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Courtside Seat: Rookies not rockin' just yet

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This year's rookie class has been somewhat disappointing for Fantasy owners. There haven't been any standout options as in recent years like Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans or Blake Griffin and John Wall -- at least not yet.

Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in Cleveland, has been solid but unspectacular, and he hasn't gotten much help from his fellow rookies. Derrick Williams has come on of late, but his value appears tied to the health of Michael Beasley (foot). Ricky Rubio has displayed flashes of brilliance, but he has to show more consistency.

Three guards who were expected to shine -- Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette -- have failed to make an impact, with all three coming off the bench for their respective teams. It has left Fantasy owners less than thrilled with this group of rookies.

Iman Shumpert has hit the ground running for the Knicks. (US Presswire)  
Iman Shumpert has hit the ground running for the Knicks. (US Presswire)  
But maybe some of the unheralded members of this class are starting to come around, which should be a benefit to Fantasy owners. Three in particular have emerged to become potential starters in all formats.

By now you're all aware of Iman Shumpert, who has become the starting point guard for the Knicks. In his past four games he is averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field, 83.3 percent from the foul line and hitting six 3-pointers. He was a Top 15 point guard in category-based leagues for Week 2, ranking ahead of Deron Williams, Ty Lawson and Rajon Rondo, among others. His start percentage was at 38 percent for Week 3 on CBSSports.com, but that number should rise as he continues to play at a high level.

In New Jersey, MarShon Brooks has played well with at least 17 points in six of nine games, and he had his first double-double on Monday against Atlanta with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Brooks has been a solid source of 3-pointers with 11, and he is a Top 20 shooting guard in category-based leagues. If Brooks can continue to rebound at a high level like he did against the Hawks then his value should continue to rise.

Markieff Morris has been playing well for the Suns, and his value would improve if he were starting in place of Channing Frye. Morris has played at least 30 minutes in three of the past four games, and he has responded by averaging 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in his past five outings. The Suns have a lot of big bodies up front with Morris, Frye, Marcin Gortat and Hakim Warrick, but Morris has displayed plenty of versatility with 10 3-pointers in his past five games. He should begin to warrant more consideration from Fantasy owners since he is owned in just 65 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com and started in only 21 percent in Week 3.

This rookie class might not be as terrible as originally thought, especially if Irving continues to develop and Shumpert, Brooks and Morris keep improving. Now it's only a matter of time before Fantasy owners begin to trust them as must-start options in all leagues.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will speculate on guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things. It's our CBSSports.com potpourri look at Fantasy Basketball.

Sell high guys

Spencer Hawes, C, 76ers
Hawes is averaging a double-double with 12.5 points and 10.3 rebounds, which are both career highs, and he also is at a career-best 1.8 blocks. Maybe he keeps this up, or maybe he reverts back to the player he was last year at 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. If you can get something significant for him -- and we know centers are hard to come by -- make the deal.

Jose Calderon, PG, Raptors
Calderon has missed 14 games each of the past three years, and the shortened schedule this year might catch up with him, especially since he's playing additional minutes with Jerryd Bayless (ankle) out. Calderon is averaging 12.6 points, which is his best average since 2008, and a career-high 9.0 assists. Once Bayless comes back, he could take away production from Calderon, and there's always that potential injury looming.

Ryan Anderson, PF, Magic
Anderson has taken a huge leap in production from 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 2010 to 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds this season. He could definitely continue to play at a high level, but if Dwight Howard is traded that would dramatically change the way teams defend Anderson on the perimeter. Anderson has been a great addition off the waiver wire in many leagues, but now is the time to shop him around.

Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers
We always knew Bynum was capable of outstanding production if he could stay healthy, and this year he is averaging 18.8 points and 15.7 rebounds, which is four points and five rebounds better than his previous career highs. But the key with Bynum is health, as he has missed at least 17 games each of the past four seasons. Hopefully he can stay healthy all year, but if the right offer presents itself then you should take it to be safe.

Al Harrington, PF, Nuggets
Harrington is off to a great start at 14.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and he says he's healthy again. But his numbers will likely decline based on his career averages. He's shooting 55.3 percent from the field when his career average is 44.7 percent. At some point age and injuries will likely catch up with Harrington, who is 31 and in his 14th season. You might want to unload him in a package deal if you can.

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Buy low candidates

Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
Wade has been dealing with a foot injury, and he even mentioned the term plantar fasciitis, which is never good. But he's worth trading for if the Wade owner is getting disgruntled. You always want to swing for the fences with a player of Wade's caliber unless there's overwhelming evidence he will be out for an extended period of time. As of now he's expected to return, and he could be bought for the right price.

Marcin Gortat, C, Suns
The thumb injury that bothered Gortat to start the season appears to be over, and he is playing well of late. In his previous three games he has scored in double figures with 25 rebounds over that span. Gortat finished last season as a No. 1 Fantasy center after being traded to Phoenix, and he was drafted this year with lofty expectations. After a couple of down weeks, he is starting to come around, and you might want to acquire him before the price is too high.

John Wall, PG, Wizards
Wall's stats are down across the board from his rookie season when he averaged 16.4 points and 8.3 assists on 41 percent shooting with 34 3-pointers. This year he is at 14.4 points, 6.8 assists and shooting 35 percent from the field with no 3-pointers. He is also frustrated with the Wizards getting off to a terrible start, but he should rebound to close the year. See if you can trade for him now because his value won't stay down for very long.

Kevin Martin, SG, Rockets
Martin's best attribute is his scoring, and right now he's not doing a good job of that. He has averaged 18.5 points for his career and has five consecutive seasons of 20-plus points. But he is averaging just 16.5 points this year and is not adjusting to Kevin McHale's system. His shooting percentage (43.3) and 3-point percentage (34.8) are down slightly, but Martin should find his rhythm as the year goes on. See if you can acquire him at a low price from an owner who is upset with his early-season struggles.

Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
There is some thought that Westbrook's playoff struggles from last year have carried over into this year. His scoring is down four points from last year, and his assists are down nearly three per game. But he is too good to be held in check for long, and the Westbrook owner might be getting antsy since he is a first-round pick who has struggled. He should start averaging close to 21-8-5 like he did last year in points, assists and rebounds, and he is someone to target in a trade.

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

Marreese Speights, PF, Grizzlies (Owned: 50 percent of leagues)
Matt Barnes, SF, Lakers (Owned: 33 percent of leagues)
Gary Neal, PG, Spurs (Owned: 30 percent of leagues)
Tony Allen, SG, Grizzlies (Owned: 25 percent of leagues)
Chandler Parsons, SF, Rockets (Owned: 4 percent of leagues)

Speights and Allen have benefited with Zach Randolph (knee) out, with Speights a hot pickup now that he should start at power forward. Barnes has done well starting at small forward for the Lakers, and Neal should benefit over the next several weeks with Manu Ginobili (hand) out. And keep an eye on Parsons, who should continue to earn playing time for the Rockets. He could turn into another nice surprise for this rookie class.

Social media corner

@okomodo on Twitter wants to know: Drop Dorell Wright for Shumpert in a Head-to-Head league?

Yes, you should add Shumpert for Wright. We've seen Wright struggle in the new offense for the Warriors, and his shooting percentage is down from last year's career highs. Shumpert is on the rise, and he should do much better than Wright in all Head-to-Head formats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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