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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
Clippers PG Chris Paul scores team-high 27 points vs. Bucks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:20 am ET) Clippers point guard Chris Paul scored a team-high 27 points on 6 of 16 shooting, including 4 of 6 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 106-102 win over the Bucks in Los Angeles Saturday.

Paul nearly managed his second consecutive double-double in the win, dishing out nine assists after racking up 15 assists the previous night. He also delivered three rebounds, two steals and one block in 36 minutes in Saturday's win. The Clippers will move forward to face the Spurs Monday.


Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo scores team-high 18 Saturday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:17 am ET) Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting in his team's 106-102 win over the Clippers Saturday.

Antetokounmpo came close to delivering what would have been his second double-double of the season, as he managed to grab nine rebounds in the loss. He also tallied six assists and two steals in a December-high 38 minutes of action. He'll square off with the Hornets Tuesday.


Mavericks G Monta Ellis erupts for season-high 38 points
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis went off again, scoring a season-high 38 points, leading his team to a 99-93 victory over the Spurs on Saturday.

Ellis knocked down 15 of 23 field goal attempts, including 5 of 6 from downtown, and 3 of 6 from the charity stripe. Four of his five treys came in the first half. He also added one assist and four steals while logging 40 minutes of game action.

Ellis has registered six 30-point games this season. He's averaging 25.4 points, 5.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds over his last five games.


Nuggets SF Danilo Gallinari scores season-high 19 vs. Pacers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting in his team's 76-73 win over the Pacers Saturday.

Gallinari was able to lead his team in scoring while playing 28 minutes off the bench and taking at least 10 shots for the first time this season. He also tallied three rebounds and one assist in the low-scoring win. The Nuggets will square off with the Hornets Monday.


Rajon Rondo scores six points in Mavericks debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Rajon Rondo, who played his first eight-plus seasons with the Celtics, made his Mavericks debut on Saturday against the Spurs.

Rondo got the start alongside Monta Ellis, but had a hard time finding his shot. He finished the game with six points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field. He also added nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals while logging 34 minutes of game action.

"He's going to do great," coach Rick Carlisle said of Rondo, per Dallas Morning News. "He's really smart, picks things up quickly, so I don't see a big adjustment period. He's just got to get ready to compete with our guys."

Rondo is averaging 7.6 points, 10.2 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals over his last five games.


Pacers PF David West doubles up vs. Nuggets
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Pacers power forward David West scored a season-high 19 points on 8 of 22 shooting while grabbing 10 rebounds in his team's 76-73 loss to the Nuggets Saturday.

West didn't have a double-double before Wednesday but has managed to post two straight performances with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. He led his team in both categories Saturday while kicking in five assists and one block in 32 minutes. The Pacers are set to square off with the Timberwolves Sunday.


Rockets G James Harden hands out career-high 14 assists
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Rockets shooting guard James Harden registered a career-high 14 assists in his team's 104-97 defeat to the Hawks on Saturday night.

Harden scored 18 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the floor, including 2 of 7 from downtown and a perfect 6 of 6 from the charity stripe. He also added six rebounds, one block and one steal while logging 39 minutes of game action.

He is averaging 29.6 points, 9.4 assists and 6.2 rebounds over his last five games.


Pelicans C Alexis Ajinca posts fourth career double-double
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca only logged 15 minutes off the bench, but it was enough time for him to register a double-double in his team's 114-88 defeat to Portland at home Saturday night.

Ajinca, who made his first appearance since Dec. 12, scored 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting and 2 of 2 from the free throw line. He added 13 rebounds and one steal in a losing effort. Ajinca has four career double-doubles.


Trail Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge registers 15th double-double
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge registered his 15th double-double of the season Saturday night against the Pelicans.

Aldridge scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He shot 12 of 20 from the field and knocked down all three of his free throw attempts. He also added two assists, two blocks and three steals while logging 29 minutes of game action in a 118-88 victory.

Aldridge is averaging 24.8 points and 14.2 rebounds over his last five games.


Kings' Sessions questionable, Evans and Casspi probable Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/20/2014) Kings point guard Ramon Sessions is questionable to play in Sunday's game against the Lakers due to a lower back strain, while forwards Reggie Evans (knee, hip) and Omri Casspi (knee) are probable for the game.

The Kings are a 7-point favorite for Sunday's home matchup with the Lakers.


 
 
 
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