Dwyane Wade SG Heat – Maybe Wade’s knee problems aren’t as serious as they appear to be, but for a guy you’re going to have to take in Round 2 or 3 of your draft, the risk seems to outweigh the potential reward. Yes, I took him with the first pick in Round 3 in our mock draft (which you will see in the Draft Guide), but it doesn’t mean I trust him. Wade has the potential to play in 75 games and put up big numbers for most of the season, but the fact he’s coming off OssaTron shock treatment, has hired trainer Tim Grover, and basically didn’t touch a ball this summer, has me worried. Sure, getting the 31-year-old Wade in Round 3 probably makes the potential reward outweigh the risk, but I would not draft him in Round 1 or 2, nor would I be surprised if he only makes it through about half the season. He’ll have value, but the question is, how many games will he make it through? We’ve got him playing 65 games in the Guide, and I’m just hoping that’s not too generous.
J.R. Smith SG Knicks – Smith has apparently been “hitting the pipe” this summer and will serve a five-game marijuana suspension once he’s cleared to play. And that means we don’t actually know exactly when the suspension will take place, because he was already likely to miss some time while recovering from offseason knee surgery. Given the failed drug tests and injury, the colorful history, and the fact he just got paid, it should be a very interesting season for Smith and the Knicks. Sure, he’ll be fun to own once he’s up and running, but I wouldn’t spend a valuable draft pick to find out when that will be, nor would I be surprised to see the love affair between he and Mike Woodson come to a sudden end at some point this season.
Ryan Anderson PF Pelicans – Anthony Davis is ready to step into the spotlight in New Orleans, while Anderson is dealing with the tragic loss of his girlfriend over the summer. As if her loss wasn’t bad enough, the circumstances under which it happened are very likely to stick with Anderson for a long time. I’m not going to delve into the details here, but unless Davis ends up playing exclusively at center this season (which is unlikely to happen), it’s quite possible that Anderson could become nothing more than a 3-point specialist off the bench. He’s still worth drafting and could end up being a value pick, but this is not the year I’d plan on drafting him in hopes of racking up a ton of points, rebounds and 3-pointers. The threes will be there, but I think Round 5 (where he went in our mock) is just too high this year.
Greivis Vasquez G Kings – Vasquez signed with the Kings, who still have starting point guard Isaiah Thomas on their roster. At best, that means a timeshare, and at worst, it means Vasquez splits his time between point guard and shooting guard off the bench. Add in the fact that they have rookie Ben McLemore and veteran Marcus Thornton locked in at shooting guard, and things don’t appear to be looking up for GV this year. He was a super-sleeper last season in New Orleans, but it’s hard to see him coming close to last year’s numbers in Sacramento. And the fact he fell to Round 9 in our mock draft is an indicator that last season’s success will fade into a distant memory this time around.
Serge Ibaka PF Thunder – Look, I love Ibaka as much as the next guy, but there’s only so far I’m willing to go for blocks. He added a 3-point shot to his repertoire last season (still only 0.3 per game), which was nice, but I’m looking for more than 13 points, 7.7 boards and 3.0 blocks out of my second-round pick. I will still draft Ibaka with confidence this season, but not until the third for fourth round rolls around. The fact of the matter is that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the offensive firepower in OKC, and I can get blocks later in my draft, without picking up an offensive hole with such a high pick. He was taken with the 17th pick in our mock, which just seems too high to me.
Five Guys I Love
John Wall PG Wizards – He had a big second half last season and should emerge as one of the best point guards in the league this year. The position is deep in fantasy, but I still don’t mind blowing a late first- or second-round pick on Wall. Maybe he’ll pull a Derrick Rose and start hitting 3-pointers this season, and if he does, the sky’s the limit. He was taken with the 15th overall pick in our mock draft, and he’ll go a little earlier than that in many drafts this October. Don’t sleep on him.
Al Jefferson PF/C Bobcats – Jefferson was a borderline first-round talent last year in Utah and will be uncontested for the starting center job and minutes in Charlotte this season. Yes, his defense leaves something to be desired, but he makes up for it with scoring, rebounds, blocks, and shoots it well from both the field and stripe. And now that he won’t have to deal with guys like Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter for points, boards and minutes, he should simply go off. Don’t hesitate to take him in the first round, which is exactly where he went in our mock (12th pick).
Paul Millsap PF Hawks – Josh Smith is in Detroit and Millsap won’t have to deal with Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors in Atlanta this season. We’ve been waiting for him to get his own solo gig for years, and he finally won’t be a second or third fiddle this season. I get the sense he’s going to quickly gel with Al Horford and Jeff Teague in Atlanta, and should be poised for a monster season, along with a career high in minutes. He went late in Round 3 in our mock and should be a beast from that spot.
Jonas Valanciunas C Raptors – Andrea Bargnani is gone (Knicks) and there is no reason that Valanciunas won’t go off this year. He’s coming off a big Summer League performance and will be unchallenged for the center job in Toronto. There should be plenty of points, rebounds and blocks coming his way, as word on the street has the offense running through JV in Toronto. He went in Round 3 of our mock, which is probably earlier than he’ll go in your draft, and if you can get him in Round 4 or 5, he should reward owners handsomely.
Derrick Favors PF/C Jazz – Al Jefferson (Bobcats) and Paul Millsap (Hawks) are gone, leaving the power forward job in Utah in Favors’ capable hands this season. I see no reason why he’s not going to be a beast and if you’re fired up about Andre Drummond’s promising future, Favors looks like more of a sure thing to me. Like Drummond, he is not a good free throw shooter, but is a proven commodity and should be lined up for a career season in Utah. And if you can get him in Round 4, which is where he went in our mock, he should deliver a ton of points, rebounds and blocks, and be out there every night for the Jazz. Simply stated, Favors looks like a can’t-miss fantasy player this season.