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2011-12 Draft Prep: Looking for breakouts?

Fantasy Writer
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While most owners score a superstar or two in the first few rounds of Fantasy drafts, the middle and even later rounds are usually what separate most teams from going to the postseason or going home early.

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For that reason, we have decided to target some breakout candidates for the upcoming campaign. Our definition of a breakout is a player who we feel will outperform his average draft position and possibly jump into the next tier in Fantasy value.

While there are several dozen players one could make an argument for who fit into this category, we have selected the 10 we feel will make the biggest jump in value this upcoming season.

As always, owners are recommended to do their own homework, but here is our list for those who seek help. Best of luck in the new season.

Forwards

Greg Monroe: Monroe was one of the few bright spots for the Pistons last season. After spending the first two months of the season on the bench, Monroe was able to crack the rotation in January and averaged an impressive 12.0 points and 9.1 rebounds in the 48 games he started. He shot 58 percent from the field over that stretch, while also posting 21 double-doubles during his rookie campaign. First-year coach Lawrence Frank has already said he wants the offense to run through Monroe this year, which should lead to an increase in production across the board. With a year now under his belt and the promise of an increased role and minutes on offense, we like Monroe as a possible breakout candidate this year.

Ed Davis: Davis came on strong at the end of his rookie campaign and was able to provide a spark for the Raptors. After seeing slightly more than 22 minutes per game prior to the All-Star break, Davis averaged nearly 29 minutes per night over his final 26 contests of the year. He averaged 9.8 points and 7.7 rebounds over that stretch to go along with nearly a block per game. Davis is expected to play exclusively at power forward this season and should see plenty of minutes now that Reggie Evans is gone and Amir Johnson will come off the bench. With an average draft position of 144th overall, Davis should easily outperform his preseason value.

Danilo Gallinari: With three of the Nuggets’ projected starters playing in China this season, Denver will be looking for help scoring the basketball. Many feel Gallinari will be the one to provide most of that help, which is why we like him as a possible breakout option this year. Gallinari averaged 14.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his 14 contests with Denver last season and coach George Karl said he is expecting even more output from the 23-year-old in 2011-12. Gallinari will help your Fantasy team in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage and his ability to get to the free-throw line could bring his scoring average into the 20s -- especially playing in Denver's up-tempo offense. As long as he can stay healthy, Gallinari's fourth season in the league could easily wind up being his best to date.

Chase Budinger: Budinger stepped into the starting lineup during the second half of last season and really saw his numbers take off from that point. The 23-year-old increased his scoring output from 7.8 to 14.4 points per game after he became a starter and became a very popular pick off the waiver wire. While he will now be under the tutelage of Kevin McHale in Houston, Budinger is expected to remain the team's starting forward. If he continues to see starters' minutes and stays healthy, we see Budginer becoming a consistent mid-teens scorer. That alone should make him more valuable than his average draft position of 165th overall.

Guards

Jarrett Jack: With Chris Paul out of New Orleans, all signs point to Jack becoming the team's starting point guard this season. Jack is already considered one of the top backup point guards in the league and showed he can produce as a starter, as he averaged 15-5-4 over 15 starts last season. While he has never averaged more than 13.1 points per game in his career, Jack has been stuck on the bench for most of his five years in the league. That will not be the case for the 28-year-old this season, who put up 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in his first preseason contest. As long as Jack is able to shoot somewhere around his career average of 45 percent from the field, he could easily see his scoring increase into the mid-teens. Add a few assists, rebounds and steals to that line and Jack certainly would be worth more than his average draft position of 136th overall.

John Wall: Wall is not the typical player we put on this list, especially after he averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals during his rookie campaign. He was one of only three players to average more than 16 points and eight assists last season and most likely would have been the favorite to win Rookie of the Year if it wasn't for Blake Griffin. Still, it wasn't all good for Wall. He dealt with a plethora of health issues, while also struggling with his outside shot and turnovers. However, the 21-year-old said he was disappointed with his production during his rookie campaign and vowed to come back in better shape with an improved outside jumper. If that is the case, Wall could easily average 20 and 10, which would no doubt put him among the Fantasy elite. If Wall ends up slipping into the middle rounds, he could be the steal of the draft.

Ty Lawson: Lawson enters his third year in the league as the Nuggets' starting point guard and seems poised for a breakout campaign. After averaging 20.2 and 26.3 minutes per game during his first two years in the league, respectively, Lawson should be looking at his first season of averaging 30-plus minutes. Combine that with the fact that he shoots better than 50 percent from the field and will man Denver's high-speed offense, and the sky could be the limit for the 24-year-old. Look for Lawson to make the jump into the next tier of Fantasy guards this season.

Centers

Roy Hibbert: Hibbert was on our list last season, although he failed to live up to expectations in Indiana. While he averaged a career best 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds, he was very inconsistent and went through more than a few stretches where he simply could not score. He even sought the help of a sports psychiatrist at one point to try and help him snap out of his funk. However, Hibbert seemed to find a spark when Frank Vogel took over as coach and should be able to carry that over into this season. The 24-year-old spent the summer working with future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan on his post moves and added about 15 pounds of muscle. He now will have David West drawing some of the double teams that he normally sees, which could help open things up in the paint for him. As long as he stays healthy, this could be the year Hibbert makes the jump into becoming an elite center.

Marcin Gortat: After years of seeing only a handful of minutes behind Dwight Howard, Gortat enters his fifth season in the league as a starter. He averaged 13 points and 9.3 rebounds in 55 games with the Suns last year, despite being used mostly as a reserve. He will begin this season as Phoenix's starting center and has reportedly spent the summer working with Hakeem Olajuwon on some of his offensive moves away from the basket. We are very excited to see how the 27-year-old fares playing a full season in the Suns' high-octane offense, especially alongside pick-and-roll expert Steve Nash. Look for Gortat to close the gap between himself and the elite centers in the league this season.

JaVale McGee: McGee was also on our list last season, and made some noise by averaging career highs in points (10.1), rebounds (8.1) and blocks (2.4). However, the 23-year-old was plagued by a lack of post game and maturity issues for much of the season, which many feel limited his already-improved production. McGee claims he has worked on both of those issues this offseason and many are predicting this to be the season he finally breaks out. A more-seasoned John Wall running the point should help increase McGee's scoring opportunities near the rim and finally push him over the hump and into averaging a double-double on a nightly basis. While there are more attractive options available at center, McGee's upside makes him more valuable than his average draft position of 105th overall.

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Player News
Pelicans being 'smart' with Jrue Holiday's practice time
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) The Pelicans are being cautious with point guard Jrue Holiday, limiting his practice time as he returns from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his tibia, The Times-Picayune reports.

"We are trying to be smart with his comeback," coach Monty Williams said. "After about two weeks of this, it's time to ramp it up and get going."

Holiday said he came out of Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices feeling good if a bit sore. "I'm sore," Holiday said. "Again I don't think I have pushed my body this much for a long time. It's good. All of our trainers and Monty had to kick me off the court yesterday because I didn't want to stop. But I am glad he did because I am feeling it today. Again that's a part of me still learning how to take care of my body and come back strong these next days."

Holiday didn't play a game after Jan. 8 last season and ultimately underwent surgery in February. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 34 games.


Hornets center Al Jefferson looking to improve defensive presence
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Hornets center Al Jefferson said he is tired of being a defensive liability and is looking to make sure opposing teams don't target his pick-and-roll defense, according to The Charlotte Observer.

"I refuse to continue getting picked on at the end of games. It’s not fun," Jefferson said. "Last year at the end of games teams always put me in high pick-and-rolls. I got sick of them thinking that was to their advantage, and it was to their advantage."

Coach Steve Clifford said he was happy that Jefferson brought up the subject of his defensive issues and saved the coaches from having to point it out.

"He’s working hard. His attitude is great. I sense more of a hunger than any kind of complacency," Clifford said. "He sees what the possibilities are for the group. He’s competitive and wants to win."


Pistons coach speaks highly of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy spoke highly Wednesday about second-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to the team's official website.

"You always look at players first to their strengths, where can a guy be great," Van Gundy said. "I think he can be an elite defender in this league at the two guard and we’ll look for that every night. I think he is a high-energy guy who can get up and down the floor and attack the basket in transition. Those two things have got to be his foundation."

Caldwell-Pope averaged 24 points per game in the Summer League. However, he's still not at the stage in his career where the Pistons are counting on him to be one of their top scorers.

"On the offensive end, he’s going to have to slow down a little bit, get under control, and like a lot of people it will come down to how many shots he can make, how efficient he can be shooting the ball, how consistent can you be," Van Gundy said. "But I think he’s got a great foundation with the defense and energy that will get him on the floor and give him a chance to develop in those other areas."


Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffers hamstring strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffered a moderate left hamstring strain Wednesday. The Lakers will have more information about the severity of his injury Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Pacers forward C.J. Miles not worried about calf strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Pacers forward C.J. Miles has been unable to complete a full practice at the start of training camp due to a calf strain, according to VigilantSports.com. However, Miles is not worried about the injury.

"It’s just a little strain, nothing crazy," he said Wednesday. "I’m pretty much healed. I’m doing everything just monitoring the contact a little bit just because of the wear and tear on it.

"It doesn’t make sense for me to be out with a strain for three weeks now when I could take a couple days just two get it all the way back, finish the month and be ready for the first game of the season. But I’m well past sitting out. Just monitoring it, that’s all."

Miles added he only sits out a portion of practice.

"I do everything throughout the whole practice until like just a little bit of the contact just towards the end," he explained. "Since the first practices are long, they don’t want me go through the wear and tear of the whole practice."


Jonas Jerebko will be part of Pistons' 10-man rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy indicated Wednesday forward Jonas Jerebko will be part of a 10-man rotation this season.

"We'll play at least nine on a nightly basis but probably 10 a lot, based on the way Jonas has played in September and in camp," Van Gundy said after Wednesday's morning practice, per the team's official website. "I've been really happy (with him). Nobody put more time in here this summer than Jonas did. Because of his play with the national team in years past, he's never really been able to devote as much time to his own development and his own game. He's gotten stronger. He's in tremendous shape.

"I think the key to Jonas -- and we talked about this early on -- is he has to get back to being the guy he was when he first came into the league, that hungry guy playing with incredible energy, trying to make his spot. What we've seen in September, he looks like a guy who is committed to being a high-energy guy."


D.J. Stephens added to Pelicans' training camp roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Pelicans added guard/forward D.J. Stephens to the training camp roster, according to The Times-Picayune. Stephens appeared in three games for the Bucks in 2013-14, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Josh McRoberts expects to be ready by Heat season opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Heat forward Josh McRoberts will not play in Wednesday's scrimmage due to a toe injury, according to the Sun-Sentinel. McRoberts, who had toe surgery in the offseason, said he has dealt with the issue for years.

"I've needed surgery for a couple years," McRoberts said. "We kind of figured out last year before the season started. I knew right when the playoffs ended, so it was something I had planned for."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat are just being cautious to avoid McRoberts aggravating the injury. However, McRoberts expects to be ready by the season opener in late October.

"I'm just kind of easing back into things," McRoberts said. "It takes time to recover from something like this. I'm just trying not to overdo it."


Heat forward Chris Andersen working on jump shot
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Heat forward Chris Andersen is spending extra time after practice during training camp to work on jumpers from the elbow and baseline, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Andersen is putting in the extra work because the Heat feel he can be used in more than just pick-and-roll situations.

"To step out and have that confidence to shoot the 15-footer, a lot of people haven't seen it or don't expect it," Andersen said. "This year, [coach Erik Spoelstra] says he's going to implement it into the game plan. I look forward to getting that opportunity."


Norris Cole looking to become a scoring threat for Heat
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:43 pm ET) Heat guard Norris Cole said he wants to become more of a scoring threat this season, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"We had so many playmakers [last year] that there were times I deferred to let those guys make the plays," Cole said. "They were great at it…. But I also I saw [plays] where I could have been more aggressive to attack."

The Heat are expected to have more balanced scoring in 2014-15 since LeBron James is no longer on the roster.

"He's gotten better individually for sure," guard Dwayne Wade said. "He had a hell of a summer working out and getting prepared. Defensively, he's a monster. The next wave for him is how to be effective as a point guard and effective as a scoring guard. He's going to have to figure out the perfect way to do that. It's not always easy for guys but if he can figure it out he can be very dangerous for us."


 
 
 
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