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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
Report: Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving likely to miss start of season
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/27/2015) Previous reports that Cavaliers premier point guard Kyrie Irving will be ready for training camp have been denied by sources telling the Northeast Ohio Media Group that chances are slim he will play in the regular season opener. One source has even claimed he could be out until January.

All reports state that his rehab from a left kneecap fracture sustained in Game 1 on the NBA finals is going smoothly, but that the cautious approach to his recovery will keep him sidelined for longer than first expected.


Hornets sign contract extension with SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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(8/27/2015) The Hornets have announced that they have signed small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a contract extension.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kidd-Gilchrist averaged a career-high 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game last season.


Jazz bring aboard C Jeff Withey
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/24/2015) The Jazz have announced the signing of free agent center Jeff Withey to a multi-year contract, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Withey averaged 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 37 games for New Orleans last season.


Report: Cavaliers, J.R. Smith agree to two-year, $5 million deal
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8/20/2015) The Cavaliers have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with shooting guard J.R. Smith . Smith announced on his Instagram that he had reached a deal with the Cavs.

The deal, which has not been confirmed by the team, is for $5 million and contains a player option, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.


Timberwolves sign F Tayshaun Prince to help woeful defense
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2015) What was reported has now been made official by the Timberwolves, who have announced the signing of veteran small forward Tayshaun Prince. The deal is reportedly one year for the veteran's minimum.

The 35-year-old Prince totaled 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 24 minutes per game for Memphis, Boston and Detroit a year ago.

He also shot 44 percent from the floor, but is far better known for his defense. Minnesota allowed a league-high 106.5 points per game last season.


Raptors sign C Jonas Valanciunas to contract extension
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2015) The Raptors have insured that emerging center Jonas Valanciunas will be sticking around for a while by signing him to a four-year extension worth $64 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The 23-year-old Valanciunas boasts a career .553 shooting percentage. He peaked last season at 57.2 percent and averaged a career-high 12.0 points a game while leading the team at 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots.

Valenciunas also averaged 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in four playoff games.


Free-agent guard Jason Terry to return to Rockets
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(8/19/2015) Free-agent guard Jason Terry has agreed to return to the Rockets next season, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

Terry, who will be 38 next season, averaged 7 points, 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game for Houston last season.


Hawks agree to terms with guard Jason Richardson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/18/2015) The Hawks reached a contract agreement with guard Jason Richardson on Tuesday, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not released.

Richardson averaged 9.1 points, 2.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 19 games for the 76ers last season. He has averaged 17.1 points in 14 seasons.


Sixers center Joel Embiid undergoes foot surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/18/2015) 76ers center Joel Embiid underwent foot surgery on Tuesday, the team announced.

"Moving forward, our sports performance staff will work with Joel to guide his return to play and monitor his progress against targeted benchmarks," 76ers president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie said. "Our team will work with Joel to create the best possible environment for healing so he can achieve his goals."

Embiid is expected to miss the entire 2015-16 season because of the foot issue. He also underwent bone graft surgery in May.


Report: PF Marcus Landry hooks up with Bucks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/17/2015) Power forward Marcus Landry, who has not played an NBA game since 2010, is on the verge of signing with the Bucks, according to the Racine Journal Times.

Landry has bounced from one training camp tryout to the next without landing a roster spot. The brother of 76ers forward Carl Landry averaged 10 points and four rebounds in a top Spanish league last season.


 
 
 
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