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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
Nuggets C Jusuf Nurkic held scoreless vs. Grizzlies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic was held scoreless Thursday while going 0 for 7 from the field in his team's 99-69 loss to the Grizzlies.

No Nuggets player was able to score more than 10 points in the blowout loss, though the team was able to empty the bench and give at least 12 minutes of action to all 13 active players. IN addition to being the only Denver player to not score in the loss, Nurkic racked up six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 22 minutes Thursday. He'll square off with the Hornets Saturday.


Kings PF Carl Landry (wrist) probable Friday vs. Cavaliers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Kings power forward Carl Landry is listed as probable for Friday's game against the Cavaliers due to a right wrist sprain.

Landry was also listed as probable Wednesday before racking up 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. He had missed the team's previous five games with the wrist issue.

The Kings are 8 1/2-point underdogs in Cleveland Friday.


Magic C Nikola Vucevic doubles up vs. Bucks Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Magic center Nikola Vucevic scored 17 points on 8 of 19 shooting while hauling in 14 rebounds in his team's 115-100 loss to the Bucks Thursday.

The double-double was Vucevic's 10th in 14 games this month and came despite playing a January-low 26 minutes in the loss, his team's seventh straight. He also kicked in one assist Thursday. The Magic will look to turn things around Saturday against the Mavericks.


Magic SG Victor Oladipo scores team-high 21 vs. Bucks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Magic shooting guard Victor Oladipo scored a team-high 21 points on 6 of 17 shooting in his team's 115-100 loss to the Bucks Thursday.

Oladipo was successful on nine of his 11 free-throw attempts, both numbers season highs, helping to boost his final point total. He also tallied five rebounds, one assist and one steal in 34 minutes. The Magic will square off with the Mavericks Saturday.


Bucks PG Jerryd Bayless scores team-high 19 vs. Magic
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Bucks point guard Jerryd Bayless scored a team-high 19 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 2 of 2 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 115-100 win over the Magic Thursday.

Bayless played just 20 minutes off the bench en route to his third straight game with at least 15 points scored. He also chipped in three steals, two rebounds and one assist in the win. The Bucks will face the Blazers Saturday.


Bucks C John Henson doubles up vs. Magic Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Bucks center John Henson scored 12 points on 6 of 10 shooting while hauling in a season-high 11 rebounds in his team's 115-100 win over the Magic in Orlando Thursday.

Henson was one of seven Bucks players to score in double digits Thursday, including all five starters. He also added two blocks, one assist and one steal in 24 minutes of action while posting just his second double-double of the season. The Bucks will square off with the Blazers Saturday.


Magic SF Tobias Harris injures knee Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Magic small forward Tobias Harris suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of Thursday's game against the Bucks, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Harris was able to gut out the injury for a while but went to the locker room in the fourth quarter to be examined. He played 21 minutes off the bench, scoring seven points on just 2 of 12 shooting while tallying five rebounds and one assist Thursday. The Magic have one day off before facing the Mavericks Saturday.


Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) questionable Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is questionable to play Friday against the Cavaliers due to an ankle sprain.

It's a lingering issue for Cousins, who has been able to play at least 30 minutes in each of his last four games after missing a game last week. He has averaged 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds in 32 games.

The Kings are 8 1/2-point underdogs in Cleveland Friday.


Celtics' Evan Turner misses practice Thursday, should play Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Celtics shooting guard Evan Turner did not practice Thursday, but he doesn't expect his lingering thumb injury to cost him any game action, ESPNBoston.com reports.

"It's alright," Turner told reporters after Thursday's workout. "It's getting better each day. It'll be fine... When it gets bent back, it kinda hurts a little bit. I'll be fine."

Turner initially sprained the thumb on Jan. 14 and has had it wrapped during recent games. He's averaged 10.8 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 19 games as a starter.

The Celtics are 6 1/2-point home underdogs against the Rockets Friday.


Grizzlies SG Vince Carter injures foot, set for MRI
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/29/2015) Grizzlies shooting guard Vince Carter suffered a foot injury in the second quarter of Thursday's matchup with the Nuggets and did not return.

Carter had to hop to the bench after suffering the injury and was unable to put any pressure on his left foot. He was helped back to the locker room in order to be examined. Carter had managed four points on 1 of 4 shooting in seven minutes off the bench before heading to the locker room.

Carter is set to undergo an MRI Friday to determine whether he's suffered a stress fracture or just a sprain, the Commercial Appeal reports.


 
 
 
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