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2012-13 Draft Prep: Head-to-Head mock draft

Fantasy Writer
  •  

With less than three weeks until the NBA season, we present out first Head-to-Head mock draft. The participants include CBS Fantasy Sports editorial staff and it is a standard scoring format.

The first round of the draft went about as expected, though it is interesting to see 76ers center Andrew Bynum go ahead of his former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant in the first. The second and third rounds feature few surprises, though we do see Denver's Ty Lawson and Detroit's Greg Monroe fall off the board. These two enjoyed big breakouts last season, but could be in for even more this year as they continue their development. We expect big things from both, especially with the offseason moves their teams made.

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire will be one of the big fallers in most drafts, as he was a borderline first-round pick last season. After a disappointing second season in New York, he tumbles to the end of the third round here. The fourth round featured a big run on centers -- six of the next 12 picks are centers, including Bosston's Kevin Garnett making his debut as a primary center. The third center taken in the round was the first rookie off the board. No. 1 pick Anthony Davis of New Orleans went No. 41 overall. He might be worth an even higher pick in Rotisseries formats. In 30 minutes of preseason action against the Bobcats in his first game, he finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and a block. His growth as a Fantasy contributor will be one of the key storylines this season and it may be accelerated after spending the summer learning from the best players in the world on Team USA.

Seemingly everyone went for a home run in Round 5; some of the biggest question marks in the NBA went off the board. This includes centers Andrea Bargnani of Toronto and Brook Lopez of Brooklyn, as well as Hornets guard Eric Gordon. The three of them missed 153 games combined last season, but have second or third-round talent, at least. A pair of supremely talented guards with big bust-or-boom potential and new hometowns also went, in Houston's Jeremy Lin and Phoenix's Goran Dragic. Myself, I like Dragic's potential more this season -- his track record is lengthier and probably has more help offensively. He was also arguably better than Lin at their respective peaks last year, averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 assists per game once he became the starter.

We saw some of the injury risks go off the board starting with Bulls guard Derrick Rose in Round 6 while Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio went in Round 11 and Clippers guard Chauncey Billups followed in Round 12. The latter two should be back earlier than Rose, who has hinted that he may not even return this season if his recovery from a torn ACL does not go as swiftly as planned. A more minor injury risk is Wizards guard John Wall, who went in Round 3 and should be back after just three or four weeks of the regular season.

We had nine rookies drafted, culminating with the selection of Jonas Valanciunas of Toronto with the 166th overall selection.

League rules: 10 active spots, 4 reserve spots; Starting lineup consists of four guards, four forwards and two centers

1. Nando DiFino, Fantasy Writer
2. Chris Towers, Fantasy Writer
3. Scott White, Fantasy Writer
4. Peter Madden, Editorial Director, Fantasy Sports
5. Jeffrey Tobin, Associate Managing Editor, Fantasy Sports
6. Dave Richard, Fantasy Writer
7. Bill Passonno, Fantasy Writer
8. Jeffrey Lippman, Fantasy Writer
9. Michael Hurcomb, Fantasy Writer
10. Jamey Eisenberg, Fantasy Writer
11. Adam Moore, Fantasy Writer
12. Igor Mello, Fantasy Writer

Mock Draft Results
Round by Round
Round 1
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino LeBron James, SF, MIA
2 Towers Kevin Durant, SF, OKC
3 White Kevin Love, PF, MIN
4 Madden Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC
5 Tobin Chris Paul, PG, LAC
6 Richard Josh Smith, PF, ATL
7 Passonno Dwight Howard, C, LAL
8 Lippman Deron Williams, PG, BKN
9 Hurcomb Blake Griffin, PF, LAC
10 Eisenberg Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA
11 Moore Andrew Bynum, C, PHI
12 Mello Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL
Round 2
Pick Team Player
1 Mello DeMarcus Cousins, C, SAC
2 Moore LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR
3 Eisenberg Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY
4 Hurcomb Steve Nash, PG, LAL
5 Lippman Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS
6 Passonno Joe Johnson, SG, BKN
7 Richard Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE
8 Tobin Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL
9 Madden Al Jefferson, C, UTA
10 White Pau Gasol, PF, LAL
11 Towers Greg Monroe, C, DET
12 DiFino Tony Parker, PG, SA
Round 3
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Rudy Gay, SF, MEM
2 Towers Ty Lawson, PG, DEN
3 White Monta Ellis, SG, MIL
4 Madden John Wall, PG, WAS
5 Tobin Marc Gasol, C, MEM
6 Richard Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL
7 Passonno Andre Iguodala, SF, DEN
8 Lippman David Lee, PF, GS
9 Hurcomb Paul Millsap, PF, UTA
10 Eisenberg Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, NY
11 Moore Mike Conley, PG, MEM
12 Mello Paul Pierce, SF, BOS
Round 4
Pick Team Player
1 Mello James Harden, SG, OKC
2 Moore Chris Bosh, PF, MIA
3 Eisenberg Al Horford, C, ATL
4 Hurcomb Roy Hibbert, C, IND
5 Lippman Anthony Davis, C, NO
6 Passonno Stephen Curry, PG, GS
7 Richard Marcin Gortat, C, PHO
8 Tobin Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI
9 Madden Kevin Garnett, C, BOS
10 White Tyreke Evans, PG, SAC
11 Towers Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI
12 DiFino Joakim Noah, C, CHI
Round 5
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Jeremy Lin, PG, HOU
2 Towers Kemba Walker, SG, CHA
3 White Goran Dragic, PG, PHO
4 Madden Luis Scola, PF, PHO
5 Tobin Kyle Lowry, PG, TOR
6 Richard Luol Deng, SF, CHI
7 Passonno Eric Gordon, SG, NO
8 Lippman Gerald Wallace, SF, BKN
9 Hurcomb Andrea Bargnani, C, TOR
10 Eisenberg Brook Lopez, C, BKN
11 Moore Darren Collison, PG, DAL
12 Mello Jeff Teague, PG, ATL
Round 6
Pick Team Player
1 Mello Tim Duncan, PF, SA
2 Moore Ryan Anderson, PF, NO
3 Eisenberg Derrick Rose, PG, CHI
4 Hurcomb Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA
5 Lippman Michael Beasley, PF, PHO
6 Passonno JaVale McGee, C, DEN
7 Richard Danny Granger, SF, IND
8 Tobin Kris Humphries, PF, BKN
9 Madden Zach Randolph, PF, MEM
10 White Klay Thompson, SG, GS
11 Towers O.J. Mayo, SG, DAL
12 DiFino Evan Turner, SG, PHI
Round 7
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Elton Brand, PF, DAL
2 Towers Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN
3 White Raymond Felton, PG, NY
4 Madden David West, PF, IND
5 Tobin Nene, C, WAS
6 Richard Lou Williams, SG, ATL
7 Passonno Danilo Gallinari, SF, DEN
8 Lippman Bradley Beal, SG, WAS
9 Hurcomb Damian Lillard, PG, POR
10 Eisenberg Brandon Knight, PG, DET
11 Moore Paul George, SG, IND
12 Mello Ersan Ilyasova, PF, MIL
Round 8
Pick Team Player
1 Mello Tyson Chandler, C, NY
2 Moore Chandler Parsons, SF, HOU
3 Eisenberg Marcus Thornton, PG, SAC
4 Hurcomb Nikola Pekovic, C, MIN
5 Lippman DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR
6 Passonno Andrew Bogut, C, GS
7 Richard Serge Ibaka, PF, OKC
8 Tobin Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA
9 Madden Manu Ginobili, SG, SA
10 White J.J. Hickson, PF, POR
11 Towers Mo Williams, PG, UTA
12 DiFino Jose Calderon, PG, TOR
Round 9
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL
2 Towers Arron Afflalo, SG, ORL
3 White Isaiah Thomas, PG, SAC
4 Madden Jason Terry, SG, BOS
5 Tobin Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA
6 Richard Nicolas Batum, SF, POR
7 Passonno Wesley Matthews, SG, POR
8 Lippman DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC
9 Hurcomb Devin Harris, PG, ATL
10 Eisenberg Anderson Varejao, C, CLE
11 Moore Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI
12 Mello Ramon Sessions, PG, CHA
Round 10
Pick Team Player
1 Mello Taj Gibson, PF, CHI
2 Moore Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET
3 Eisenberg Derrick Favors, PF, UTA
4 Hurcomb Kevin Martin, SG, HOU
5 Lippman Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL
6 Passonno Dion Waiters, SG, CLE
7 Richard Andre Miller, PG, DEN
8 Tobin Luke Ridnour, PG, MIN
9 Madden* Hedo Turkoglu, SF, ORL
10 White Greivis Vasquez, PG, NO
11 Towers Chris Kaman, C, DAL
12 DiFino Andrei Kirilenko, SF, MIN
Round 11
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Jared Dudley, SG, PHO
2 Towers Kawhi Leonard, SF, SA
3 White Tristan Thompson, C, CLE
4 Madden* Kirk Hinrich, PG, CHI
5 Tobin Jason Kidd, PG, NY
6 Richard MarShon Brooks, SG, BKN
7 Passonno Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN
8 Lippman Lamar Odom, PF, LAC
9 Hurcomb Austin Rivers, SG, NO
10 Eisenberg Jarrett Jack, PG, GS
11 Moore Jerryd Bayless, PG, MEM
12 Mello Shawn Marion, SF, DAL
Round 12
Pick Team Player
1 Mello Derrick Williams, PF, MIN
2 Moore Glen Davis, C, ORL
3 Eisenberg Antawn Jamison, PF, LAL
4 Hurcomb George Hill, PG, IND
5 Lippman Chauncey Billups, PG, LAC
6 Passonno Jason Richardson, SG, PHI
7 Richard Carl Landry, PF, GS
8 Tobin Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET
9 Madden Courtney Lee, SG, BOS
10 White Brandon Roy, SG, MIN
11 Towers Emeka Okafor, C, WAS
12 DiFino Jordan Crawford, SG, WAS
Round 13
Pick Team Player
1 DiFino Bismack Biyombo, PF, CHA
2 Towers D.J. Augustin, PG, IND
3 White Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL
4 Madden Jose Juan Barea, PG, MIN
5 Tobin Trevor Ariza, SF, WAS
6 Richard J.J. Redick, SG, ORL
7 Passonno J.R. Smith, SG, NY
8 Lippman Andre Drummond, C, DET
9 Hurcomb Omer Asik, PF, HOU
10 Eisenberg Royce White, PF, HOU
11 Moore Dorell Wright, SF, PHI
12 Mello Gerald Green, SG, IND
Round 14
Pick Team Player
1 Mello Jason Thompson, PF, SAC
2 Moore Jamal Crawford, SG, LAC
3 Eisenberg Mario Chalmers, PG, MIA
4 Hurcomb Thomas Robinson, PF, SAC
5 Lippman Shelvin Mack, PG, WAS
6 Passonno Trevor Booker, PF, WAS
7 Richard Ray Allen, SG, MIA
8 Tobin Shannon Brown, PG, PHO
9 Madden Eric Bledsoe, PG, LAC
10 White Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR
11 Towers Alonzo Gee, SF, CLE
12 DiFino Tiago Splitter, C, SA
 
Team by Team
Adam Moore
Rd.Pk Player
1.11 Andrew Bynum, C, PHI
2.2 LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR
3.11 Mike Conley, PG, MEM
4.2 Chris Bosh, PF, MIA
5.11 Darren Collison, PG, DAL
6.2 Ryan Anderson, PF, NO
7.11 Paul George, SG, IND
8.2 Chandler Parsons, SF, HOU
9.11 Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI
10.2 Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET
11.11 Jerryd Bayless, PG, MEM
12.2 Glen Davis, C, ORL
13.11 Dorell Wright, SF, PHI
14.2 Jamal Crawford, SG, LAC
Bill Passonno
Rd.Pk Player
1.7 Dwight Howard, C, LAL
2.6 Joe Johnson, SG, BKN
3.7 Andre Iguodala, SF, DEN
4.6 Stephen Curry, PG, GS
5.7 Eric Gordon, SG, NO
6.6 JaVale McGee, C, DEN
7.7 Danilo Gallinari, SF, DEN
8.6 Andrew Bogut, C, GS
9.7 Wesley Matthews, SG, POR
10.6 Dion Waiters, SG, CLE
11.7 Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN
12.6 Jason Richardson, SG, PHI
13.7 J.R. Smith, SG, NY
14.6 Trevor Booker, PF, WAS
Chris Towers
Rd.Pk Player
1.2 Kevin Durant, SF, OKC
2.11 Greg Monroe, C, DET
3.2 Ty Lawson, PG, DEN
4.11 Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI
5.2 Kemba Walker, SG, CHA
6.11 O.J. Mayo, SG, DAL
7.2 Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN
8.11 Mo Williams, PG, UTA
9.2 Arron Afflalo, SG, ORL
10.11 Chris Kaman, C, DAL
11.2 Kawhi Leonard, SF, SA
12.11 Emeka Okafor, C, WAS
13.2 D.J. Augustin, PG, IND
14.11 Alonzo Gee, SF, CLE
Dave Richard
Rd.Pk Player
1.6 Josh Smith, PF, ATL
2.7 Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE
3.6 Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL
4.7 Marcin Gortat, C, PHO
5.6 Luol Deng, SF, CHI
6.7 Danny Granger, SF, IND
7.6 Lou Williams, SG, ATL
8.7 Serge Ibaka, PF, OKC
9.6 Nicolas Batum, SF, POR
10.7 Andre Miller, PG, DEN
11.6 MarShon Brooks, SG, BKN
12.7 Carl Landry, PF, GS
13.6 J.J. Redick, SG, ORL
14.7 Ray Allen, SG, MIA
Igor Mello
Rd.Pk Player
1.12 Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL
2.1 DeMarcus Cousins, C, SAC
3.12 Paul Pierce, SF, BOS
4.1 James Harden, SG, OKC
5.12 Jeff Teague, PG, ATL
6.1 Tim Duncan, PF, SA
7.12 Ersan Ilyasova, PF, MIL
8.1 Tyson Chandler, C, NY
9.12 Ramon Sessions, PG, CHA
10.1 Taj Gibson, PF, CHI
11.12 Shawn Marion, SF, DAL
12.1 Derrick Williams, PF, MIN
13.12 Gerald Green, SG, IND
14.1 Jason Thompson, PF, SAC
Jamey Eisenberg
Rd.Pk Player
1.10 Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA
2.3 Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY
3.10 Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, NY
4.3 Al Horford, C, ATL
5.10 Brook Lopez, C, BKN
6.3 Derrick Rose, PG, CHI
7.10 Brandon Knight, PG, DET
8.3 Marcus Thornton, PG, SAC
9.10 Anderson Varejao, C, CLE
10.3 Derrick Favors, PF, UTA
11.10 Jarrett Jack, PG, GS
12.3 Antawn Jamison, PF, LAL
13.10 Royce White, PF, HOU
14.3 Mario Chalmers, PG, MIA
Jeff Lippman
Rd.Pk Player
1.8 Deron Williams, PG, BKN
2.5 Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS
3.8 David Lee, PF, GS
4.5 Anthony Davis, C, NO
5.8 Gerald Wallace, SF, BKN
6.5 Michael Beasley, PF, PHO
7.8 Bradley Beal, SG, WAS
8.5 DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR
9.8 DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC
10.5 Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL
11.8 Lamar Odom, PF, LAC
12.5 Chauncey Billups, PG, LAC
13.8 Andre Drummond, C, DET
14.5 Shelvin Mack, PG, WAS
Jeff Tobin
Rd.Pk Player
1.5 Chris Paul, PG, LAC
2.8 Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL
3.5 Marc Gasol, C, MEM
4.8 Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI
5.5 Kyle Lowry, PG, TOR
6.8 Kris Humphries, PF, BKN
7.5 Nene, C, WAS
8.8 Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA
9.5 Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA
10.8 Luke Ridnour, PG, MIN
11.5 Jason Kidd, PG, NY
12.8 Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET
13.5 Trevor Ariza, SF, WAS
14.8 Shannon Brown, PG, PHO
Michael Hurcomb
Rd.Pk Player
1.9 Blake Griffin, PF, LAC
2.4 Steve Nash, PG, LAL
3.9 Paul Millsap, PF, UTA
4.4 Roy Hibbert, C, IND
5.9 Andrea Bargnani, C, TOR
6.4 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA
7.9 Damian Lillard, PG, POR
8.4 Nikola Pekovic, C, MIN
9.9 Devin Harris, PG, ATL
10.4 Kevin Martin, SG, HOU
11.9 Austin Rivers, SG, NO
12.4 George Hill, PG, IND
13.9 Omer Asik, PF, HOU
14.4 Thomas Robinson, PF, SAC
Nando DiFino
Rd.Pk Player
1.1 LeBron James, SF, MIA
2.12 Tony Parker, PG, SA
3.1 Rudy Gay, SF, MEM
4.12 Joakim Noah, C, CHI
5.1 Jeremy Lin, PG, HOU
6.12 Evan Turner, SG, PHI
7.1 Elton Brand, PF, DAL
8.12 Jose Calderon, PG, TOR
9.1 Samuel Dalembert, C, MIL
10.12 Andrei Kirilenko, SF, MIN
11.1 Jared Dudley, SG, PHO
12.12 Jordan Crawford, SG, WAS
13.1 Bismack Biyombo, PF, CHA
14.12 Tiago Splitter, C, SA
Peter Madden
Rd.Pk Player
1.4 Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC
2.9 Al Jefferson, C, UTA
3.4 John Wall, PG, WAS
4.9 Kevin Garnett, C, BOS
5.4 Luis Scola, PF, PHO
6.9 Zach Randolph, PF, MEM
7.4 David West, PF, IND
8.9 Manu Ginobili, SG, SA
9.4 Jason Terry, SG, BOS
10.9 Hedo Turkoglu, SF, ORL
11.4 Kirk Hinrich, PG, CHI
12.9 Courtney Lee, SG, BOS
13.4 Jose Juan Barea, PG, MIN
14.9 Eric Bledsoe, PG, LAC
Scott White
Rd.Pk Player
1.3 Kevin Love, PF, MIN
2.10 Pau Gasol, PF, LAL
3.3 Monta Ellis, SG, MIL
4.10 Tyreke Evans, PG, SAC
5.3 Goran Dragic, PG, PHO
6.10 Klay Thompson, SG, GS
7.3 Raymond Felton, PG, NY
8.10 J.J. Hickson, PF, POR
9.3 Isaiah Thomas, PG, SAC
10.10 Greivis Vasquez, PG, NO
11.3 Tristan Thompson, C, CLE
12.10 Brandon Roy, SG, MIN
13.3 Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL
14.10 Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


 
 
 
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