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Courtside Seat: Looking back to look forward

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We're seven weeks into the Fantasy Basketball season, and because of the lockout, we're almost at the halfway point in most leagues. This feels like a good time to look back on what went right and wrong on Draft Day.

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I play in three leagues -- an eight-category head-to-head league with 30 owners, a 12-team head-to-head league in total points and a 12-team average-based league -- with a variety of formats. We're going to compare the Top 12 players in those formats to the Average Draft Position on CBSSports.com.

For those owners looking to make trades, this should help you in judging players who are underperforming or might be playing over their heads. Ricky Rubio, for example, is a Top 12 guard in two leagues, and many owners want to know if he can keep this up. And that's among the things we're here to help you find out.

Here are the Top 12 players drafted this year in order:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
3. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Chris Paul, PG, Clippers
6. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
7. Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers
8. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
9. Deron Williams, PG, Nets
10. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
11. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
12. Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, Knicks

Here are the Top 12 players in an eight-category head-to-head league:

1. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
3. LeBron James, SF, Heat
4. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
5. Kyle Lowry, PG, Rockets
6. Brandon Jennings, PG, Bucks
7. Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies
8. Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves
9. Josh Smith, PF, Hawks
10. Andre Iguodala, SF, Sixers
11. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
12. Deron Williams, PG, Nets

Despite all the trade speculation, Howard is still having a monster year with a career-high in rebounds (15.1), assists (2.0) and steals (1.5). When you add in his scoring (20.1 points) and blocks (2.2), it overshadows his poor free-throw percentage (48 percent) and turnovers (3.2). Lowry has been a statistical beast, and he should remain hot all season. He is averaging 14.9 points, 8.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and shoots 86 percent from the foul line with 39 3-pointers. Jennings is a sell-high candidate because his shooting percentage (43 percent) and assists (5.3) should begin to decline with Andrew Bogut (ankle) out. He's also averaging a career-high 19.2 points, which might not last. In his past two games, Jennings has scored 11 points combined against Chicago and Phoenix. Rubio has been the best surprise this season at 11.2 points, 9.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals. He has also made 19 3-pointers and is shooting 82 percent from the foul line. He should be able to keep this up barring an injury, so don't plan on trading him unless it's a great deal.

Here are the Top 12 players in a head-to-head standard total point league:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
3. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
6. Deron Williams, PG, Nets
7. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trail Blazers
8. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
9. Tony Parker, PG, Spurs
10. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
11. John Wall, PG, Wizards
12. Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves

Aldridge was woefully undervalued coming into the season since he was drafted at No. 19 overall based on his ADP. He is a first-round talent and is averaging a career-high 23.7 points with 8.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. By comparison, Stoudemire is averaging 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, and Aldridge should play better than Stoudemire the rest of the season. Parker is someone to sell high because his stats will decline once Manu Ginobili (hand) returns, which should be soon. Parker is averaging a career-high 7.7 assists, but his scoring average of 18.2 will go down with Ginobili healthy. He is averaging 26.3 points in his past four games, and he will struggle to keep that up going forward. Wall was someone I mentioned earlier this year to buy low on because his rough start to the season was not going to continue. He is averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his past five games, and he has 20-5-5 potential if he can score at a higher clip. Wall should only get better as the season goes on, so don't plan on trading him without a stellar offer in return.

Here are the Top 12 players in an average-based head-to-head league:

1. LeBron James, SF, Heat
2. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
3. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
4. Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers
5. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trail Blazers
6. Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves
7. Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers
8. Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers
9. David Lee, PF, Warriors
10. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder
11. Monta Ellis, SG, Warriors
12. Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers

By the end of the season you will see Wade, Paul and Rose in the Top 12 of most formats, but injuries have hurt them to start the year. Paul, for example, is a Top 10 player in this league over the past 21 days, so his value is on the rise. The one player in this group to sell now is Bynum, and it's only because of his injury history. He has been awesome this season with 14 double-doubles, and he is averaging 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his past five games. But Bynum has played more than 65 games just once in his seven-year career, and you have to be concerned of a potential injury looming. That would help Gasol, who is still producing at a high level despite his scoring down two points last year from 18.8 to 16.4. Lee and Ellis will not remain as Top 12 options, but they won't slip far. They will just get passed by Wade, Paul, Rose, Williams or Marc Gasol, who has also been a solid Fantasy option this season with Zach Randolph (knee) out.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at 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.

Hornets trying to improve

The Hornets are a mess with the worst record in the Western Conference at 4-21, but coach Monty Williams is trying to get a feel for his roster for the rest of the season and the future. Along with injuries, Williams is getting to look at several players, which has impacted Fantasy owners.

"We are evaluating talent, and we're trying to figure out who can play," Williams said following a recent visit to Miami. "Any time you get a chance to play in the NBA, you better make the most of it. That's what we're looking for from our young guys."

Injuries to Eric Gordon (knee) and Jarrett Jack (knee) have allowed Greivis Vasquez to shine. He is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his past five games. Jack is on the verge of coming back, but Vasquez should remain relevant until Gordon returns, which is likely by the end of the month.

Carl Landry (knee) is out until the end of February, which should give extended minutes to Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon. Smith is dealing with a concussion, and Ayon started Monday against Sacramento. He finished with four points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 32 minutes, and he could be worth adding in deeper leagues depending on how long Smith is out.

Emeka Okafor is one of the few veterans getting extended minutes, and he's having a down year with a career-low 9.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. Still, Okafor remains confident in his game and expects to play well to close the season.

"I'm doing all right," Okafor said. "I'm just trying to get better. I just have to keep on working hard and wait for the opportunity to come."

Free agent watch

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

Arron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets
Owned: 37 percent of leagues

Reggie Williams, SG, Bobcats
Owned: 34 percent of leagues

Linas Kleiza, SF, Raptors
Owned: 29 percent of leagues

Randy Foye, SG, Clippers
Owned: 25 percent of leagues

Bill Walker, SG, Knicks
Owned: 3 percent of leagues

By now, Jeremy Lin (76 percent ownership) and Nikola Pekovic (72 percent) should be owned in most competitive leagues. If not, run out to grab them because they could be solid for the rest of the year. Williams would be the next player to add because he has played well with Gerald Henderson (hamstring), Corey Maggette (hamstring) and D.J. Augustin (toe) out. Williams has 42 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his past two games. Afflalo and Foye should also be solid for the foreseeable future due to injuries as well. Danilo Gallinari is out with a fractured ankle, which should give Afflalo more scoring chances. And Chauncey Billups (Achilles' tendon) is out for the season, which will help Foye. Walker is a short-term add with Carmelo Anthony (groin) out for two weeks, and Kleiza also is taking advantage of Andrea Bargnani (calf) being out. Kleiza has scored 62 points in his past three games with 13 rebounds.

Social media corner

@NELaker on Twitter wants to know: Should I give up Jrue Holiday and Hedo Turkoglu to get Mo Williams and Stephen Jackson?

There is definitely more upside in Williams and Jackson, so yes make the deal. Holiday has struggled this season, and Turkoglu is no longer a must-start Fantasy option. Williams should see an increase in production with Billups out, and Jackson finally escaped the doghouse in Milwaukee with 30 minutes against Phoenix on Tuesday. Hopefully he will continue to see increased minutes or get traded away from the Bucks.

@jordaneisner on Twitter wants to know: Anthony Morrow or Trevor Ariza for the rest of the year?

It depends on what you need and in what format, but Ariza does more than Morrow, who is strictly a scorer. Ariza also has more job security since Morrow will lose minutes once MarShon Brooks (toe) returns. He could also lose production when Brook Lopez (foot) is back in action. The safer option is to stick with Ariza.

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

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Player News
Heat add Reggie Williams
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/16/2014) The Heat signed guard Reggie Williams to a free-agency contract last week, the team announced. Terms of the deal are not known.

Williams appeared in just three games for the Thunder last season, and has played 180 games over parts of five NBA seasons. He averages 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range for his career.  


Isaiah Thomas undergoes wrist surgery
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Suns newcomer Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Thursday.

Thomas dealt with a sprained wrist last season but was able to play through it on his way to a career year. An MRI in February revealed no ligament damage, which would indicate this latest procedure is nothing to worry about. The team expects him to be ready for training camp. 


DeMarcus Cousins avoids serious injury at Team USA practice
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins dodged a bullet Thursday when the MRI on his right knee came back negative.

According to Yahoo Sports, Cousins limped off the court during a Team USA training session after Anthony Davis landed on his knee during a scrimmage. Cousins later tweeted that he was "fine," helping to suppress any concerns of a serious injury. 


Pacers shopping Roy Hibbert, call Pistons about Greg Monroe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Pacers are shopping center Roy Hibbert, and they have called the Pistons regarding a potential deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe, Detroit Sports 105.1 reports.

There's no word about whether the Pistons would be interested in a Monroe-for-Hibbert spot, but they are pretty well set in the middle with Andre Drummond in the starting lineup. It's a rumor that seemingly has very little chance of coming to fruition.


Rockets sign Kostas Papanikolaou
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Rockets have signed small forward Kostas Papanikolaou .

Papanikolaou gets $4.8 million guaranteed in the upcoming season, with a team option of $4.6 million for the following season. He has been playing in Europe since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft.


Report: Greg Oden faces felony charge
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Free agent Greg Oden is facing a felony charge after allegedly attacking his former girlfriend after a night of drinking, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Oden is accused of punching the woman in the face three times and fracturing a bone in her nose, according to court documents. The felony offense carries a penaly of one-to-six years in prison.


Markel Brown out with broken hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Nets guard Markel Brown will be held out of basketball activities for four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced Monday.

Brown was selected 44th overall in this year's draft, and the Nets acquired him for cash considerations on the night of the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season at Oklahoma State.


Report: Wolves to swap Anthony Bennett for Thaddeus Young
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/8/2014) Though the trade can't go official until August 23, the deal reportedly struck between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will lead to another trade between Minnesota and the 76ers.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported early Friday that Minnesota, upon receiving Anthony Bennett from the Cavs as part of the Kevin Love trade, would then trade him for Thaddeus Young. The Timberwolves have been showing interest in Young since Love stated his desire to be traded.

Meanwhile, the 76ers want to move Young because he's entering his prime at age 26 and only has one additional year left on his contract. Acquiring Bennett would complete a core of young talent to develop over the coming years. Young was one of the most productive forwards in the league last year playing in Brett Brown's up-tempo offense, averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bennett, on the other hand, failed to make any impact what so ever but did show signs of growth during the Summer League. 


Landing in Minnesota should improve Andrew Wiggins' value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) The prize of the trade that ultimately sent Kevin Love to Cleveland will likely be the Timberwolves' acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins , assuming there are no unexpected changes in the deal the two sides agreed to.

If Wiggins does ultimately land in Minnesota, as expected, this should be a boon to his Fantasy value. Though Wiggins will have substantially less help as he makes the transition to the NBA than he would have in Cleveland, he is also likely to be much more of a featured option than he otherwise might have been.

Wiggins was likely going to be the third or possibly even fourth offensive option for the Cavs, and likely would have been so for some time, given the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on long-term deals. Now, the Timberwolves get to build around Wiggins as their long-term centerpiece, and he should be given plenty of rope as the team tries to navigate their upcoming rebuild.

Wiggins is raw, but still put up 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game as a freshman at the University of Kansas. There are some questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but he will at least have some help, in the form of point guard Ricky Rubio, who knows exactly how to set up teammates for shots they like.

Wiggins is mostly upside right now, but should be considered a second-round pick in all keeper-league Fantasy formats. In yearly re-draft leagues, he is more of a mid-round option at this point, albeit one with tremendous upside. 


Anthony Bennett a bit more intriguing following trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) After a rookie season that can be charitably described as lost, a change of scenery is probably the best outcome Anthony Bennett could have hoped for this offseason. He got that Thursday, with the news that the long-awaited Kevin Love trade has landed him in Minnesota.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick luckily doesn't have to join the Cavaliers with the pressure of replacing Love as the face of the franchise -- this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggin, will take that on. Bennett gets to join a Timberwolves team that can give him more consistent playing time than last year's Cavaliers afforded him, but which won't ask him to do more than he is capable.

Bennett might end up starting at power forward for the Wolves, though a bench role seems more likely at this point. He had a disastrous rookie season after entering the season out of shape, but appeared to be in better shape while playing with the Cavaliers during the Summer League in Las Vegas. He still shot the ball poorly in Vegas -- 42.6 percent from the field and just 4 of 16 from three-point range -- but Bennett looked much more capable during his time there.

Based on his rookie season, Bennett has a long way to go before he is contributing at a high level. However, Fantasy owners in deeper category-based leagues should consider taking a chance on the 21-year-old in the later rounds, because he will have the chance to earn a large role if he proves worthy. 


 
 
 
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