Steve Alexander

Offseason Beat

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Pre-draft Trip Around the NBA

Friday, October 26, 2012


 

New York

 

Raymond Felton is starting at PG and available in the middle rounds of all drafts.  He’s in great shape and happy in New York, as well as playing with a chip on his shoulder.  Value pick!  The Knicks SG position is a mess, as J.R. Smith is coming off the bench and Ronnie Brewer is starting.  Target Smith (coming off an Achilles injury) after the middle rounds and ignore Brewer.  Carmelo Anthony should have a big year and the Knicks have a perfect fantasy playoff schedule, giving him a boost in H2H playoff leagues.  He was highly frustrating to own last year, but I don’t see that happening again.  Power forward is a mess for the Knicks right now, as Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are all hurt, making Chris Copeland the likely starter on opening night.  If you need a big man with your final pick, he might be worth a short-term add.  Tyson Chandler appears to have avoided a serious knee injury, but is also not a lock to start on opening night.  If he’s out, Kurt Thomas will start at C.  And starting or not, I see no reason to draft Thomas.  As for Stoudemire, this feels like the year he could need some surgical maintenance on his knee and I was staying far away even before this latest injury.

 

Oklahoma City

 

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are all top options at their positions, while Kendrick Perkins is not a reliable option at center.  I am generally drafting Westbrook in front of Chris Paul, and will stand by it until we see how the season turns out.  There are no breakout players in OKC, but Cole Aldrich could be worth a pick up if Perkins struggles (as I expect him to). 

 

Orlando

 

Jameer Nelson is the only real option at point guard and will be available in the middle rounds of your draft.  Arron Afflalo has a real chance to breakout at SG, while Hedo Turkoglu could be a late value pick at SF if he can put his game together this year.  Gustavo Ayon will miss the start of the season with a thumb injury, while Al Harrington is still not recovered from knee surgery.  Glen Davis is another favorite of mine to draft this season, and could lead the team in scoring.  Davis should be available in the latter-middle rounds.  And with Ayon and Harrington hurting, Nikola Vucevic is now worth a last-round look, although I’d rather own Ayon long term.  Power forward Andrew Nicholson is the deep sleeper at power forward, especially with Ayon’s injury.

 

Philadelphia

 

Jrue Holiday has looked great in the preseason and is clearly enjoying life without Andre Iguodala around.  Treat him as a solid No. 1 point guard option and be ready to draft him in Round 4.  Jason Richardson appears to be the starting shooting guard, but has some knee issues, vaulting Dorell Wright into fantasy relevance.  Both players will be available late and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Wright emerge as a force for the Sixers, although both are worth drafting in most leagues.  Evan Turner is dealing with an ankle injury, but is expected to be ready for the opener and looks like the starting SF.  Turner is going in the later-middle rounds and should be poised for a breakout season.  Thaddeus Young now looks like a better option than Spencer Hawes at PF, although Hawes could start at center for the first few games of the season as Andrew Bynum recovers from a knee injury.  Bynum has a chance to be the No. 1 fantasy center this season, but injury and conditioning concerns are real, and I’ve avoided him in most of my leagues.  If you want Bynum, he’ll cost you a second-round pick, and he could miss (at least) the first five games of the season.

 

Phoenix

 

Goran Dragic is now a top point guard option and you’ll likely have to take him late in Round 2, or sometime in Round 3, to get him.  He should be worth it, if he can stay healthy.  I like Jared Dudley, who appears to be unchallenged at SG, late in drafts, as he can hit threes and rebound, while Michael Beasley suddenly looks poised to breakout as the team’s starting small forward.  They want Beasley to score and I’m looking forward to watching him work this year.  I am targeting Beasley in all leagues, after the middle rounds.  Luis Scola is the starting power forward and a top option, despite a lack of blocks, while Marcin Gortat should be targeted as a No. 1 center in Round 3 or 4.  Don’t accidentally draft Channing Frye, who is out for the year with a heart problem.

 

Portland

 

Damian Lillard is the starting point guard and my pick for Rookie of the Year.  He had a great summer and preseason, and looks like a solid choice for your No. 1 point guard after the big names are gone.  Wesley Matthews is trending up and should put up solid numbers across the board this year, without costing you a high draft choice.  I’ve got him ranked close to Klay Thompson, but he’ll probably go a round later in your draft.  Nicolas Batum is primed for a breakout season at SF and should be targeted in Round 3 or 4, LaMarcus Aldridge should be a beast this season (Round 2) and J.J. Hickson should be a serviceable center available late in your draft.  Portland’s starting five is about as fantasy-friendly as they come.

 

Sacramento

 

Simply put, the Kings are a mess.  They are too deep at every position except center and one of the biggest mysteries in fantasy hoops.  Isaiah Thomas should be a solid point guard, but he’ll have to deal with Aaron Brooks and Jimmer Fredette, while Marcus Thornton is expected to come off the bench behind Tyreke Evans at SG.  That has timeshare written all over it.  Small forward will see a timeshare from some combination of James Johnson, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia and Evans, while Jason Thompson will have to battle rookie Thomas Robinson for minutes at PF.  DeMarcus Cousins is the lone bright spot here, and should be unchallenged at C.  I like Cousins late in Round 1, but if you plan on drafting Evans, Thomas, Thornton or Thompson, expect them to have plenty of off nights to go along with some good ones.  Avoid all of them not named Cousins, if you can.

 

If the Kings end up going with my preferred lineup of PG Thomas, SG Thornton, SF Evans, PF Thompson and C Cousins, things will change for the better, but I’m not sure even coach Keith Smart knows his starting lineup just yet.

 

San Antonio

 

Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan are all solid ways to use a fantasy pick this year, while Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Stephen Jackson are also all worth a late look.  I love the fact Boris Diaw is starting and qualifies at SF/PF/C in CBS leagues, but his production is shaky, at best.  Leonard looks like the best mid-round selection here, while Parker and Duncan should also be solid.  I doubt DeJuan Blair will be drafted in your league, but he’s a guy, along with Diaw, to keep an eye on once the season gets going. 

 

Toronto

 

Kyle Lowry’s groin injury is behind him for now and he looks like a top PG option, but I’m not crazy about the fact that Jose Calderon is still lingering behind him.  I’m a Lowry fan, but don’t fully trust him as long as Calderon is getting 20-25 minutes per game.  Landry Fields and DeMar DeRozan look like the starting wings, and both should be available late in your draft.  I’m not crazy about either of them, but they should be serviceable.  Linas Kleiza should back them both up and could emerge as a popular waiver-wire pickup.  Andrea Bargnani will try to stay healthy and bounce back after missing much of last season with a calf injury, but I’m not convinced he’ll play in more than 60 games.  He’s still a nice way to blow a later pick in the middle rounds.  Jonas Valanciunas is high on my list of sleeper centers, as it appears he’ll either get fouled or dunk every time he gets it in the post.  Calderon, Aaron Gray and Kleiza are all sleepers to keep a close eye this season, and if you draft Lowry, taking Calderon as a handcuff makes sense.

 

Utah

 

Mo Williams (minor stomach injury) is looking for a bounce-back season and I think it’s coming.  He can shoot the three, score and hand out dimes, and should make for a value PG pick in the later-middle rounds.  Gordon Hayward should have another nice season at SG, and should make for a safe mid-round selection.  I also think Randy Foye is going to get a lot of run at both guard spots, and qualifies as a deep sleeper (but not must-own).  Marvin Williams looks like the starting SF, but until he proves himself, I’d rather take a last-round flier on a guy like Trevor Booker or Jae CrowderPaul Millsap is still in Utah’s starting lineup, and ballin’, which hurts the value of Derrick Favors.  Favors is still worth owning, but may only be worth starting in fantasy if Millsap is traded or Al Jefferson gets hurt.  If Millsap gets traded at some point, keeping Favors around should pay big dividends.  As for Jefferson, I’ve got him as the No. 1 center with Bynum banged up in Philly, so target him late in Round 1 and hope his ankles stay healthy.  Everyone seems to be high on C Enes Kanter, but as long as Jefferson, Millsap and Favors are healthy, I am just not feeling Kanter.

 

Washington

 

With John Wall out for a few weeks with a knee injury, A.J. Price looks like the starting PG in Washington for now.  He might be worth a last-round flier, but I’m not convinced he’s a must-own player, even in the short term.  Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal will man the shooting guard position, and be in a timeshare all season.  I’d rather own Beal at this point.  Trevor Ariza is your starting SF for now, but Martell Webster and Chris Singleton could give him a run for his money.  The bottom line is that Ariza’s shooting is off more than it’s on, but he’s still worth a late flier, while Webster and Singleton should be watched on the waiver wire.  With big men like Nene (plantar fasciitis) and Emeka Okafor (bust) shaky, at best, guys like Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin (calf) are suddenly impressive sleeper picks.  My guess is Jan Vesely will start at power forward, but I’d rather own Booker for now.  And with Nene out indefinitely, Seraphin suddenly looks like a must-own player and a great way to spend your final draft pick, as he could easily start at C if healthy.  



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2013-14 NBA season marks his 12th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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