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Offseason Extra: The NBA draft's Fantasy impact

Fantasy Writer
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This year's NBA draft was the kind that makes you happy if you didn't have to stake your reputation on a mock draft. From the very first selection, everyone's draft boards were thrown into disarray and the surprises came pretty much nonstop for hours.

Even though the draft class was nearly universally agreed to be lacking in franchise-altering talent, you can count at least five teams that fundamentally altered their outlook moving forward with their actions at Barclays Center. Those impacts will obviously reach the Fantasy court, and it is up to Fantasy owners to determine in what ways the outlook has changed heading into the meat of the offseason.

What follows is a pick-by-pick breakdown of the Fantasy impact of each selection made in the lottery and how each affects not only the incoming rookies, but also the incumbent players whose roles those rookies might be altering.

1. Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
Fantasy Impact: High
This remains arguably the biggest surprise of an unpredictable draft night. Bennett landed in a pretty great spot with an elite, young point guard, but judging his Fantasy value isn't quite as simple as that statement might make it seem. The Cavaliers already have Tristan Thompson as a recent lottery pick at power forward. Both measured under 6-foot-8 at the combine, so it is difficult to see either shifting to center, which creates an immediate log jam at the power forward spot. Bennett is a skilled scorer who flashed three-point range in college, but the Cavs' current roster configuration doesn't bode too well for his immediate success. This selection makes such a big potential Fantasy impact as much for possibly unseating Thompson as anything else.

2. Magic select Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana
Fantasy Impact: Medium
The cupboard is pretty bare in Orlando and the rumors of an Arron Afflalo trade are only going to grow with Oladipo's selection. Oladipo flashed a greatly improved jump shot in his third season in college, but he could struggle with the transition to the longer three-point line, especially in an Orlando offense without a lot of other weapons. He's likely to be more of a defensive presence and secondary offensive option in the pros -- hardly the type of player Fantasy owners will climb over themselves to select.

3. Wizards select Otto Porter, F, Georgetown
Fantasy Impact: Medium
This is a great fit for Porter, though that might not be reflected in his stat line as a rookie. The Wizards have a tremendous young backcourt and Porter represents another fantastic building block with Bradley Beal and John Wall. He also steps into a position of relative depth for the Wizards. Washington has Trevor Ariza's big contract and a desire to bring Martell Webster back as a free agent, so Porter might not have much room to play huge minutes consistently as a rookie on a team that is looking to build off a strong second half to make a run to the playoffs. I think Porter could be looking at a similar rookie season to Golden State's Harrison Barnes a year ago.

4. Bobcats select Cody Zeller, F, Indiana
Fantasy Impact: High
Zeller was consistently productive throughout his college career and was one of the stars of the combine with his impressive athleticism. So his fall from grace in the eyes of many talent evaluators is a bit surprising. Zeller averaged 16.5 points per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field as a sophomore in college, and he definitely fits a need for the Bobcats as a scoring big man. There are concerns about his ability to finish consistently near the basket against defenders with NBA length, but the Bobcats have little reason not to give him playing time right away despite his flaws. Zeller should have no problem representing an offensive upgrade over what the Bobcats have been running out in recent years, given how much they leaned on the mediocre Byron Mullens. If Zeller is eligible at center, Fantasy owners might have a low-end starter on their hands at that shallow position.

5. Suns select Alex Len, C, Maryland
Fantasy Impact: Low
With the exception of possibly foreshadowing a Marcin Gortat trade, there is little for Fantasy owners to concern themselves with here. Len is considered a big-time project who is also recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his ankle. You'll find plenty of differing opinions on his long-term viability (Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore gave the Suns' an 'F' for their selection), but you won't find many out there who think Len can produce right away. Count me among that group.

6. Pelicans select Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Fantasy Impact: High
This is the pick that will have the biggest ramifications for Fantasy owners and it has nothing to do with Noel's ability to impact a game this season. The Pelicans selected Noel and immediately agreed to trade him to Philadelphia in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. This trade has far reaching implications, most notably for knocking last year's Fantasy breakout star Greivis Vasquez out of a starting spot and almost certainly out of New Orleans. Vasquez was one of the best Fantasy surprises last season, but he is now in Fantasy no-man's land until the Pelicans decide what to do with his future.

7. Kings select Ben McLemore, G, Kansas
Fantasy Impact: Medium
The Kings presumably have a plan now that the Maloof reign of bumbling incompetence is over, but it is a bit difficult to see where McLemore fits into their short-term plans. While Tyreke Evans is a restricted free agent, it would be a surprise to see Sacramento let the former Rookie of the Year walk away for nothing this offseason. With Evans and Marcus Thornton around and taking up significant chunks of cap space, there might not be a ton of room for McLemore to play, unless the team's makeup changes quite a bit between now and opening night. I personally love McLemore's ability to become a big-time contributor down the road, but I'm not sure this is the best fit for him in the present.

8. Pistons select Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Georgia
Fantasy Impact: Medium
Initially I thought this was almost as curious a fit as McLemore in Sacramento, with the Pistons already having Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey around to fill minutes at the shooting guard spot. Upon further investigation, however, Caldwell-Pope should end up seeing plenty of playing time this season, but it might take a while for that to come to fruition. Stuckey is in the final year of his contract, so the Pistons might play him early on to build up trade value before attempting to move him for something of value. If Jose Calderon returns as a free agent, Knight will likely continue to split his time between both guard spots as a sixth man. It might take a few months, but Caldwell-Pope will be in the starting lineup at some point next season.

9. Timberwolves select: Trey Burke, G, Michigan
Fantasy Impact: High
Burke's eventual landing spot, Utah, makes so much more sense than it did when Minnesota initially selected him. The Jazz are badly in need of a point guard and Burke is probably the best one joining the pro ranks this season. He is a solid scorer who can shoot the three well at a high volume, a skill that is sorely lacking on Utah's current roster. Burke rarely turned the ball over as a sophomore during Michigan's run to the National Championship game, an impressive sign for a point guard in college. Utah's roster is in flux with Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson entering free agency, but the franchise has young, athletic replacements ready to make Burke's landing as soft as possible if both should leave. He should be the starter from day one and is my early pick as the rookie with the most Fantasy value right away.

10. Trail Blazers select C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
Fantasy Impact: Medium
McCollum might be a bit redundant with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard around and the starting backcourt pretty much set, which is why a move to the bench is obvious. In most situations, that is a bad sign for a player's Fantasy value, but with Portland's bench so awful last season, McCollum could end up playing nearly 30 minutes per game even in that role. The Blazers had no problem playing Eric Maynor 20-plus minutes coming off a major knee injury and his skill set represents a much poorer fit next to Lillard than McCollum's does. They would be a bit small in the backcourt together, but don't be surprised if Portland runs both of them out there for stretches, as they did with Maynor at times. With four years of college ball under his belt and a 51.6 percent three-point rate last season, McCollum is going to be difficult to keep off the floor. He might be worth a look late in drafts for his immense scoring ability.

11. 76ers select Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse
Fantasy Impact: High
The Sixers' trade of Holiday made the drafting of a point guard the obvious move and there is little reason to think Carter-Williams will not take on a heavy load right now. The biggest issue is his poor shooting ability, as he is a solid athlete otherwise, and averaged 7.3 assists per game last season. In another situation, Carter-Williams might not be able to find much playing time as he learns to play defense at the NBA level and tries to figure out NBA defenses without a jump shot. In a total rebuild like Philadelphia appears to be engaging in, the team might just throw him out there and let him learn on the fly. That could be enough to make him worth a look for Fantasy owners.

12. Thunder select Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Fantasy Impact: Low
The majority of the centers in this draft are considered projects and Adams best exemplifies that. He averaged just 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, and his selection by a likely Finals contender is a clear sign that playing time will not come easy. It would be a big surprise if the soon-to-be 20-year-old from New Zealand lands on Fantasy radars at any point this season.

13. Mavericks select Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Fantasy Impact: Medium
Olynyk was immediately shipped to Boston, where he could end up being the Celtics' starting power forward during the midst of a rebuild. The Celtics have finalized a deal with the Nets that sends Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, in a major shift in organizational philosophy. Olynyk was one of the most efficient scorers in the NCAA last season averaging 18.1 points on 10.7 field-goal attempts per game. However, there are concerns about how his athleticism and lack of length will translate to the pros. I think Olynyk's diverse scoring touch should play well if given a large enough role, so his value hinges on what direction the Celtics choose to take. I wouldn't draft him in most Fantasy formats, but as he gets used to the NBA game, he could creep up as a worthwhile waiver-wire claim down the road.

14. Jazz select Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA
Fantasy Impact: Medium
Muhammad's fall from grace over the last year has been startling, but he might have landed in about as good a place as possible. The Timberwolves have needed a shooting guard for years and Shabazz could be able to step into the starting lineup eventually. Many of the concerns about Muhammad (specifically his lack of playmaking ability) are mitigated by ending up with an elite creator in Ricky Rubio. There are some concerns about Muhammad's shooting ability, but he did make 37.7 percent of his threes in college. With Rubio setting him up for spot-up jumpers and an established team around him to take pressure off, Muhammad could be a good fit. However, there simply may not be a ton of shots available for him right away, so Muhammad could end up being more of a role player, at least in the beginning.

The rest of the draft: The Hawks drafted a very talented point guard in Dennis Schroeder, a possible sign that they do not plan to retain unrestricted free agent Jeff Teague this offseason. ... Dallas acquired Shane Larkin via trade, almost certainly ending the Darren Collison era. ... With free agent talk heating up, the Knicks might have grabbed some J.R. Smith insurance in Tim Hardaway Jr. He could see solid minutes if Smith departs. ... Archie Goodwin might be the best shooting guard in Phoenix right now, but that team is such a mess, I wouldn't touch him until he proves himself. ... Erick Green and Tony Mitchell look like the two second-rounders most likely to contribute.

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Player News
Stephen Curry scores team-high 33, Warriors take 2-0 series lead
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored a team-high 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 5 of 11 shooting from 3-point range, in his team's 99-98 win over the Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Curry has stepped up his game even higher in the first two games of the series against the Rockets, scoring over 30 points in each while knocking down timely shots. He did turn the ball over six times on the night while adding six assists, three rebounds and one steal in 37 minutes in the nail-biter.

The Warriors will head to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.


Rockets' James Harden scores 38 in Game 2 loss vs. Warriors
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Rockets guard James Harden scored a team-high 38 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 6 shooting from behind the arc, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 99-98 loss to the Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Harden was magnificient for much of the night, but after the Rockets managed to force a missed shot with less than 10 seconds on the clock, they elected not to take their final timeout, racing down the court to try and take advantage of numbers. Harden found himself in a double-team and passed the ball away, but it was sent right back to him and he was unable to get a potential game-winning shot off before turning the ball over.

Harden also added 10 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and one block in the near triple-double. The Rockets head into Game 3 in Houston on Saturday down 2-0 in the series.


Rockets clear Dwight Howard (knee) to play in Game 2
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard will be able to play in Thursday's Game 2 matchup at Golden State, the team announced.

"I wanted to play, and you have to have some part of you that feels that you can contribute no matter what shape you're in," Howard said.

Howard was considered a game-time decision Thursday with a left knee bruise, which he sustained in Game 1. Howard was wearing a brace on the knee while warming up prior to the game.

The Rockets are 10-point underdogs at Golden State on Thursday.


Hawks' Paul Millsap 'wouldn't mind' guarding LeBron in Game 2
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) With Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll battling a knee injury, teammate Paul Millsap volunteered to guard LeBron James in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Millsap said he "wouldn't mind" guarding LeBron, per Cleveland.com.

After making the offer, Millsap admitted that me might be best used elsewhere. 

"We've got to be smart about it," he said. "If they've got (Timofey) Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in the game, more than likely not. Probably need to put a body on Tristan Thompson. Maybe if they go to a smaller lineup."


DeMarre Carroll injury may not get Hawks' Mike Scott more time
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) With Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll questionable for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals with a sprained left knee, it's natural to assume that forward Mike Scott could be in line for more minutes. 

Not so fast, said coach Mike Budenholzer. Carroll's injury status has very little effect on Scott's, Budeholzer said, because he considers Scott a power forward, per Bleacher Report.

Scott has not played in the last five games, but he told NBA.com that he was "healthy and ready to go." When asked about his lack of time on the court, Scott said, "You'll have to ask Bud about that."


Pelicans PG Tyreke Evans undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans underwent knee surgery Thursday, reports The Times-Picayune.

Evans was dealing with a deep bone bruise in his left knee during the first round of the playoffs.


Cavaliers' LeBron James: I played too much isolation in Game 1
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Cavaliers forward LeBron James wasn't happy with his Game 1 performance. Despite leading the Cavs to a 97-89 win with 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists, James blamed himself for Atlanta's fourth-quarter rally that cut an 18-point Cleveland edge to four points. 

"I allowed them back into the game with my offensive nonsense," James told Fox Sports Ohio.

Later, James explained, "In the fourth quarter, I played way too much isolation basketball, one-on-one basketball [with] a lot of the defenses set, and I was letting the clock run down way too much. I just had to take the shot or I was giving it to my guys late in the shot clock and they couldn’t do nothing with it besides shoot it or turn the ball over," per ESPN.


Rockets' Dwight Howard (knee) will be game-time decision Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard is considered a game-time decision for Thursday's Game 2 matchup at Golden State, reports NBA.com.

"He moved through about half [of] shootaround," coach Kevin McHale said. "He had a brace on. We'll see tonight."

Howard sustained a left knee bruise during the Game 1 loss Tuesday. Howard called the injury minor and was hopeful of playing Thursday.

"I believe it's going to be healed," Howard said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not going to try to worry about it too much try to prepare for tonight."

The Rockets are 10-point underdogs at Golden State on Thursday.


Mavs' Chandler Parsons unsure if he'll be ready for training camp
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons recently underwent knee surgery and he said he's not sure if he'll be recovered in time to participate in training camp, reports the Star-Telegram.

When asked if he had microfacture surgery on his knee, Parsons would not reveal the type of knee surgery he had.

"I don't think they want me to answer whether it was or wasn't," he said.


Cavs hopeful Kyrie Irving (foot, knee) will play in Game 2
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Cavaliers coach David Blatt said the team is hopeful guard Kyrie Irving will be able to play in Friday's Game 2 matchup at Atlanta, reports ESPN.com.

Irving has been dealing with a right foot strain and tendinitis in his left knee. He aggravated the left knee issue during Game 1 on Wednesday. During Wednesday's contest, Irving scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes.

The Cavaliers are 1-point underdogs for Game 2 at Atlanta.


 
 
 
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