MIDDLE ROUNDS (5-8)
49. Gordon Hayward (9-cat: 48, ADP: 8th Round) -- This will gather plenty of eyeballs and, again, this is where I get to go off the beaten path. Hayward was a top-32 per-game producer as a late season starter and I'm betting that he can hold most of that value, while improving as a player overall. As crazy as it seems in relation to other projections that are out there, the only reason I'm not going higher with this pick is that Mo Williams is an able ball-handler and playmaker, and there are quite a few mouths to feed in Utah. Just remember that Hayward was able to successfully navigate the crowd during his second-half push last year.
50. Chris Bosh (9-cat: 56)
51. Zach Randolph (9-cat: 47)
52. Kevin Garnett (9-cat: 34)
53. Jeff Teague (9-cat: 54, ADP: 6th Round) -- Teague's ankle injury has caused him to drop a bit on this list, though not by a whole lot. The only real uncomfortable part about it is that nobody has commented on its severity other than to say he is "day-to-day." Teague posted top-40 and top-30 months (DEC/JAN, APR) on a per-game basis, but often found himself watching Joe Johnson pound the air out of the ball and his aggressiveness was touch and go as a result. Now that Johnson is gone, he will be the team's No. 2 playmaker and third option scoring the ball. A top-36 value on the year and ranked No. 57 on a per-game basis last season, he can have the type of improvement that secures him second round value if everything breaks right.
54. Kevin Martin (9-cat: 53, ADP: End of 7th Round) -- Martin went from no man's land on the draft board and has steadily risen as he resembles the player that was a top-36 player until the beginning of February, when he landed in Kevin McHale's doghouse. If we were to assume that he has starter's minutes and normal productivity coming his way, he would be ranked higher, but this evaluation reflects the risk that things go haywire or the Rockets go young sooner rather than later. Saturday Night Update: After being traded to OKC, the initial thought is to look at the OKC roster, see that they need Martin's scoring, and then to question whether or not a move into a different system/situation/etc could at a minimum lead to a slow start -- but realize this -- the Thunder are going to do everything in their power to make this trade look good. Ever wonder why Kendrick Perkins is still around and getting heavy minutes, even after he gets beat by big men, little men, and doesn't grab any rebounds or block shots? They traded Jeff Green to get the overrated scowler, and they sold the entire building on Perkins' toughness as the missing piece worthy of getting rid of a young, talented player. It speaks to their willingness to double down on front office decisions, with a coach that will do as told, and now they'll have to work overtime to make sure this trade works.
55. JaVale McGee (9-cat: 43, ADP: 6th Round) -- There has been a lot of concern, and rightfully so, that McGee would be hindered by the center logjam in Denver. But as we saw on Thursday night, he is plenty capable of doing damage in limited minutes and it sounds like a reasonable plan for George Karl to put a carrot in front of the youngster. Don't be surprised if he's playing 30 mpg down the stretch when it matters, and we're bemoaning the fact that we didn't reach a bit to grab McGee.
56. O.J. Mayo (9-cat: 69)
57. Kawhi Leonard (9-cat: 45, ADP: 8th to 9th Round) -- I've seen ADPs even wilder than this, but it's safe to say a quiet preseason has squelched some of the hype, and again, this is not a directive to draft Leonard here. This is just where I think his value would dictate he SHOULD be drafted if all owners were drafting based on this list. They won't be, and many of them will fear that Leonard is all hype and no substance and thus he will fall -- but not too far. Start considering him in the seventh round of an 8-cat draft and measure whether your opposition is plugged in, or if you can buy a round or two while selecting players with higher ADPs in front of Leonard.
58. Joakim Noah (9-cat: 39)
59. Tyson Chandler (9-cat: 33, ADP: End of 5th Round) -- Chandler has a bone bruise on his knee and that should never be treated like an everyday contusion, as serious versions can actually take away from the body's ability to generate cartilage and take weeks to go away. But the Knicks players are talking like he should be available for the opener and that suggests the injury is mild. I didn't move him down rank-wise, though I adjusted his outlook slightly for the risk this limits him a bit, even if only for a week or two.
60. John Wall (9-cat: 113)
61. Nikola Pekovic (9-cat: 65)
62. Tyreke Evans (9-cat: 89)
63. Steve Nash (9-cat: 80, ADP: End of 3rd Round) -- He could very well benefit from the Lakers rolling over teams and have better efficiency in general, but there are all sorts of question marks. If they do roll over teams, does that get offset by early nights off? Does he lose efficiency due to all the Lakers' weapons? And, of course, the Lakers have every incentive to cut his minutes and give him days off. If they run away with the No. 1 seed, does he take a whole week or two off to end the year? And at 38 years old, can he hold up? All of that goes into this way-lower-than industry outlook, but I will add that he is more than capable of making this ranking look bad at the end of the year. And I'm okay with that.
64. Anderson Varejao (9-cat: 66)
65. Roy Hibbert (9-cat: 62)
66. Kenneth Faried (9-cat: 46, ADP: End of 6th, Early 7th Round) -- The Manimal has drawn plenty of hype in fantasy circles, but only had an exhibition game or two in which he truly flexed his fantasy muscles. This valuation assumes he starts to draw about 30 mpg, with no foul shooting improvement included, and has the chance to hit the jackpot with a 33-35 mpg role. Faried was a top-100 play on average when playing 25 mpg last season.
67. Glen Davis (9-cat: 57, ADP: Early 8th Round) -- Big Baby has been flying up draft boards as owners have been jolted by his preseason production, and some may hazily recall that Davis played at a top-50 level throughout April at a 33.4 mpg clip. During that time the only number that stood out as an outlier was his 50.6 FG%, which was about six points up from his 44.3% career mark. Now he is currently the team's go-to scorer in the fourth quarter and primary option on offense, though one of both of those could change when Arron Afflalo (hamstring) returns, though I wouldn't bet on it. As the incumbent veteran on the squad, it will be Alf's requirement to take those roles as they won't be handed to him. Either way, both players will get more than their fair share of touches on a team that will play for ping pong balls. It would take some doing, but with a little improvement and only a slight regression to his shooting, Davis could meet those marks he set in April. But even if he doesn't, he has a high enough floor to justify such a high ranking.
68. J.R. Smith (9-cat: 51, ADP: 9th Round) -- Smith's ADP might be a bit low because of his ankle/Achilles' issue, but he's nearing a return and that bodes well for owners seeking the top-18 value he had in April last season. During that time he experienced outliers up and down the stat sheet, and a more natural place for his upside to land would be in the top-40 if everything is clicking. More than likely he will settle in the middle of the pack, and with plenty of red flags on the character front we can't get behind a full-scale fantasy assault.
69. Greivis Vasquez (9-cat: 95, ADP: 9th to 10th round or later) -- Vasquez is the type of name that could slide in a very public league draft, but those ADPs are pretty legit coming from competitive environments. I quipped somewhere that he has the best job security in the NBA, as the Hornets might need to hold local tryouts to fill the holes on their bench. Neither Eric Gordon (knee) or Austin Rivers (ankle) can truly play point guard, and they might not be available to help out at this rate (kidding, Rivers will be back soon and Gordon should show his face at least once).
70. Blake Griffin (9-cat: 96, ADP: Mid 3rd Round) -- This ADP includes owners grabbing him higher as a head-to-head play, and also the name value that comes with the nightly highlight reel. This valuation actually assumes he improves over last year's No. 73 per-game ranking, and though he has proven to be durable over the last two years, projecting that after knee scares in the Olympics and in the past is not going to happen. Not to mention he plays a violent brand of basketball.
71. Danilo Gallinari (9-cat: 55)
72. Lou Williams (9-cat: 58)
73. Tony Parker (9-cat: 77)
74. Luol Deng (9-cat: 60)
75. Carlos Boozer (9-cat: 59)
76. Manu Ginobili (9-cat: 64)
77. Rodney Stuckey (9-cat: 83)
78. Michael Beasley (9-cat: 102)
79. Mo Williams (9-cat: 106, ADP: 7th Round) -- It looks like the ADP has caught up to the hype, and it's promising that he has the chance to exceed the top-75 per-game he posted after being traded to the Clippers (before Chris Paul arrived). During that time he posted fairly normal numbers based on his career arc, but had just 5.2 assists and that is surely to be improved upon. The reason he's not ranked higher is that he is an injury risk, and I've held off the notion of dropping him because of minor groin/abdominal issues (not the food poisoning thing). If you recall his season in Cleveland before the trade was derailed by a groin injury, so it's on the radar for sure.
80. Arron Afflalo (9-cat: 73, ADP: 7th Round) -- Afflalo's ADP is a measure of faith in fantasy circles, as we have yet to see him play a real game for the Magic. I agree in this level of faith, as the top-100 per-game play last season can only improve as the No. 1 or 2 option in the Orlando attack. He also has great immeasurables, a chip on his shoulder after being an afterthought coming out of college, and the cajones to take the big shot. If the hamstring injury wasn't in play he would be higher on this list, but he has shown some history of nagging injuries holding him down.
81. Darren Collison (9-cat: 111, ADP: End of 7th Round) -- Collison flashed big-time upside as a pick-and-roll specialist alongside David West in New Orleans, but was moved into a post-entry offense in Indy and lost a lot of his appeal, struggling to crack the top-100. The move to Dallas certainly helps by giving him a full-time role, but we haven't found the beef so far in the preseason and we certainly have no indication that the pick-and-roll is going to be highlighted on the menu. This ranking essentially says we're not buying a large-scale change in his performance.
82. Gerald Wallace (9-cat: 72, ADP: End of 5th, Early 6th Round) -- A few have wondered why I have him so low. It's pretty straight-forward on my end. A top 30-50 play (or worse) at times last season, I have concerns about touches in a loaded lineup and concerns about him staying healthy. At his ADP, there's no way I'm buying into that.
83. Isaiah Thomas (9-cat: 75, ADP: 7th Round) -- Imagine that, I'm probably not going to own Isaiah Thomas at his current market price. It's not because I don't like the player -- I love the player -- but Keith Smart and the Kings don't and I might make my next PBT piece a story on GMs holding players back so they can re-sign them (see Ibaka, Serge). On Thursday night Keith Smart played his hand whether he'll admit it or not, and that (correctly) puts Thomas at the starting PG position. Aaron Brooks showed he still has the offensive talent he lost late in Houston and then in Phoenix, but as was the case on Thursday when he's off he's a liability on the floor. Maybe Smart saw that and maybe he didn't. But the bottom line is that Thomas gets first crack at leading the team and he has an excellent shot at tilting the position battle in his favor, simply because he's good. This ranking is based on the midpoint of two scenarios, an even time-share in which he produces late-round value, and if he can excel and get 30 mpg the likely mid-round value he will have. He was a top-90 play per-game in February, when his numbers all fit his overall production fingerprint in 25.5 mpg. While Jimmer was benched on Thursday and that bodes well for the future, I have to be cognizant that Jimmer is a thorn and holds Isaiah's value back. Again, I don't agree with any of this. The kid should be playing 32-34 mpg and developing the team as a whole, but that's not keeping the payroll down for the Maloofs when it's time to extend him.
84. Jeremy Lin (9-cat: 114, ADP: 5th Round) -- Linsanity could be a great bet in Houston with just Toney Douglas around to steal minutes, but Lin has shown practically nothing in the preseason (at least until this past Friday). Yes, we have to be careful about how we handle preseason, but it's not a license to just disregard what we see. Right now I see a player that is struggling with the totality of the NBA game, and the knee issue worries me to a certain degree. If it holds him back from being able to develop, as it already has by keeping him out of preseason action, then his learning curve could be a bit steep. Remember, the league now has a book on him (i.e. can't go left), and he needs those reps to settle in with his new team and learn the counters to what the defense is giving him. Doing that on the job and at a slower rate could hurt his field goal percentage, scoring, and assist numbers, and steal away from the late fourth round value he was giving while Melo was back in New York. In a worst case, struggles open the door for him to play limited minutes and any sort of knee troubles could give Kevin McHale a convenient excuse. All of that is reflected in this ranking, though I bumped him up a bit after Friday's respectable outing. Saturday Night Update: The acquisition of Harden seems like it would ding Lin on the surface, and it will, but maybe not as much as everybody thinks. The Rockets are actually a bit less deep now that two rotations players are gone in Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, but more importantly than that the addition of Harden will help Lin on the court. Harden can handle the ball and help make plays which will open the floor up, and Lin will be able to capitalize on the decreased attention he will receive from the defense. I bumped him down over a round for the development, and as you can see I have Lin fairly low compared to where I had him two months ago, but this isn't a panic moment for Lin owners in general.