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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
Report: Lakers G Ronnie Price a lock to make final roster
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) Lakers guard Ronnie Price is a lock to make the final roster, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 31-year-old signed a non-guaranteed deal with Los Angeles before the start of the preseason. He's averaging 8.5 points over four preseason games. 

Knicks' Andrea Bargnani not ready to return from hamstring issue
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) Knicks center Andrea Bargnani was ruled out for Monday's preseason game, coach Derek Fisher told Newsday. Bargnani is still dealing with some discomfort in his hamstring and will likely need more time to recover.

The Knicks will open the season Oct. 29 against Chicago.


Celtics G Rajon Rondo could be back for opening night
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) Celtics guard Rajon Rondo could be available to return from hand surgery on opening night against Brooklyn on Oct. 29, according to the team's official website. Rondo appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from a fractured third left metacarpal. He had surgery late September and was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. He's nearing his fourth week of rehab. 

"He's progressing great," coach Brad Stevens said. "Obviously, he won't do any contact before the end of the week but there's a chance that he'll be cleared to do some stuff by the end of the week."


Wizards' Glen Rice Jr. to miss remainder of preseason
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:58 pm ET) Wizards guard Glen Rice Jr. (ankle) has been cleared for cardiovascular exercises, but will likely miss the remainder of the preseason, according to the Washington Post. Rice remains hopeful of returning to action for the regular season opener Oct. 29 against Miami.

Wizards C Kris Humphries will be re-evaluated on Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Wizards center Kris Humphries, who is 10 days removed from surgery to repair his right pinkie finger, is expected to be re-evaluated on Monday, per the team's official website. Humphries will have nine days to recover in time for his team's regular season opener against Miami on Oct. 29.

Clippers G Jordan Farmar dealing with lower back tightness
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Clippers guard Jordan Farmar has been dealing with a back injury the last few weeks and it flared up on him Saturday, according to the team's official website. Farmar left Saturday's preseason game with lower back tightness. He remains focused on being ready to return for the regular season opener on Oct. 30 vs. Oklahoma City.

"I've just been staying on top of it," Farmar said. "(Saturday) it just flared up on me. It's a little tweak in my lower back. I'll be all right."


Bulls' Jimmy Butler listed day to day with thumb sprain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) The Bulls have listed guard Jimmy Butler day to day with a sprained left thumb, according to the Chicago Tribune on Monday. Butler left Sunday's preseason game with the injury. According to the paper, Butler will not require surgery.

He'll have a little more than a week to recover before Chicago opens the regular season Oct. 29 against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Nuggets G Ty Lawson dealing with hamstring issue
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:13 pm ET) Nuggets guard Ty Lawson is not expected to play Tuesday night against Portland in preseason action due to a hamstring injury, the Denver Post reports. Lawson tried to play through the pain, but was unable to finish Saturday's preseason contest against the Clippers.

The Nuggets will open the regular season Oct. 29 against Detroit.


X-rays come back negative for Pacers F David West
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Following Saturday's preseason game, Pacers forward David West underwent X-rays on his injured right ankle, which came back negative, the Indianapolis Star reports.

West grabbed a rebound and went for a putback in the third quarter. He landed awkwardly on his right ankle and was escorted to the locker room in the third quarter. Coach Frank Vogel told the paper he has "no idea" how long West will be sidelined. He also added that West will be re-evaluated in the coming days.


Pistons C Andre Drummond grabs 17 boards in preseason victory
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Pistons center Andre Drummond was all over the glass on Saturday, posting another monster line in a 104-100 preseason victory over the Hawks.

Drummond scored 19 points on 9 of 14 shooting, but only converted 1 of 7 from the charity stripe. He grabbed 17 boards, with only one coming from the offensive side of the glass. He chipped in with three blocks and two steals in 38 minutes.

Drummond has grabs 14-plus boards in three of his first six preseason games and appears primed for another dominant campaign this season. He averaged 13.5 points and 13.2 rebounds over 81 games last season, registering a career-high 57 double-doubles.


 
 
 
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