Football is finally in full swing (sorry, David Wilson owners), the NBA is only a week or two from getting into full-news mode, and the hard-copy version of the NBA Draft Guide is in the can and at the printer. That means that it’s time to start talking hoops at Rotoworld again, once the crime report settles down. I’ve never seen an NBA offseason with so many arrests and downright depressing news reports. TMZ recently went full bore on their sports site, and you have to wonder if it’s just a coincidence. For the record, I think it is.
In case you missed it, Lamar Odom allegedly has a bad cocaine problem, is separated from his wife, was charged with a DUI, has entered and left rehab, and has probably played his last NBA game. DeAndre Liggins is facing some disturbing domestic abuse charges and has been waived by the Thunder, and Jared Sullinger and Ty Lawson are also facing domestic abuse problems, although it appears that they will survive the storm. In fact, I still see Sullinger possibly starting and racking up a ton of rebounds for the Celtics this season, and Lawson is still headed for NBA stardom. Michael Beasley, who is facing a new marijuana charge, has been waived by the Suns, but will probably get a look from another NBA team, with the Heat reportedly being his No. 1 suitor right now. J.R. Smith, whose knee surgery will likely keep him in street clothes for the start of the season, will get a five-game suspension once he’s cleared to play after failing a third drug test for marijuana. I just bumped him down to a projected 56 games played in the Guide. The Lakers signed G/F Shawne Williams, who has his own drug history to deal with, while troubled Sixers F Royce White is also dealing with a domestic abuse investigation.
Now that all the tabloid headlines regarding NBA players are out of the way, let’s dive into the fantasy goodness that is quickly coming our way. Here are five sleepers, five busts, five guys I love and five guys I’m not drafting as the NBA season approaches. Opening night is Tuesday, Oct. 29, when Orlando visits the Pacers, the Bulls play at Miami and the Lakers host the Clippers. And it can't get here soon enough!
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Jeff Green F Celtics – What’s not to love about Green? He came back and didn’t miss a game last season after missing the previous campaign following heart surgery, and put up some solid numbers along the way, in all categories. With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in Brooklyn, and with Rajon Rondo sidelined indefinitely after knee surgery, someone is going to have to rack up the fantasy production in Boston. And that someone appears to be Green. It’s almost laughable to put him on a sleeper list at this point, but I don’t care. He went in Round 4 of our 12-team, expert Draft Guide Mock Draft (held in early August) and I would be surprised if he doesn’t put up that kind of value all season long, and could be even better than that. If you have to reach, do it.
Eric Bledsoe G Suns – Yes, the Suns have Goran Dragic, but the shooting guard position is still up in the air, and my guess is that Bledsoe starts at the 2 in Phoenix, while he can also back Dragic up at the point. As if I didn’t already love him enough, Dragic himself came out and called Bledsoe a “mini LeBron James” at the end of August. He’s going to rack up solid boards, blocks and steals for a guard, and can do it all. He went in Round 5 of our latest expert mock draft, which looks like an ideal time to take him, to me. And as the hype builds, if you have to reach for him in Round 4, so be it. I might be right there with you.
Thaddeus Young PF Sixers – I wouldn’t call myself a huge T-Young fan, but he seems to be worth owning, year after year. And now that Jrue Holiday is out, the Sixers are going to rely on a bunch of no-names to get it done. As long as they don’t go for a total youth movement tank-fest, Young should start at power forward and have a career season for the league’s worst team. He went in Round 4 in our mock draft and simply looks like a can’t-miss fantasy prospect, even though he doesn’t block shots or hit 3-pointers.
JaVale McGee C Nuggets – My long time readers know of my undying love for McGee, but this year is different. He’s slated to start for new coach Brian Shaw and I cannot emphasize enough how much the loss of both coach George Karl and starter Kosta Koufos (Memphis) mean for McGee. And when you add in the fact that Andre Iguodala is gone and Danilo Gallinari (knee surgery) won’t be back until well after the season starts, it’s now or never for McGee. He could lead the league in blocks and should put up very solid numbers in scoring and rebounding, when he’s not making bone-headed plays. If there is a year to draft McGee, it’s this one, and he went in Round 6 in our mock draft.
Wilson Chandler G/F Nuggets – I just mentioned the fact that SF Gallinari is going to miss serious time this season and the starting job, for as long as he’s out, appears to belong to Chandler. And with an unimpressive Randy Foye and a bunch of merry pranksters holding down the shooting guard spot, Chandler could easily slide to that position as a starter once Gallinari returns. He averaged 19 points, six boards, 1.4 steals and 2.3 triples in eight starts last season, and I see no reason why he won’t be starting and going off for most of this season, as long as he’s healthy. He went in Round 8 of our first mock draft, but I bet he’s going higher than that by draft night.