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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
Heat add Reggie Williams
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/16/2014) The Heat signed guard Reggie Williams to a free-agency contract last week, the team announced. Terms of the deal are not known.

Williams appeared in just three games for the Thunder last season, and has played 180 games over parts of five NBA seasons. He averages 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range for his career.  


Isaiah Thomas undergoes wrist surgery
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Suns newcomer Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Thursday.

Thomas dealt with a sprained wrist last season but was able to play through it on his way to a career year. An MRI in February revealed no ligament damage, which would indicate this latest procedure is nothing to worry about. The team expects him to be ready for training camp. 


DeMarcus Cousins avoids serious injury at Team USA practice
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins dodged a bullet Thursday when the MRI on his right knee came back negative.

According to Yahoo Sports, Cousins limped off the court during a Team USA training session after Anthony Davis landed on his knee during a scrimmage. Cousins later tweeted that he was "fine," helping to suppress any concerns of a serious injury. 


Pacers shopping Roy Hibbert, call Pistons about Greg Monroe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Pacers are shopping center Roy Hibbert, and they have called the Pistons regarding a potential deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe, Detroit Sports 105.1 reports.

There's no word about whether the Pistons would be interested in a Monroe-for-Hibbert spot, but they are pretty well set in the middle with Andre Drummond in the starting lineup. It's a rumor that seemingly has very little chance of coming to fruition.


Rockets sign Kostas Papanikolaou
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Rockets have signed small forward Kostas Papanikolaou .

Papanikolaou gets $4.8 million guaranteed in the upcoming season, with a team option of $4.6 million for the following season. He has been playing in Europe since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft.


Report: Greg Oden faces felony charge
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Free agent Greg Oden is facing a felony charge after allegedly attacking his former girlfriend after a night of drinking, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Oden is accused of punching the woman in the face three times and fracturing a bone in her nose, according to court documents. The felony offense carries a penaly of one-to-six years in prison.


Markel Brown out with broken hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Nets guard Markel Brown will be held out of basketball activities for four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced Monday.

Brown was selected 44th overall in this year's draft, and the Nets acquired him for cash considerations on the night of the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season at Oklahoma State.


Report: Wolves to swap Anthony Bennett for Thaddeus Young
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/8/2014) Though the trade can't go official until August 23, the deal reportedly struck between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will lead to another trade between Minnesota and the 76ers.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported early Friday that Minnesota, upon receiving Anthony Bennett from the Cavs as part of the Kevin Love trade, would then trade him for Thaddeus Young. The Timberwolves have been showing interest in Young since Love stated his desire to be traded.

Meanwhile, the 76ers want to move Young because he's entering his prime at age 26 and only has one additional year left on his contract. Acquiring Bennett would complete a core of young talent to develop over the coming years. Young was one of the most productive forwards in the league last year playing in Brett Brown's up-tempo offense, averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bennett, on the other hand, failed to make any impact what so ever but did show signs of growth during the Summer League. 


Landing in Minnesota should improve Andrew Wiggins' value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) The prize of the trade that ultimately sent Kevin Love to Cleveland will likely be the Timberwolves' acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins , assuming there are no unexpected changes in the deal the two sides agreed to.

If Wiggins does ultimately land in Minnesota, as expected, this should be a boon to his Fantasy value. Though Wiggins will have substantially less help as he makes the transition to the NBA than he would have in Cleveland, he is also likely to be much more of a featured option than he otherwise might have been.

Wiggins was likely going to be the third or possibly even fourth offensive option for the Cavs, and likely would have been so for some time, given the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on long-term deals. Now, the Timberwolves get to build around Wiggins as their long-term centerpiece, and he should be given plenty of rope as the team tries to navigate their upcoming rebuild.

Wiggins is raw, but still put up 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game as a freshman at the University of Kansas. There are some questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but he will at least have some help, in the form of point guard Ricky Rubio, who knows exactly how to set up teammates for shots they like.

Wiggins is mostly upside right now, but should be considered a second-round pick in all keeper-league Fantasy formats. In yearly re-draft leagues, he is more of a mid-round option at this point, albeit one with tremendous upside. 


Anthony Bennett a bit more intriguing following trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) After a rookie season that can be charitably described as lost, a change of scenery is probably the best outcome Anthony Bennett could have hoped for this offseason. He got that Thursday, with the news that the long-awaited Kevin Love trade has landed him in Minnesota.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick luckily doesn't have to join the Cavaliers with the pressure of replacing Love as the face of the franchise -- this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggin, will take that on. Bennett gets to join a Timberwolves team that can give him more consistent playing time than last year's Cavaliers afforded him, but which won't ask him to do more than he is capable.

Bennett might end up starting at power forward for the Wolves, though a bench role seems more likely at this point. He had a disastrous rookie season after entering the season out of shape, but appeared to be in better shape while playing with the Cavaliers during the Summer League in Las Vegas. He still shot the ball poorly in Vegas -- 42.6 percent from the field and just 4 of 16 from three-point range -- but Bennett looked much more capable during his time there.

Based on his rookie season, Bennett has a long way to go before he is contributing at a high level. However, Fantasy owners in deeper category-based leagues should consider taking a chance on the 21-year-old in the later rounds, because he will have the chance to earn a large role if he proves worthy. 


 
 
 
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