooter of sorts, with Courtney Lee tabbed as the starter. Terry may see a slight reduction in minutes as he enters his 14th NBA season, but the quality of his looks should only improve playing alongside the ultimate setup man in Rajon Rondo. After falling to 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent beyond the arc while playing with an on-his-last-legs Jason Kidd at point guard, Terry should get some help from Rondo should to return to his career percentages of 44.8 and 38.0, if not exceed them.
15. O.J. MAYO, MAVERICKS After being tossed around in trade rumors for the past two seasons, Mayo elected to change locales on his own terms, signing with the Mavericks as a free agent during the offseason. Mayo has the mentali-
ty of a go-to player, but often had to defer to Rudy Gay as the team’s primary perimeter option in Memphis. With the emergence of Tony Allen as a lockdown defender at shooting guard, Mayo ultimately was forced to accept a bench role and was limited to 26.8 minutes per game last season. With aging former stars Shawn Marion and Vince Carter representing Mayo’s only viable competition at the wing positions in Dallas, he should have little difficulty asserting himself as the Mavericks’ best offensive player in the backcourt. If Mayo receives 30-plus minutes as expected, there’s no reason to think he can’t come close to replicating the production he showcased in his first two seasons in the league, when he averaged 18.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Dirk Nowitzki still remains as the Mavericks’ No. 1 option offensively, but after a drop in his scoring for the second straight season, he may require some assistance from Mayo. However, if Mayo is to have success as the Robin to Dirk’s Batman, he’ll have to improve upon his shooting percentage, which sunk into the low 40s the past two seasons.
16. DANNY GREEN, SPURS Whether coming off the bench or starting, Green’s playing time fluctuated all over the place last season, making it frustrating for fantasy owners to count on him from night-to-night. Even so, it amounted to a career year for Green, who had been used mainly as bench filler prior to last year. Green averaged 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.9 steals per game in about 23 minutes of action per night. Perhaps more noteworthy was his prowess behind the arc, as he hit 1.5 threes per game at a 43.6 percent clip. The quintessential Spur, most of Green’s value often lies beyond the box score, but after he was signed to a threeyear, $12 million deal in the offseason, he could be primed for an increased role this season. Veterans Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili had their minutes managed more carefully last season, and additional cuts in their playing time could be on tap in 2012-13 to preserve the two for a playoff run. If that were to occur, Green, as well as Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter, would seem to be the primary beneficiaries of the surplus playing time.
17. ARRON AFFLALO, MAGIC Afflalo will be the starting shooting guard for the Magic this season after he was one of the principal pieces acquired in the blockbuster Dwight Howard trade. After playing with the high-octane Nuggets last season, Afflalo joins a new-look Magic team that figures to play at a much slower pace and with an inferior collection of talent. Afflalo’s supporting cast may be weaker, but from an individual standpoint, he figures to play a more integral role with his new team and could very well be the team’s top scorer. The 26-year-old proved hungry even after inking a five-year, $43 million deal with the Nuggets last offseason, improving his points per game by 2.6 and tying his career-bests in steals and assists per game. A consequence of his increased shot attempts was a drop in his shooting percentage, particularly from three-point range, where he dropped nearly three percentage points to 39.8 percent. Even with the regression, 40 percent from three-point range is nothing to scoff at, nor are Afflalo’s 1.4 threes per game. As perhaps the best player on a likely lottery-bound Magic team, Afflalo should see a bump in his minutes and improve upon his scoring and rebounding totals accordingly.
18. ANTHONY MORROW, BUCKS It seems Morrow is good for at least one eye-popping game per season to capture the attention of fantasy players. Such was the case on February 3 of last season, when Morrow scored 42 points while shooting an unconscious 8-of-11 from three-point range. Once again, hopes that the game represented a breakthrough for Morrow went for naught, as he managed just 11 points while shooting 4-for-12 shoot12
POSITION PROFILES - SHOOTING GUARD (cont...) ing from the field the very next game. Morrow has demonstrated that he’s one of the game’s most prolific shooters, owning a career threepoint percentage of 42.6 and an equally impressive 89.7 career freethrow percentage. After two seasons with the Nets, the Georgia Tech alum returns to his college town to play for the Hawks, who feature a deep mix at guard that includes Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Louis Williams, rookie John Jenkins, and another long range artist in Kyle Korver at small forward. If the Hawks opt to go with a small ball lineup, it’s reasonable to think Morrow will get more run at small forward, with Korver coming off the bench. It may take coach Larry Drew until the first half of the season to find what guard rotation works best, but Morrow’s status as an elite shooter should work in his favor. What could work against Morrow as a fantasy player are the limitations elsewhere in his game. He averaged 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.7 steals in 26.4 minutes per game last season, all of which are decidedly below-average numbers for a shooting guard receiving that much floor time.
19. J.J. REDICK, MAGIC Though it might have gotten lost in all the hysteria surrounding the Dwight Howard trade talks, Redick put together the best season of his career in 2010-11, scoring 11.6 points to go along with 2.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. As always, Redick’s success was predicated on his much-ballyhooed shooting stroke, as he turned in marks of 41.8 percent from three and 91.1 percent from the free-throw line. With Howard now finally traded, Redick looks like one of the few salvageable pieces on a rebuilding roster that includes expendable veterans such as Al Harrington, Hedo Turkoglu and Quentin Richardson.
Working against Redick’s favor is the presence of Arron Afflalo, another player the Magic will attempt to build around but a player that shares the same position as Redick. As a result, Redick will most likely come off the bench, a role he’s probably best suited for. That won’t necessarily equate to a decline in the 27.2 minutes per game he received last season, however. The hapless Magic will probably be trailing on most nights and will need someone to shoot them back into games, a scenario in which Redick would almost certainly receive extended time. It’s well within his ability to bring a team back on certain nights, though it won’t happen nearly often enough to offset the other deficiencies in his game, particularly on defense.
20. BRANDON RUSH, WARRIORS Coach Mark Jackson’s playing time situation in Golden State is a little murky right now, but Rush will be given the chance to compete for the starting small forward job, along with Richard Jefferson and rookie Harrison Barnes. Even if he doesn’t land the starting job, Rush is sure to get plenty of minutes, with Klay Thompson as the only legitimate shooting guard on the roster. Rush doesn’t have any real upside, but what you can expect is extremely efficient shooting percentages. Last season Rush shot 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from three and 79 percent from the line. Those percentages were all career highs for Rush, most notably his field goal percentage. He had never shot better than 42.3 percent from the field heading into last season. Despite his career year in efficiency, he was right around his typical counting stats, averaging 9.8 points, 3.9 boards and 1.5 three-pointers per game in 2011-12.
POSITION PROFILES - SMALL FORWARD Rising =
1. KEVIN DURANT, THUNDER Durant won his third-straight scoring title last season, averaging 28 points per game while shooting a career-high 49.6 percent from the floor. He also had career highs in three-pointers per game (2.0), rebounds (8.0), assists (3.5), blocks (1.2). All of the Thunder’s key rotation pieces remain intact, and they will undoubtedly be hungry to return to the NBA Finals behind Durant and Russell Westbrook. What’s scary is that Durant is clearly still improving, and there’s no reason he can’t put up even better numbers in 2012-13. He played in every game last season. Doing so for the second time in the last three years. Durant will surely be No. 1 on many draft boards this year, and it’s hard to argue that he’s not as valuable as any other player in fantasy due to his across-the-board contributions.
2. LEBRON JAMES, HEAT
scorer, but you can also always count on him for 6-plus boards per game and a bevy of three-pointers. His 3.7 attempts from long range last season was the second highest rate of his career. Anthony is a very safe late-second to early-third round pick, and should finish the season as a top-five player at his position.
5. NICOLAS BATUM, TRAIL BLAZERS Batum, who was a restricted free agent this summer, will be back with the Blazers to try and improve upon his solid campaign from a year ago. He is something of a poor man’s Kevin Durant, with his lanky frame, smooth jumper and impressive shooting percentages. He averaged 13.9 points, 4.6 boards, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block per game last season– all career highs. His real value comes from his efficiency. He shot 45 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three, and 84 percent from the line last year. Batum will be 24 this season and could improve, making him a high-upside pick on draft day.
James played the most efficient basketball of his career last season, shooting 53 percent from the floor – easily a career high. By taking more shots in the post and shooting a career-low 2.4 three-pointers per game, the NBA’s three-time Most Valuable Player found a way to become even better. His counting stats are always gaudy, and last year he averaged a career-high 7.9 boards to go with 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. It was clear throughout the regular season, and especially in the postseason, that Miami is James’ team and Dwyane Wade has taken a back seat to the king. He proved last season that he is always trying to get better, and after helping the U.S. Olympic team win a gold medal in London, James will be back with the weight of having won his first NBA championship off his shoulders. In addition to always putting up incredible numbers, James has never missed more than seven games in a season, so his productivity comes with some assurance. He is certainly worthy of consideration for the No. 1 pick in fantasy.
Last season was a bit of a disappointment for Gallinari and his fantasy owners. He seemed poised to breakout and become a legit go-to option for the Nuggets, but as has been the case throughout his career, injuries limited his production. He missed 23 games in 201112, after missing 16 games the previous season. Gallinari also dealt with back and shoulder injuries while playing internationally this summer. So, considering his previous issues staying on the court, expectations need to be somewhat tempered heading into the 2012-13 season. The Nuggets traded for Andre Iguodala this offseason and will be featuring Wilson Chandler more prominently as well, so Gallinari won’t be asked to do it all by himself. He’s never been as efficient of a shooter as many thought he’d be, but he has still put up between 14to-16 points per game over the past five seasons.
3. DANNY GRANGER, PACERS
7. RUDY GAY, GRIZZLIES
Granger has seen his numbers steadily decline each of the past three seasons, but he was still a top-10 small forward in 2011-12. That said, the writing is on the wall that Paul George and Roy Hibbert are the future in Indiana, and Granger very well may see his stats decline once again this season. Granger doesn’t get to the line as much as he once did, but he still makes plenty of three-pointers, finishing ninth in the NBA in threes made last season. His defensive stats are no longer above average. Granger finished with a career low 0.6 blocks per game last season, and his 1.0 steals per game were his worst average since the 2006-07 season. He’s still a valuable player in fantasy, just make sure your expectations are somewhat tempered.
Gay brings a lot to the table from a fantasy perspective, and his averages in the counting stats have been almost identical each of the past five seasons. The only negative on Gay’s resume from last season was his poor shooting from outside. He hoisted 2.7 threes per game, but only connected on 31.2 percent of them, down from 39.6 percent shooting from long range in 2010-11. After missing the end of the 2010-11 season with a dislocated shoulder, Gay returned last year and played in 65 of 66 games. He has averaged between 18-to-21 points per game each of the past five seasons, while maintaining a field goal percentage of 45 percent or better. He’s not much of a distributer, but his averages of 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks helped keep him in the top tiers of small forwards to target in drafts.
4. CARMELO ANTHONY, KNICKS Anthony’s ability to score can’t be denied, but last season his 22.6 points per game were his lowest average since 2004-05. His 43 percent shooting from the field was also the second worst percentage of his career. He struggled to fit in with Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire, but there’s reason to believe that could change this year. With Lin in Houston, Anthony should be able to score more freely and start to lead the Knicks. He was dominant on the U.S. Olympic team this summer, and though international basketball is a bit different from the NBA, Knicks fans will be hoping that Anthony was taking notes on the way players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James approach the game. Melo has averaged just 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks per game throughout his career, which has given him a reputation of being just a
6. DANILO GALLINARI, NUGGETS
8. PAUL PIERCE, CELTICS Pierce is one of the steadiest players in the league, as evidenced by him averaging between 18-to-21 points per game each of the past five seasons. He hasn’t averaged more than six boards since 2005-06, but last year his 4.5 dimes per game were his best average in the last seven seasons. Ray Allen’s departure from Boston could provide Pierce with a few more looks from the field, meaning that he could be a good value on draft day. His long-range shooting has been unpredictable throughout his career. Last year he hit 36.6 percent of his threes, but if he can approach the 41 percent mark that he reached three years ago, his value would increase significantly. The 35-year old small forward doesn’t have the upside that some younger players 14
POSITION PROFILES - SMALL FORW FORWARD (cont...) might offer, but if you can get Pierce in the fourth round or later, he’s definitely worth picking up for his steady play.
9. ANDRE IGUODALA, NUGGETS After eight seasons in Philadelphia, Iguodala was traded to Denver in the offseason. It’s a good fit on paper. The Nuggets love to run and finished first in the NBA in points per game last season. This fast paced style should lend itself to Iguodala’s ability to finish in transition. After playing on one of the 10 lowest scoring teams in the league last year, he should welcome a change of pace. Iggy has seen his scoring numbers decline each of the past four seasons, but given the change of scenery, there’s reason to believe that he should be able to plateau or exceed last season’s 12.4 points per game. Despite declining scoring tallies, Iguodala has kept up his strong numbers elsewhere, averaging 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists (second among forwards), and 1.7 steals (third among forwards) per game. The only cause for concern for Iguodala’s 2012-13 fantasy prospects is the number of capable small forwards on the Nuggets’ roster. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler will certainly get plenty of minutes, but coach George Karl should be able to find ways to play two or even three of those players at that the same time for large stretches this season. His athleticism, and the departure of Arron Afflalo, should mean Iguodala will slot into the starting shooting guard role for the Nuggets.
10. GORDON HAYWARD, JAZZ Hayward had a breakout sophomore season last year, thanks mostly to seeing almost twice as many minutes per game (30.5) than he saw as a rookie. He shot 45.6 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from downtown, and 83.2 percent from the line en route to averaging 11.8 points per game. Hayward’s versatility as a good distributor and average rebounder was seen in his averaging 3.5 boards and 3.1 assists. It’d be nice to see him average more than 0.8 steals, but his 0.6 blocks per game add up over the course of a season. Just 21 years old, Hayward averaged 37 minutes per game in the final month of last season and appears poised to carry the load as the starting shooting guard or small forward for the Jazz this season. Veterans Randy Foye and Marvin Williams will fight to get significant playing time, and youngsters Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll should also see minutes. With his youth and ability to shoot from anywhere on the court, Hayward is worth a middle-to-late round pick.
11. LUOL DENG, BULLS Deng once again showed in 2011-12 why he is one of the best fantasy bargains at the small forward position. He averaged 15-plus points per game for the fifth time in the past six years, and his 6.5 rebounds per game placed once again in the top-10 at the position. Deng averaged 16.7 points per game in the 24 regular season games that Derrick Rose missed last season, which was actually slightly less than the 17.4 points he averaged with Rose in 2010-11. With Rose expected to miss a good chunk of the 2012-13 season, the numbers don’t suggest that Deng’s numbers will be heavily impacted. In the past two seasons Deng has started to utilize the three-point shot more, and last season he averaged a career-high 1.5 threes per game on 36.7 percent shooting from deep. If he again makes the long-range shot an even bigger part of his game, that’s yet another category in which his owners can expect above average production. Deng is a safe, but relatively low-upside fantasy play for 2012-13.
12. KAWHI LEONARD, SPURS In Leonard, the Spurs got exactly what they thought they were getting with the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft—a starting small forward with a good motor and the ability to guard multiple positions. He
might be a better real life player than a fantasy player, because the Spurs’ depth means that Leonard likely won’t see typical starters minutes. However, in the 24 games he started at forward last season, Leonard averaged a solid 9.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 52 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 81 percent from the line. Assuming he sees slightly more than the 25.7 minutes per game he averaged as a starting forward last season, and assuming he takes a leap in his second year, there is a lot of potential here. One possible area for regression is Leonard’s threepoint shooting. He was never a 30 percent three-point shooter in college, so his 37.6 percent mark for the 2011-12 season was quite an improvement.
13. GERALD WALLACE, NETS Wallace was able to maintain strong fantasy numbers last season, despite playing on an underachieving Blazers team for half the season and then being traded to the lowly Nets. He averaged 15.2 points and 1.3 three-pointers in 16 games with the Nets last season, and while the acquisition of Joe Johnson should take some of his scoring chances away, he should be revitalized to once again be on a team with playoff aspirations. Wallace is one of many small forwards who specialize in contributing across the board, and playing a full season with a point guard like Deron Williams can only help his shooting percentages. Wallace, Andre Iguodala, and LeBron James are the only three players that have averaged at least 1.2 steals per game in every season since 2004-05. As he enters his 12th NBA season, Wallace should still have enough in the tank to once again hover right around the top-10 fantasy players at his position.
14. ANDREI KIRILENKO, TIMBERWOLVES After a 10-year run with the Utah Jazz and a one-year stop to play with CSKA Moscow last season, Kirilenko will make his new home as the starting small forward of the Minnesota Timberwolves. No longer the fantasy darling he once was five years ago, Kirilenko has still been extremely consistent over the past four years. The 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks he averaged in 201011 are almost identical to his numbers in the three previous seasons, so it’s fairly safe to expect more of the same from the 31-year-old Russian. AK-47 will share time at the three with Chase Budinger, but there shouldn’t be much of a playing time issue, considering how thin the T-Wolves are at the two. Kirilenko missed just two games in 201011 after missing at least 15 games in each of the two previous seasons, so hopefully he can remain on the court. Ricky Rubio (ACL) could return by December, and few players provide better looks for their teammates than Rubio, so Kirilenko should see plenty of easy looks courtesy of the Spanish point guard. If you are looking for lateround help at the three, with production in the defensive categories, Kirilenko could be the guy to target on draft day.
15. JARED DUDLEY, SUNS Dudley took some small steps forward in his first season as a full-time starter, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage. Dudley seems like the type of player that won’t ever blossom into a star, but he doesn’t have any major red flags in his game. His three-point shooting took a small hit last season, but since he’s shooting 40.9 percent for his career, there’s really not too much reason to complain about the decline. What is worth wondering is the extent to which Dudley’s accomplishments were a product of playing with a pass-first point guard in Steve Nash. With Nash headed to the Lakers this season, new signee Goran Dragic will likely call his own number on offense more often than Nash, but should still get his teammates involved in a similar fashion. While there may be some hiccups in the two players coalescing initially, Dragic and Dudley figure to 15
POSITION PROFILES - SMALL FORW FORWARD (cont...) eventually get comfortable playing alongside each other after the first few weeks of the season. While Dudley isn’t expected to assume a higher scoring load, it wouldn’t be shocking if he posts slight improvement in several categories once again, as it doesn’t appear that he’ll be heavily challenged for playing time.
16. ALONZO GEE, CAVALIERS After spending his first two NBA seasons being something of an afterthought on the bench, Gee finally earned regular, significant playing time last season, and he was able to make the most of it. Gee finished the season with averages of 10.6 points, 5.1 boards and 1.3 steals in 29 minutes per game. He posted surprisingly few blocked shots (0.3 per game) for someone with his length and athleticism. He also shot just 41.2 percent from the field, but that number is somewhat distorted by what turned out to be a horrible final month of the season for Gee, where he made just 34 percent of his shots. It’s also logical to assume that Gee’s three-point shooting improves in his second year as a key cog for Cleveland. Last season he attempted 2.2 shots per game from downtown, connecting on 32 percent. There’s certainly plenty of upside here, assuming Gee still sees significant minutes. He’ll be competing for minutes at the three with C.J. Miles, so it would be a boon for his perspective owners if he can win the starting job.
17. TREVOR ARIZA, WIZARDS After two productive years in New Orleans, Ariza is now the Wizards starting small forward, playing on his sixth team in nine years. The Wizards didn’t get much production from the three last year, and Ariza is certainly an upgrade over Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton. Washington’s new nucleus could be good enough to contend for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, and if that’s the case, Ariza should see the 32-plus minutes per game he has seen over the past three seasons. He has averaged 10-plus points, 5-plus boards and 1.5-plus steals per game in each of those seasons. The one drawback here is his poor shooting percentages. Last season was the first time he has shot better than 40 percent from the field since the 2008-09 season, and he has never been a 35 percent three-point shooter. Still, late in the draft, there is enough to like here, and the crop of ownable small forwards gets ugly in a hurry after Ariza.
18. MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST, HORNETS The number two overall pick for the Bobcats in the 2012 NBA Draft should get plenty of opportunities to be one of the key contributors for Charlotte right out of the gate. Billed as an extremely hard worker, Kidd-Gilchrist will add fantasy value by his hunger on the glass and his ability to score in transition. The case could be made that he has the most fantasy upside of any rookie small forward. Nobody on the
Bobcats roster has earned any status as a go-to option on offense, but that might not be MKG’s game right out of the gate. His jump shot is a bit unorthodox, but players like Shawn Marion have been able to thrive in the NBA on hustle and athleticism. There is time for his jumper to come a bit later. Ben Gordon, Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker might not be good enough to discourage the rookie from trying to take over at points, and his ability to get to the line will also make him a viable scoring option in tight games. In keeper leagues, he has significantly more value, but he should be drafted in the middle-to-late rounds in almost all formats for the 2012-13 season.
19. DORELL WRIGHT, PHI What a difference a year makes. Wright was one of the most improved players in the league in 2010-11, and was one of the premier threepoint marksmen in basketball. Then last season, with a new regime and some lineup shuffling, Wright’s numbers took a heavy hit. He didn’t play significantly worse; his minutes just got sliced from 38.4 minutes per game to 27 minutes per game, and his other numbers dropped off accordingly. Wright could figure to start at the three for the 76ers. The only problem is he’s surrounded by more proven wings in Philly than he ever was in Golden State. With Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Nick Young and Jason Richardson all in the fold, Wright will have to impress coach Doug Collins to see 30-plus minutes per game in 2012-13. It’s hard to see him approaching the season he had two years ago, but he could definitely do better than his 2011-12 numbers. Wright can still stroke it – he shot 36 percent from downtown, making 1.3 three-pointers per game last season. Late in a draft, Wright is certainly worth a flyer, especially since we’ve already seen him display how good he can be in fantasy when given enough minutes.
20. SHAWN MARION, MAVERICKS The 34-year-old Marion is entering his 14th NBA season, and though he’s certainly nowhere near his prime, he hasn’t slowed much in the past three seasons. He’s still good for the occasional double-double, averaging 10.6 points and 7.4 boards per game last season, but Marion also has shortcomings. He shot 29.4 percent from downtown last season, which was a dramatic improvement over any of his postPhoenix seasons. Last season’s 44.6 percent shooting from the floor was his worst percentage since the 2003-04 season, which led to a slight drop in points per game (10.6, down from 12.5 points per game in 2010-11). However, he can still be counted on for about one steal per game. Regarded as one of the premier on-ball defenders at the three, Marion is relatively without competition at the three in Dallas, so he should once again see around 30 minutes per game and offer some value in deep leagues.
POSITION PROFILES - POWER FORWARD Rising =
1. JOSH SMITH, HAWKS In a season that started with Smith requesting a trade out of Atlanta, the forward posted career-best numbers, averaging 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds in 66 games. He benefitted greatly from Al Horford’s injury, becoming the team’s primary frontcourt threat on offense while continuing to be disruptive on defense—recording high numbers of both blocks and steals. Smith has eased off the trade talk, perhaps because he’s entering the final year of his deal and can see free agency around the corner. If Smith continues to mature and delivers another boffo season, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent come next summer and will finally be in a position to play choose where he’ll play. Or maybe Smith is quiet these days because he’s giving new general manager Danny Ferry a chance before popping off. Ferry barely moved into his new offices before he traded Joe Johnson to New Jersey and Marvin Williams to Utah. Coach Larry Drew has been left with a guard-heavy team after the trades. Ferry envisions a bigger role for Smith, making use of his passing ability and having the ball move through him more. Smith has averaged 3.8 assists over the past three seasons, and any increased possessions could lead to even greater stat stuffing. It should be an interesting season for Smith in Atlanta, a franchise looking to shape its new core. Is Smith part of the next-generation of Hawks? Does he even want to be? It will all play itself out this season and Smith should be highly motivated for both personal and team reasons.
2. KEVIN LOVE,
It seemed Love had established his fantasy value in 2010-11, when he averaged 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds. How does it get better than that? How does six more points per game sound? Love built on his breakout 2010-11 season with even better production during the shortened 2011-12 NBA season, increasing his scoring average to 26.0 per game while not sacrificing too much in the way of rebounding (13.3). The presence of Nikola Pekovic lightened Love’s burden on the glass, allowing him to increase his 3-point attempts (5.1 per game). As a three-category (scoring, rebounding, three-pointers) monster, Love is a no-brainer first-round selection in fantasy drafts. However, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in traditional bigman categories in which Love doesn’t do well. He managed just 0.5 blocks per game, and his shooting percentage dipped below 45 percent (44.8) for the first time in his career. Health-wise, Love was limited to 55 games (of a possible 66) because of a concussion. Obviously, we saw him playing in the Olympic Games, so that episode is no longer an issue. Though concussions do have a way of recurring.
3. LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE, TRAIL BLAZERS Aldridge put up big numbers for a second consecutive season, averaging 21.7 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds per game while leading the Trail Blazers in minutes played. He suffered a hip injury late in the season, but he’s been pretty durable throughout his run in Portland. All indications at this point say the hip is fine, and Aldridge has been cleared for five-on-five work. At 27-years-old, we’re looking at an emerging star at power forward entering his prime years. Aldridge is the cornerstone of the franchise as it enters a transitional phase. There was a lot of roster turnover in the offseason, and no bigger change than at head coach, where Terry Stotts will takeover. Stotts is considered a great offensive mind in the NBA, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can draw more production from Aldridge. Finding a center to lineup next to Aldridge will be a concern going for-
ward. Aldridge had been anticipating playing with 7-2 Roy Hibbert, whom the Blazers signed to an offer sheet, but the Pacers matched the offer sheet to keep Hibbert. For now, teams can collapse on Aldridge, but he’s very polished on the low blocks and has a midrange game as well. He’ll find his offense, and the team will likely lean on Aldridge with rookie Damian Lillard expected to be the starting point guard.
4. PAU GASOL, LAKERS For the third consecutive season, Gasol posted a double-double with 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Defensively, he’s gotten better over the years, though all that really matters defensively in fantasy hoops for big men is if they can average more than a block per game. Gasol averages 1.7 per game for his career. He has an impeccable low-post game, but is varied enough to work off another big man, which came in handy whenever Andrew Bynum was healthy. With Bynum healthy all last season, Gasol’s numbers didn’t drop a bit. All this bodes well for 2012-13 when Gasol will line up next to Dwight Howard. Gasol’s rebound rate could drop, but imagine all the open looks he’ll get while opponents double-team Howard. Gasol has a good mid-range shot, and is coordinated enough to work against defenders with his face-the-basket arsenal of offensive moves. In addition to the game’s most dominant center in the house, Gasol will get to play with Steve Nash, who made Marcin Gortat a double-double producer.
5. PAUL MILLSAP, JAZZ Millsap kept chugging along in 2011-12, averaging 16.6 points and a career-high 8.8 rebounds per game. The Jazz have never regretted their decision to match Millsap’s offer sheet when they let Carlos Boozer walk in the summer of 2010. Though somewhat undersized at 6-8, Millsap is a good rebounder and very strong. He can keep up with the league’s bigger fours on defense as well. He had a careerhigh 1.8 steals per games last season and averages 1.0 blocks per game for his career. Health has not been an issue. He hasn’t missed more than six games in any of his six NBA seasons. Entering his prime, Millsap should be a pretty safe fantasy pick, although the Jazz do have a logjam at power forward. Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will attempt to balance the need to develop Derek Favors at power forward along with giving Millsap the minutes he deserves. With Millsap entering the final year of his contract, and a replacement ready at power forward, he seems like a candidate to be traded before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in next summer. The Jazz offered him a contract extension, but Millsap rejected it, preferring to test the free-agent waters. Whether he stays in Utah or is traded, Millsap should continue to be a productive power forward.
6. ERSAN ILYASOVA, BUCKS Raise your hand if you won your fantasy basketball league and had Ilyasova on your team. The forward from Turkey capitalized on injuries to other Bucks frontcourt players to breakout in 2011-12, shooting 45 percent from 3-point range while averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in just 27.6 minutes per game. He finished second in voting for the league’s Most Improved Player award. Ilyasova has shown flashes of promise plenty of times throughout his career. When finally given an extended look last season, he seemed to display real improvement, and not just a player getting more minutes. He shot six percentage points better from the field and 16 percentage points bet17
POSITION PROFILES - POWER FORW FORWARD (cont...) ter from 3-point range, relative to the previous season. Ilyasova emerged from a crowded forward rotation mid-season and averaged 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game after the AllStar break. Ilyasova was in the final year of a deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent, so there is an argument out there that he was more motivated to play for a new contract. Ilyasova will be the team’s primary option in the frontcourt, but the team will continue to be lead by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis in the backcourt.
7. KEVIN GARNETT, CELTICS While he may no longer be an elite fantasy big man, Garnett proved to still have plenty left in his tank during the 2011-12 season. After a rash of injuries to the Celtics’ frontcourt, Garnett was asked to slide over to center and carry the load for the team in the post. The 36-year-old responded by averaging 15.8 points per game – his highest mark since the 2008-09 season. His offensive output even improved as the season wore on, resulting in a 17.0 scoring average after the All-Star break. He also continued to be useful on the boards and defense, pulling down 8.2 rebounds per game while adding 1.0 blocks and 0.9 steals. His shooting percentage was a steady 50.3 percent, but Garnett’s value really shined at the charity stripe as he shot 85.7 percent, which was the third-highest percentage in the league at the power forward/center position. Boston drafted two young big men (Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo) and will have Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox back from injury, so Garnett won’t be asked to carry as big of a load going forward, but he still remains a valuable fantasy commodity.
8. SERGE IBAKA, THUNDER Ibaka’s game continued to develop in 2011-12 when the third-year forward averaged 9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and a league-best 3.7 blocks per game. For the third straight season, Ibaka shot over 50 percent from the field, though his free-throw percentage took a hit back to 66 percent. He’s developed a pretty good jump shot, but is best when getting out in transition. The Thunder appreciated his work enough to sign him to a four-year contract extension this offseason. It says something that the franchise locked him up long-term, leaving little salary room to keep James Harden, who could command big dollars next summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. If they can’t keep Harden, or they eventually amnesty Kendrick Perkins (next season), a larger role for Ibaka will come. For now, the Thunder will settle for minor improvements—some low-post development and more accurate free-throw shooting are good places to start. For the blocks alone, Ibaka is worth a roster spot on fantasy teams.
9. DAVID LEE, WARRIORS Lee narrowly missed averaging a double-double in 2011-12, posting 20.1 points on 50.3 percent shooting with 9.6 rebounds per game. At 29, Lee’s motor showed no sign of stopping. Golden State was bereft of quality big men that could impact games, so coach Mark Jackson relied heavily on the Florida grad. He averaged over 37 minutes a game last season and has averaged 36.8 over the past three seasons. Though perhaps the burden is starting to show; Lee’s season ended early because of torn abdominal and adductor muscles, which required surgery. He was cleared for full-contact work back in July and is expected to be ready when camp opens up. The upcoming season, Lee will be getting some help. Andrew Bogut will start at center and Carl Landry was signed as a backup in the frontcourt. A little less playing time will help keep Lee fresh and available for the long haul. Lee’s never been a shot blocker, but he’s managed to average 1.0 steals per game over his career, so he can bring something to the defense categories. With more scoring options on the floor—Bogut, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson—Golden State won’t need Lee
hoisting a career-high 16.2 shots per game, as he averaged last season, though he will remain a nightly double-double threat.
10. CHRIS BOSH, HEAT Through his first two years in Miami, Bosh averaged 18.7 points/8.3 rebounds (2010-11) and 18.0 points/7.9 rebounds (2011-12). The days of Bosh averaging 20-plus points are over—that’s something we expected. But with the lack of depth in Miami’s frontcourt, he would seem to be a shoo-in for 10-plus boards, and it’s hard to understand why he’s struggled to average double-digit rebounds. When healthy at the end of the season, and during the playoffs, Bosh was being used as the Heat’s starting center, and their lack of aggression in acquiring a center this offseason has lead many to speculate that Bosh will serve as the team’s full-time starting center next season. If that is the case, Bosh should be kept closer to the basket and would be in position to collect more consistent rebounds. Health-wise, Bosh missed some time in the playoffs because of an abdomen injury, but that’s not expected to be a problem for the upcoming season.
11. ANTHONY DAVIS, HORNETS Davis was the prize of the 2012 draft and comes to New Orleans brimming with confidence after winning the NCAA title and then returning home from the London Olympics with a gold medal. At 220 lbs., the 19-year-old Davis will need to bulk up to withstand the crowded areas near the hoop, even though he’s already considered a good defender. His post up game—heck, his overall offensive game— needs improvement, but he should be able to contribute right away as a rebounder and shot-blocker in the NBA. Improvement will come, but he won’t be finely tuned in just one offseason. Davis showed he can finish pretty effectively at the University of Kentucky, which will help in the pick-and-roll crazy world of the NBA. He joins Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick and Jason Smith all looking for minutes. Davis and Anderson should get the bulk of the minutes at power forward. If the Hornets want to push the ball, Davis is athletic enough to do that. As a finisher, he’ll thrive in an offense that pushes the ball, while disguising the things he doesn’t do well. Kentucky coach John Calipari spoke a lot about Davis sacrificing the finer parts of his offensive skill set to help fit into the mold of Kentucky’s team plan last season, and there’s been some talk that Davis’ early years in high school as a point guard could mean he has the handles and perimeter game to contribute in several aspects of the game that he wasn’t asked to play a part in with Kentucky. If those assertions prove true, Davis could have a higher ceiling in the NBA than what he showed at Kentucky.
12. RYAN ANDERSON, HORNETS Anderson won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2011-12 while averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds and shooting 39.3 percent for Orlando. The award sounds nice, but sometimes being most improved means a player just got a chance to play more minutes. And that’s what happened for Anderson, who averaged 10 more minutes per game. He made the most of the extra playing time and earned himself a four-year deal with the rebuilding Hornets. It may be hard for Anderson to replicate his production in 2012-13. One hurdle is that there were more shooters to defend on Orlando’s roster last season than will line up with him in New Orleans. Playing off Dwight Howard is not the same as playing off Robin Lopez. Anderson, who has a reputation of playing away from the basket, was a surprising fifth in the league in offensive rebounding last season. We’re expecting a drop in his rebounding production this year. He’s supposed to see most of his time at small forward and power forward but could also see some minutes at center. How opponents defend Anderson and scheme
POSITION PROFILES - POWER FORW FORWARD (cont...) against the team will change. He’ll draw more attention. He’s got value as a long-distance shooter—the Hornets ranked 23rd in three-point shooting and 29th in offense—so someone like Anderson is needed in New Orleans. After Eric Gordon, Anderson should get the second most shots on this team.
13. DAVID WEST, PACERS One year into a two-year deal in Indiana, West experienced drops in several major categories. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 10.8 shots per game—all lower than his career averages. Coming off knee surgery, West benefitted from the lockout and was ready when the regular season tipped off in December, though he clearly struggled early on. He was brought along at a measured pace, averaging just 29.2 minutes per game, a career-low as a full-time starter in the NBA. However, once the playoffs hit and the Pacers needed his playoff experience, West played nearly nine more minutes per game. Not lining up with Chris Paul had an effect, that’s for sure, but he also wasn’t a top option offensively. Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert led the team in shots, and we suspect the Pacers to develop Hibbert even more after the center signed a four-year deal in the offseason. Third-year shooting guard Paul George should get more looks this season as well. One more year removed from surgery should improve West’s mobility, which will translate to more rebounds and more attacks on the hoop for free throws. But a return to the scoring averages he put up with the Hornets—when he averaged at least 17.1 points as a fulltime starter—is not likely to happen.
14. DIRK NOWITZKI, MAVERICKS Nowitzki and the Mavericks had a slow start to the 2011-12 season, due in part to conditioning and some early-season knee problems. He struggled to find his shooting stroke, particularly from 3-point range, before kicking it into gear for the final three months. He finished the season averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 rebounds—below his career averages. His shooting percentages were also bit off, but not deadly to fantasy teams. In a sign that age, or the knee, was bothering him, Nowitzki attempted more three-pointers in 2011-12 than in any of the three previous seasons, while getting to the free-throw line less often. He’s now entering his age-34 season, and we’ve noticed some slippage. If you’re into the PER rating, Nowitzki dropped from ninth overall in 2010-11 to 20th overall after last season. The Mavericks are reshuffling the deck, leaving Nowitzki to figure out how to mesh within a significant roster turnover for the first time in years. While still an elite producer at power forward, the need for him to remain at that high level may be greater with a new cast in place. How will O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, and Elton Brand fit with Nowitzki? In his last two seasons, Nowitzki was able to reduce his minutes per game with minor drops in scoring and rebounding. With the new crew, will he be asked to play 36 minutes a night? Can he handle such a workload at age 34? However it plays itself out, Nowitzki is still an elite threat and marksman from any spot on the court. Offensively, there’s no weakness in his game. He remains Dallas’ unquestioned leader on offense.
15. KENNETH FARIED, NUGGETS Faried surprised basketball watchers in 2011-12 when he ended up starting 39 of the 46 games he played. He wasn’t getting off the bench much early in the season, but coach George Karl was won over by Faried’s energy and work on the boards. He averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 22.6 minutes per game, numbers that bumped up to 11.7/8.4/1.14 in 25.2 minutes per game after the All-Star break. Faried still has some work left to polish and extend his offensive game, and it’s not out of the question that he picks up a few more shots per game. The Nuggets revamped in the offseason, adding
Andre Iguodala, while getting rid of Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington. There should be some extra shots available for Faried, who should line up as Denver’s starting power forward to start the season.
16. KRIS HUMPHRIES, NETS After consecutive seasons averaging a double-double, we’re sold on Humphries as a contributor in the right situation. Playing for an improving Nets team, Humphries followed his breakout 2010-11 by averaging 13.8 points and 11.0 rebounds—up from the 10.0/10.4 he posted the season before. Getting to run with one of the game’s premier point guards certainly helps, and Humphries will be doing that for another couple seasons at least. He signed a two-year deal in July and will return as Brooklyn’s starting power forward. Had the Nets succeeded with their plan to acquire Dwight Howard, we’d be much less bullish on Humphries. But Howard will not be in Brooklyn this season, so Humphries should once again be the primary rebounder in their frontcourt. Scoring at the same level might be hard to repeat with Joe Johnson joining the team via trade this offseason. The league seems to have respected Humphries’ game a little more last season. His 53-percent field-goal accuracy from 2010-11 dropped to 48 percent in 2011-12. Hump shot just 45 percent after the All-Star break.
17. TIM DUNCAN, SPURS Duncan’s not a sexy pick any longer. He won’t elicit oohs and aahs when you select him in the fifth round or later. Consistency rarely gets a reaction. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich continued his Duncan preservation project, limiting the big man’s minutes to 28 per game last season, in addition to giving him occasional nights off. Duncan averaged 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game despite the drop in minutes—lower than his career per-game averages—but his perminute numbers remain static. And those per-game averages were up from the career-lows he set the previous season. He hovered around 50 percent shooting (49.2) and blocked more than a shot per game (1.5). We know the downside by now: his free-throw shooting remains in the 70-percent range, the reduced minutes, and his age. Duncan will be 36 when the regular season tips off. The Spurs re-signed him for another three seasons this offseason. If you don’t jump too early, Duncan should be a great value pick from the fifth round and beyond.
18. CARLOS BOOZER, BULLS The Bulls bought into Boozer on the wrong side of his career arc. Once a double-double machine in Utah and thought to be part of Chicago’s “big three,” Boozer has experienced drop offs in each of his first two seasons with the Bulls. He averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, which aren’t bad numbers, but not worth an average annual salary of $15 million. On the bright side, Boozer played and started all 66 games in the lockout-shortened season. Not many players can make that claim in a season when a dayto-day injury meant missing four games. While the trend on Boozer is heading downward, circumstances point to a bigger scoring role in 2012-13. Former MVP point guard Derrick Rose will miss approximately half the season. As we’ve seen the past few seasons, the Bulls have become Rose’s team, so Rose’s absence from the lineup opens up opportunities for others. Without him, we expect more offense to run through Boozer in the low post, where he still maintains an arsenal of moves. And he can be effective out to mid range. We’ll also need to see how Luol Deng copes with a torn ligament in his wrist. Deng is electing to not have surgery, but that doesn’t mean the wrist won’t become an issue. If another core piece of the Bulls’ offense is forced to miss time, Boozer could have strong stretches where the Bulls are forced to put a lot of the offensive load on his shoulders this season.
POSITION PROFILES - POWER FORW FORWARD (cont...)
19. THADDEUS YOUNG, 76ERS Young was once again a key reserve for the Sixers in 2011-12, coming off the bench in all but one game. Despite his role on the second unit, Young was fourth on the team in minutes played (28) and third in scoring (12.8). He was one of eight players in coach Doug Collins’ rotation that averaged at least 25 minutes a night. That kind of socialist playing time distribution tends to suppress everyone’s statistics, so Young enters the 2012-13 season low on pre-draft ranking lists. What could change for Young this season? With Andrew Bynum acquired via a trade from the Lakers, Spencer Hawes will shift down and start at power forward. Kwame Brown was also signed in the offseason to play center. Young was used almost exclusively as an undersized power forward last season. The extra size the Sixers added this offseason will still allow him to get some time as a backup power forward, but if he’s going to come close to averaging 28 mpg again, Young will have to find a way to push for minutes in the small forward rotation. That will be difficult with Evan Turner and Dorell Wright ahead of him on the depth chart and Nick Young and Jason Richardson using most of the shooting guard minutes, stopping Turner and Wright
from shifting down a position too regularly. We’re not counting Young out yet, but he’s a strong candidate to be a fantasy bust.
20. ELTON BRAND, MAVERICKS Brand was amnestied in the offseason after averaging a career-low 11.0 points/7.2 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game for Philadelphia. He was part of the Sixers’ resurgence in 2010-11, but they’ve moved on without him. Enter the Mavericks, a team that has lacked quality low post threats for several years. They had the winning bid on amnesty waivers and got Brand at a mere $2.1 million for this season. Brand feels he has something left to give and should be motivated in what now turns out to be one-year deal. He’ll split time at both the four and five, backing up Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman. He probably won’t be asked to play more than 30 minutes a night, so we’re expecting the rebounding numbers to remain subdued, though he should remain a good source of blocked shots. He does many things well on the low block to get himself into position to score, but it’s unlikely he becomes a focal point of the second unit’s offense. Not with Vince Carter around.
POSITION PROFILES - CENTER Rising =
1. AL JEFFERSON, JAZZ
4. GREG MONROE, PISTONS
In 2011-12, Jefferson put together his best season since suffering an ACL tear back in his right knee back during the 2008-09 season. The Jazz center finished with averages of 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and a career-high 77.4 from the charity stripe. Utah has two young big men to build around with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but Jefferson will open the season as the team’s starting center and primary scorer once again. He is entering the final year of his contract, though, so Jefferson will be a candidate to be traded before the deadline. But even if Jefferson does get moved, it would likely be for a team that wants him to play a similar role. The 27-year-old center may never return to the 23-point, 11-rebound levels we saw from him prior to his ACL injury, but he has proven to still be one of the better lowpost scorers in the league while managing to stay relatively healthy the past three seasons. His best years may be behind him, but Jefferson is still young enough to be a quality fantasy center for a handful of years if his body continues to hold up.
With a breakout season in 2011-12, Monroe solidified himself as the Pistons’ primary building block and one of the more intriguing young big men to target in fantasy. In just his second season in the NBA, the Georgetown product put together averages of 15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while showing effectiveness from both the floor (52.1) and charity stripe (73.9). He showed vast improvements in his offensive game during his sophomore season, taking and hitting mid-range jumpers with confidence while also being able to take most opposing big men to the rack and finish with a sweeping, left-handed baby hook. While athletic, Monroe isn’t a highflyer and spends most of his time below the rim. This has resulted in an average of just 0.6 blocks per game through his first two seasons. As his defensive game develops, Monroe will start swatting away more shots, but he’ll never be an elite shot blocker like other big men. Instead, Monroe will rely on his ability to rack up good amounts of steals and assists – both of which are a rare treat from a center-eligible player. The Pistons will continue to give Monroe more of the load to shoulder, so his best days should be ahead of him. If you’re looking to go young in your fantasy frontcourt, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many up-and-coming big men more attractive than Monroe.
2. MARCIN GORTAT, SUNS The former backup to Dwight Howard cemented himself as a quality fantasy option at center in his first full season with the Suns. Gortat racked up career-highs across the boards, finishing with averages of 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while playing 32 minutes per game. The 28-year-old center also proved to be durable, appearing in all 66 games for Phoenix. He was great at running the pick-androll with Steve Nash, showing the ability to cut to the rim for an easy finish or popping out for a 10-foot jumper. Of course, the Suns lost Nash to the Lakers this offseason, so Gortat won’t have a premier playmaker setting him up this season. He should still prove to be productive for the rebuilding Suns, though, as the team will likely go to Gortat in the low post early and often. Plus, with Jermaine O’Neal as the only other center currently on the Suns’ roster, Gortat could see a boost in playing time. There will be plenty of other attractive names at the center position on draft day, but don’t forget about Gortat in the early-to-middle rounds if you’re targeting a dependable pivot who will provide double-double production on a nightly basis.
3. MARC GASOL, GRIZZLIES After signing a lucrative five-year, $58-million deal prior to the 2011-12 season, Gasol proved to the Grizzlies he was worth the investment by putting together one of his best campaigns as a pro. The big (7-1, 270) bruising center tied a career-high scoring mark by averaging 14.6 points per game. He also continued to work hard on the glass, pulling down 8.9 boards per contest. His shooting percentage dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his career, but Gasol still managed to shoot an effective 74.8 percent from the free-throw line. On the defensive side of the ball, Gasol was better than ever, posting averages of 1.9 blocks and 1.0 steals. The sneakiest part of his value comes from his passing skills, as Gasol dished out 3.1 assists per game last season, which led all centers. The only knock against Gasol’s stellar season is that much of the production came with Zach Randolph, who missed 38 of 66 games, on the shelf. But even with Randolph healthy and starting along side him in the playoffs, Gasol still managed to average 15.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 blocks. At 27, Gasol is in the prime of his career and should continue to blossom as the Grizzlies’ starting center.
5. DEMARCUS COUSINS, KINGS While all the question marks that have surrounded Cousins about his character and maturity throughout the years are still legit, there’s no mistaking he’s an elite-level talent after his sophomore campaign with the Kings. After an up-and-down rookie campaign, Cousins turned into a double-double machine in 2011-12, finishing the season with averages of 18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks in under 31 minutes per game. His play only got stronger as the season went on, as he averaged 19 or more points each of the final three months of the regular season. Despite the breakout, Cousins still needs to improve his decision making, which led to a 44.8 percent shooting percentage, 2.7 turnovers and 4.0 fouls per game. With smarter play, he should see extra playing time. Talent-wise, though, it’s tough to argue with what Cousins has to offer. He has an array of low-post moves, while also being able hit outside shots or take similar sized big men off the dribble. After the firing of Paul Westphal early last season, it’s clear the Kings are committed to building around Cousins. Given his vast amount of potential, fantasy owners should consider doing the same.
6. AL HORFORD, HAWKS After suffering a torn pectoral muscle during the 11th game of the year, Horford spent the rest of the 2011-12 regular season on the shelf. In the 10 regular season games Horford played from start to finish, he was his normal productive self, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals in 34 minutes per game. He returned to average 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals for the final three playoff games of the postseason without showing any effects from the injury. Horford even played for the Dominican Republic National Team this summer, so the pectoral injury appears to be behind him. Things will definitely look different when he rejoins the Hawks for the 2012-13 campaign, though. Atlanta had a massive roster overhaul, which included trading away Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. With Johnson gone, in particular, the Hawks will need other players to carry their offense. Horford, along
POSITION PROFILES - CENTER (cont...) with Josh Smith, will now be the center pieces for the Hawks’ new attack, so don’t be surprised if Horford easily surpasses his careerhigh mark of 12 shot attempts per game set during the 2010-11 season. Increased usage rates usually mean good things for a player’s fantasy value.
7. ANDREW BYNUM, 76ERS Bynum easily put together the best season of his career in 2011-12, posting career-high marks in scoring (18.7), rebounding (11.8) and minutes (35). The heavier workload didn’t affect Bynum’s efficiency, as he shot 55.8 percent from the floor and a solid (for a big man) 69.2 percent from the free-throw line. He also continued to be a beast on the defensive side of the ball, swatting away 1.9 shots per game. The primary reason for Bynum’s breakout was his ability to stay relatively healthy for the full season, as he appeared in 60 of 66 games. The 25year-old center will be patrolling the paint for the Sixers this season after being traded to Philly as part of the four-team Dwight Howard deal. In Philadelphia, Bynum will be out of Kobe Bryant’s and Pau Gasol’s shadows as the clear-cut center piece of the team. As a result, Bynum will have the opportunity to repeat or surpass the levels he reached last year. The only real question mark with Bynum remains his health. He’s scheduled to undergo a non-invasive knee procedure this September, which will hopefully help keep him healthier throughout his career. The Sixers expect Bynum to be ready before the start of the regular season, but any time you’re dealing with a player who has spent as much time on the shelf as Bynum, you’ll want to monitor the situation closely before committing to him on draft day.
8. ANDREA BARGNANI, RAPTORS Bargnani’s 2011-12 campaign was cut in half due to a calf strain that caused him to miss 35 of 66 games. When he was healthy, though, Bargnani was productive for the most part. He continued to lead the Raptors in scoring, finishing with an average of 19.5 points per game. His efficiency (43.2 FG, 29.6 3Pt) and rebounding (5.5) left a lot to be desired, but Bargnani continued to be one of the better free-throw shooting (87.3) big men in the league. The biggest statistical knock against Bargnani has been his drop in blocks per game over the past two season, falling from 1.4 in 2009-10 to 0.5 last season. As a center who rebounds poorly, Bargnani’s value stemmed from his ability to knock down threes in volume while also blocking over a shot per game. There is a silver lining here, though, as Bargnani could be used more at forward this season. Despite his length (6-11), Bargnani is a much better fit as a stretch four or small forward. With rookie Jonas Valanciunas joining Amir Johnson and Ed Davis in the frontcourt, the Raptors will be able to play Bargnani in a role that better fits his skills. Now over his calf injury, Bargnani will have a great opportunity to bounce back and provide production in unique categories for a big man.
9. JOAKIM NOAH, BULLS For the third consecutive season, Noah put together steady doubledouble production for the Bulls. The 27-year-old center finished the 2011-12 campaign with averages of 10.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while playing 30 minutes per game. He was healthy for the regular season – appearing in 64 of 66 games – but suffered an ankle injury during the Bulls’ first-round loss to the Sixers in the playoffs. The injury forced Noah to miss the final three games of the series and also put him on the shelf for the Summer Olympics, where he was supposed to play for France. The extra time off this summer is expected to allow Noah to make a full recovery before the start of the 2012-13 season. Once the season gets underway, Noah is expected to play the same energy role that we’ve seen from him in years past.
The only difference this time around is the Bulls could ask Noah to assume a slightly bigger offensive load, as Derrick Rose (knee) is hurt and Carlos Boozer is on the decline. While Noah should be valued at a price close or equal to the past two years, there is potential for his production to grow slightly, so take that into account when targeting him.
10. BROOK LOPEZ, NETS The 2011-12 season was lost for Lopez, who suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during preseason play. He came back briefly from the injury in February, appearing in five games before suffering an ankle injury that led to him being shut down for the remainder of the season. In his five-game stint, Lopez showed some of the offensive promise we’ve seen from him in the past, including a 38-point outburst against the Mavericks on Feb. 28. He ended his brief campaign with averages of 19.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.8 blocks in 27 minutes per game. It’s difficult to take much away from five games, but it is troublesome that Lopez’s rebounding dropped from an already pedestrian 6.0 in 2010-11 to 3.6 boards per night. All signs point to Lopez being healthy for the start of the season, which would be a huge first step in his progress back toward helping out fantasy squads. The Nets overhauled their roster this offseason, including the trade for Joe Johnson, so it’ll be interesting to see where Lopez fits in the pecking order for touches on offense. That said, the team did commit $61-million to Lopez this summer, and Brooklyn doesn’t have much depth in the frontcourt, which should lead to plenty of opportunities in the low post for the Stanford product.
11. ROY HIBBERT, PACERS After years of hype, Hibbert finally cemented himself in as a reliable fantasy option in 2011-12. On the way to his first All-Star appearance, Hibbert put together career-high averages of 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while playing 30 minutes per game. He also improved his efficiency, shooting a personal best 49.7 percent from the floor while hitting 71.1 percent of his freebies. As a reward for his stellar season, the Pacers recognized Hibbert as one of the team’s primary building blocks this summer and inked him to a four-year, $58million deal. At 25, Hibbert is just entering his prime. He has shown steady improvement in his low-post game on both ends of the court, developing a decent jump hook while getting better at protecting the rim on defense. The fifth-year center has also shown strides in the mental aspect of his game by committing fewer fouls, which has led to additional playing time. Given his age and year-to-year improvements over the past three seasons, we probably haven’t seen the best from Hibbert yet. Take that into consideration when targeting him in drafts.
12. NENE HILARIO, WIZARDS After signing a massive $67-million contract with the Nuggets prior to the 2011-12 season, it looked like Nene would be one of the center pieces of the team in the post-Carmelo Anthony era. Instead, he was sent to Washington prior to the trade deadline. Nene’s production was nearly identical in both of his stops last season, finishing with averages of 13.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks – all numbers that are right in line with his production over the previous three seasons. The main black mark against Nene last season was his inability to stay healthy, as he played in just 39 of 66 games. He dealt with an array of lower-body issues all season and was hampered by plantar fasciitis late in the year. The plantar fasciitis was an issue during his Summer Olympic stint with Brazil, so the condition still warrants monitoring. While the health issues are an obvious concern,
POSITION PROFILES - CENTER (cont...) Nene is actually in a good position to post some of the best numbers of his career with the Wizards. Washington has numerous young pieces to build around in the backcourt (John Wall, Bradley Beal) and wing (Jan Vesely), but Nene and Emeka Okafor figure to be the two featured pieces down low. If Nene is healthy enough to average 35 minutes per game, we could be looking at one of his most productive seasons stat-wise. Of course, that’s a big if.
ed to be a problem once camp opens. The Knicks will continue to rely on Chandler heavily on the boards and defensive end of the court, but the glut of scoring options (Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton) on the roster, and the addition of Marcus Camby this offseason, could result in a slight drop off from last season. He’s still a quality No. 2 center to target, but don’t go building your frontcourt around Chandler.
13. ANDERSON VAREJAO, CAVALIERS
16. JAVALE MCGEE, NUGGETS
Prior to suffering a fractured wrist in February, Varejao was well on his way to putting together the best season of his career. Through 25 games, Varejao was a double-double machine, averaging career-highs in points (10.8) and rebounds (11.5). His percentages (51.4 FG, 67.2 FT) and block production (0.7) was pedestrian, but Varejao helped offset his mediocre categories by racking up 1.4 steals per game – an elite amount for a big man – and taking decent care of the ball (1.8 Turnovers). The Cavs have two young big men in Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson to build their frontcourt around in the future, but Varejao figures to still be one of the more prominent parts of the team for the 2012-13 season. His wrist injury is also no longer a concern, as Varejao played for Brazil in the Summer Olympics without any complications. While his skills don’t matchup to some of the more talented players at his position, Varejao is a smart player who often outhustles his opponents. He’ll play a prominent role on the Cavs again in 201213 and will be a good source of double-double production for fantasy squads.
After breaking onto the fantasy scene in 2010-11, McGee solidified himself as a quality option at the pivot last season. He was once again one the league’s premier shot blockers, swatting away 2.2 attempts per game, which ranked second in the Association behind Serge Ibaka. His scoring average reached a new career-high of 11.3 points while his rebounding dropped slightly to 7.8 boards. Aside from the bone-headed plays McGee has been prone to committing the past couple seasons, the main mark against him has been an undeveloped offensive game. His athleticism is off the charts, but he struggles from the charity stripe (46.1) and doesn’t have much of a low-post game to speak of. The 24-year-old seven-footer worked to address his holes on the offensive end of the court this offseason, though, receiving tutelage from Hall-of-Fame big man Hakeem Olajuwon. The Nuggets committed over $40 million to McGee this offseason, so he should be a big part of the team going forward. Look for him to be the Nuggets’ primary option in the middle, which should lead to an increase in playing time, especially if he can display refined offensive skills from his time spent with Olajuwon this summer.
14. SAMUEL DALEMBERT, BUCKS After stints with the Sixers and Kings, Dalembert spent the 2011-12 campaign with the Rockets. Overall, his numbers were down during his time with the Rockets, but that was mainly due to his playing time being cut down to 22 minutes per game, which marked the lowest amount of playing time Dalembert had seen since his rookie campaign in 2001-02. His solid per-minute production held steady, though, as Dalembert finished with averages of 7.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. The one area where he showed marked improvements was at the charity stripe, shooting a career-high 79.6 percent. The 31-yearold center was traded to Milwaukee in the offseason. He’ll join a crowded frontcourt of Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden and Ekpe Udoh, but odds are Dalembert starts and carves out a more significant role than he saw in Houston. At this stage of his career, Dalembert doesn’t have as much upside as past years, but he’s still a solid rebounder and defender who should see an uptick in value with an expanded role on his new squad.
15. TYSON CHANDLER, KNICKS Lured to the Knicks by a massive $48-million dollar contract prior to the season, Chandler proved to be worth every cent in his first campaign in New York. The 30-year-old veteran came up just shy of averaging a double-double for the second time in his career, finishing with averages of 11.3 points and 9.9 rebounds in 33 minutes per game. That scoring average was the second highest of Chandler’s career and the first time he eclipsed 11 points per game since the 2007-08 season. He was more efficient than ever, hitting an astounding 67.9 percent of his field-goal attempts, which would have qualified for best in the league if he took more than 5.7 shots per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Chandler once again proved to be one the league’s best, helping boost the Knicks’ defense to respectability while blocking 1.4 shots per game. Chandler also managed to stay relatively healthy, appearing in 62 of 66 games. While he dealt with a dislocated finger during the Summer Olympics, the issue isn’t expect-
17. ANDREW BOGUT, WARRIORS Bogut’s 2011-12 campaign was a season of both constants and changes. The constants started with his production, as he was once again a nightly double-double threat with averages of 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was also his usual dominant self on defense, averaging 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Unfortunately, the most glaring constant was Bogut’s propensity to get injured. Like the previous three seasons, Bogut’s campaign was cut short after he suffered a season-ending injury. This time around it was a fractured left ankle that caused Bogut to miss 53 of 65 games. The change for Bogut last season was his scenery, as he was traded to the Warriors in March. His recovery from ankle surgery is on track, but Bogut will likely miss some time in the preseason before he’s back at full strength. The Warriors have more scoring options (Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson) than the Bucks did while Bogut was in Milwaukee, so his new team probably won’t ask him to do as much offensively. But he’ll still be asked to anchor the defense and clean the glass. While he’ll once again enter the season as an injury risk, Bogut is still in a great position to be a productive defensive/rebounding option when targeting centers for your fantasy hoops team.
18. NIKOLA PEKOVIC, TIMBERWOLVES Pekovic was one of the biggest surprises in fantasy basketball last year, as he came out of relative obscurity to be a double-double machine for the Timberwolves. After being promoted to Minnesota’s starting lineup, Pekovic averaged 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds while providing efficient percentages from the floor (54.7) and free-throw line (74.2). At 6-11, 290, Pekovic has the frame of a dominant big man, but he actually plays below the rim and relies on a surprising amount of finesse on the offensive end. His lack of athleticism means marginal production on defense (0.8 bpg, 0.6 spg) and he’s not going to help much in the assists (0.7) category. He did miss about a dozen games due to a lingering ankle injury last year, but Pekovic underwent sur-
POSITION PROFILES - CENTER (cont...) gery early this offseason and is expected to be at full strength entering the 2012-13 campaign. With Kevin Love getting most of the headlines in Minnesota, Pekovic could benefit from obscurity and be had at a decent price on draft day. Don’t forget about the big center from Yugoslavia when targeting double-double production from the center position.
19. DEANDRE JORDAN, CLIPPERS With Chris Kaman finally out of town, Jordan was supposed to breakout for the Clippers last season. Instead, his production carried over from the previous season as he finished with averages of 7.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 27 minutes per game. His per-minute production held steady, but Jordan was unable to carve out much of a bigger role. The big (7-0, 255) man is an athletic high-riser who can make spectacular plays on both ends of the court, but his game still lacks the refinement needed to take the next step. He has no offensive post moves, which leads to most of his production coming at the rim on easy dunks or putbacks. This leads to a very high shooting percentage (63.2), but his lack of attempts (4.9) limits the categorical impact. Jordan also struggles from the charity stripe, hitting just 44 percent of his freebies throughout his career. At 24, Jordan still has time to develop more of an offensive game, but until he starts showcasing improved skills on the hardwood, he should only be valued as a rebounding/defensive big man for your fantasy squad.
20. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, KNICKS Stoudemire missed significant time last season due to a variety of reasons including a back injury—raise the caution flags now—and was limited to 47 games. In addition to the limiting effects of injuries, Stoudemire experienced a drop off in production because of the addition of Carmelo Anthony. Stoudemire averaged five shots less per game and saw his field-goal percentage drop to 48.3—his second straight season of reduced accuracy. So, playing without Steve Nash has had a predictable impact, as has playing with a noted black hole like Anthony. The mid-season coaching change from Mike D’Antoni to Mike Woodson seemed to help Stoudemire. In the final two months of the season, he shot 56.3 percent from the field and stopped trying to take absurd three-point shots. Stoudemire is the latest NBA star to seek Hakeem Olajuwan’s help in learning how to be more effective in the low post. He trained with Olajuwan this summer. He clearly will remain second fiddle to Anthony. Even though he’s no longer the first option on offense, Stoudemire is a productive player. He appears to be buying into Woodson’s desire to make him a low-post player. It will be interesting to see how playing closer to the basket helps Stoudemire’s numbers. The biggest worry with him working more in the post is the extra punishment he’ll be taking in the post. That could put his back in danger of suffering more damage.
N B A O F F S E A S O N M O V E S & A N A LY S I S EASTERN CONFERENCE AT L A N T I C D I V I S I O N BOSTON CELTICS Who’s Coming: Jason Terry (FA), Courtney Lee (Trade), Jared Sullinger (21st overall), Fab Melo (22nd overall), Kris Joseph (51st overall) Jeff Green (FA), Jason Collins, (FA), Jamar Smith (FA), Dionte Christmas (FA) Who’s Going: Ray Allen (FA), E’Twaun Moore (Trade), Mickael Pietrus (FA), Marquis Daniels (FA), Greg Stiemsma (FA), Ryan Hollins (FA), JaJuan Johnson (Trade), Sasha Pavlovic (FA), Sean Williams (Trade) The "Big Three" broke up when Ray Allen took his talents to South Beach. But Danny Ainge managed to keep the team's core together, find a suitable replacement for Allen and put together the best bench Boston has had since their championship season. Impressive, that. Any thought of a full-scale rebuild went out the window when Kevin Garnett decided to stick around. So Ainge also brought back Brandon Bass, who looked awfully good alongside Garnett late last season. The loss of Allen and Avery Bradley - who will be sidelined at the start of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery - will be offset by the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. And let's not forget the super-talented (but occasionally pouty) point guard Rajon Rondo and still-dangerous Paul Pierce. When Bradley returns, the Celtics will have tremendous depth and flexibility. Terry is one of the league's best bench scorers. Lee can play the two and three and could become Doc Rivers' designated defensive stopper. Jeff Green returning from a heart ailment that sidelined him all of last season will see time at both forward spots. Jared Sullinger - a poor man's Elton Brand-type out of Ohio State - fell out of the lottery and landed in Ainge's lap after rumors of an injury made the rounds. He could be the steal of the 2012 draft. Jeff Green missed all of the 2011-12 season after undergoing surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm. He is expected to re-sign with the team soon. It’s unclear whether the team will want to have him serve as a backup to Pierce and Bass or if he’d become the starting power forward over Bass. Either way, he should find a way to be of use in most fantasy leagues.
BROOKLYN NETS Who’s Coming: Joe Johnson (Trade), Reggie Evans (FA), CJ Watson (FA), Mirza Teletovic (FA), Tyshawn Taylor (41st overall), Tornike Shengelia (54th overall), Ilkan Karaman (57th overall), Keith Bogans (FA), Jerry Stackhouse (FA) Who’s Going: Johan Petro (Trade), Anthony Morrow (Trade), Jordan Williams (Trade), DeShawn Stevenson (FA), Gerald Green (FA), Ben Uzoh (FA), Jordan Farmar (Trade), Sundiata Gaines (FA), Damion James (FA), Armon Johnson, (FA), Shelden Williams (FA) This is not the roster general manager Billy King was hoping would open the Barclay's Center. But as a Plan B, it's pretty darned good. King accomplished the first to-do on his list by re-signing Deron Williams. And he added a top scorer by acquiring Joe Johnson (and his brutal contract) from the Hawks. That duo could give Brooklyn the top backcourt tandem in the East. But King's plans for the frontcourt
didn't pan out. His proposed deal for Dwight Howard fell apart when Orlando shied away from taking on Brook Lopez or Kris Humphries, so the latter two will be back this season. Newly-acquired Reggie Evans gives the Nets another rebounder. He and Hump may combine to mask Lopez' biggest weakness.
NEW YORK KNICKS Who’s Coming: Raymond Felton (FA), Marcus Camby (FA), Jason Kidd (FA), Ronnie Brewer (FA), Pablo Prigioni (FA), James White (FA), Kurt Thomas (FA) Who’s Going: Jeremy Lin (FA), Landry Fields (FA), Mike Bibby (FA), Josh Harrellson (Trade), Jerome Jordan (Trade), Jared Jeffries (Trade), Baron Davis (FA), Toney Douglas (Trade), Dan Gadzuric (Trade) Apparently, Knick management didn't think as highly of Jeremy Lin as the thousands of fans that were wearing his jersey last season. After publicly suggesting that they'd match any offer made to the phenom point guard, they opted to let him walk to Houston, getting nothing in return. Despite that loss, New York is much deeper at the point guard position this year. Raymond Felton is the likely starter. The Knicks are hoping he'll return to the borderline All-Star form he showed during his first stint at Madison Square Garden (as opposed to the out-ofshape shell of himself he was in Portland last season), and that his return will jump-start Amar'e Stoudemire. Jason Kidd and Argentine Olympian Pablo Prigioni are Felton's backups. Landry Fields signed with the Raptors and Iman Shumpert is out until January while recovering from a torn ACL, so shooting guard is a big question mark. J.R. Smith will probably start the season there, but Ronnie Brewer and Kidd could get time at the two as well. The addition of veteran center Marcus Camby will help the Knicks maintain their defensive pressure when Tyson Chandler is out of the game. The big question for New York will be whether or not Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can both be productive in Mike Woodson's offense. Knicks fans are hoping they'll see Anthony deployed as he was during the Olympics as a deadly spot-up shooter - and not the post-up ball-stopper he became late last season.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS Who’s Coming: Andrew Bynum (Trade), Jason Richardson (Trade), Kwame Brown (FA), Dorell Wright (Trade), Nick Young (FA), Arnett Moultrie (27th overall), Darryl Watkins (Trade), Maalik Wayns (FA), Royal Ivey (FA) Who’s Going: Andre Iguodala (Trade), Elton Brand (Amnesty), Nikola Vucevic (Trade), Jodie Meeks (FA), Maurice Harkless (15th overall, to Magic), Craig Brackins (FA), Louis Williams (FA), Tony Battie (FA), Xavier Silas (FA), Sam Young (FA), Edin Bavcic (Trade) The Sixers drew a fair amount of criticism for standing pat going into the 2011-12 season. Continuity worked to their advantage at first; with a roster more or less the same as the 2010-11 version, Philly was less affected by the shortened preseason and built up an early lead in the Atlantic. But that didn't last - they barely hung on to the final playoff spot in the East and were able to advance to the second round mostly due to Derrick Rose's injury. This year, Philly will have a very different look. The acquisition of Andrew Bynum in the four-way Dwight Howard deal gives the Sixers the best big man in the conference. They clearly plan to make Bynum the centerpiece of their offense. He'll be the focus, which should open up shots for perimeter 25
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...) players like Nick Young, Dorrell Wright and Jason Richardson. If it all works out, Philly could be a top-three team in the East. But there's some risk involved. They're gambling that they'll be able to re-sign Bynum and point guard Jrue Holiday to long-term deals, and that Evan Turner - who didn't play particularly well when sharing the floor with Andre Iguodala - will take the next step in his development now that Iguodala is a Denver Nugget. Bynum's injury history is also a concern, but the Sixers are very deep in the frontcourt after bringing back Spencer Hawes and signing Kwame Brown.
TORONTO RAPTORS Who’s Coming: Kyle Lowry (Trade), Landry Fields (FA), Terrence Ross (8th overall), Jonas Valanciunas (5th overall, 2011 draft), Quincy Acy (37th overall), Tomislav Zubcic (56th overall), John Lucas III (FA) Who’s Going: Jerryd Bayless (FA), Gary Forbes (Trade), James Johnson (Trade) The Raptors had big plans for this offseason, but some fell through, leaving general manager Bryan Colangelo with a roster that is pretty clearly a work in progress. Colangelo's primary target was Canadian basketball hero Steve Nash. But Nash opted to stay closer to his kids and landed in Los Angeles. Colangelo was left holding the bag - in the form of Landry Fields, a player he signed mostly to disrupt the Knicks' attempt to acquire Nash. The Raptors rebounded by acquiring Kyle Lowry, who played at an All-Star level last season but didn't get along well with Houston coach Kevin McHale. With Jose Calderon still on the books as well; look for Colangelo to shop the Spaniard heavily as the trade deadline approaches. The team also seems to be losing faith in DeMar DeRozan, as they used the eight overall pick in the 2012 draft on swingman Terrence Ross. The Raptors' most important addition may be center Jonas Valanciunas, their 2011 first-round pick who will join the team after playing out his contract in Europe. People love Valanciunas' potential, but he may have a rough rookie season, as the Atlantic Division is suddenly loaded with very tough matchups. Good luck dealing with Andrew Bynum, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez, rook.
CENTRAL DIVISION CHICAGO BULLS Who’s Coming: Kirk Hinrich (FA), Vladimir Radmanovic (FA), Nate Robinson (FA), Marquis Teague (29th overall), Marco Belinelli (FA), Nazr Mohammed (FA) Who’s Going: Omer Asik (FA), Kyle Korver (Trade), Ronnie Brewer (FA), CJ Watson (FA), John Lucas III (FA), Mike James (FA), Brian Scalabrine (FA) The Bulls have posted the best record in the NBA for two years running, but don’t bet on a three-peat. Derrick Rose will be sidelined until the new year - at minimum - with the knee injury he suffered in the first round of the playoffs. And most of the bench players who filled in so admirably when Rose was injured last season are gone. General manager Gar Forman has replaced the likes of Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and CJ Watson with lower-cost options like Kirk Hinrich, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed in an attempt to minimize the team's luxury tax bill. It certainly seems like they're resigned to limping through the 2012-13 season while Rose recovers and then re-tooling next summer when Rip Hamilton's deal comes off the books. It will be interesting to see who fills in for Rose as Chicago's lead guard. Hinrich is probably the leading candidate at this point, but at this stage of his career he's a better spot-up three-point threat than floor general.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS Who’s Coming: Dion Waiters (4th overall), Tyler Zeller (17th overall), CJ Miles (FA), Jeremy Pargo (Trade), Jon Leuer (Claimed off Waivers), Kelenna Azubuike (Trade) Who’s Going: Anthony Parker (Retired), DJ Kennedy (Trade), Antawn Jamison (FA), Semih Erden (FA), Manny Harris (FA) The Cavs could have been major players in the free agent market they were reportedly involved in at least one permutation of the Dwight Howard trade. When that failed to materialize, they opted to continue their rebuilding efforts through the draft. Some would say drafting Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick was a major reach. Waiters, after all, didn't even start for Syracuse last season. Others see a lot of Dwyane Wade in Waiters' game and called him the most NBA-ready perimeter player in this rookie class. He'll have the chance to prove himself more or less immediately; with Anthony Parker retiring, Waiters is getting penciled in as the starting shooting guard alongside Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. The Cavs' only other significant addition will be Anderson Varejao, who will be back after missing much of last season due to injury. If Varejao stays healthy, Waiters is anything close to as good as advertised and second-year pro Tristan Thompson continues to improve, the Cavs will have a fairly impressive young core to pair with their future All-Star point guard. But they still seem like a long shot to make the playoffs in 2013.
DETROIT PISTONS Who’s Coming: Corey Maggette (Trade), Andre Drummond (9th overall), Kyle Singler (33rd overall, 2011 draft), Vyacheslov Kravtsov (FA), Kim English (44th overall), Khris Middleton (39th overall) Who’s Going: Ben Gordon (Trade), Ben Wallace (Retirement), Vernon Macklin (FA), Walker Russell Jr. (FA), Damien Wilkins (FA) General manager Joe Dumars is still trying to dig his way out from under the ruinous contracts he gave Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in the summer of 2009. He dumped Gordon on the Charlotte Bobcats this summer in exchange for Corey Maggette - who is equally overpaid but whose deal expires after this season. The long-term plan is to build a team around Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and possibly Jonas Jerebko. But deadweight contracts belonging to Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince and Maggette stand in the way. Next summer - when Maggette, Jason Maxiell and Will Bynum come off the books - will bring some relief, but Prince is signed for three more seasons. In the meantime, the biggest question is whether or not coach Lawrence Frank can find enough minutes to mollify his potentially-disgruntled veterans while developing the guys that are actually part of the solution. It seems inevitable that some of his small forward options - Maggette, Prince, Jerebko, Kyle Singler - will be forced to log minutes out of position, which could lead to Detroit playing a lot of unconventional lineups.
INDIANA PACERS Who’s Coming: Ian Mahinmi (FA), DJ Augustin (FA), Gerald Green (FA), Miles Plumlee (26th overall), Orlando Johnson (36th overall, from Kings) Who’s Going: Who's Going: Darren Collison (Trade), Dahntay Jones (Trade), Leandro Barbosa (FA), Louis Amundson (FA), Kyrylo Fesenko (FA), A.J. Price (FA) The Pacers maintained the status quo in the offseason, which may be good enough to win the Central Division and a number two seed in the East. Priority one was to re-sign George Hill, who will become the 26
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...) full-time point guard now that Darren Collison has been traded to Dallas. Their second big task was to lock up all-star center Roy Hibbert, which they accomplished by matching Portland's offer sheet to the restricted free agent. D.J. Augustin may be Hill's backup at the point and a scorer off the bench to replace Leandro Barbosa. Ian Mahinmi - acquired in the Collison trade - will back Hibbert and provide depth in the frontcourt, and Gerald Green - who resurrected his career in a half-season with the Nets - could be a nice complement to Danny Granger at the three spot. The Pacers selected Duke big man Miles Plumlee with the 26th overall pick, a move generally panned as a bit of a reach. It seems unlikely that the rookie will get much playing time unless he's pressed into service by an injury to David West or Tyler Hansbrough.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS Who’s Coming: Samuel Dalembert (Trade), John Henson (14th overall), Doron Lamb (42nd overall), Joel Pryzbilla (FA) Who’s Going: Shaun Livingston (Trade), Jon Leuer (Trade), Carlos Delfino (FA), Jon Brockman (Trade), Kwame Brown (FA)
rookie John Jenkins, and coach Larry Drew will have a lot of interesting options for his backcourt and on the wing. In the frontcourt, Atlanta will have all-star center Al Horford back; Horford missed the bulk of the 2011-12 season due to injury. They still haven't parted ways with Josh Smith, but the moves Ferry made this offseason resulted in Smith taking back his yearly trade request. But there's not much depth after those two - just backup center Zaza Pachulia and expiring contract Johan Petro. Seems reasonable to suspect that Ferry will bring back Ivan Johnson, who is unsigned.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS Who’s Coming: Ramon Sessions (FA), Ben Gordon (Trade), Brendan Haywood (Waivers), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd overall), Jeff Taylor (31st overall) Who’s Going: Corey Maggette (Trade), DJ Augustin (FA), D.J. White (FA), DeSagana Diop, Matt Carroll (FA), Derrick Brown (FA), Jamario Moon (Waived)
The Bucks filled a major void by acquiring veteran center Sam Dalembert from the Rockets for Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer and some swapped picks. The addition of Dalembert and free-agent signee Joel Przybilla will allow coach Scott Skiles to play Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh, Luc Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders at the four spot - how he finds minutes for them all is anyone's guess. Milwaukee also re-signed Ersan Ilyasova, who is probably best-suited to play as a stretch four, but who might wind up at the three due to the power forward log jam. Ilyasova is a very good three-point shooter and rebounder. Consider him a poor man's Kevin Love and draft accordingly. In the backcourt, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will be back as the starters. Ellis will be Milwaukee's primary scoring threat. Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy Jr. figure to be the primary backups, especially with Carlos Delfino headed to Houston, but both have contracts that expire after this season and could be shopped heavily.
The Bobcats probably won't be as bad as they were last season. Of course, the 2011-12 Bobcats had the worst winning percentage in NBA history, so that's not saying a whole lot.The addition of veterans Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood should really help. Sessions' arrival spelled the end of the comically-undersized DJ Augustin/Kemba Walker point guard tandem; Augustin is an Indiana Pacer now. Gordon gives the league's worst offense some scoring punch, and Haywood is a serviceable big man on a team that really didn't have one. The tricky part will be using the veterans to stabilize the team without interfering with the development of Walker, Bismack Biyombo and especially Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. That'll be a big challenge for rookie head coach Mike Dunlap, who was an assistant on Steve Lavin's staff at St. John's last year. MKG presents an interesting challenge for fantasy players this season. His unique skill set would make him an ideal player to complement a superstar on a good team. Charlotte, though, is notably short on superstars. Or good-ness. It may be a year or two before the rookie starts to really show his considerable potential.
Who’s Coming: Ray Allen (FA), Rashard Lewis (FA), Justin Hamilton (45th overall) Who’s Going: Eddy Curry (FA), Juwan Howard (FA), Ronny Turiaf (FA), Dexter Pittman (FA)
Who’s Coming: Devin Harris (Trade), Lou WIlliams (FA), Kyle Korver (Trade), Johan Petro (Trade), Anthony Morrow (Trade), Jordan Williams (Trade), DeShawn Stevenson (FA), John Jenkins (23rd overall), Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Trade), Mike Scott (43rd overall) Who’s Going: Joe Johnson (Trade), Marvin Williams (Trade), Kirk Hinrich (FA), Vladimir Radmanovic (FA), Tracy McGrady (FA), Jannero Pargo (FA), Jerry Stackhouse (FA), Willie Green (FA), Jordan Farmar (Waived) Danny Ferry took over the Hawks general manager position and immediately started a major renovation. He moved Joe Johnson's supposedly untradeable contract and dumped Marvin Williams for another expiring deal, putting the Hawks in position to be major players in free agency next summer. In the meantime, though, this franchise could take a major step backwards. As so often happens with rosters assembled to clear cap, the 2012-13 Hawks are a collection of odds and ends. Lou Williams - the leading scorer on the Sixers last season - will take over some of Johnson's scoring responsibility, while Devin Harris and Jeff Teague split the point guard position. Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow are very good perimeter scorers, and DeShawn Stevenson is a lock-down perimeter defender. Throw in
Scary thought for the NBA: this year, Miami might be even better. The NBA Finals showed just how unstoppable Miami can be as a team when the supporting cast hits open threes. Mike Miller hit 7 of 8 from downtown in the championship-clinching 121-106 win over Oklahoma City. But Miller is inconsistent and oft-injured; there was considerable talk that he'd retire this summer. No worries - Miami was able to bring in some insurance sharp-shooters. Ray Allen - the NBA's all-time leader in made threes - was so eager to get away from Rajon Rondo that he took less money than the Celtics were offering to sign with the Heat. And Rashard Lewis fell into Pat Riley's lap after being waived by the Hornets. It's hard to say how much playing time either of the new arrivals will get. It's not hard to envision how they'll be used. Float out on that three-point line, wait until LeBron and D-Wade break down the defense, hit that wide-open jumper. The Heat still haven't addressed their general lack of size. While they're more than capable of winning with smaller lineups, they'd probably prefer to have someone other than Chris Bosh man the middle for 82 games. Don't be surprised if they look to add a center on a minimum deal before training camp opens. 27
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...)
ORLANDO MAGIC Who’s Coming: Arron Afflalo (Trade), Al Harrington (Trade), Moe Harkless (15th overall, from Sixers), Andrew Nicholson (19th overall), Gustavo Ayon (Trade), Christian Eyenga (Trade), Josh McRoberts (Trade), Nikola Vucevic (Trade), Kyle O’Quinn (49th overall) Who’s Going: Dwight Howard (Trade), Jason Richardson (Trade), Ryan Anderson (FA), Chris Duhon (Trade), Earl Clark (Trade), Von Wafer (Waived) Say something positive about Orlando's offseason. Didn't think so. The Magic botched the Dwight Howard saga, letting the situation drag on until there were very few suitors remaining. Talks with the Nets fell through; Houston was apparently unwilling to make a deal without assurances that Howard would re-sign next summer; and that left new general manager Rob Hennigan with very few options. That said, wouldn't the Magic have been a lot better off if they had kept Andrew Bynum - generally regarded as the second-best center in the league instead of taking on Moe Harkless, Al Harrington and a slew of draft picks that will probably land in the bottom third of the first round? Orlando's other big trade doesn't make much sense either; they sent Ryan Anderson - a talented young stretch four and player that might have been part of their rebuilding plans - to the Hornets for unheralded backup center Gustavo Ayon. Meanwhile, they still haven't unloaded Hedo Turkoglu's putrid contract. Re-signing Jameer Nelson also looks like a mistake in retrospect. This team probably won't be bad enough to hit the top of the lottery, but they certainly won't be good enough to reach the playoffs. Much of this will be forgotten if Moe Harkless turns into a real stud; Philly reportedly believed he'd turn into an Andre Iguodala type. But most observers believe he'll need a year or two to develop before we really see that potential.
WESTERN CONFERENCE N O RT H W E S T D I V I S I O N DENVER NUGGETS Who’s Coming: Andre Iguodala (Trade), Anthony Randolph (FA), Evan Fournier (20th overall), Quincy Miller (38th overall, from GS), Izzet Turkyilmaz (50th overall) Who’s Going: Aaron Afflalo (Trade), Al Harrington (Trade), Chris Anderson (Amnesty), Rudy Fernandez (FA) The Nuggets’ biggest offseason move was part of the biggest transaction in the NBA this summer. Denver helped facilitate Dwight Howard’s relocation to Los Angeles. For their role in the deal, the Nuggets received All-Star and Olympian Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia and upgraded themselves at shooting guard. Aaron Afflalo has improved his game over the years, but he’s not on par with Iguodala, who becomes the unquestioned leader in Denver. The one gamble to acquiring Iguodala is his contract situation. He has two years remaining, but can opt out after the coming season. The Nuggets made a quick rebuild after trading Carmelo Anthony, and this move improves the team further.
Who’s Coming: Trevor Ariza (Trade), Emeka Okafor (Trade), Bradley Beal (3rd overall), AJ Price (FA), Thomas Satoransky (32nd overall) Who’s Going: Rashard Lewis (Trade), Andray Blatche (Amnesty)
Who’s Coming: Brandon Roy (FA), Andrei Kirilenko (FA), Dante Cunningham (Trade), Alexsey Shved (FA), Chase Budinger (Trade), Greg Stiemsma (FA), Robbie Hummel (58th overall, from OKC), Jerome Dyson (Trade) Who’s Going: Darko Milicic (Amnesty), Martell Webster (FA), Brad Miller (Trade), Wayne Ellington (Trade) Wesley Johnson (Trade), Anthony Tolliver (FA), Michael Beasley (FA), Anthony Randolph (FA)
The Wizards could take a significant step forward this season, thanks to a series of moves that increased their talent level, with a little "addition by subtraction" thrown in. The signature move of the offseason was the trade of Rashard Lewis - a shooter well past his prime - to the Hornets in exchange for slasher Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor. The Wiz took on significant money to make the deal, but the addition of the two veterans should stabilize a team that too often lost games due to immaturity and general knuckle-headedness. Speaking of which, the trade allowed Washington to hang on to their amnesty waiver, which they used to rid the team of Andray Blatche. It's not outrageous to suggest that Blatche will some day start playing to his considerable potential, but it simply wasn't happening in Washington. Ariza's arrival created another problem, though. He's not a good three-point shooter, and John Wall is just dreadful from beyond the arc. The Wizards are hopeful that they've solved that problem by drafting Bradley Beal - generally regarded as the best shooter in this year's draft. With Wall and Beal, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, Ariza, Okafor, and Nene the Wizards have a fairly impressive core of players, all under the age of 30. That may not be enough to get them into the playoffs, but don't be surprised if they're in shouting distance of the eight seed next March.
The Timberwolves reshaped their roster in the offseason, adding several pieces while jettisoning players not considered core to the rebuilding program. Their nine-win improvement last season was fueled by the continued development of Kevin Love, the addition of Ricky Rubio and the emergence of center Nikola Pekovic. From Russia to play with Love comes 10-year NBA veteran Andrei Kirilenko, who will help replace Michael Beasley’s production. Kirilenko is not as offensively explosive as Beasley, but he gives the Wolves a better wing defender and can certainly do more things with the ball. He’ll step right into the starting small forward job and allows coach Rick Adelman some versatility in using a smaller or bigger lineup. Brandon Roy is another veteran who will give Adelman options. There isn’t a pre-conceived notion about Roy’s role; that will determined by how healthy his knees are and how he fits with his teammates during training camp. He has experience as a late-game closer from his days in Portland, and that will be important for the young T-Wolves. Greg Stiemsma and Chase Budinger are role players who should fill in areas of need in the rotation. The Timberwolves were bottom-tier in protecting the rim and three-point shooting. Stiemsma’s biggest asset is as a shot-blocker (1.5 blocks in 14 minutes per game), and Budinger is one of the game’s more accurate three-point shooters.
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...)
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Who’s Coming: Hasheem Thabeet (FA), Perry Jones (28th overall), Hollis Thompson (FA), Daniel Orton (FA) Who’s Going: Nazr Mohammed (FA), Derek Fisher (FA), Royal Ivey (FA)
Who’s Coming: Marvin Williams (Trade), Randy Foye (FA), Mo Williams (Trade), Furkan Aldemir (Trade), Shan Foster (Trade), Kevin Murphy (47th overall) Who’s Going: Josh Howard (FA), C.J. Miles (FA), Devin Harris (Trade), Tadija Dragicevic (Trade)
What do NBA finalists do in the offseason? Apparently, not much. The Thunder, who lost to the Heat in the NBA finals, believe the roster is in good shape, requiring only changes at the fringe. Oklahoma City is counting on continued in-house development, so the additions of Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones and Hollis Thompson are not going to make a big impact. Of the three players lost, Derek Fisher saw the most playing time at 20 minutes per game. Nazr Mohammed played 11 minutes per game and Royal Ivey 10.4. The competition for Fisher’s minutes will come down to Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson. Jackson was the best thing on the floor during OKC’s Summer League season, making good decisions in the pick-and-roll and showing an improved jumper. For salary reasons and roster flexibility, look for the Thunder to develop Jackson this coming season. Cole Aldrich is slated to fill the backup center role, though he didn’t have a promising Summer League. Some of that can be attributed to the unstructured nature of summer hoops, but there are concerns. Aldrich had trouble doing the things he is expected to supply, like corralling rebounds and passes, turnovers, setting screens and establishing position defensively. There will be little surprise when you review the OKC roster. All the players of value in 2011-12 will be the same valuable players in 2012-13.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS Who’s Coming: Victor Claver (22nd overall, 2009 draft), Joel Freeland (30th overall, 2006 draft), Kostas Papanikolaou (Trade), Dan Gadzuric (Trade), Jared Jeffries (Trade), Ronnie Price (FA), Sasha Pavlovic (FA), Giorgos Printezis (Trade), Damon Lillard (6th overall), Meyers Leonard (11th overall), Will Barton (40th overall) Who’s Going: Hasheem Thabeet (FA), Craig Smith (FA), Joel Przybilla (FA), Raymond Felton (FA), Kurt Thomas (Trade), Jonny Flynn (FA), Jamal Crawford (FA), Shawne Williams (FA), Jon Diebler (Trade) Recent offseasons in Portland have featured lots of player movement, and 2012 was no different. Following a mid-season swoon that cost Nate McMillan his job, the ownership directive was to blow up the team and overhaul the roster. This churn creates an opportunity for several players to grab a relevant role in Portland. The main players are returnees LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Johnson. Beyond that, we’ll have to see how the new teammates mix. On top of all the new bodies in Portland, the biggest change comes on the sidelines, where Terry Stotts was named the franchise’s 14th head coach. Stotts is considered one of the better offensive minds in the NBA and was credited by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle for his role in the Mavericks’ championship. At his introduction as the Blazers head coach, Stotts told the assembled media that his team will favor the three-point shot and play at a fast pace. He’ll have a young crew in Portland, which will feature eight new players and perhaps a couple of rookie starters. Damon Lillard, who had a sensational Summer League in Las Vegas, is being considered as the starting point guard in his rookie season. And Myers Leonard will compete for minutes at center with J.J. Hickson and Joel Freeland. Leonard’s probably a few years away from lining up next to LaMarcus Aldridge. With adjustments for everyone involved at the Rose Garden, success won’t be measured in wins and losses, but rather by learning and improvement.
The major changes in Utah won’t come until the 2013 offseason when the Jazz shed a ton of payroll and when Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson become unrestricted free agents. That, too, might also be the final season under coach Tyrone Corbin, who isn’t signed beyond the upcoming season – the club holds a team option for 2013-14. The Jazz will start giving more playing time to Derek Favors, who is viewed as the power forward of the future. It will be tricky for Corbin, who has to juggle minutes for both Favors and Millsap. The coach toyed with a three-big lineup of Jefferson, Favors and Millsap last season, but that may not be the best match-up every night. Entering the 2012-13 season, the backcourt will see the most change. Trading Devin Harris creates an opening at point guard. Both Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson return, but they’ll back up Mo Williams, who was acquired via trade. None of the three are locked up beyond this season. The addition of Randy Foye crowds the field at shooting guard, though the veteran has grown accustomed to a role off the bench. He’ll back up either Alec Burks or Gordon Hayward at the two. Hayward’s coming off a breakout season, so we’ll get a full season of him as a starter, whether it comes at the two or the three. And Burks lit up the Orlando Summer League. Marvin Williams is expected to compete for the starting small forward spot. Much depends on where Corbin feels Hayward can be best be deployed.
PA C I F I C D I V I S I O N GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS Who’s Coming: Jarrett Jack (Trade), Carl Landry (FA), Kent Bazemore (FA), Harrison Barnes (7th overall), Festus Ezeli (30th overall), Draymond Green (35th overall), Ognjnen Kuzmic (52nd overall) Who’s Going: Dorell Wright (Trade), Nate Robinson (FA), Dominic McGuire (FA), Mikki Moore (FA), Chris Wright (FA), Mickell Gladness (FA), Edin Bavcic (Trade) The new ownership group in Golden State got a bit ahead of themselves, anticipating a spot in the postseason and generally setting expectations ahead of the natural growth cycle of a young team with a new coach. Last year’s 23-win team with all of its glaring holes has slapped them back to reality, but the Warriors are making positive steps. The need for a center was addressed last February when Golden State traded Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for a then-injured Andrew Bogut. Bogut will start at center and remain there if healthy, playing alongside David Lee. Having the luxury of not being the only competent big on the roster, Lee may be able to survive the season without too many injuries. Adding Carl Landry means Golden State can further reduce Lee’s burden, while hopefully keeping him fresher for the long haul. Festus Ezeli, Jeremy Tyler and Andris Biedrins will compete to be part of the big-man rotation. Adding Jarrett Jack means the Warriors have an NBA-veteran backup at point guard for Stephen Curry. It also pushes Charles Jenkins back to No. 3 on the depth chart. Jenkins filled in capably for the oft-injured Curry last season, though it was clearly a learning experience for the rookie from Hofstra. Jack’s presence also means Curry can swing to off guard
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...) when coach Mark Jackson wants to use a three-guard look with Klay Thompson at small forward. And speaking of small forward, the trade of Dorell Wright opens up minutes for seventh-overall selection Harrison Barnes. Richard Jefferson’s also around, but Golden State is moving forward with its young core, so expect Barnes to start at the three.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS Who’s Coming: Jamal Crawford (FA), Grant Hill (FA), Ryan Hollins (FA), Ronny Turiaf (FA), Willie Green (FA), Lamar Odom (Trade) Who’s Going: Nick Young (FA), Bobby Simmons (FA), Kenyon Martin (FA), Randy Foye (FA), Reggie Evans (FA), Ryan Gomes (Amnesty), Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Trade), Mo Williams (Trade), Furkan Aldmir (Trade) The Clippers added some high-character guys in the offseason with the intent of bolstering the team’s depth, though injuries to Chauncey Billups (Achilles) and Blake Griffin (torn meniscus) may force a couple of the acquisitions into more prominent roles early on. With the resigning of Billups, last season’s starting five will return intact. However, Billups may not be up to speed by the start of the regular season. That means Willie Green, a former teammate of point guard Chris Paul, and Jamal Crawford will have bigger roles early in the season. Look for Green to start at the two until Billups is ready. Crawford was expected all along to be the team’s sixth man and will likely remain in that role. Between Green, Crawford and the return of Billups, there are capable replacements for the production the Clips received from Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Nick Young. Griffin’s torn meniscus is a less serious injury, though you can never take any injury for granted. Getting Lamar Odom back to the place where his career started will allow coach Vinny Del Negro to keep Griffin’s minutes in the low 30s. Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf will fill out the big man rotation, though neither is expected to see big minutes. Both will give Del Negro energy guys to back up DeAndre Jordan. Hollins is an athletic shot blocker while Turiaf is more of a banger. The other major acquisition is Grant Hill, who comes to the Clippers after five seasons in Phoenix. At 40, Hill still has something to offer, but won’t be needed for 30 minutes as he was with the Suns. He’ll back up Caron Butler at small forward.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS Who’s Coming: Dwight Howard (Trade), Steve Nash (FA), Antawn Jamison (FA), Chris Duhon (Trade), Earl Clark (Trade), Jodie Meeks (FA), Darius Johnson-Odom (55th overall, from Dallas), Robert Sacre (60th overall) Who’s Going: Andrew Bynum (Trade), Troy Murphy (FA), Matt Barnes (FA), Josh McRoberts (Trade), Christian Eyenga (Trade), Ramon Sessions (FA) Where do we start? Filling the glaring need for better point guard play with one of the league’s best playmakers, or the acquisition of the game’s most dominant big man? The offseason started when the Lakers were able to acquire Steve Nash from Phoenix for a collection of draft picks. Not only does the move improve production at the position, but Nash provides benefits for other players on the roster. Kobe Bryant won’t be asked to handle the ball as much, freeing him up for better looks. And Pau Gasol and Nash should be able to work the pick-and-roll game masterfully. And just when offseason basketball was all about watching Team USA, the shocking news broke that the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard from Orlando. Giving up Andrew Bynum was a large price, but Howard is a better player in several
phases of low-post play. Bynum is more skilled offensively, but Howard is a better defender; he’s exhibited better health over the years; and he can deal with double teams effectively. Adding Antawn Jamison is a nice little offseason move that went overlooked. Los Angeles got very little point production from its bench, and Jamison should be the answer to that problem. The 14-year veteran, who has been remarkably durable throughout his career, will not reach the 33minute per game level he’s established over the past three seasons, but he should be a double-digit point producer off the bench playing both small and power forward.
PHOENIX SUNS Who’s Coming: Luis Scola (Claimed off Waivers), Goran Dragic (FA), Michael Beasley (FA), Jermaine O’Neal (FA), Wesley Johnson (Trade), P.J. Tucker (FA), Kendall Marshall (13th overall) Who’s Going: Grant Hill (FA), Steve Nash (FA), Ronnie Price (FA), Michael Redd (FA), Aaron Brooks (FA), Josh Childress (Amnesty), Hakim Warrick (Trade), Robin Lopez (FA), Jerome Dyson (Waived) Two years of mediocrity and lottery finishes have prompted the Suns to start anew with a younger cast. You don’t want to be living in the middle class of the NBA as you can get stuck spinning in place for several seasons. Phoenix kicked off its summer makeover by letting Steve Nash go in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers, getting only draft picks back in return. Once Nash left, it was only a matter of time before Grant Hill followed him out of the Valley. They let restricted and unrestricted free agents walk and were part of a three-team trade that sent Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to New Orleans. The Suns also had an offer sheet out to the Hornets’ Eric Gordon, but that was unsuccessful when New Orleans matched it. The franchise is re-booting. The roster churn leaves Phoenix with one of the league’s younger rosters. Chemistry and leadership questions abound and we really don’t know if the Suns are better off, worse off or about the same as 2011-12. We’re looking at three new starters entering the upcoming season: Goran Dragic at point guard, Michael Beasley at small forward and Luis Scola at power forward will join returning starters Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat. First-round draft pick Kendall Marshall will back up Dragic, who is entering his first full season as a team’s No. 1 point guard. In Houston last season, Dragic averaged 18 points and 8.4 assists per game as a starter. The Suns are also hoping a normal offseason of preparation, including summer-league basketball, helps second-year forward Markeiff Morris evolve his low post game. Lastly, the Suns were very excited to land former fourth-overall pick Wesley Johnson from Minnesota. In what could evolve to be a classic change-of-scenery case, Johnson never fit in with the Timberwolves. He can play both perimeter spots and at this stage is more suited to a transition game.
SACRAMENTO KINGS Who’s Coming: Aaron Brooks (FA), James Johnson (Trade), Thomas Robinson (5th overall) Who’s Going: Hassan Whiteside (Waived), Donte Greene (FA), Terrence Williams (FA) The Kings didn’t do much in the offseason, but don’t take that to mean they’re happy with where they’re at. Coach Keith Smart knows his team needs to improve on defense – opponents shots a leaguebest 47.6 percent against Sacramento. They also need to shoot better. None of the new additions appear poised to address those needs too much. Improvement must come from within – from players becoming a more cohesive unit and stretching themselves. Don’t 30
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...) underestimate Smart’s ability to pull something more from his players. He guided Golden State through a transitional phase to win 36 games in 2010-11, and then performed a similar trick with the Kings when he took over five games into the rapidly deteriorating 2011-12 season. The Kings have talent throughout every level. The frontcourt was bolstered when Jason Thompson re-signed. Thompson has been a forgotten man after a nice rookie season. He’s reclaimed the starting power forward job and will help groom Thomas Robinson, who made the team giddy when he fell to pick number five on draft night. Thomas had an uninspiring summer league. The rookie, at 6-9, needs to develop a greater low-post arsenal. Thompson, Robinson, Chuck Hayes and DeMarcus Cousins will form the frontcourt rotation. Things get a bit more muddled as we move back. The Kings enter year four of the experiment to find Tyreke Evans’ best position. He’s been a point guard, a shooting guard and, at times last season, a small forward, which may have been stretching him beyond his limit defensively. Finding his best spot is encumbered by a crowded backcourt. Marcus Thornton, Sacramento’s scoring and minutes leader in 201112, thrived at shooting guard. Isaiah Thomas emerged as a viable NBA point guard – credit to Smart for his role in bringing Thomas along. And that was before the team signed Aaron Brooks to a twoyear deal. Brooks played in China last year after an injury marred 2010-11 season that saw him fall off the league’s radar. And we haven’t even mentioned Jimmer Fredette. He still hasn’t taken to the shooting point guard role the team wants. Smart will be challenged to find the right mix.
SOUTHWEST DIVISION DALLAS MAVERICKS Who’s Coming: Chris Kaman (FA), Darren Collison (Trade), Dahntay Jones (Trade), Elton Brand (Claimed off Waivers), O.J. Mayo (FA), Tadija Dragicevic (Trade), Jared Cunningham (24th overall, from Cleveland), Bernard James (33rd overall, from Cleveland), Jae Crowder (34th overall, from Cleveland) Who’s Going: Jason Terry (FA), Ian Mahinmi (FA), Jason Kidd (FA), Yi Jianlian (FA), Brian Cardinal (FA), Brendan Haywood (Amnesty), Lamar Odom (Trade), Shan Foster (Trade), Kelenna Azubuike (Trade), Sean Williams (FA) The Mavericks continued their roster shuffle with the intent to land a major free agent at some point in 2012 or 2013. The master plan called for Deron Williams to sign in Dallas and eventually lure Dwight Howard to form the NBA’s next super team. Well, Williams re-signed with New Jersey, and Howard’s been traded to the Lakers. Is there a Plan B? Howard can be Plan B, but we may not know until the summer of 2013 whether he intends to extend his contract in L.A. To play this thing out and retain financial flexibility, Dallas added a lot of oneyear rental talent and some youth to begin re-tooling. It’s not accurate to call this rebuilding. We don’t know how the news pieces will fit and the chemistry mixes, but this should be a playoff team. Darren Collison, playing for his third team in four seasons, is the presumed starter at point guard. It took Collison some time to acclimate in Indiana, so the Mavericks re-signed system veteran Delonte West just in case. O.J. Mayo is finally out of Memphis and could replace Jason Terry as a scorer off the bench or compete for the starting job with Vince Carter. This is a big year for Roddy Beaubois to show something – staying healthy would be a start – or he’ll be buried in the guard rotation. Chris Kaman signed a one-year deal and will start at center. Elton Brand, another one-year special, will be fine in a backup role. There are possibly three new starters that will be joining Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. Coach Rick Carlisle has a job ahead of him.
HOUSTON ROCKETS Who’s Coming: Omer Asik (FA), Jeremy Lin (FA), Carlos Delfino (FA), Gary Forbes (Trade), Toney Douglas (Trade), Jon Diebler (Trade), JaJuan Johnson (Trade), Sean Williams (Trade), Jon Brockman (Trade), Shaun Livingston (Trade), Jeremy Lamb (12th overall), Royce White (16th overall), Terrence Jones (18th overall), Furkan Aldemir (Trade), Jerome Jordan (Trade) Who’s Going: Courtney Lee (FA), Marcus Camby (FA), Goran Dragic (FA), Kyle Lowry (Trade), Luis Scola (Amnesty), Chase Budinger (Trade), Samuel Dalembert (Trade), Josh Harrellson (Waived), Jon Leuer (Waived) Add the Rockets to the list of teams performing big re-modeling jobs this offseason. The goal was to entice the Magic to trade Dwight Howard to Houston, but we know how that worked out. The Rockets are left to rebuild around an unlikely core package of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Well, at least they have salary cap room. General manager Daryl Morey’s moves will be heavily scrutinized this season. Nobody is expecting Houston to challenge for a playoff spot this season, but there had better be tangible signs of development from what may be the youngest roster in the NBA. Lin returns to Houston, a team apparently filled with remorse after releasing him on the eve of the 2011-12 season. The three-year, $25 million contract was too much for the Knicks, so they let the point guard go. To pair with Lin, Asik gives Houston an elite team defender, rebounder and rim-protector. He’ll get plenty of minutes, so we’re going to find out if he has any offense. Donatas Motiejunas, the 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft, will back up Asik. The rest of the veteran acquisitions are mostly fodder. Carlos Delfino should work his way into a scoring role off the bench and can space the floor for Lin’s pick-and-roll forays, but the Rockets will invest heavily in the young players added via the draft. Recent draft picks Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson should end up as the starting forwards, but we also see rotation minutes for 2012 picks Terrence Jones and Royce White. And with Kevin Martin on the final year of his contract, he’s an ideal candidate to be traded, which will open up playing time for Jeremy Lamb. With so much youth and inexperience, we’re bound to see changes within the rotation throughout the season. Pay close attention to the Rockets as there will be a surprise fantasy contributor from this group.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES Who’s Coming: Jerryd Bayless (FA), Wayne Ellington (Trade), D.J. Kennedy (Trade), Tony Wroten (25th overall) Who’s Going: Gilbert Arenas (FA), Dante Cunningham (Trade), Jeremy Pargo (Trade), O.J. Mayo (FA) The Grizzlies have squandered some recent draft picks and are left to sustain their current run of success through trades or free agency. The list of unfulfilled promise goes back to Hasheem Thabeet (2nd overall in 2009), DeMarre Carroll (27th overall in 2009), Xavier Henry (12th overall in 2010), Dominique Jones (25th overall in 2010) and Greivis Vasquez (28th overall in 2010). All these wasted drafts have left Memphis in need of improved backcourt play/depth. After they got a look at Tony Wroten, drafted 25th overall in 2012, in the Summer League, the Grizzlies knew they had to look elsewhere for a backup point guard. Wroten may be the future, but he’s not the present. So, Memphis is pretty stoked about signing Jerryd Bayless, who will begin the season as Mike Conley’s backup. The Griz needed point guard help and some perimeter scoring/shooting. Bayless, who shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season, helps to fill both team needs. So, Bayless turns out to be the key acquisition of the offseason, but we'll have to see if Wayne Ellington can give them the outside shooter 31
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS (cont...) they've been lacking. And maybe, just maybe, they can get something out of 2011 second-round pick Josh Selby (49th overall). Selby, who shot 56 percent and was named the co-MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League, is an x-factor entering the season. The starting unit is rock solid for another season. Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol return. The Grizzlies also locked up Darrel Arthur and Marresse Speights, so frontcourt depth is on hand. Arthur’s had some injuries to start his career, but has impressed the Grizzlies enough to give him another three years. Speights was up and down for the Grizzlies, but as a backup in the frontcourt, he should be fine.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS Who’s Coming: Ryan Anderson (FA), Edin Bavcic (Trade), Robin Lopez (FA), Hakim Warrick (Trade), Roger Mason (FA), Brian Roberts (FA), Anthony Davis (1st overall), Austin Rivers (10th overall), Darius Miller (46th overall) Who’s Going: Emeka Okafor (Trade), Trevor Ariza (Trade), Carl Landry (FA), Chris Kaman (FA), Marco Bellinelli (FA), Gustavo Ayon (Trade), Darryl Watkins (Trade), Jarrett Jack (Trade), Jerome Dyson (Trade), DeJuan Summers (FA), Darryl Watkins (Trade), Rashard Lewis (Waived) The Hornets were all optimism after landing the first pick in the draft and having two lottery selections. A young and rebuilding team on the way up; what’s not to be optimistic about? Well, the mood soured pretty quickly when Eric Gordon not only signed an offer sheet with Phoenix, but also had comments about the organization on his way out of town. The problem is that Gordon was a restricted free agent and New Orleans had every intention of matching any offer. Gordon’s back in the fold and there may be some uncomfortable and awkward moments initially. But he’s expected to be the team’s scoring leader and all will be forgiven as long as he produces. That means avoiding injury – something Gordon hasn’t done since his rookie season. In the backcourt with Gordon, we’ll see Greivis Vasquez and 10th-overall pick Austin Rivers compete for the starting point guard job after the team shipped Jarrett Jack to Golden State. The Hornets are attempting to make Rivers a combo guard, an experiment that yielded mixed results in the Summer League. Whether or not Rivers is starting, he’ll be part of coach Monty Williams’ rotation. Rivers is expected to be
ready for training camp after undergoing offseason ankle surgery (bone spurs removed). Anthony Davis was the consensus No. 1-overall pick and he’ll start right away. Probably at small forward, though he’ll see time at both forward spots. Ryan Anderson, acquired from Orlando, lines up at power forward. But he’s a stretch four, who doesn’t make his living near the basket. Behind Davis and Anderson will be Al-Farouq Aminu. Robin Lopez inherits the opening at starting center after Emeka Okafor’s contract was shipped to Washington. Lopez had his ups and downs in Phoenix, mostly due to injuries. He’s never averaged more than 20 minutes a game in any of his four seasons, so we’ll get a good look at his capabilities in 2012-13. He’s coming off knee (repair a torn meniscus) surgery and will be ready for training camp.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS Who’s Coming: Marcus Denmon (59th overall), Nando De Colo (53rd overall, 2009 draft) Who’s Going: James Anderson (FA), Derrick Byars (Waived) Ho-hum. It’s the San Antonio Spurs and nothing much changes. In the offseason, San Antonio re-signed the players they wanted to keep from last season’s team – Tim Duncan, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Danny Green – and added a couple of draft picks. What you saw at the end of the 2011-12 season is pretty much what you’ll see come October. Much like Oklahoma City, the Spurs will look for in-house improvement from young wing players like Green and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs are excited to see what a full offseason of development will bring out in Leonard, who toyed with Summer League competition. He’ll have an increased role this season. And they’ll get a full season of Boris Diaw, who became an immediate part of the rotation when he signed on with them in late March. His addition means DeJuan Blair will be marginalized in the rotation. After Diaw’s arrival last season, Blair’s playing time took a hit and he played less than eight minutes per game in the playoffs. Nando De Colo, a 2009 draft pick, comes to North America after three seasons playing at a high level in Europe. He has good size at guard and can play both spots, though his role will be determined once he’s in town and playing with his new teammates.
S L E E P E R S & U N D E R V A L U E D P L AY E R S BISMACK BIYOMBO, PF, BOBCATS As a 19-year-old rookie, Biyombo’s playing time increased by the month – from 13.1 minutes in 18 games in January to 31.1 in 16 April tilts – as he started 41 of Charlotte’s final 43 contests. His superior shot blocking skills were on display throughout. He finished the 201112 campaign ranked eighth in the NBA averaging 1.83 blocks in only 23.1 minutes per game, including at least two swats in each of his last nine games. Biyombo’s raw repertoire on offense limited his effectiveness on that end of the court, but he still managed 7.1 points per game on 47.8 percent from the field over the final month. Along with this undeveloped portion of his game, he could stand to improve his rebounding (5.8 per game) and free-throw percentage (48.3), though his block totals should experience at least a modest bump during his sophomore season.
GLEN DAVIS, PF, MAGIC Once it became apparent that teammate Dwight Howard’s season was in jeopardy, Davis stepped into the Magic’s starting lineup on April 1 and promptly rolled off five double-doubles in six contests. For the month, he posted 16.4 points (on 50.3 percent shooting), 8.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 31.4 minutes per game. Davis was a beast in the playoffs, averaging 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 38.1 minutes over five telling tilts. If he arrives in training camp in shape and focused, as new coach Jacque Vaughn expects, the mercurial Davis should slot perfectly into Howard’s vacant spot in the post and rack up double-doubles at a similar rate to his final monthplus of 2011-12.
GORDON HAYWARD, SG, JAZZ Hayward was a mainstay in the lineup during his second season in the league, starting 58 of 66 games for the Jazz. After a stint as a reserve in early March, he returned to the starting five a more focused and aggressive player on offense, scoring in double figures 18 times across 21 tilts. During that stretch, Hayward dazzled with his multifaceted game, averaging 15.8 points (on 46.9 percent shooting), 4.7 boards, 3.6 assists, 1.4 treys, and one steal in 36.9 minutes. He should be locked into the starting shooting guard slot for the foreseeable future, and with formidable post presences in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson manning the paint, Hayward should continue to have the luxury to roam free on the perimeter and contribute across the board.
ANDREI KIRILENKO, SF, TIMBERWOLVES Kirilenko spent the lockout-shortened year abroad, plying his wares with CSKA Moscow since his NBA prospects had waned after an impressive start to his career. As a result, the 31-year-old rejuvenated his game, posting averages of 14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 dimes, 1.9 blocks, and 1.5 swipes over 17 contests en route to the 2012 Euroleague MVP award. After recalling his AK-47 days with Utah, the NBA again came knocking this summer, and he inked a two-year deal with Minnesota, joining forces with Kevin Love and company. Kirilenko will provide a much needed presence in the paint for the Timberwolves as he bolsters the defensive counting stats of fantasy owners everywhere.
COURTNEY LEE, SG, CELTICS Following a sign-and-trade from Houston to Boston this offseason, Lee will enter the starting lineup in place of the injured Avery Bradley (shoulders), thereby forming a dynamic backcourt with last year’s top
distributor, Rajon Rondo, who dished out 11.7 assists per game. While not on the level of the departed Ray Allen, Lee should be a very solid complement to Rondo after putting up 14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 treys, and 1.4 steals in 37.0 minutes per game, while shooting 40.2 percent from three-point land in 24 starts to finish off last season. If Lee is able to form a strong rapport with Rondo and the rest of the Celtics in the early going, he could secure the starting gig for good, even when Bradley is healthy enough to return.
JAVALE MCGEE, C, NUGGETS A change of scenery may be just what this former presumed headcase needs. In the aftermath of his in-season trade from Washington, McGee received inconsistent playing time from Denver coach George Karl, grabbing far fewer rebounds and swatting less shots than he had in previous seasons. However, something clicked in the playoffs, when McGee displayed his massive potential with two huge double-doubles in the Nuggets’ seven-game series defeat to the Lakers. Overall, he averaged 8.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks in 25.9 minutes against Los Angeles, which likely helped him procure the four-year, $44 million contract with Denver this summer. Consequently, McGee is expected to take over the team’s starting center spot, potentially providing fantasy owners with a true breakout year.
JAMEER NELSON, PG, MAGIC On an Orlando squad devoid of Dwight Howard, the scoring burden will have to fall on someone’s shoulders. A typical scheme would rely on its point guard to direct the offense and distribute accordingly. The Magic hiring Jacque Vaughn away from San Antonio’s coaching staff could lead to Nelson seeing a notable jump in playing time after the Spurs gave point guard Tony Parker a team-high in minutes a season ago. Furthermore, Nelson has no viable backup behind him but journeyman Ish Smith, which could result in the first season of his career averaging 32 or more minutes. As a preview of what life without Howard could be like for Nelson, he boasted averages of 17.3 points, 8.9 assists, and 2.4 three-pointers in 32.4 minutes in eight contests after Howard was sidelined last season.
KLAY THOMPSON, SG, WARRIORS Thompson enjoyed a rather successful rookie year, which culminated in a spot in the starting five for the final 28 games of the season following Monta Ellis’ trade to Milwaukee. During that stretch, he scored in double figures on all but one occasion, averaging 18.6 points, 3.3 boards, three assists, 2.1 treys and 1.1 steals in 34.1 minutes, with shooting splits of 44/38/91 percent. There is no guarantee that teammate Stephen Curry will be fully recovered from ankle surgery when camp tips off in early October, leaving Thompson as the safe bet in the Warriors’ backcourt to put up very solid percentages and counting stats from the wing.
EVAN TURNER, SG, 76ERS Andre Iguodala’s trade to Denver this summer, along with Lou Williams’ and Jodie Meeks’ departure via free agency, has opened the door for Turner to flourish in Philadelphia. With more possessions potentially available to him, as well as the top post player in the East, Andrew Bynum, in his frontcourt, fantasy owners should hope that he continues to build upon a 2011-12 season that was rather variable, but which included stretches of brilliance. Turner finished the second half of his second NBA season averaging 10.6 points (on 45.6 percent 33
SLEEPERS & UNDER VALUED PLAYERS PLAYERS (cont...) from the floor), six rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 28.9 minutes as he started 20 of 32 contests. In 12 subsequent playoff tilts, though, he put it all together with an uber-consistent 12.1 points and 8.2 boards, though his shooting percentage (36.4) left a lot to be desired. If he puts it all together, expect the 6-7 guard/forward to be a near doubledouble machine this season.
GREIVIS VASQUEZ, PG, HORNETS With Jarrett Jack out of the picture in New Orleans, Vasquez appears to be the unquestioned starter at point guard. In 26 starts last season with the Hornets, he averaged 12 points, seven assists, 2.9 boards,
1.1 steals, and 0.8 three-pointers in 32.8 minutes per game, while shooting 44.9 percent from the floor and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe. A healthy Eric Gordon, new addition Ryan Anderson, and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis will provide plenty of options at Vasquez’s disposal, allowing him an opportunity to be a consistent source of assists man by season’s end. There’s a chance that Vasquez could split minutes at point guard with Austin Rivers early in the season, but Vasquez was effective in a timeshare with Jack last season, so splitting minutes is not much of a concern. Unless Rivers demonstrates a quick learning curve in training camp, the job should belong to Vasquez all season.
B U S T S & O V E R V A L U E D P L AY E R S OMER ASIK, C, ROCKETS Asik will find it difficult to live up to his three-year, $25.1 million contract, even though Rockets coach Kevin McHale will do his best to effectively implement his skill set into the team’s scheme. When you look closely at his first two seasons, he only improved modestly as a rebounder - from 11.0 to 13.0 rebounds per 36 minutes - while remaining steady across the board statistically. In a compressed 2011-12 schedule, he managed just 3.1 points (on 50.6 percent shooting), 5.3 boards, and 1.0 blocks in 14.7 minutes per game. Asik’s output doesn't suggest that such a robust deal, including a quasi-ludicrous $15 million in the third year, is a viable one. However, as the only decent option at center, he will rack up a fair amount of minutes, unless of course his propensity to commit fouls - 5.2 per 36 minutes during his career - follows him to Houston.
ELTON BRAND, PF, MAVERICKS Yet another in a line of amnesty casualties, Brand was grabbed by Dallas before he could reach free agency. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be backing up a top-10 talent in Dirk Nowitzki, who will see his typical 35 minutes per game. With Chris Kaman, another minutes maven, starting at center, gathering up to 30 more per night, playing time in the Mavericks’ frontcourt will be somewhat limited. Brand should again put up modest block numbers and a solid field goal percentage in a limited role, but don’t draft him expecting the same production he had with the Sixers.
KOBE BRYANT, SG LAKERS Following an offseason of wheeling and dealing, Bryant’s Lakers will again reside at the pinnacle of the league’s hierarchy, next to Miami and Oklahoma City. However, Bryant himself is set to stomach statistical declines throughout his line with the arrival of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Bryant will no longer be asked to be the Lakers’ primary ballhandler with Nash on his side, thus limiting his assist potential. This could allow Bryant to find his spots on the floor more comfortably, helping his field-goal percentage bounce back from its lowest mark (43.0) since the 1997-98 season. Moreover, Howard’s presence as the league’s reigning rebound king should further limit Bryant’s chances on the boards. On the whole, he should finish the season as a top-20 player, but his years as a top option in fantasy may be a thing of the past. We’re also a little worried about how playing with the US National Team all summer will affect his endurance and efficiency this season.
TYREKE EVANS, SG, KINGS Evans has let it be known he prefers playing one of the guard spots, and it’s possible discontent could lead to another disappointing season for the swingman. The Kings signed Aaron Brooks in free agency this summer. And with Isaiah Thomas, they have too many small point guards not to play Evans off the ball, where his shooting touch has not improved over three NBA seasons. In fact, he shot career lows from both 16-23 feet (30 percent) and three-point range (30.3 percent) last year. If this trend isn’t reversed, his fantasy value will certainly plummet as his scoring, percentages, and assists decrease simultaneously.
DEVIN HARRIS, PG, HAWKS Many fantasy players may not realize the impact Harris’ trade to Atlanta had on his overall worth, but he should slot into the backup point guard role behind Jeff Teague. As a reserve guard, he will have
to contend with Lou Williams for minutes behind Teague and starting shooting guard Anthony Morrow. Harris should may find difficulty earning 25 minutes per game in the Hawks’ guard rotation, what with Teague’s baseline as a starter established last year (33.1 minutes). Even if Harris were to win the starting shooting guard spot, it might be a fools endeavor. He’s been a point guard the bulk of his career, and he’s too small to play shooting guard against most teams. The Hawks have committed to Teague as their point guard of the present and future. Harris’ acquisition was a means to end to clear cap space for the 2013 offseason.
JASON RICHARDSON, SG, 76ERS Philadelphia coach Doug Collins is known for giving preferential treatment to veterans, which would seem to favor Richardson. However, Collins’ tough love in the development of Evan Turner over his first two seasons, along with the addition of Andrew Bynum, could force the coaching staff to reconsider its strict socialist offense, which has stifled scorers and floor generals alike. If Turner and Bynum take on a majority of the offensive load, Richardson, whose field goal percentage has tailed off each of the last five seasons, could see himself on the outside looking in, only able to contribute with his three-point shot as he embarks on his 12th NBA season.
BRANDON ROY, SG, TIMBERWOLVES Roy is less than a year removed from a forced medical retirement by Portland, this after enduring multiple surgeries on his knees during the previous five seasons. As a member of the Blazers, he took part in 321 out of a possible 410 contests, playing the role of late-game hero a number of times. A wait-and-see approach is best when considering Roy, who could return to his great heights and fulfill one of the Timberwolves’ great needs, a wing scorer with three-point range. On the other end of the spectrum, he could completely wash out, suffering yet another season- or career-ending injury. Be cautious with Roy.
AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, PF, KNICKS A season and a half into the Carmelo/Amar’e experiment, the duo has failed to mesh effectively, culminating in the dismissal of coach Mike D’Antoni midway through the 2011-12 season. Stoudemire’s output has also suffered dramatically as he posted his worst scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounding numbers (7.8 rebounds per game) since his rookie year in 2002-03 (13.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg). Adding injury concerns over his back, and historically questionable knees - he shouldn’t be drafted as high as he has been in past seasons, even if he has consulted with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer in order to hone his post-up game.
KEMBA WALKER, PG, HORNETS As with many rookies who enter the league in less-than-ideal situations, Walker struggled a fair amount with Charlotte last season, averaging 12.1 points (on 36.6 percent shooting), 4.4 assists, 3.5 boards, 1.0 treys, and 0.9 steals in 27.2 minutes while appearing in all 66 games (25 of them starts). To make matters worse for Walker, management brought in guards Ramon Sessions, as a free agent, and Ben Gordon, via trade. New coach Mike Dunlap intends to implement an up-tempo style with a trapping, aggressive defense, which would presumably favor Walker. However, if Walker decides it’s in the team’s best interests for him to chuck up shots, Sessions could take over as a more traditional point guard. If Walker is put in a reserve role, he 35
BUSTS & OVERV OVERVALUED PLAYERS PLAYERS (cont...) would likely be stuck behind Gordon in the pecking order off the bench, thereby minimizing any potential fantasy value he held going into the season. The murky situation in Charlotte will likely continue this season, but it’ll be worth watching in training camp and the start of the season to see if hidden value arises.
DORELL WRIGHT, SF, 76ERS After a breakout 2010-11 season, in which he provided prescient fantasy owners with a surprising 2.4 treys per game, Wright fell back to earth last season. The hot shooting of Brandon Rush and emergence
of Klay Thompson lead to Wright’s role on the Warriors being marginalized. Overall, he started 61 contests, averaging 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 three-pointers, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steals in 27 minutes, or nearly 11.5 less minutes per game than in the previous season. A change of scenery to Philadelphia, where he was traded to this offseason, leaves Wright in a logjam on the depth chart with fellow wings Evan Turner, Jason Richardson, Nick Young and Thaddeus Young. Under this new reality, he’ll be hard-pressed to surpass 25 minutes per game this season, with his one plus stat, three-pointers made, barely able to survive on standard league rosters.
IMPACT ROOKIES The NBA Draft almost always serves as a way teams can help themselves down the road, not right away. That means most rookies enter their first season in the pros having little-to-no fantasy value. However, there are always those gems, those diamonds in the rough. There probably won’t be more than 10 or 11 rookies drafted in standard fantasy leagues this season (depending on your league depth and rules), but that doesn’t mean those who go undrafted aren’t worth stalking on the waiver wire a couple of times a week. Here’s our evaluation of this year’s rookies, and what we believe are reasonable expectations for their contributions this season.
Barnes’ measurables at the combine were elite, but the problem is he usually doesn’t display that sort of athletic ability during games. If he starts to use his athleticism to his advantage, he could be a productive rookie with the amount of minutes he should be getting.
ANTHONY DAVIS, PF, HORNETS
AUSTIN RIVERS, G, HORNETS
Davis is clearly on a different level from the rest of the players on this list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will hold the most fantasy value for the upcoming season. The areas in which Davis excels don’t always have tangible value, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He should be able to get blocks against smaller forwards, but he may struggle to get the ball on the other side of the floor with the gluehanded Austin Rivers potentially running the New Orleans offense.
Rivers is a talent, but struggled as a decision maker in his sole season at Duke. Each play seemed premeditated. If he was going to pass, he already knew. If he was going to shoot, that choice was already made before the play even started. That is a trait that may not translate to well to the NBA, especially considering he will be playing a lot of point guard in New Orleans. His ability as a natural scorer and shooter, though, should not be overlooked, and the fact that many of New Orleans’ plays will start with the ball in Rivers’ hands means plenty of opportunities for him to put up numbers.
MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST, SF, BOBCATS Kidd-Gilchrist is a defensive-minded player, much like Davis. He will have opportunities to score, considering he is on a team with limited offensive options. Kidd-Gilchrist also might be able to get Kemba Walker out and running considering his transition game was the best in the NCAA last season.
BRADLEY BEAL, SG, WIZARDS Beal is a tremendous shooter, who will most likely be a starter Opening Night. The big question here is “How much can John Wall improve?” If Wall is able to slash to the hoop, Beal could be left open for plenty of three-point jumpers.
DION WAITERS, SG, CAVALIERS Ignore the fact that Waiters came off the bench in college. That was a decision based on a system, not raw ability. He should be able to work well with Kyrie Irving, who will only improve in his second season. A slashing, Dwyane Wade-type of guard paired with a good, young point guard is the type of player that can put up big numbers in a rookie year.
THOMAS ROBINSON, PF, KINGS Rebounding tends to translate into the NBA as well as or better than any other stat and oh boy, can Robinson rebound. He has led the Big 12 in each of the past two seasons in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The problem is that Robinson may have his minutes limited by the veterans in the Kings frontcourt rotation (DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes). He had his fair share of struggles in the Summer League, and the re-signing of Thompson is a big wall he’ll have to climb over to be a consistent contributor in his rookie season.
DAMIAN LILLARD, PG, TRAIL BLAZERS Lillard is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate if only because he will have the ball in his hands so often. A point guard with a quick release on his jumper, he should work seamlessly with a forward like
LaMarcus Aldridge in the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop. Meanwhile, someone with his ability to score could end up getting Brandon Jennings-like media attention in his first year in the league.
HARRISON BARNES, SF, WARRIORS
JONAS VALANCIUNAS, C, RAPTORS Valanciunas struggled in the Olympics and has a reputation for getting into foul trouble. However, many scouts have said that if he were in this past season’s draft (as opposed to the 2011 NBA Draft, when he was picked sixth overall), he would have been the second overall pick. He can run and jump better than most big men. Now, the Raptors need to see just how ready he is for NBA play.
TERRENCE ROSS, SG, RAPTORS Ross might not fit in right away. He is an athlete and a strong wing shooter, but could start the season as the Raptors’ fourth guard, playing directly behind DeMar DeRozan. He is still young and relatively raw. That means he could struggle integrating his game into the NBA.
JEREMY LAMB, SG, ROCKETS Lamb is one of the few guards on a team that is building itself as a shelter for forwards. He is still unspeakably skinny, but if he can add some bulk, he might be able to score some points off the bench for Houston.
JARED SULLINGER, PF, CELTICS This pick will depend on health. If Sully is healthy, all of a sudden, he could make an impact and could have fantasy value. If he isn’t healthy and isn’t able to play a consistent amount of minutes, his fantasy value will be shot.
ALEXSEY SHVED, SG, TIMBERWOLVES Shved could actually find himself in a starting role from day one in Minnesota. If that is the case and he ends up playing 30 minutes a night at shooting guard, he could end up having legitimate fantasy value. However, due to coach Rick Adelman’s love of veterans, we’ll likely see Shved start the season coming off the bench. Where he could find a lot of minutes is if the Timberwolves fall prey to the same catastrophic number of injuries as last season.
IMPACT IMPACT ROOKIES (cont...)
ANDREW NICHOLSON, PF, MAGIC
MARQUIS TEAGUE, PG, BULLS
Nicholson will likely come off the bench in Orlando, a rebuilding team that will probably try to develop its young players. That means he could start to see more minutes nearing the end of the season, but don’t expect big minutes at the start of the year.
Teague is basically the same player as his brother, Jeff, except he is younger and less developed. That means hold off on drafting him in your fantasy league for another couple of years.
MAURICE HARKLESS, SF, MAGIC Harkless was moved in the Dwight Howard deal and is now likely stuck behind both Hedo Turkoglu and Quentin Richardson on the Magic depth chart. Unless Orlando is able to move Turkoglu’s big contract, he may not see enough minutes off the bench this season to be of use in most leagues.
KENDALL MARSHALL, PG, SUNS Marshall will back up the recently signed Goran Dragic and will provide a pass-first mentality off the bench. He is a magnificent passer in transition, but the problem is that this Suns team isn’t really meant to run a lot. With plenty of possessions potentially starting and ending with Michael Beasley in isolation, Marshall’s fantasy value might not be too high in the upcoming season.
ROYCE WHITE, F, ROCKETS White can play both forward positions, but the problem is the Rockets’ roster staffs 12 players that identify as forwards or centers. That’s right, 12! That means that while White may deserve to get 25 minutes per game, it might be tough for him to get a heavy load of minutes considering Houston will be playing musical chairs with its frontcourt.
TERRENCE JONES, F, ROCKETS Jones has the same problem as White. One team, 2,384,498 forwards doesn’t exactly work out well for Jones’ projected minutes total.
DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS, C, ROCKETS Motiejunas tore up the Summer League in July, averaging 16.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game in his four contests. Meanwhile, he shot 62.2 percent from the field. He, however, will also likely fall victim to the Rockets’ logjam at forward.
ANDRE DRUMMOND, PF/C, PISTONS Drummond might be the rawest player taken in the first round. His jump shot needs loads of work. His free throw percentage at UConn last year was a diminutive 29.5 percent. His hands need improvement. He might be an impact player someday in the future, but it is hard to imagine that being the case in his rookie season in Detroit. The one positive to take away from Drummond is the comparisons he’s received to Dwight Howard. If that’s truly his potential, he could be a great stash in deep leagues with prospect slots.
MEYERS LEONARD, C, TRAIL BLAZERS
TYLER ZELLER, PF/C, CAVALIERS Zeller will most likely be the immediate backup to Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. Though he won’t see a ton of time, he could end up sneakily getting a few points per game in transition, which could really help his overall value.
ARNETT MOULTRIE, PF, 76ERS Moultrie was an underrated scorer in the SEC and could work his way into seeing time later in the season. Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen are hardly impossible to pass on the depth chart. If his moves around the basket work at the NBA level, this could be a sneaky waiver wire pick up in fantasy leagues.
PERRY JONES III, SF, THUNDER Are we sure that Sam Presti didn’t spread that rumor about Jones’ knee on draft night just so he could steal him with the 28th pick? Jones is going to have to play behind Kevin Durant, so unless Durant slides over to power forward as often as he did in Olympic play, Jones’ minutes may not be too high. If he does get a chance to play, though, he could end up being the best value pick in June’s draft.
JOHN JENKINS, SG, HAWKS Jenkins is a great shooter, but struggles to create for himself and playing on a team with Devin Harris, Jeff Teague, and Lou Williams doing most of the ball-handling, means he may not see many shots. Plus, Atlanta already has Anthony Morrow, a more experienced version of what Jenkins actually hopes to become.
EVAN FOURNIER, SG, NUGGETS The Nuggets might be the deepest team in the league, and that means Fournier’s chances of playing a significant amount of minutes are low.
FAB MELO, C, CELTICS The defending Big East Defensive Player of the Year probably won’t see the floor often as a rookie. His offensive game just isn’t there yet.
JARED CUNNINGHAM, G, MAVERICKS Cunningham might not see a lot of playing time as a rookie, as he’ll probably be listed behind Darren Collison, Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, and O.J. Mayo on the preseason depth chart.
TONY WROTEN JR., PG, GRIZZLIES
Though Leonard does have talent, he might just be too unpolished right now to make any sort of impact as a rookie in Portland. His fantasy value will come in later years, once he begins to build strength and fully develop all his moves around the basket.
For now, Wroten’s value will be on the defensive end of the floor, which won’t be too helpful to fantasy owners. He doesn’t have any sort of shot and will most likely struggle to score in his rookie season.
JOHN HENSON, PF, BUCKS
MILES PLUMLEE, PF, FACERS
Henson could develop into a nice shot blocker, but he might be too skinny right now to make a big impact on defense. He will be coming off the bench as a rookie and could pull down some rebounds, but that will probably be it.
The Ian Mahinmi trade means there is one more player Plumlee has to jump for playing time. The Pacers are a contending team that is trying to win now. Giving Plumlee a significant amount of minutes probably should not and will not be a part of the plan. 38
IMPACT IMPACT ROOKIES (cont...)
FESTUS EZELI, C, WARRIORS
DRAYMOND GREEN, F, WARRIORS
Ezeli could develop into a quality shot blocker, but that is about it. He most likely won’t have much fantasy value in the upcoming season.
The Warriors are a young team in rebuilding mode, and that means Green could see time on the court. The offense won’t be run through him like it was at Michigan State, but he has a consistent midrange jumper, and if he plays enough minutes, he could be an impact rebounder. Plus, Golden State tanks better than any other team in the league, which means Green’s value could shoot up in the final month and a half of the season.
JEFF TAYLOR, SF, BOBCATS Taylor is a knockdown three-point shooter and actually has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create. Playing on a team like the Bobcats means he might actually get to see a significant amount of minutes.
BERNARD JAMES, C, MAVERICKS James was a dominant blocker in the ACC and at age 27, has the body to be a strong NBA player right now. Plus, he is backing up the always-frail Chris Kaman, which means 30 starts next season might not be out of the question.
WILL BARTON, SG, TRAIL BLAZERS Barton averaged 18 points per game on only 12.9 field goal attempts per game as a sophomore last season in Memphis. He is wildly efficient for someone his age and playing on a team that might give a decent amount of time to its rookies could end up making him the second-round pick that stands out most from this draft.
NBA MOCK DRAFT We recently conducted a mock draft with the fantasy experts at RotoWire. The 12-owner draft was based on standard head-to-head, nine-category scoring (FG%, FT%, points, three-pointers, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers).
ROUND 1 1. LeBron James, SF 2. Kevin Durant, SF 3. Kevin Love, PF 4. Russell Westbrook, PG 5. Chris Paul, PG 6. Josh Smith, SF 7. Dirk Nowitzki, PF 8. Dwyane Wade, PG 9. Al Jefferson, PF 10. Kobe Bryant, SG 11. Carmelo Anthony, SF 12. Marc Gasol, C
Justin Mertes-Mistretta Ed Kensik Shannon McKeown James Anderson Mike Barner Kyle McKeown Jeff Stotts Peter Schoenke Eric Caturia Jacob Guth Andre Snellings Chris Morgan
Round 1: LeBron and Durant are automatic in the top two spots, whichever order. After that, it gets a lot more interesting. Westbrook is money in the bank, and should be even better this year after the invaluable experience of playing with Team USA this summer. The draft was conducted before Nowitzkiâ€™s surgery. Bryant probably shouldn't go in the first round ahead of guys like Greg Monroe, James Harden or Deron Williams, but there's no guarantee that Jacob could get Bryant with his second-round pick. It was also interesting to see Jefferson and Gasol as the first two centers off the board. Center will spark a lot of disagreement this year among fantasy experts and owners.
ROUND 2 1. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 2. Greg Monroe, C 3. Deron Williams, PG 4. Marcin Gortat, C 5. James Harden, SG 6. Paul Millsap, PF 7. Stephen Curry, PG 8. Danny Granger, SF 9. Kyrie Irving, PG 10. DeMarcus Cousins, PF 11. Brandon Jennings, PG 12. Pau Gasol, PF
Round 2: Williams at 15 overall might be the steal of the draft. Monroe and Gasol are also excellent for where they went. Gortat goes before guys like Andrew Bynum and Al Horford based on his breakout season last year, but it will be interesting to see if his numbers hold steady in the postSteve Nash era. With shooting guard as weak as it, getting Harden in mid-second could pay off. Curry was surprising, just because of the questions surrounding the health of his ankles, but if he is healthy, he could win plenty of leagues for his owners. James went back-to-back with PG, but there are plenty of great opportunities to get rebounds and blocks later in the draft, and Irving has top-15 upside.
ROUND 3 1. Andrew Bynum, C 2. Paul George, SG 3. Ty Lawson, PG 4. Al Horford, PF 5. David Lee, PF 6. Serge Ibaka, PF 7. Mike Conley, PG 8. Kevin Garnett, PF 9. Ersan Ilyasova, SF 10. Dwight Howard, C 11. Chris Bosh, PF 12. Joe Johnson, SG
Justin Mertes-Mistretta Ed Kensik Shannon McKeown James Anderson Mike Barner Kyle McKeown Jeff Stotts Peter Schoenke Eric Caturia Jacob Guth Andre Snellings Chris Morgan
Round 3: Justin was able to get Paul Gasol and Bynum back-to-back on the snake, giving him a pretty ridiculous frontline with LeBron already on the side. Don't expect Bynum to fall this far in most drafts. George getting drafted ahead of guys like Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay seems like a stretch, especially when the latter two will get significantly more minutes than George. Kyle looks to have blocks all but locked up with Josh Smith and now Ibaka on his team. James opted for Horford with this pick with the hope that rookie Anthony Davis would be available in the fourth round, a hope that went unfulfilled.
Chris Morgan Andre Snellings Jacob Guth Eric Caturia Peter Schoenke Jeff Stotts Kyle McKeown Mike Barner James Anderson Shannon McKeown Ed Kensik Justin Mertes-Mistretta
1. Ryan Anderson, PF 2. Tyreke Evans, PG 3. Rudy Gay, SF 4. Rajon Rondo, PG 5. Anthony Davis, PF 6. Andrea Bargnani, PF 7. Goran Dragic, PG 8. Eric Gordon, SG 9. Nicolas Batum, SG 10. Klay Thompson, SG 11. Danilo Gallinari, SF 12. Steve Nash, PG
Chris Morgan Andre Snellings Jacob Guth Eric Caturia Peter Schoenke Jeff Stotts Kyle McKeown Mike Barner James Anderson Shannon McKeown Ed Kensik Justin Mertes-Mistretta
Round 4: There is a distinct drop-off from the third to the fourth round when it comes to sure things this year in fantasy basketball drafts. . Half the players in this round either have injury histories (Bargnani, Gordon, Gallinari) or lack a track record in their current roles (Anderson, Davis, Dragic, Batum, Thompson). But that's not to say these aren't mostly astute picks. Peter grabbed Davis, so James reached on Batum. Rondo dropped to the fourth round because of his horrible free-throw shooting percentage, but Eric clearly thought he offered too much in the other seven categories to slip any further. 40
NBA MOCK DRAFT (cont...)
ROUND 5 1. Monta Ellis, PG 2. Nene Hilario, C 3. JaVale McGee, PF 4. Jrue Holiday, PG 5. Tyson Chandler, C 6. Amare Stoudemire, PF 7. Andre Iguodala, SG 8. Nikola Pekovic, C 9. Blake Griffin, PF 10. Marcus Thornton, SG 11. Roy Hibbert, C 12. Mo Williams, PG
Justin Mertes-Mistretta Ed Kensik Shannon McKeown James Anderson Mike Barner Kyle McKeown Jeff Stotts Peter Schoenke Eric Caturia Jacob Guth Andre Snellings Chris Morgan
ROUND 6 1. Kyle Lowry, PG 2. Manu Ginobili, SG 3. Joakim Noah, PF 4. Kevin Martin, SG 5. Kenneth Faried, PF 6. John Wall, PG 7. Gerald Wallace, SF 8. Brook Lopez, C 9. Luol Deng, SF 10. Andrew Bogut, C 11. Wesley Matthews, SG 12. Paul Pierce, SG
Chris Morgan Andre Snellings Jacob Guth Eric Caturia Peter Schoenke Jeff Stotts Kyle McKeown Mike Barner James Anderson Shannon McKeown Ed Kensik Justin Mertes-Mistretta
Round 5: There was a run of centers in the fifth round, starting with Ed's Nene pick, which led to McGee, Chandler, Stoudemire, Pekovic and Hibbert all flying off the board. With Horford already on board, James grabbed his third point guard in Holiday, with hopes of locking up assists and steals. After grabbing Rajon Rondo in the fourth round, Eric grabbed Griffin in the fifth, essentially punting free-throw percentage, but getting one of the league's best rebounders in Griffin and last year's assists leader in Rondo.
Round 6: Martin comes off the board a little too early here, based on the direction of the Rockets' franchise and the way he finished last season, especially when Matthews goes to Ed seven picks later. Kyle adds Wallace to a team that already has Josh Smith, pairing two of the better across the board stat-stuffers at the forward positions. Shannon was able to get Bogut at a steep discount in the sixth round, and if he remains healthy, he could have as good of a season as any of the big men who went a round earlier.
1. Kemba Walker, PG 2. Carlos Boozer, PF 3. Jeremy Lin, PG 4. Kris Humphries, PF 5. Tony Parker, PG 6. Zach Randolph, PF 7. Chauncey Billups, PG 8. Samuel Dalembert, C 9. Arron Afflalo, SG 10. Spencer Hawes, C 11. Ricky Rubio, PG 12. Tim Duncan, PF
Round 7: Mike getting Parker after Walker and Lin to start off this round seems like good value. Parker is the type of player who will go in the middle rounds of a draft and won't garner much attention, but will be extremely consistent and won't hurt your field-goal percentage like Lin and Walker will. He should once again be the only Spurs player to get more than 30 minutes per game. Humphries will help shore up rebounding for James after he ignored the category early in the draft.
1. Andrei Kirilenko, SF 2. Jeff Teague, PG 3. Austin Rivers, PG 4. Greivis Vasquez, PG 5. David West, PF 6. Emeka Okafor, C 7. Gordon Hayward, SG 8. DeAndre Jordan, PF 9. Glen Davis, PF 10. Brandon Knight, PG 11. Chris Kaman, C 12. Luis Scola, PF
Round 8: Back-to-back Hornets guards went in the eighth round with Jacob grabbing the young gun, Rivers, and Eric grabbing the incumbent, Vasquez. Rivers going ahead of fellow rookie guard Damian Lillard is surprising since Lillard has a firm hold on a starting job in Portland. Steady power forwards with limited upside like West and Scola go here along with similarly predictable centers in Okafor, Jordan and Kaman. Davis likely will get enough minutes to help with rebounds.
NBA MOCK DRAFT (cont...)
ROUND 9 1. Anderson Varejao, PF 2. Elton Brand, PF 3. Evan Turner, SG 4. Derrick Rose, PG 5. Raymond Felton, PG 6. J.R. Smith, SG 7. Thaddeus Young, SF 8. Kawhi Leonard, SF 9. Jason Terry, PG 10. O.J. Mayo, SG 11. Derrick Williams, SF 12. Rodney Stuckey, PG
ROUND 10 1. Omer Asik, C Chris Morgan 2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Andre Snellings 3. Derrick Favors, PF Jacob Guth 4. Bismack Biyombo, PF Eric Caturia 5. Louis Williams, PG Peter Schoenke 6. Darren Collison, PG Jeff Stotts 7. George Hill, PG Kyle McKeown 8. Jamal Crawford, PG Mike Barner 9. Jonas Valanciunas, C James Anderson 10. Damian Lillard, PG Shannon McKeown 11. Tony Allen, SG Ed Kensik 12. DeMar DeRozan, SG Justin Mertes-Mistretta
Round 9: Turner has possibly the most upside of anyone left in the draft, and Shannon gets him with the 99th overall pick. Rose is the last of the injured star point guards to go after John Wall and Ricky Rubio, which makes sense with his injury being a bit more severe. Felton is falling big time in drafts, but he's in better shape this season, and a change of scenery should make him a steal at 101 overall.
Round 10: Kidd-Gilchrist goes off the board right around where expected, and Lillard slips further than he should have, with Shannon once again grabbing a high-upside guy late in the draft. Lillard could very well have a better year than any of the veteran point guards to go ahead of him in this round. Valanciunas is one of the only starting centers left, which makes him a need pick for James.
1. Tristan Thompson, PF 2. Robin Lopez, C 3. Nikola Vucevic, PF 4. Harrison Barnes, SF 5. Ed Davis, PF 6. J.J. Hickson, PF 7. Bradley Beal, SG 8. Dion Waiters, SG 9. Shawn Marion, SF 10. Chandler Parsons, SF 11. Ray Allen, SG 12. Anthony Morrow, SG
Round 11: This round featured contrasting draft styles -rookie upside vs. consistency from the likes Marion, Parsons, and Allen. Rookies Barnes, Beal and Waiters go within five picks. Flyers were taken on PF and C with a little upside in Thompson, Vucevic, Davis and Hickson.
ROUND 13 1. Antawn Jamison, PF 2. Thomas Robinson, PF 3. Wilson Chandler, SF 4. Marshon Brooks, SG 5. Kirk Hinrich, PG 6. Brandon Roy, SG 7. Gerald Henderson, SG 8. Jose Calderon, PG 9. Luke Ridnour, PG 10. Steve Novak, SF 11. Jason Richardson, SG 12. Jared Dudley, SG
1. Lamar Odom, SF 2. Andre Miller, PG 3. Marvin Williams, SF 4. Michael Beasley, SF 5. Alonzo Gee, SG 6. Byron Mullens, C 7. Hedo Turkoglu, SF 8. Taj Gibson, PF 9. Brandon Bass, PF 10. Isaiah Thomas, PG 11. Danny Green, SG 12. Kevin Seraphin, PF
Round 12: At this point everyone is just trying to fill out positions of need and/or take a big swing on high-upside guys. Troubled yet talented players like Odom and Beasley, who are each in new situations, make great flyers this late in a draft. Round 13: Ridnour jumps out as great value this late in a draft. He falls under the same category as Tony Parker. There's nothing exciting about drafting him, but he produces every year, and he should be a strong contributor early in the season with Ricky Rubio out.
FANTASY HOOPS STRATEGY & ADVICE Fantasy basketball offers the opportunity for NBA fans to appreciate the 82-game season even more. Various types of leagues and rules can accommodate any fantasy player’s preferences. Participating in a fantasy basketball league will allow you to follow other teams and players you might normally not. You will also find meaning and purpose in games you normally wouldn’t. Here are some basic points of playing fantasy basketball and some strategy to use to be successful, whether you are new to fantasy basketball or a veteran owner.
G ETTING S TARTED Fantasy basketball offers a variety of leagues in which to participate, but all require similar preparation. First, research your league’s individual rules, and make sure you completely understand the parameters. Next, accumulate a list or lists of player rankings and make any necessary adjustments based on your own research. Be sure to adjust your rankings based on league format as a player can have significantly different value in a Rotisserie League than a Head-to-Head League. Make sure you know which players are hurt or are coming back from an injury as this could impact their value. Be aware of an injured player’s timetable to return but understand that this is just an estimation; it could be longer or shorter than indicated. Also, put together a good sleeper and bust list. And know the players you want to target in your draft, but be prepared to adjust your strategy since drafts are unpredictable. During the season use the waiver wire or explore a trade to help any categories your team is struggling with. Typically in trades, the owner receiving the best player is on the winning side of the deal, but don’t be afraid to address a needed category even if the trade is slightly uneven. Shop players in categories your strongest in to address your team’s weaker spots.
There are three basic league formats typically used in fantasy basketball: Rotisserie, Points and Head-to-Head leagues.
ROTISSERIE LEAGUES In a Rotisserie or Roto league, teams accumulate points in various categories based on each player’s statistics. Categories typically used are: points, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-pointers made. The number of points a team receives in each category depends on the number of teams in the league. If there are 12 teams in the league, the team that leads a category receives 12 points. For example, the team with the most total rebounds would receive 12 points. The team with the second most rebounds receives 11 points and so on until the team with the fewest rebounds receives one point. Points in all categories are totaled for each team to determine the team's league standing. The team with the most total points at year’s end is the league champion. Many fantasy owners prefer this format because it eliminates the randomness inherent in weekly head-to-head matchups. Roto League Strategy: When drafting your team, it’s best to look for a well-balanced squad that isn’t too weak in any one or two categories. A strategy sometimes used is known as “punting” a category.
Basically you acknowledge that you will ignore one category to solidify several other categories. This is not a good strategy as most successful champions have a team that competes in every category. To ensure you don’t tank any category, be aware of players known as “category killers.” For example, Dwight Howard shoots about 60 percent from the free-throw line, which, over the course of a season, is enough to drag you to the bottom of the free-throw percentage category. Other players have a similar ability to do the same for field-goal percentage. When evaluating players with those two categories in mind, make sure you note how many shots they take, as that’s just as important as the percentage. A player like Dirk Nowitzki has a lot of value for the free-throw percentage category because he not only shoots about 90 percent from the line, but he also usually makes 400plus free throws in a season. Another good strategy is to target players who accumulate statistics outside the norms for their position. For example, look for guards who are strong rebounders or centers who rack up a few assists each game. This will give you a competitive advantage in your league that will pay off over an 82-game season.
POINTS LEAGUES In a Points league, points are assigned for each stat category. For example, rebounds might be worth three points, assists two points, blocks one point. The category points are then totaled for each owner, and the owner with the most cumulative points wins the league title. Points League Strategy: A balanced roster is still important in Points leagues - you want to compete across the categories - but the points assigned to stats will determine which categories, and therefore players, are most valuable. For example, if rebounds are worth five points and assists are worth one, power forwards will have more value than point guards. This makes “punting” a category that much easier - you can load up on the categories worth the most points at the expense of a less-valued category. Another important factor is turnovers. If a turnover is worth negative points, a player with decent stats but a lot turnovers can end up hurting your team. Note a player’s assist-to-turnover ratio as part of your draft preparation, and be sure to properly consider turnovers when compiling cheatsheets.
HEAD-TO-HEAD LEAGUES Another type of league is known as Head-To-Head. In this style, an owner plays against another owner in a one-on-one matchup across a given period, usually a week. Toward the end of the season, the top few teams as determined by total wins and losses advance to the playoffs to compete for the league championship in another series of one-on-one matchups. Head-to-head leagues can be scored two ways. The first is Categorical (primary type for baseball) in which wins are given for each category based on which team has better stats (i.e. the team with the most rebounds wins the rebounds category). The second type of Head-to-Head style is Points (primary type for football) in which each team amasses points for stats (four points per rebound, for example), and the team owner with the most total points across all the categories that week wins the matchup. 43
FANTASY ANTASY HOOPS STRATEGY STRATEGY & ADVICE (cont...) The downside to a Head-to-Head league is that luck plays a more prominent role. An owner might have a great week statistically but have the misfortune of playing the owner who has the league-high stats for a given week. Likewise, the top team in the league might be bested in the playoffs only because a lesser team gets hot at the right time. On the other hand, Head-to-Head leagues offer the excitement of weekly matchups and end-of-year playoffs that Roto or Points leagues do not. Head-to-Head League Strategy: There are two schools of thought in Head-to-Head leagues: across-the-board balance and targeting a handful of winnable categories. With the first option, it’s important to understand that a player who, for example, contributes 25 points per game with limited rebounds and assists and a poor shooting percentage is not as good as a 15-point-per-game player who averages 15 total assists/rebounds and has a good shooting percentage. You’re not looking for players who accumulate one or two categories, you want players who have the best stats across the board. With the other option, you are looking to dominate a handful of categories (usually points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks), which will ensure your team wins its weekly matchup more often than not. You can ignore the percentage categories, and the “category killers” won’t hurt you has badly. Dwight Howard’s 60-percent free-throw shooting won’t hamstring you if you are dominating the counting stats. Plus, percentages are hard to rely on week to week, and a great free-throw shooter is not going to offer as much of a competitive advantage.
T HE D RAFT
Auction Draft Strategy: The most common auction strategies are a “value strategy” and “stars and scrubs.” In the former strategy, an owner shops for undervalued players, hoping this will give him more bang for his buck across his roster. Typically, an owner looking for value will wait to bid on players as other owners overspend. This will leave him with extra money later in the auction to win players and find bargains. In the “stars and scrubs” strategy, an owner spends freely to stock his team with a few dominant players (stars) and then adds serviceable players later in the draft (scrubs) with his limited remaining dollars. In either strategy, it’s important to manage your budget well and to know the NBA player pool as well as possible.
P LAYER /R OSTER C ONSIDERATIONS LINEUP CHANGES Typically, leagues allow either daily or weekly lineup changes. In weekly leagues, lineups are set once a week prior to the first game on Monday. Thereafter, your lineup cannot change until the following week. It is important to know how many games each of your players will play in a given week. It may be beneficial to bench a regular starter if he has only two or three games in favor of a slightly lesser player who has four or even five games. In daily leagues, owners can set lineups based on each day’s games. Most leagues with daily lineup changes, however, have a games-played cap for each position. You can mix and match players for the position, but once your reach the 82-games cap, you will no longer accumulate stats for that spot.
There are two basic draft formats in fantasy basketball: a snake or serpentine draft and an auction draft.
Whether in a weekly or daily league, it’s critical for owners to pay attention to their players’ opponents. Are they facing a solid defense or a team that plays a wide open, high-scoring style? Avoiding tough matchups and exploiting better matchups will lead to fantasy success.
The most common type of draft is known as a snake or serpentine draft. In this format, draft order is randomly assigned to owners who then select players in each round at their draft position. The draft order is reversed in even numbered rounds, so that the owner who has the first pick of the first round has the last pick of the second round, moving the draft in a “snake”-like fashion. The draft continues until each owner’s roster is filled.
While some leagues stick with the standard guard, forward and center positions, many leagues go further with point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center positions. Players qualify for positions based upon league rules. For example, let’s say your league requires 10 games played to qualify for a position. If a power forward plays 10 games at center, he would then be eligible to be rostered as a center in addition to his primary position as a power forward. This is another area where owners can gain a competitive advantage as it gives an owner greater flexibility in setting his lineup. If the player qualifies, an owner can replace a lesser player at a scarce position with a better player from a more abundant position (i.e. playing power forward at center).
Snake Draft Strategy: The goal in the first few rounds is to draft consistent performers, who night in and night out will score the bulk of points for your team. As the draft continues, be aware of the positions you have filled and those you still need to fill. If there’s a run on players at a certain position, don’t panic and think you must also draft a player at that position lest you miss out. Instead, grab a player at another position who has more value. For example, if a point guard is selected in the five picks ahead of you, consider the centers still available. Instead of taking the sixth-best point guard, take a top center and then fill the point-guard spot later. In other words, be the owner who starts the run, not the owner who finishes the run. This will increase the overall value of your team by taking the best available player.
AUCTION DRAFT Another type of draft is an auction in which teams are allocated a salary cap to choose players. In this format, owners bid numeric values on players with the highest bid winning the player. The auction continues until each team has filled its roster.
Many leagues also use a “flex” position at which any player can be rostered regardless of what position they play, offering additional flexibility to owners.
FREE AGENTS During the season, owners can acquire players who aren’t already on a team, known as “free agents.” Usually the free agents to consider are players who get an increase in playing time due to performance, an injury to a teammate or some type of trade. Some leagues allow players to be picked up immediately for use the following day or week. Other leagues require a waiting period before these players can be claimed with a waiver order determined by leagues rules. Claiming a free agent is very important as every year an unknown player will 44
FANTASY ANTASY HOOPS STRATEGY STRATEGY & ADVICE (cont...) exceed expectations. Regularly monitor the status of the top free agents in your league. A player’s fantasy worth isn’t just dependent on his skill, but also his playing time. If you know a free agent is going to see an uptick in minutes, move to acquire him.
SLEEPERS Get familiar with potential “sleepers” before drafting. Sleeper lists are supposed to predict which players will outproduce their draft-day value and those who will have breakout seasons. These are typically players who have improved their playing time by becoming a starter or landing a more prominent role on a new team but who are still flying under the radar relative to their perceived value. Another good indicator of a potential sleeper is improved play over the course of the previous season. Be aware that a sleeper list does not guarantee a breakout season. Therefore, don’t take a sleeper list at face value -use your own due diligence to figure out who you like as a sleeper and why. Not only will you be more prepared for your draft, but you’ll learn the NBA player pool better too, which is important.
BUSTS Busts are the flip side of sleepers - players unlikely to live up to draftday expectations. This can be due to a reduced role or playing time, injury history or diminishing skills. As with sleepers, it’s important to
do your homework on busts. Which players are getting up there in age? Who has seen a marked decline in production over the last season or seasons? Who has a sufficient track record of injury to be tagged with the “injury-prone” label? Naming a player a bust doesn’t necessarily mean the player is going to be awful; it simply means he will not return his expected value. Be aware of potential busts and avoid them on draft day.
ROOKIES Each year a new crop of rookies enters the NBA, hoping to make an impact on the league. Rookies are filled with uncertainty, but just because a player is a rookie doesn’t mean he should be ignored in fantasy circles. Each year a group of rookies makes a significant fantasy impact and rewards an owner’s faith in them. Collegiate success doesn’t guarantee NBA success, of course, so keep an eye on how a rookie fares during summer league action and his preseason progress with his new team. Also analyze a rookie’s skills, size and role. Does he have the skills necessary to contribute at the NBA level or do his skills still need refining? Is he physical enough to not only survive an NBA pounding but to consistently perform? Will he find himself in a role that offers an opportunity to blossom or will he buried in his team’s rotation? Stay on top of the rookie crop throughout the year and pounce when the situation warrants.
NBA DEPTH CHARTS ATLANTA
Al Horford Zaza Pachulia Ivan Johnson Johan Petro
Kevin Garnett Fab Melo Jared Sullinger Jason Collins
Brendan Haywood Byron Mullens DeSagana Diop
Joakim Noah Nazr Mohammed Carlos Boozer
Anderson Varejao Tyler Zeller Samardo Samuels
Chris Kaman Brandan Wright Bernard James
Josh Smith Ivan Johnson Jordan Williams Michael Scott
Brandon Bass Kevin Garnett Jared Sullinger Chris Wilcox
Bismack Biyombo Tyrus Thomas
Carlos Boozer Taj Gibson Vladimir Radmanovic
Dirk Nowitzki Elton Brand Brandan Wright
Tristan Thompson Anderson Varejao Samardo Samuels Jon Leuer Luke Harangody
Luol Deng Jimmy Butler
SMALL FORWARD C.J. Miles Omri Casspi Luke Walton
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Reggie Williams Jeffery Taylor
Kyle Korver Josh Smith Anthony Morrow DeShawn Stevenson
Paul Pierce Kris Joseph
Courtney Lee Jason Terry Dionte Christmas Jamar Smith
Gerald Henderson Ben Gordon Reggie Williams Jeffery Taylor Matt Carroll Cory Higgins
Richard Hamilton Marco Belinelli Kirk Hinrich Jimmy Butler
Rajon Rondo Jason Terry Keyon Dooling Avery Bradley
Ramon Sessions Kemba Walker
SHOOTING GUARD Anthony Morrow Devin Harris John Jenkins
POINT GUARD Jeff Teague Devin Harris Louis Williams
POINT GUARD Kirk Hinrich Nate Robinson Marquis Teague Derrick Rose
SMALL FORWARD Shawn Marion Vince Carter Jae Crowder
Dion Waiters Daniel Gibson C.J. Miles Kelenna Azubuike
O.J. Mayo Vince Carter Delonte West Jared Cunningham Dahntay Jones Dominique Jones
Kyrie Irving Donald Sloan Jeremy Pargo
Darren Collison Delonte West Rodrigue Beaubois
JaVale McGee Kosta Koufos Timofey Mozgov
Greg Monroe Andre Drummond Vyacheslav Kravtsov
Omer Asik Donatas Motiejunas Sean Williams
Roy Hibbert Ian Mahinmi Miles Plumlee
DeAndre Jordan Ryan Hollins Ronny Turiaf
Andrew Bogut Andris Biedrins Jeremy Tyler Festus Ezeli
Kenneth Faried Anthony Randolph Wilson Chandler
Jason Maxiell Jonas Jerebko Charlie Villanueva
David West Tyler Hansbrough Jeff Pendergraph
Blake Griffin Lamar Odom Trey Thompkins
Danilo Gallinari Wilson Chandler Corey Brewer Jordan Hamilton Quincy Miller
Tayshaun Prince Corey Maggette Kyle Singler Jonas Jerebko Austin Daye Khris Middleton
Patrick Patterson Marcus Morris Royce White Terrence Jones JaJuan Johnson PF6 Jon Brockman
Danny Granger Paul George Gerald Green
Caron Butler Lamar Odom Grant Hill
Paul George Lance Stephenson Gerald Green Orlando Johnson
Chauncey Billups Jamal Crawford Willie Green
SHOOTING GUARD Andre Iguodala Corey Brewer Evan Fournier Jordan Hamilton
SHOOTING GUARD Rodney Stuckey Corey Maggette Kim English
Ty Lawson Andre Miller
Brandon Knight Rodney Stuckey Will Bynum
POWER FORWARD David Lee Draymond Green Jeremy Tyler
SMALL FORWARD Harrison Barnes Richard Jefferson Draymond Green
SHOOTING GUARD Klay Thompson Brandon Rush Charles Jenkins Kent Bazemore
POINT GUARD Stephen Curry Jarrett Jack Charles Jenkins
SMALL FORWARD Chandler Parsons Carlos Delfino Gary Forbes
SHOOTING GUARD Kevin Martin Carlos Delfino Toney Douglas Jeremy Lamb
POINT GUARD George Hill D.J. Augustin
POINT GUARD Chris Paul Chauncey Billups Eric Bledsoe
Jeremy Lin Shaun Livingston Courtney Fortson 46
NBA DEPTH CHARTS CHARTS (cont...)
Dwight Howard Pau Gasol Jordan Hill Robert Sacre
Marc Gasol Marreese Speights Hamed Haddadi
Chris Bosh Joel Anthony Dexter Pittman Justin Hamilton
Samuel Dalembert Ekpe Udoh Larry Sanders
Nikola Pekovic Kevin Love Greg Stiemsma
Brook Lopez Reggie Evans
Ersan Ilyasova Drew Gooden Ekpe Udoh Tobias Harris John Henson
Kevin Love Derrick Williams Andrei Kirilenko Dante Cunningham
POWER FORWARD Pau Gasol Antawn Jamison Jordan Hill
SMALL FORWARD Metta World Peace Antawn Jamison Devin Ebanks
SHOOTING GUARD Kobe Bryant Jodie Meeks Andrew Goudelock Darius Johnson-Odom
POINT GUARD Steve Nash Steve Blake Chris Duhon Darius Morris
POWER FORWARD Zach Randolph Marreese Speights Darrell Arthur
SMALL FORWARD Rudy Gay Quincy Pondexter
SHOOTING GUARD Tony Allen Tony Wroten Wayne Ellington D.J. Kennedy
POINT GUARD Mike Conley, Jr. Jerryd Bayless Tony Wroten Josh Selby
POWER FORWARD LeBron James Chris Bosh Udonis Haslem
SMALL FORWARD Shane Battier LeBron James Rashard Lewis James Jones
SMALL FORWARD Mike Dunleavy Jr. L. Richard Mbah a Moute Tobias Harris
Dwyane Wade Ray Allen James Jones Mike Miller
Monta Ellis Doron Lamb
POINT GUARD Mario Chalmers Norris Cole
POINT GUARD Brandon Jennings Beno Udrih Monta Ellis
SMALL FORWARD Derrick Williams Chase Budinger Andrei Kirilenko Dante Cunningham Robbie Hummel
SHOOTING GUARD Brandon Roy Chase Budinger Malcolm Lee Alexey Shved
POWER FORWARD Kris Humphries Reggie Evans Mirza Teletovic
SMALL FORWARD Gerald Wallace Joe Johnson Tornike Shengelia
SHOOTING GUARD Joe Johnson MarShon Brooks Keith Bogans Jerry Stackhouse
POINT GUARD Deron Williams C.J. Watson Tyshawn Taylor
Luke Ridnour Jose Barea Alexey Shved Ricky Rubio
Anthony Davis Robin Lopez
Tyson Chandler Marcus Camby Amar’e Stoudemire
Kendrick Perkins Nick Collison Cole Aldrich Hasheem Thabeet Daniel Orton
Glen Davis Nikola Vucevic Gustavo Ayon Kyle O’Quinn
Andrew Bynum Kwame Brown Spencer Hawes
Marcin Gortat Channing Frye Jermaine O’Neal
Spencer Hawes Thaddeus Young Lavoy Allen Arnett Moultrie
Luis Scola Channing Frye Markieff Morris Michael Beasley
Evan Turner Dorell Wright Thaddeus Young
Michael Beasley Wesley Johnson Jared Dudley
Jason Richardson Evan Turner Nick Young Royal Ivey
Jared Dudley Shannon Brown Wesley Johnson P.J. Tucker
Arron Afflalo J.J. Redick
Jrue Holiday Royal Ivey Maalik Wayns
Goran Dragic Kendall Marshall Sebastian Telfair
POWER FORWARD Ryan Anderson Anthony Davis Jason Smith Hakim Warrick Lance Thomas
POWER FORWARD Amar’e Stoudemire Steve Novak Kurt Thomas
Al-Farouq Aminu Hakim Warrick Darius Miller
Carmelo Anthony Steve Novak J.R. Smith Chris Copeland
Eric Gordon Austin Rivers Xavier Henry Roger Mason
J.R. Smith Ronnie Brewer Chris Smith James White
Greivis Vasquez Austin Rivers
Raymond Felton Jason Kidd Pablo Prigioni Iman Shumpert
POWER FORWARD Serge Ibaka Nick Collison
SMALL FORWARD Kevin Durant Perry Jones Lazar Hayward Hollis Thompson
SHOOTING GUARD Thabo Sefolosha James Harden Russell Westbrook Daequan Cook
POINT GUARD Russell Westbrook Eric Maynor Reggie Jackson
POWER FORWARD Al Harrington Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu Josh McRoberts PF6 Justin Harper PF7 Andrew Nicholson
SMALL FORWARD Hedo Turkoglu Quentin Richardson Moe Harkless Christian Eyenga
POINT GUARD Jameer Nelson Ishmael Smith
NBA DEPTH CHARTS CHARTS (cont...)
J.J. Hickson Meyers Leonard LaMarcus Aldridge
DeMarcus Cousins Chuck Hayes Jason Thompson
Boris Diaw Tim Duncan Tiago Splitter
Jonas Valanciunas Amir Johnson Aaron Gray
Al Jefferson Derrick Favors Enes Kanter
Emeka Okafor Nene Hilario Kevin Seraphin
LaMarcus Aldridge J.J. Hickson Joel Freeland Jared Jeffries
Jason Thompson Thomas Robinson James Johnson
Tim Duncan DeJuan Blair Matt Bonner Boris Diaw Tiago Splitter
Andrea Bargnani Amir Johnson Ed Davis Quincy Acy
Paul Millsap Derrick Favors
Nene Hilario Trevor Booker Jan Vesely
Marvin Williams Gordon Hayward DeMarre Carroll Jeremy Evans
Nicolas Batum Victor Claver Luke Babbitt Sasha Pavlovic
Tyreke Evans John Salmons James Johnson Travis Outlaw Tyler Honeycutt
Wesley Matthews Elliot Williams Sasha Pavlovic Will Barton
SMALL FORWARD Kawhi Leonard Stephen Jackson
DeMar DeRozan Linas Kleiza Quincy Acy Alan Anderson
Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Francisco Garcia John Salmons
Danny Green Manu Ginobili Stephen Jackson Nando De Colo Gary Neal
Terrence Ross DeMar DeRozan Landry Fields Alan Anderson
Damian Lillard Nolan Smith Ronnie Price
Isaiah Thomas Aaron Brooks Tyreke Evans Jimmer Fredette
Tony Parker Gary Neal Patrick Mills Nando De Colo Cory Joseph
Kyle Lowry Jose Calderon John Lucas
SHOOTING GUARD Gordon Hayward Randy Foye Alec Burks Raja Bell Kevin Murphy
POINT GUARD Maurice Williams Randy Foye Jamaal Tinsley Earl Watson
SMALL FORWARD Trevor Ariza Jan Vesely Chris Singleton Cartier Martin
SHOOTING GUARD Bradley Beal Jordan Crawford Cartier Martin
POINT GUARD John Wall A.J. Price Shelvin Mack
PLAYER NEWS & NOTES ATLANTA HAWKS
Al Horford Horford had 10 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes on Friday against the Pistons. Horford had been limited by a calf injury, but played in the final exhibition game of the preseason. Tito’s son should help in points, rebounds, and the percentages.
Byron Mullens Mullens scored 16 points on 8-for-25 shooting and pulled down 19 boards in 36 minutes Friday against the Mavericks. Mullens was the leading scorer for the Bobcats this preseason, and 19 rebounds is impressive, but it is just preseason, so take these numbers with a grain of salt. Still, on this woeful Charlotte team, Mullens could get enough minutes to be interesting.
Kyle Korver Korver had nine points on three three-pointers in 20 minutes on Friday against Detroit. Korver will continue to be a decent source of threepointers for the Hawks. Over his first nine years in the league, he has hit 39.8 percent of his threes. Louis Williams Williams had a team-high 17 points and four assists on Friday against the Pistons. Williams scored in double figures in all seven preseason games with his new team. He is not shy about shooting and could lead the Hawks in scoring.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS D’Aundray Brown Brown, who was signed by the Cavaliers on Thursday, is expected to be sent to the NBA’s D-League, Fox Sports Ohio reports. Brown is a local favorite in Cleveland, having played four years at Cleveland State. He is an interesting prospect for the Cavs’ guard depth in the future, but for now he will head to Canton and work on his skills.
Andray Blatche Blatche missed Friday’s practice with flu symptoms, the Nets PR Department reports. This is nothing more than a common illness for Blatche, as he’s fully expected to suit up for the regular season opener.
Rodrigue Beaubois Beaubois failed to register a point in Dallas’ final preseason game. He played 19 minutes in the win over Charlotte, missing all three of his shot attempts. Beaubois was limited throughout the season after spraining his ankle early on. He has shown flashes of promise but still has a lot to prove to become a regular part of the rotation.
Deron Williams Williams will miss the next two days of practice after being diagnosed with inflamed tissue in his left ankle, the Nets’ official Twitter page reports. The technical term for the inflammation in his ankle is synovitis. He received an injection Friday and is still expected to start the Nov. 1 season opener.
Elton Brand Brand was a healthy scratch for the Mavericks’ final preseason game on Friday. The team gave each of its veterans a game off throughout the preseason and Friday’s win was Brand’s turn. He will be back in the lineup for the regular season opener Tuesday against the Lakers.
Luol Deng Deng had 17 points and seven rebounds on Friday against the Pacers. Deng played a game-high 41 minutes, so the wrist issue that had been ailing him was not a problem. He should lead the Bulls in scoring this season.
Vince Carter Carter scored 10 points Friday in a preseason win over the Bobcats. He finished 3-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. He added four rebounds and three turnovers. Carter will be asked to provide scoring off the bench this season, especially in the early portions of the year as Dirk Nowitzki recovers from knee surgery. He averaged 11.9 points in preseason, shooting 45 percent.
Taj Gibson Gibson had nine points and 11 rebounds on Friday against the Pacers. Gibson has been grabbing rebounds consistently in the preseason and should do so in the regular season off the Bulls’ bench. He is also a nice shot blocker, but won’t provide points consistently.
Darren Collison Collison scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in Friday’s preseason win. He added six assists and four rebounds. Collison led the Mavs in assists during the preseason, averaging 5.9. He will be the starting point guard Tuesday when the regular season begins.
Kirk Hinrich Hinrich (groin) plans to play in Chicago’s season opener, the Chicago Tribune reports. If Hinrich can’t go, and with Derrick Rose out long term, Nate Robinson will be getting a lot of minutes in his stead.
Jae Crowder Crowder left Friday’s preseason finale with a hamstring injury, the Dallas Morning News reports. He finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds. Crowder downplayed the injury after the game and said he will ready for the start of the regular season. The rookie forward has been a bright spot for the Mavericks during the preseason, averaging 11.4 points while starting four games.
Nate Robinson Robinson had 21 points and eight assists on Friday against the Pacers. He was 7-of-10 from the field. Robinson is a great source of fantasy stats when he gets playing time. He doesn’t usually help his team win, but that is beside the case. If Kirk Hinrich (thumb) is out for any length of time, Robinson could put up some numbers.
Eddy Curry Curry, who was just claimed off waivers by Dallas after being cut by San Antonio, scored 11 points on 4-8 shooting and added seven
PLAYER PLAYER NEWS & NOTES (cont...) rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes against the Bobcats on Friday. The Mavs need big bodies right now, but Curry has not shown the ability to stay healthy or in shape in recent years. That makes him an unreliable option for any fantasy team. Chris Kaman Kaman (calf) will miss the regular season opener, the Fort Worth StarTelegram reports. The Mavs will also be without Dirk Nowitzki (knee), so there will be plenty of minutes available in the frontcourt for guys like Elton Brand, Brandan Wright (ankle), and even Bernard James. The surging rookie Jae Crowder will also see an increase in playing time, as the Mavs will look to go with smaller lineups with such a banged up frontcourt. Delonte West West (suspension) will not be returning to the Mavericks, ESPN Dallas reports. West had already been suspended in two separate incidents this preseason alone and the Mavs were very unhappy with him, so this does not come as a big surprise. The team reportedly claimed Eddy Curry off of waivers and it would make sense for the team to release or trade the troubled guard. Brandan Wright Wright (left ankle) is out for Friday’s preseason finale, the Mavericks’ official site reports. Wright’s ankle injury is not considered serious, as he is still expected to suit up for the regular season opener.
DENVER NUGGETS Kenneth Faried Faried pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with seven points, one assist, and one block during Denver’s preseason loss to the Clippers on Thursday night. Faried is expected to lead the Nuggets, and perhaps even the NBA, in rebounding this year. However, the emergence of Kosta Koufos as the team’s potential starting center, and a legitimate rebound machine himself, may end up cutting into Faried’s numbers. Andre Iguodala Iguodala posted 10 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and one blocked shot during Denver’s preseason loss to the Clippers on Thursday night. Iguodala played 32 minutes, his longest stint of the preseason. His overall shooting woes continued (4-of-13 FGs), but he did sink 3-of-7 from beyond the arc and did not turn the ball over once.
DETROIT PISTONS Andre Drummond Drummond had 13 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes on Friday against the Hawks. The rookie from the University of Connecticut has had some nice moments in the preseason. At the very least, he looks like a quality backup center in his first season with Detroit.
HOUSTON ROCKETS Jeremy Lin Lin had 13 points and five assists on Friday against the Magic. Lin was limited to 23 minutes and knocked three three-pointers. Expectations for the Rockets are low, but Lin should have the opportunity to put up “insane” numbers. Marcus Morris Morris (ankle) will not play in Friday’s preseason game but could return to practice on Monday or Tuesday, The Houston Chronicle reports. Morris has been out for a few weeks with the injured ankle and it would be good timing to return early next week so he can see some game action before the start of the regular season. Morris should be one of the first off the bench in a crowded frontcourt in Houston but should see more than the 7.4 minutes per game he had last season. Chandler Parsons Parsons had 12 points and four assists on Friday against the Magic. He was 2-of-6 on three-pointers. Parsons has received a steady allotment of minutes this preseason and has scored in double digits in all but one game. He is an above average passer for a forward. Patrick Patterson Patterson (quad) will not play in Friday’s preseason game but is expected to be cleared to practice on Sunday, The Houston Chronicle reports. Patterson has been out this week but he will jump back into his starting power forward spot when he returns to the lineup. Greg Smith Smith hit all four of his field goal attempts on his way to 15 points on Friday against the Magic. He added five rebounds. Smith, who went to college at Fresno State, has played sparingly this preseason. He has only missed one shot in exhibition games and has gone 14-of-15 from the field.
INDIANA PACERS D.J. Augustin Augustin had 10 points and 13 assists in 36 minutes on Friday against the Bulls. He had one turnover. Augustin did not always looked like a starting point guard in his four years with the Bobcats. He should back up George Hill with the Pacers. Roy Hibbert Hibbert had 16 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks on Friday against Chicago. Hibbert was able to stay out of foul trouble and played 31 minutes. The center continued his steady progression in his fourth season in the league and should be at least as good this year.
Brandon Knight Knight had 16 points and three assists on Friday against Atlanta. Knight has scored inconsistently in the preseason. He has four games of 12 or more points and four games of nine or fewer points.
George Hill Hill (hip) will dress for Friday’s game against the Bulls, but will not play, the Indianapolis Star reports. The start of the regular season is right around the corner, but the fact that they are bothering to have Hill dress makes it seem like this injury isn’t too serious. Still, you will want to monitor his health as the opening games approach.
Greg Monroe Monroe had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists on Friday against the Hawks. Monroe should be one of the better sources of assists from centers in the league. He is an improving scorer and rebounder, as well.
David West West had 16 points and nine rebounds on Friday against Chicago. In his first year with the Pacers, West saw his point production drop off significantly from his days with the Hornets. He still provided excellent shooting percentages.
PLAYER PLAYER NEWS & NOTES (cont...)
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES Tony Allen Allen had 15 points on near perfect shooting on Friday against the Raptors. He hit all three of his field goal attempts, including a three, and was 8-for-9 from the line. Allen’s calling card is defense and he has only averaged double-digit points once in his career. He is a better actual player than a fantasy player. Jerryd Bayless Bayless had 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on Friday against the Raptors. He only played 19 minutes. The Grizz rested many of their starters, including Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley Jr, so Bayless was able to get more of an opportunity. He went to the free throw line ten times, making eight.
MIAMI HEAT Chris Bosh Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds on Friday against the Hornets. Bosh led the team in scoring as LeBron James had his game cut short because of a Robin Lopez boot to the face. The former Raptor hit all five of his free throws. Bosh is a 79.9 percent career free throw shooter. Rodney Carney Carney was waived by the Heat on Friday, The Miami Herald reports. Carney was a candidate to make the team as a perimeter threat off the bench for the Heat, but with a roster full of talent, the team decided to move on. LeBron James James left Friday’s game against the Hornets in the third quarter after taking a Robin Lopez foot to the face. He had 19 points, eight rebounds, and four assists before leaving. James appeared to be ok after leaving the game. He played 28 minutes and should be ready for another MVP-type season. Dwyane Wade Wade was just 7-of-19 for 15 points on Friday against the Hornets. He also missed both of his free throw attempts and had seven turnovers. Wade was out of sync against New Orleans. He will have games like this from time to time, but just be glad he got one out of his system.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS Monta Ellis Ellis had just two points on 1-of-11 shooting on Friday against the Timberwolves. He also had five turnovers. Ellis did not end the preseason in style. He was just 3-of-24 (12.5 percent) from the field. Needless to say, Ellis will shoot his way out of the slump. Drew Gooden Gooden has averaged just 12.2 minutes through the Bucks’ six preseason games. The Bucks presumably did not want Gooden to log heavy minutes during the preseason, but his lack of playing time is an indication that he is looking at a reduced role this season. Gooden proved last season he can be useful when seeing extended action, but at 31-years-old, and surrounded by a number of big guys in need of playing time, he is likely looking at a reduced role barring injuries. Brandon Jennings Jennings had 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting on Friday against Minnesota. He added five rebounds and three assists. Jennings did have five turnovers and combined for Monta Ellis for 10 turnovers.
Jennings (and Ellis) should be in for big seasons with Milwaukee because he will get plenty of shots. Doron Lamb Lamb (elbow) scored 12 points in his preseason debut Thursday. Lamb missed about a month of practice after injuring his elbow in late September, but he was able to jump right into the lineup after taking part in his first practice Wednesday. Lamb won’t be counted on for heavy minutes, but the Bucks are pretty thin in the backcourt, so he could work his way into the rotation if he can prove to be an effective scorer off the bench.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES Chase Budinger Budinger had 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including four three-pointers, on Friday against Milwaukee. Budinger had the hot shooting hand and went 4-of-5 from three-point land. In his first year in Minnesota, Budinger could get more offensive opportunities than he did in his three years in Houston. Andrei Kirilenko Kirilenko had eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and six steals on Friday against the Bucks. Kirilenko is once again going to play power forward for the Timberwolves after struggling at small forward in his last season with the Jazz. The 31-year-old could be in for a nice bounce back. Nikola Pekovic Pekovic had 19 points and nine rebounds on Friday against the Bucks. While Kevin Love (hand) recuperates, Pekovic could be among the league leaders in rebounds in the early season. His value may be mitigated somewhat by Love’s return, but he will still make for a viable fantasy center.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS Ryan Anderson Anderson hit five three-pointers on his way to 17 points to go along with seven rebounds on Friday against the Heat. Anderson has not shot the ball well with his new team in the preseason, but he looked good in the final exhibition. He should be a nice source of threes and points this season. Anthony Davis Davis had a preseason-high 24 points to go along with 11 rebounds and three steals against Miami on Friday. The first pick of the 2012 draft was just 2-of-5 from the free throw line and made just 56.3 percent through the preseason. He hit 70.9 percent of his free throws at Kentucky last season, so his percentage should bounce back. Eric Gordon Gordon (knee) is expected to take part in his first contact drills on Sunday, the Times-Picayune reports. Gordon did not participate in any of the preseason games, and it is no guarantee that he will actually participate in contact drills, and even if he does it still sounds like he has a bit of a ways to go before he will actually be able to contribute during the regular season. Austin Rivers Rivers left Friday’s game against the Heat after re-spraining his right ankle. Rivers sprained his ankle on Monday and looked like he injured the same joint. He was able to walk to the locker room without assistance, but tests will likely be performed on the ankle to determine the extent of the injury. 51
PLAYER PLAYER NEWS & NOTES (cont...) Greivis Vasquez Vasquez had 18 points and 10 assists on Friday against the Heat. The former Maryland Terrapin has been racking up assists in the preseason. He has topped double digits three times and has averaged 7.4 assists in eight exhibition games.
uct is averaging 8.7 rebounds and has scored in double digits in three games. After being an occasional starter for the 76ers last season, Vucevic could be in for more playing time with the Magic this season.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Kwame Brown Brown (calf) was able to practice on Friday, as Calkins Newspapers reports. Coach Doug Collins announced that Brown was able to practice and walk through the plays, but he was unable to participate in the scrimmage. He’s missed most of the preseason games thus far due to this injury and was expected to see significant minutes as a result of Andrew Bynum’s injury. In the 2011/12 season, Brown started only nine games and averaged 6.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 0.4 APG. Brown is still considered day-to-day, although Opening Night is right around the corner.
Tyson Chandler Chandler (knee) said he expects to play in the regular season opener Thursday, the New York Post reports. Chandler battled through injuries at times last season and is no stranger to playing through pain. Look for him to be out there once the season begins unless he suffers a setback. Amar’e Stoudemire Stoudemire (knee) is seeing a second doctor to determine severity of his injury, as The New York Daily News reports. The Knicks are reporting that Stoudemire will only be out two to four weeks, but it might be more accurate to say four to five weeks. The Knicks will lack their second leading scorer (Stoudemire) for a majority of November. The line up will be greatly altered for the Knicks, so do not be surprised to see Stoudemire not play until late Novemeber, early December at the earliest. Rasheed Wallace Wallace (conditioning) is becoming significant early for the Knicks, SNY.com reports. Coach Mike Brown was more than satisfied with Wallace’s intensity and play during Friday’s practice. Wallace has not played in an NBA game in more than two years, but he could see important minutes for the Knicks early due to Camby (calf) and Stoudamire (knee) injuries. Wallace will have to prove himself during Saturday’s practice when the Knicks’ focus will be scrimmaging. If Camby and Stoudamire do not recover in time for the season, Wallace will be anticipated to fill the spot in for the Knicks’ lineup early in the 2012-13 season.
ORLANDO MAGIC DeQuan Jones Jones had 16 points on 8-of-16 shooting on Friday against Houston. Jones, an undrafted free agent, has had some nice moments in the preseason. He has NBA level athleticism and scored 22 points in one exhibition game. With the Magic roster in flux, Jones could make the team and contribute. E’Twaun Moore Moore had a team-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting on Friday against Houston. He added three assists. Moore has played well in preseason and could get some minutes as a backup for Jameer Nelson. The former Boilermaker has scored 13 or more points in five of eight preseason games and average of 5.3 assists. J.J. Redick Redick will not play in Friday’s game against the Rockets to rest a sore hip, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Arron Afflalo has also been dealing with an injury this preseason, but Afflalo is back now, leaving Redick to be a source of scoring off the bench once he is healthy. This injury doesn’t seem serious if his hip is truly merely sore, but you may want to monitor it anyway. Nikola Vucevic Vucevic had a game-high 14 rebounds on Friday against Houston. He added four points. Vucevic has been a consistent rebounder for the Magic in the exhibition season. Through seven games, the USC prod-
PHOENIX SUNS Michael Beasley Beasley scored 29 points on 13-for-21 shooting and added 10 rebounds in 34 minutes against the Nuggets on Friday. Beasley undeniable has skill, particularly when it comes to scoring, but he has also shown himself to be mercurial, unreliable player with a penchant for taking bad shots. He’ll get his chances in Phoenix, and with enough minutes he should put up good scoring numbers, but he could easily find himself planted on the bench if he earns the ire of his coaches like he has in the past.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS Luke Babbitt Babbitt could receive playing time during the regular season if Portland requires a shooter, The Oregonian reports. Babbitt, who did not appear in the Blazers’ final preseason contest Thursday, saw the court in each of the previous six, averaging 5.8 points (on 50 percent shooting), 2.8 rebounds, and 1.3 treys in 12.3 minutes. After draining 43 percent of his three-point attempts a season ago, he has certainly proved himself capable of succeeding in some capacity in the NBA, which should open up a modest role in the rotation during the 201213 season. Will Barton Barton saw the court in just four of Portland’s seven preseason contests, averaging 2.8 points (on 38.5 percent shooting) and 2.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes. Over the Blazers’ final two exhibitions, Barton garnered just five total minutes of action, making him the most likely player to be sent to the team’s D-League affiliate at Boise in order to develop his game. Victor Claver Claver appeared in five of Portland’s seven preseason tilts, averaging 3.6 points (on 40 percent shooting) and 1.6 boards in 9.0 minutes. Claver was a DNP-Coach’s Decision in Thursday’s preseason finale, but he showed himself to be active on defense and somewhat aggressive on the offensive end as the preseason progressed. He’s stuck behind Nicolas Batum and Sasha Pavlovic at the three to start the season, but with some development, he could earn modest minutes in the bench rotation. Joel Freeland Jeffries will not be a regular part of Portland’s rotation to start the 2012-13 season, The Oregonian reports. Coach Terry Stotts revealed his second unit during Thursday’s preseason finale, installing Jared Jeffries in the frontcourt alongside rookie Meyers Leonard (head). In essence, Jeffries appears to be the backup power forward over 52
NBA OFFSEASON MOVES & ANALYSIS ANALYSIS (cont...) Freeland, likely due to his veteran savvy more than anything. No matter, Freeland has displayed an all-around defensive game and a nose for rebounds in the preseason, contributing 4.6 points (on 33.3 percent shooting) and 3.4 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game. Over time, the English import will likely carve out a nice reserve role as he becomes accustomed to the NBA game. Jared Jeffries Jeffries will be a regular part of Portland’s rotation to start the 2012-13 season, The Oregonian reports. Coach Terry Stotts revealed his second unit during Thursday’s preseason finale, installing Jeffries in the frontcourt alongside rookie Meyers Leonard (head). In essence, Jeffries appears to be the backup power forward over rookie Joel Freeland, likely due to his veteran savvy more than anything. Jeffries tallied just 2.3 points and 2.3 boards in 11 minutes per game over six preseason games, which should keep him on the waiver wire of all but the deepest fantasy leagues. Meyers Leonard Leonard practiced Friday, but his head still hurts as a result of the elbow he absorbed in Thursday’s preseason finale, The Oregonian reports. Leonard, who is typically quite active, held off on particular plays in which his head might sustain some contact. However, since there has been no talk of him entering the NBA’s concussion protocol, consider him day-to-day going forward and probable to play in the season opener on October 31 against the Lakers. Sasha Pavlovic Pavlovic will be a regular part of Portland’s rotation during the 201213 season, The Oregonian reports. Coach Terry Stotts revealed his second unit during Thursday’s preseason finale, utilizing Pavlovic at small forward with Nicolas Batum moving over to shooting guard. Across six preseason tilts, Pavlovic has posted 3.0 points (on 38.6 percent shooting), 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 swipes, and 0.7 three-pointers in 15 minutes per game. However, even though he earned a team-high 22 minutes off the bench Thursday, he isn’t much of a fantasy commodity outside the deepest of leagues. Ronnie Price Price (ankle) did not practice Friday and remains questionable to suit up for Portland’s season opener on October 31 versus the Lakers, The Oregonian reports. Coach Terry Stotts said that Price, who stretched with the team Friday, must practice Monday or Tuesday to be able to take the court in the opener. Once he tests his ankle, we’ll know more, but consider Nolan Smith the backup point guard until Price is fully healthy.
SACRAMENTO KINGS Thomas Robinson Robinson was not with the team during Thursday night’s game against the Clippers due to personal reasons, the Sacramento Bee reports. It’s unknown the specifics on why exactly Robinson missed Thursday’s game, but until more is known, consider the rookie day-today. Isaiah Thomas Thomas rolled his ankle during Thursday’s preseason game against the Lakers and did not return, the Sacramento Bee reports. After the game, Thomas said his ankle was fine and it appeared to be so, as he was able to walk on his own. The injury is not expected to keep him out of the regular season opener.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS Manu Ginobili Ginobili (back/foot) will not play in Friday’s preseason game against the Wizards due to back spasms, The San Antonio Express-News reports. Ginobili has been dealing with a foot injury through the preseason which may have then caused the back injury. The Spurs will definitely want him to rest up and be as healthy as possible for the regular season in what could be his final season in the NBA.
TORONTO RAPTORS Andrea Bargnani Bargnani had 21 points in 18 minutes on Friday against Memphis. He hit three threes. Bargnani has always been a nice scorer and got to the free throw line seven times (making six). If Jonas Valanciunas can provide a low post presence, it will help Bargnani do what he does best: shoot from the perimeter. Kyle Lowry Lowry had 18 points, seven assists, and four rebounds on Friday against Memphis. Lowry shouldn’t lose much in the conversion across the northern border. He only needed nine shots to score his points because he nailed two three-pointers and was perfect in six trips to the line. Jonas Valanciunas Valanaciunas had 15 points and seven rebounds on Friday against Memphis. As a rookie, Valanciunas is expected to be a solid rebounder, but his point production may be spotty. He should be a nice complement to Andrea Bargnani.
UTAH JAZZ Alec Burks Burks had his third-year option exercised by the Jazz on Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Burks has shown some improvement in the preseason thus far and could see a slight increase in overall minutes this season. He is capable of playing both guard spots but is behind Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, and Randy Foye on the depth chart so from a fantasy perspective, it is likely he will see similar production to last season. Derrick Favors Favors (knee) had his fourth-year option exercised by the Jazz on Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Favors is the first man off the bench for the frontcourt positions for the Jazz backing up the center and power forward positions. He is still a youngster with a lot of skill and with regular time on the floor, is capable of a double-double and a couple of blocked shots on any given night. Gordon Hayward Hayward had his fourth-year option exercised by the Jazz on Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Hayward is slated as the starting shooting guard for the Jazz this season and into the future. He has solid fantasy value as well after posting per-game averages 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.8 3-pointers, and a free throw percentage of .832 in the 2011-12 regular season. Enes Kanter Kanter had his third-year option exercised by the Jazz on Friday, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Kanter has had a big preseason, posting four double-doubles thus far and proving as a big threat off of the
PLAYER PLAYER NEWS & NOTES (cont...) bench for the Jazz. His only difficulty will be earning minutes behind Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors at center. The Jazz picked Kanter with the number three overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, so if he is taking off, he should find the floor.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS A.J. Price Price, who scored 13 points and two assists in the final preseason game against the Spurs on Friday night, is the favorite to start at point guard on Tuesday against the Cavs for the season opener, the Washington Post reports. Price will most likely be filling in for John Wall, who will be missing at least the first month of the 2012-13 season with a knee injury. Price apparently beat out Jannero Pargo and Shelvin Mack for the job.