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Courtside Seat: Time to look ahead

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The regular season is near an end for Fantasy Basketball owners, but it's never too early to look ahead. With that in mind, here is a glimpse at some early rankings for the 2012-13 season.

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One significant difference for Fantasy owners next year, barring some lineup changes down the stretch, will be several prominent players losing center eligibility. Forwards Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee and Amar'e Stoudemire, all centers this season, have not played enough games to qualify for the position next year.

To put that in perspective, in CBSSports.com leagues we are losing three of the top seven centers in total points, head to head leagues with Gasol (No. 2), Aldridge (No. 3) and Lee (No. 7). Stoudemire is No. 15, but part of his low ranking is that he's only played in 33 games.

The rankings below are geared toward head-to-head leagues, but you can also use them as a guide for category-based formats as well.

Top 5 guards

No. 1 Derrick Rose, Bulls
No. 2 Chris Paul, Clippers
No. 3 Dwyane Wade, Heat
No. 4 Deron Williams, Nets
No. 5 Russell Westbrook, Thunder

The guard spot will probably be the most debated position on Draft Day because any of these guards could be considered No. 1, but Rose's all-around game gives him the nod. It was difficult keeping Kobe Bryant out of the Top 5, but he is No. 6 and should still be considered a first-round selection next season even though he'll be older and likely more banged up. Williams' Fantasy value could change slightly depending on if he leaves New Jersey next season as a free agent or gets Dwight Howard to join him. But we don't expect Williams to suffer enough to fall out of the Top 5.

Top 5 forwards

No. 1 LeBron James, Heat
No. 2 Kevin Durant, Thunder
No. 3 Kevin Love, Timberwolves
No. 4 Blake Griffin, Clippers
No. 5 LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers

The Top 3 forwards will be the Top 3 overall selections in any format, and Love has turned into an elite Fantasy option this season with his scoring, rebounding and 3-point shooting. He's just a slight notch below James and Durant. Griffin is a lock at the No. 4 spot, and his value would rise if his shooting percentages were better. But after the Top 4 there will likely be plenty of argument about the No. 5 forward. I like Aldridge based on his all-around game and I expect him to keep developing. But you could easily take Gasol, Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki or even Josh Smith in this spot depending on your league.

Top 5 centers

No. 1 Dwight Howard, Magic
No. 2 Greg Monroe, Pistons
No. 3 Al Jefferson, Jazz
No. 4 Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
No. 5 Andrew Bynum, Lakers

Fantasy owners could find it tough next year in leagues where you start two centers because the loss of Pau Gasol, Aldridge, Lee and Stoudemire will hurt. We have plenty of promising young centers in DeMarcus Cousins, Joakim Noah, Marcin Gortat, Roy Hibbert and JaVale McGee, but the center spot is now watered down with a lack of talent. As for the Top 5 centers, there will be debate about the list after Howard. I love Monroe's upside and Jefferson is solid. Bynum has been great but injury concerns will always follow him. And Marc Gasol is a stud this season, but the healthy return of Zach Randolph (knee) will lower his stock.

Top 12 overall

No. 1 LeBron James, Heat
No. 2 Kevin Durant, Thunder
No. 3 Kevin Love, Timberwolves
No. 4 Dwight Howard, Magic
No. 5 Derrick Rose, Bulls
No. 6 Chris Paul, Clippers
No. 7 Dwyane Wade, Heat
No. 8 Blake Griffin, Clippers
No. 9 Deron Williams, Nets
No. 10 Russell Westbrook, Thunder
No. 11 Kobe Bryant, Lakers
No. 12 LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers

Howard's value shouldn't change if he leaves the Magic as expected. He will remain the No. 1 center in all leagues and a Top 5 overall selection in head-to-head formats. Griffin could fall past Williams and Westbrook, but the Top 5 guards will all be drafted in the Top 10. After that, Bryant deserves consideration as a first-round pick because his scoring is difficult to match. If his shot selection would improve then his value would be even higher in category-based leagues. Aldridge gets the nod at the No. 12 spot but this position will likely feature plenty of other options with Pau Gasol, Nowitzki or maybe even another guard like Kyle Lowry.

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.

Trade rumors

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday and we could see several prominent players on the move. Howard, Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis and Steve Nash are some of the popular names being discussed. But some of the smaller trades could affect Fantasy owners more with guys like Stephen Jackson, Chris Kaman and Ramon Sessions.

Another potential trade could involve Jamal Crawford, and we'd like to see him leave Portland. Raymond Felton is back as the starter, which could be a showcase move for him, but Crawford could be great if he was traded to the Clippers or Timberwolves.

One potential trade rumor has Minnesota sending Luke Ridnour to Portland for Crawford. That would give the Timberwolves a great scoring option with Love and Ricky Rubio, and the Trail Blazers would then have a natural backup point guard in Ridnour behind Felton.

It will be an exciting week for Fantasy owners so stay tuned. And be ready to pounce on a player if he's traded to a situation where his value could improve.

Guys on the rise

Here is a look at the five players who have improved their performance over the past seven days. We want to let you know if they can keep it up at this level.

Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets
Key stats for the past seven days: 19.5 points, 11.3 assists, 7.0 rebounds

Antawn Jamison, PF, Cavs
Key stats for the past seven days: 26.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists

Paul Pierce, SF, Celtics
Key stats for the past seven days: 26.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, eight 3-pointers

Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Bucks
Key stats for the past seven days: 17.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks

Drew Gooden, PF, Bucks
Key stats for the past seven days: 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals

Lawson is on an impressive tear and the key for him is staying healthy since he has battled various injuries all season. Jamison has quietly put together a stellar campaign, but he might be due for a letdown depending on how Cleveland closes the season. If you are still allowed to make trades in your league then consider him a sell-high candidate. Pierce has come alive following a slow start and playing in a pair of overtime games has padded his stats during this period. And Ilyasova and Gooden should both continue to thrive with Andrew Bogut (ankle) out. They have been two of the best free agent additions in the majority of leagues this year.

Free agent watch

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

Bismack Biyombo, PF, Bobcats
Owned: 50 percent of leagues

Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz
Owned: 42 percent of leagues

Ekpe Udoh, PF, Warriors
Owned: 42 percent of leagues

Roddy Beaubois, PG, Mavericks
Owned: 39 percent of leagues

Jason Maxiell, PF, Pistons
Owned: 6 percent of leagues

We've mentioned Biyombo before but he should get plenty of playing time to close the season, especially with Boris Diaw falling out of favor with the Bobcats. He will continue to post inconsistent stats but he does have 12 points, 24 rebounds and seven blocks in his past two games. Hayward also will be inconsistent with his production, especially coming off the bench, but he could get more scoring chances in his new role. Udoh is now the starting center for the Warriors and has 26 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in his past two games. Beaubois, when given playing time, has produced and has four games with double digits in points in his past six outings. And Maxiell has started to come around of late with 20 points and 14 rebounds in his past two games. In deeper leagues, he could be a nice addition if he can continue to play at this level.

Social media corner

@JustFollow12 on Twitter wants to know: Who would you rather have in a head-to-head, nine category league with 12 teams, Udoh or Andray Blatche?

Blatche clearly has more upside when he's healthy but he might not be at 100 percent for a while with his calf injury. The Wizards also might continue to give Trevor Booker an extended look at power forward, so if you need to make a decision right now then go with Udoh.

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
Jameer Nelson finalize two-year contract with Mavs
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) The Mavericks and free agent point guard Jameer Nelson have finalized a two-year, $6 million deal with Dallas, ESPN reports. Nelson will make roughly $2.7 million his first season and $2.8 million his next season, which will be a player option year. Nelson had a productive year in Orlando last season, averaging 12.1 points and 7.0 assists per game. 

Cavs sign Andrew Wiggins, can't trade him for 30 days
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Amid constant speculation about the Cavaliers possibly sending their No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota in a deal for Kevin Love, Cleveland will have to wait at least 30 days to do so. The team announced Thursday that it had inked Wiggins to a rookie deal that starts at a $5.5 million annual salary.

Wiggins looked good in Summer League, averaging 15.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in four games at Las Vegas. 


Report: Jameer Nelson nearing a deal with Dallas
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(7/23/2014) Free agent point guard Jameer Nelson looks to be headed to Dallas. According to ESPN sources, the Mavericks will ink Nelson to a $2.7 million-contract.

Nelson was waived by Orlando after the Magic traded for rookie point guard Elfrid Payton on draft night. Nelson had a productive year in Orlando last season, averaging 12.1 points and 7.0 assists per game. 


Report: Bulls offer three players for Kevin Love
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(7/23/2014) A rumor surfaced early Wednesday that indicated the Chicago Bulls would be willing to give up three players to obtain forward Kevin Love. According to SheridanHoops.com, Chicago has offered the Timberwolves bench stud Taj Gibson, first-round pick Doug McDermott and recently signed Spanish star Nikola Mirotic for Love. 

It's been speculated that rumors including Chicago are merely smokescreens to coax the Cavaliers into adding more to their reported offer. The report suggests that should Cleveland sweeten the deal by including a second future first rounder in addition to Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and the initial future first round pick, that Cleveland would have a better chance of stealing Love away from the Bulls. 

The Timberwolves would be wise to do everything in their power to speed up this process, considering Love is set to become a free agent next season and has already said that he will test the market. 


Cavaliers, Jazz agree to four-player trade
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7/22/2014) The Jazz have agreed to trade John Lucas, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to the Cavaliers in exchange for Carrick Felix, $1 million and a future second-round pick, Yahoo! Sports reports.

The trade gives the Cavaliers three non-guaranteed contracts, which could help with the logistics of a potential Kevin Love acquisition. Felix signed a four-year deal last offseason and is still due more than $1.75 million over the next two seasons.


Robbie Hummel signs one-year deal to remain with Wolves
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/21/2014) Free agent forward Robbie Hummel informed ESPN on Monday that he has signed a one-year deal worth approximately $1 million to remain with the Timberwolves. Hummel averaged 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.4 minutes over 53 games.

Glen Davis stays put with the Clippers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/21/2014) Free agent forward Glen Davis re-signed with the Clippers on Saturday, according to the team's official website. Davis was a mid-season pickup by the Clippers last season, and averaged just 4.3 points per game in 23 games.

Evan Turner to sign mid-level exception deal with Boston
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/21/2014) Former Pacers and Sixers guard Evan Turner is expected to sign a mid-level exception deal with the Celtics, according to the Boston Herald on Monday. Turner was acquired by the Pacers during the trade deadline last season and finished with averages of 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds off the bench. He also shot 41.1 percent from the field over 27 games (two starts).

Kevin Seraphin stays put with Wizards
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/18/2014) The Wizards have come to terms with free agent forward Kevin Seraphin on a $3.8 million qualifying offer, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports on Friday. Seraphin, 24, averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.9 minutes over 53 games for the Wizards last season.

Jimmer Fredette signs one-year deal with New Orleans
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(7/18/2014) The Pelicans have agreed to a one-year deal with former Sacramento guard Jimmer Fredette , according to NOLA.com. 

Fredette was a star at BYU but wasn't able to pin down a steady role with the Kings. Sacramento bought out his contract, leading him to sign with Chicago.  He did shoot an encouraging 49 percent from three last season, so there could be room for him the Pelicans' rotation with the departure of shooter Anthony Morrow. 


 
 
 
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