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2011-12 Draft Prep: Ignore this, target that

Fantasy Writer
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With more than 450 players currently in the NBA, most Fantasy owners have a difficult time keeping track of all of them. Look, no one said it was easy, but knowing what roles players have on their teams is essential to drafting the best squad possible and not wasting a draft pick.

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Sometimes in the later rounds of drafts, owners become unfamiliar with the players left on the board and select a player who is an everyday starter, thinking he will be a viable Fantasy option simply because he starts. Sometimes not the case, and using that strategy can put your team in a big hole.

Since most Fantasy owners don't have the time to assess the value of every player on every team, we have decided to assemble a new feature for Fantasy owners to help address this problem.

Below is a list of players we feel are the top-five players who are considered regulars in their teams' starting lineups, but don't hold much Fantasy value. Conversely, we've compiled a list of the top-five players who don't start for their teams, but who are worthy of scooping up on Draft Day.

This should provide owners with an extra edge when drafting their teams. As always, we encourage Fantasy owners to do their own homework, but offer up our thoughts to use as a guide. Best of luck in the new season and we hope to see you in the postseason.

Starters to ignore …

Derek Fisher: Fisher has been a regular in the Lakers' starting lineup in each of the last four seasons and has not missed a game since his return to Los Angeles in 2007. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, the veteran hasn't been very productive over the last few years. He has seen a steady decline in production in each of his last four seasons and is averaging just 7.9 points and 2.8 assists over that stretch. It is clear that Fisher's best days are behind him, although he is expected to be running the point for the Lakers again this season. However, that shouldn't matter much to Fantasy owners. Despite his consistent minutes and durability, we highly recommend leaving Fisher on the waiver wire in the majority of formats on Draft Day.

Thabo Sefolosha: A fixture in the Thunder's starting lineup since landing in Oklahoma City back in 2009, you wouldn't know it by looking at Sefolosha’s numbers. He has yet to average in double-figure scoring since heading to the Western Conference, and last season he posted an unimpressive 5.1 points per game. He has averaged nearly 28 minutes per game over the last three seasons, although that number could decrease this season. James Harden is expected to see much more playing time in his third year in the league, which should translate into more bench time for Sefolosha. While the 27-year-old is expected to be the team's starting shooting guard Christmas Day, we do not recommend Fantasy owners to follow suit. Leave Sefolosha on the waiver wire to start the year.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: Mbah a Moute has started 166 games over the last three seasons for the Bucks and is expected to be in the team's starting lineup once again. While many feel the 25-year-old has not even come close to scratching the surface of his potential, we wouldn't count on that happening this season. Milwaukee is loaded at the forward position, which means Mbah a Moute could be on a short leash. Combine that with the fact that he has averaged less than 7.0 points per game in each of his last two seasons and we really don't see much benefit in drafting him. Owners should feel free to leave Mbah a Moute on the waiver fire to start the season.

Al Harrington: With three of the Nuggets' starters stuck in China, Harrington looks to be Denver's starting power forward this season. However, that doesn't mean he should be a target of most owners on Draft Day. The 13-year veteran was one of the bigger disappointments in Fantasy last season and now will likely be the team's fourth scoring option, behind Nene, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson. Harrington has also been bothered by a case of chronic plantar fasciitis in his left foot -- an injury that has hampered many basketball careers. While he still may be able to light up the scoreboard every once in a while, we aren't sure he is worth a draft pick. Owners are probably best to leave him on the waiver wire to start the season and then scoop him up later on, if he proves to be healthy and productive.

Jermaine O'Neal: O'Neal is expected to be Boston's starting center this season and supposedly came into camp in great shape. He has earned rave reviews from his teammates and coaches thus far, and some are even predicting somewhat of a bounce-back season for the 33-year-old. But we aren't sold yet. O'Neal has been hit very hard with injuries over the last few years and has appeared in more than 70 games just once in his last seven seasons. Now he will have to try and keep himself healthy with a condensed schedule that includes 19 back-to-backs and one set of games on three consecutive days. We aren't sure O'Neal has enough left in the tank to withstand that type of grind. Even if he is able to stay healthy, O'Neal would likely only be in line for around 20 minutes a game and be the team's fifth scoring option behind, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. There are just too many question marks surrounding the veteran.

Bench players to target …

Lamar Odom: Odom has spent the better part of the last three seasons coming off the bench in Los Angeles and still been able to remain one of the better all-around Fantasy options out there. He has averaged nearly a 12-8-3 stat line over his last three seasons and last year took home the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award. While there are some concerns he won't be able to match that type of production while playing in Dallas, we aren't overly worried. Odom will continue to come off the bench for the Mavericks, but shouldn't have any trouble getting his numbers. He should be in line for 30-plus minutes per game and will be counted on to be one of the team's main scoring options behind Dirk Nowitzki. Despite entering another season as a reserve, Odom is still worthy of a mid-round pick in the majority of formats on Draft Day.

Chris Kaman: Kaman was part of the mega-trade that landed Chris Paul in Los Angeles, which actually could be a blessing in disguise for the 29-year-old. Kaman seemed destined for an extremely diminished role with the Clippers -- had he stayed -- but now should see plenty of minutes in New Orleans. While he is currently being tabbed as the backup center behind Emeka Okafor, coach Monty Williams has already come out and said Kaman will be a big part of the team's rotation this season. Keep in mind he is just one season removed from averaging 18.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, which is definitely better production than most starting centers. While Kaman has had a very difficult time staying healthy over the last few seasons, we feel a change of scenery could help him re-emerge as a useful Fantasy option. Consider the 7-footer worthy of a late-round pick with some sleeper potential.

Jerryd Bayless: Bayless came over from New Orleans last year and opened a few eyes once he landed in Toronto. Jose Calderon's hamstring issues gave the 23-year-old a legitimate chance to show what he could do and he responded by posting career highs in points (10), assists (4.0) and rebounds (2.5) during his time north of the border. While he will once again start the season coming off the bench, there are rumblings that the Raptors could be looking to move Calderon at some point during the season. That would certainly open things up a ton for Bayless, who many believe hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential yet. Even if Calderon stays, Bayless should be in line for at least 25 minutes per game and could end up stealing the starting gig outright. Fantasy owners should feel free to spend a late-round pick on Bayless in the majority of formats on Draft Day.

Jamal Crawford: Crawford has not started a single game in each of the last two seasons, but has still managed to remain one of the more productive Fantasy guards around. The former Sixth Man of the Year has averaged 16.1 points over his last two seasons to go along with 3.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds. Crawford is expected to once again come off the bench in Portland and give the Blazers some much-needed scoring help on the wing. While there are some concerns about Crawford being unable to match his past production in Portland's slow-paced, half-court offense, keep in mind Atlanta ranked 27th, in terms of offensive pace. We still expect Crawford to be in line for around 30 minutes per game with his new team, which should give him plenty of chances to get his numbers. While he is coming off a bit of a down season, Crawford should be viewed as a premium source for 3-point shooting and scoring. Consider the 31-year-old worthy of a mid-round pick in most formats on Draft Day.

Thaddeus Young: Young started just one game for the Sixers last season, but still wound up averaging 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, while playing in all 82 contests. He is likely looking at another year of coming off the bench and will be asked to be a role player behind Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. However, his production -- coming off the bench -- is still better than what some starters in the league put up. And at age 23, Young still has a ton of upside. He can be counted on to help owners in scoring, rebounding, steals and field-goal percentage, which makes him worthy of a late-round selection in our book. We recommend owners take the same approach and scoop him up in the later rounds on Draft Day.

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Player News
Carmelo, Kobe discussed teaming up during offseason in L.A.
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:50 am ET) Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony was considering joining the Lakers and Kobe Bryant this past offseason when he was a free agent, according to the New York Post.

"They came in at the 25th hour, they swooped in there," said Anthony, who owns an apartment in Los Angeles. "It was a great visit. The conversations I had with Kobe was just man to man. We both had to come to reality and say, 'Is this what we really want?' And it didn’t happen."

The Lakers were reportedly never interested in pairing the two superstars in Los Angeles, according to the report.

"We’ve been talking for a long time, man, especially this summer, just me and him communicating, and talking and being honest with one another as friends and brothers should be. It was a lot going on there on his behalf and my behalf trying to figure everything out," Anthony said.

Anthony, who is averaging 24.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 36 games this season, also thinks Kobe will be back in 2015.

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"The blow was the worst of it," Williams said. "Usually I’m the type of guy who, if I get knocked down, I’m going to get right back up. The problem is when I tried to get up, I was literally seeing stars – literally! That’s when I had to roll back over. When they took me back to the locker room I had to stop because I was so out of it."

Williams also revealed this wasn't his first concussion, according to the Charlotte Observer.

"This is my second or third concussion that I’ve had," Williams said. "I had one a few years ago my first season in Utah (2012-13). And I guess I had one when I was younger. I didn’t remember that but my parents told me about it."

Williams is hoping to be cleared for Saturday against the Nuggets.

"I’m doing OK. Yesterday was the first day I was symptom-free," Williams said Friday. "This morning I woke up feeling great. I took the concussion test and passed that. I did some things physically. A couple of little things are still bothering me, but for the most part I feel fine."


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"I think I had no choice but to improve my defense," Love said. "I don't think anybody's has ever looked at my defensive presence and said, 'OK, he's a lock-down defender' and I don't think that anybody will ever say 'OK, that's the guy we want to guard LeBron James at the end of the game.'"

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"I hope that my teammates and coaching staff will say that I've handled the adjustment well on most if not all accounts," Love said. "I'm a better defender and will continue to get better."


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Lakers forward Ryan Kelly was recalled from the NBA Developmental League Friday night and will travel to New York with the team Saturday, the team announced.

Kelly was sent to the D-League earlier Friday in order to participate in the D-Fenders' game against Bakersfield. He scored 30 points on 8 of 18 shooting while grabbing four rebounds in the team's 136-126 win.


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:19 am ET) Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe scored a team-high 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including 2 of 3 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 99-93 win over the Bulls Friday.

Gordon had scored just 25 points in his previous two games combined after posting point totals of 33 and 25 in his prior two performances, but he managed to get back to high-scoring territory against the Bulls. He also tallied six assists, four rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes. The Suns will match up with the Warriors Saturday.


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(1:16 am ET) Suns power forward Markieff Morris scored 12 points on 5 of 16 shooting while hauling in a season-high 14 rebounds in his team's 99-93 win over the Bulls Friday.

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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:12 am ET) Bulls point guard Aaron Brooks scored 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting, including 3 of 5 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 99-93 loss to the Suns Friday.

It was Brooks' highest scoring total since racking up 26 points against the Celtics on Nov. 8. His 32 minutes off the bench represented the third time this season he's played at least 30 minutes in a game. Brooks also kicked in two rebounds, two assists and two steals in the loss. He'll match up with the Rockets Wednesday.


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(1:09 am ET) Bulls power forward Pau Gasol scored 10 points on 5 of 14 shooting while hauling in 19 rebounds in his team's 99-93 loss to the Suns Friday.

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Bulls PG Derrick Rose scores team-high 23 vs. Suns
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(1:07 am ET) Bulls point guard Derrick Rose scored a team-high 23 points on 8 of 23 shooting in his team's 99-93 loss to the Suns Friday.

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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was named by commissioner Adam Silver as the injury replacement for Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on the 2015 Western Conference All-Star team Friday.

"I’m extremely excited to play in my first All-Star game," said Cousins, per the team's website. "I appreciate the recognition and want to also thank my teammates and the fans for their support throughout the season. Representing the Kings and the city of Sacramento is a great honor."

Cousins will be the first player to represent the Kings in an All-Star game since Peja Stojakovic and Brad Miller did so in 2004.

"This honor is a result of the hard work and determination DeMarcus has shown throughout the season," Kings head coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He dedicated himself to improving those talents that make him a special player and he is demonstrating every night how unique an athlete he is in this league."

Cousins entered play Friday averaging 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds in 32 games.


 
 
 
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