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2012-13 Draft Prep: Bench players worth a shot

by | Fantasy Writer
  •  

There are approximately 450 players in the NBA and keeping track of all of them can be quite challenging, especially on Draft Day. With most owners playing in 12- to 14-team Fantasy leagues, there comes a point in the later rounds where the names become unfamiliar and just make a selection based on the player's past history or playing time. However, that can be detrimental to building a Championship caliber Fantasy squad, especially when owners take a player solely based on the fact that he is a starter. To combat this issue, we have once again put together a list of players who are considered regulars in their team's starting lineup but aren't worth drafting in most formats. Conversely, we have also included a list of players, who don't start but are worthy of scooping up on Draft Day.

While everyone knows the obvious choices of players who fall into these two categories such as Thabo Sefolosha, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Thaddeus Young just to name a few, we have tried to look for more low-profile options who fit the bill this year. As always, we recommend owners do their own homework but we hope this will prove to be a useful tool on Draft Day.

Starters to ignore

Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies: Allen was a tough choice for this list since he usually finds himself near the top of the leader board in the steals department. However, the 30-year-old struggles to consistently get his numbers in the other areas of the box score, despite being a regular in Memphis' starting lineup the last two seasons. He did post some of his more productive scoring (9.8 ppg)and rebounding(4.0 rpg) totals last year, albeit Allen did so averaging a career-best 26.6 minutes per game. His minutes are expected to fall back into 20-per game range this year and we would expect his slight increase in scoring to fall back down right along with his playing time. While Allen's all-around production makes him a very useful low-end option in category-based formats, there are far too many more productive options to choose from in standard formats on Draft Day. Still, Allen could make for a nice waiver-wire addition down the line.

Ronnie Brewer, G, Knicks: Brewer decided to sign with the Knicks over the offseason mostly because he was promised a chance to be the team's starting shooting guard. Despite undergoing surgery on his left knee, the 27-year-old is still expected to be the in the starting lineup on Opening Night but we aren't so sure Brewer's increased role will lead to a bump in Fantasy value. Keep in mind that Brewer did see nearly 25 minutes per game last season and still wound up averaging just 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest while shooting 42.7 percent from the field. However, he was brought to New York more for his defensive talents rather than his offensive ones, which could limit his playing time down the road. While he will get a chance to start for the Knicks, his minutes will likely remain very similar to what they were in Chicago, especially with J.R. Smith backing up his position. Iman Shumpert will also be in line to see minutes at shooting guard once he returns, which will restrict Brewer's minutes as well. With so many other options at guard, owners shouldn't pay much attention to Brewer on Draft Day.

Metta World Peace, F, Lakers: World Peace has been a fixture in the Lakers starting lineup over his first three seasons in Los Angeles, but hasn't been much of a Fantasy option over that stretch. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, we would expect both of those trends to continue this season. Despite the addition of several quality players -- Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison -- World Peace will once again open up the season as the team's starting small forward. However, he has averaged just 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game during his tenure in Southern California and there isn't much reason to think those numbers will increase this year. With Kobe Bryant, Nash, Pau Gasol and Howard all on the court at the same time, World Peace will likely have a hard time just getting the ball in his hands let alone improving on his production. While his ability to fill up the stat sheet makes him relevant in deeper category-based leagues, owners in standard formats should target other options on Draft Day.

Jason Maxiell, F, Pistons: Maxiell is projected to be Detroit's starting power forward this season, leaving many to think that he could be ready to take the next step in Fantasy. However, Maxiell has averaged just 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over his 104 career starts while seeing around 25 minutes per contest over that stretch. That is likely about how much time he will spend on the court this season and he could also be pushed for minutes by Jonas Jerebko and rookie Andre Drummond. Maxiell also is very limited offensively and at 29 years old, it doesn't appear he has much upside left at this point. With so many other viable options available at forward, owners should leave Maxiell on the waiver wire to start the year.

Robin Lopez, C, Hornets: Lopez was shipped off to New Orleans as part of a three-player trade in the offseason and he will get another chance to start for the Hornets. However, the 7-footer hasn't fared that well as a starter in the past as he has averaged just 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over his 94 career starts. He will be part of the team's starting five on Opening Night, but likely won't be in line to see more than 20-25 minutes per contest as he will be pushed for playing time by Jason Smith. Anthony Davis is also expected to see some time at center, so we are expecting more of the same from the 24-year-old during his tenure in the Big Easy. While center remains the shallowest position in Fantasy basketball, Lopez should go undrafted in most formats.

Bench players to target

Eric Bledsoe, G, Clippers: Bledsoe is entering his third year in the league with the Clippers and is expected to have a much bigger role on the team this season. He is coming off a very disappointing 2011-12 campaign as he averaged just 3.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game while seeing around 11 minutes per contest. However, the Clippers were very deep at guard last year and Bledsoe had to compete with Chris Paul, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups and Randy Foye for minutes. Now that Williams and Foye are gone, Bledsoe will be the first one off the bench and serve as Paul's primary backup. That should get his minutes up into the 20s on most nights, which should lead to a nice increase in production. The 22-year-old proved what he could do when given ample playing time last year as he scored 23 and 17 points in Los Angeles' playoff series against the Spurs. While owners may have grown accustomed to bypassing Bledsoe on Draft Day in years past, make sure to scoop him up in the later rounds of most formats.

J.R. Smith, G, Knicks: Smith entered training camp with a chance to start at shooting guard, but coach Mike Woodson decided to go with the more defensive-minded Ronnie Brewer as his starting two-guard – at least for now. As expected, Smith and Fantasy owner's weren't very happy about the decision but just because he won't be starting, doesn't mean he won't be able to make an impact. Woodson has said repeatedly he wants Smith to be his sixth-man off the bench and even referenced Manu Ginobili and James Harden when he was pressed by reporters about how Smith exactly would be used. That means Smith could end up seeing more minutes off the bench than Brewer does as a starter. The 27-year-old thrived in a similar reserve role when he was in Denver and averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last three seasons with the Nuggets. While Smith can drive some owner's crazy with his streaky play, he should be targeted in the later rounds of most formats.

Taj Gibson, F, Bulls: With Omer Asik now in Houston with the Rockets, Gibson should be line for a major increase in playing time this year. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 20.4 minutes as a reserve last season but will now be Chicago's first big man off the bench. Most are estimating Gibson to see around 30 minutes per game this season as he will serve as Carlos Boozer's and Joakim Noah's primary backups. That alone should lead to a substantial increase in production for the 27-year-old, possibly even getting his scoring into double digits for the first time in his career. While Gibson has not been a popular selection on Draft Day over the last few seasons, owners should plan on spending a late-round pick in most formats on the fourth-year forward this year.

Jeff Green, F, Celtics: After missing all of last season due to an aortic aneurysm that required surgery, Green is most likely happy just to be back on the court this year. The 26-year-old looks to be fully healthy entering the 2012-13 campaign and is expected to once again come off the bench for the Celtics. While he averaged just 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in a reserve role for Boston in 26 games two years ago, Green has looked sharp in the preseason. He has showed no ill-effects from his offseason health issues and also looked to have a little extra bounce in his step. The former No. 5 overall pick in the draft has yet to live up to his potential over his short tenure in the NBA, but is expected to see a healthy 25-30 minutes per game this season. Green's upside alone makes him worthy of taking with a late-round pick in most formats.

Andre Drummond, F, Pistons: Drummond is one of the more intriguing rookies to bust on the scene this season as the 19-year-old looks to have all the tools to be a prime-time producer. However, there was a slight sense of disappointment when coach Lawrence Frank announced that he would come off the bench this season. Still, Drummond is expected to see a healthy amount of playing time in his first year in the league and has impressed during the preseason. While most believe for former UConn standout should be considered more of a long-term keeper option, we feel Drummond can come in and contribute right away. With a ton of upside and the promise of seeing minutes right off the bat, owners should plan on spending a late-round pick on Drummond.

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Player News
Spurs G Manu Ginobili 'can't rush' decision on retirement
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:00 pm ET) Spurs veteran guard Manu Ginobili has provided little insight about his future after his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But what he has expressed indicated that it might hinge on whether teammate and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan decides to retire or return for another year.

Ginobili did say he was going to wait a while before deciding on whether he will play another season.

"I'll wait for this month and see how I feel," he told the San Antonio Express-News. "If I feel like a former player or not. I begin to wonder ... how my body will feel. It is a unique moment. I've never been in this situation. I throught about retiring briefly in 2013, but in a week or 10 days I knew I wanted to take another challenge. ... So I'll see calmly what I want to do, because there are decisions you can't rush."

Ginobili remained effective this season, though his 10.5 scoring average was his lowest since his rookie year. He shot just 42.6 percent from the field, the second-worst of his 13-year career.


Rivers 'doubts' that Clippers PG Chris Paul plays in Game 2
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:39 pm ET) Clippers point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) appears destined to miss Game 2 of the second-round playoff series Wednesday night in Houston.

Asked if Paul will play, Doc Rivers responded per the Houston Chronicle, "I pretty much doubt it."

Paul was unavailable in the opener, but the Clippers stunned the basketball world by beating the Rockets handily on the road. Replacement Austin Rivers scored 17 points.


Bulls coach, teammate praise struggling C Joakim Noah
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:30 pm ET) Bulls center Joakim Noah took four shots and missed them all as the boos rained down upon him in Game 1 of the second-round playoffs series Monday in Cleveland. Among his misses was an easy layup.

But Noah, who is still struggling with his surgically repaired knee, still has the appreciation of teammate Derrick Rose.

"With Jo, he's giving us what he's got," Rose told CSNChicago.com. "He's been through a lot. For a big guy having those injuries, it takes a lot. Just his energy, his presence is a lot. He's a hell of a character, hell of a teammate and it kind of rubs off on people."

Tom Thibodeau cited Noah's nine rebounds and two blocked shots in praising him.

"I don't want to get lost in his scoring because it's never been a strong suit," he said. "It's all the other stuff he brings to the team. It's not the emotion, it's the activity. When he does that, he's very, very effective for us. It's how the team functions when he's on the floor. He doesn't have to shoot well to play well. It'll come around for him."


Free agency awaits emerging Hawks SF DeMarre Carroll
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Emerging Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll still has work to do this season as his team attempts to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. But his efforts since the All-Star break, particularly in the playoffs, has certainly raised the stock of the free agent-to-be, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting.

Carroll leads the Hawks in the postseason with an 18.9 scoring average. He's shooting a blistering .556 from the field and is 20 of 43 from distance. He has effectively followed up a second half of the season in which he averaged 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

The 28-year-old Carroll, who according to the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement is an unrestricted free agent after this year, is making just $2.4 million this season. He could command triple that on the open market. Mike Budenholzer has been impressed with his performance.

"He just gets it within the context of who we play in our offense and his teammates are creating a lot of opportunities for him," he said. "He's taking advantage of them. He's driving and attacking more."


Report: GM to give Nets PF Mirza Teletovic a qualifying offer
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Nets general manager Billy King is planning on giving power forward Mirza Teletovic a qualifying offer, ESPN has reported.

The Bosnian import can be a free agent, but has expressed an interest in staying with Brooklyn.

Teletovic lost three months of the regular season to blood clots before returning to earn a bit of playing time in the playoff loss to Atlanta. He averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 22 minutes per game this season.


Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving happy Tristan Thompson starting
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) The placement of Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup for Game 4 has point guard Kyrie Irving smiling a bit more.

"We get our 3-man back," Irving told Bleacher Report.

Irving was referring to LeBron James, who was forced to play power forward in the opener as a replacement for injured Kevin Love. Irving prefers James to push the pace with him rather than play in the post.

The insertion of Thompson into a starting role prevents the Cavaliers from bringing any big men off the bench unless they are willing to play little-used Kendrick Perkins.


Cavaliers star LeBron James vows greater efficiency in Game 2
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Cavaliers star LeBron James is vowing not only to be more aggressive, but also more efficient in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series against Chicago.

James was unhappy with his 9-for-22 shooting and six turnovers in the opener, which resulted in Cleveland losing homecourt advantage.

"I expect to be more sharper offensively than I was in Game 1," he said via Bleacher Report. "The efficiency wasn't up to par, to my liking."

James did contribute 15 rebounds and came within one assist of a triple-double in the defeat.


Report: Tristan Thompson in, Mike Miller out of Cavaliers lineup
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:22 am ET) Cavaliers power forward and super sub Tristan Thompson, who led the NBA this season in offensive rebounding off the bench, will reportedly not be a super sub in Game 2 of the playoff series against Chicago on Wednesday night. He is set to start, league sources have told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Thompson came off the bench in the first-game loss and managed four points and eight rebounds in 37 minutes. With Thompson pairing up with LeBron James and Timofey Mozgov, the Cavaliers would boast a frontcourt of three players 6-foot-8 and taller.

The move would send Mike Miller to the bench. Miller, who did not play at all in the first-round series against Boston, failed to provide much production in the opener.

It remains to be seen who Thompson guards, but he might match up with Pau Gasol, whose length and mid-range jumper wreaked havoc on the Cavaliers in Game 1.


Thibodeau on Bulls PF Taj Gibson: 'Taj is always important'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) The addition of Pau Gasol and emergence of Nikola Mirotic this season cut into the opportunities for Bulls reserve forward Taj Gibson. But it didn't cut into the respect Tom Thibodeau has for him.

Gibson averaged 13 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season, but the numbers fell to 10.3 and 6.4 this year. He contributed plenty down the stretch in the regular season, however, after returning from an ankle sprain. He also helped Chicago handle the length of Milwaukee in the first round. Thibodeau is thankful for what he brings to the table.

"Taj is always important," he told NBA.com. "That's the only thing you can't overlook, what he brings to our team, his defense, his rebounding. He's probably our best low-post defender. He's our best guy at moving his feet. Offensively it's hard to put a small on him - he can overpower you inside with his post game. Second shots. He's got a good 17-foot shot, it's not like you can disregard him. You've got to pay attention to him. He's critical for our team."

Gibson posted eight points on 3-of-5 shooting and five rebounds in 28 minutes in the Bulls' Game 1 victory in Cleveland.


Wizards' John Wall to seek another opinion for 'really bad' wrist sprain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Wizards guard John Wall told reporters he's dealing with a "really bad sprain" in his wrist, which has given him trouble dribbling the ball the way he is accustomed to, per the team's official website.

Wall's injury stemmed from a nasty fall in Game 1 against Atlanta. He consulted with team doctors and opted to sit out Game 2. In his absence, Ramon Sessions got the start and scored a playoff career-high 21 points, but it wasn't enough as Washington dropped Game 2, 106-90.

According to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, Wall reiterated that his wrist isn't broken, and that he is expected to get another opinion back in Washington before the team determines a course of treatment.

The Wizards have until Saturday before determining his status for a pivotal Game 3 in Washington. The series is tied 1-1 through two games.


 
 
 
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