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2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Early positional tiers

Fantasy Writer
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You want to go into your draft with a blueprint for how you want your team to look at the end. I'm not saying map out every step along the way along with each possible permutation, like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. You lead a busy life, I know. And you'll only end up frustrated when your buddy, who grew up a UConn fan, grabs Kemba Walker two rounds too early and ruins everything, as your buddy is wont to do.

But you do need to have something resembling a plan for what kind of team you want to draft. A lot will depend on where you land in the draft order, as well as the individual foibles and idiosyncrasies of your fellow drafters, but you can put yourself ahead of the competition anyway.

And you can still draw up a vague road map for how you want your draft to go in pencil, and your best place to start is with the following tier rankings. Each position is broken down, helping give you a feel for where different players fall across the spectrum of positional value.

You'll also get an idea of which players should be grouped together, which can help you anticipate runs on certain positions and get ahead of the curve. Don't be the person who has to react to everything -- be the trendsetter.

Guard

Guard is easily the deepest position on Draft Day, so there's no reason to really reach on anyone here. The top four are essentially interchangeable at this point, though it should be noted that Stephen Curry's unprecedented three-point shooting is threatening to break our Rotisserie scoring calculator, so bump him up a bit in those formats.

There are a few big injury question marks at this spot, especially in that second tier, where more than half of the 11 options carry significant concerns based on their recent past. Still, every Fantasy owner can be happy ending up with at least two players from the top three tiers, and there isn't a huge drop along the way like at other positions. The only problem this season might be a relative lack of breakout options. Guard is deep in the NBA and there isn't a ton of playing time up for grabs for younger players.

The Elite
Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Chris Paul (4)

The Sub-Elite
Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant (11)

The Next-best thing
Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Monta Ellis, Ricky Rubio, Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo (8)

The Fallback options
Goran Dragic, O.J. Mayo, Evan Turner, Klay Thompson, Greivis Vasquez, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton, George Hill, Tyreke Evans, Bradley Beal, Steve Nash, Kevin Martin, Arron Afflalo (13)

The Low-End Starters
Eric Bledsoe, Jose Calderon, Michael Carter-Williams, Jameer Nelson, DeMar DeRozan, Joe Johnson, C.J. McCollum, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, Jamal Crawford, Dion Waiters, Brandon Knight, Lou Williams, Eric Gordon (17)

The Late-Rounders
Vince Carter, Danny Green, Nate Robinson, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Mario Chalmers, Jarrett Jack, Thabo Sefolosha, Luke Ridnour, Gerald Henderson, Andre Miller, Marcus Thornton, Iman Shumpert, Tony Allen, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Beverley, Manu Ginobili, Ray Allen, Mo Williams (21)

Forward

If I could, I would put another tier between the Elite and Sub-Elites and leave it totally empty, in order to adequately illustrate just how big the difference is between LeBron, Durant and everyone else. Forward is also surprisingly shallow, which is why you might want to focus there early. You can wait until Round 8 or 9 for a third guard and still end up with a Klay Thompson or Bradley Beal. Wait too long at forward and you're looking at having to rely on unproven guys like Tobias Harris or an injury-prone Amar'e Stoudemire.

The Elite
LeBron James, Kevin Durant (2)

The Sub-Elite
Blake Griffin, Josh Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love (4)

The Next-best thing
Serge Ibaka, Tim Duncan, Paul Millsap, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chandler Parsons, Ryan Anderson, Chris Bosh, Nicolas Batum, Pau Gasol, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Dirk Nowitzki, David Lee, Zach Randolph (13)

The Fallback options
Derrick Favors, Ersan Ilyasova, Kawhi Leonard, Jeff Green, Luol Deng, Amir Johnson, Paul Pierce, David West, Kenneth Faried, Carlos Boozer, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Danny Granger, Shawn Marion, Amar'e Stoudemire (14)

The Low-End Starters
Wilson Chandler, J.J. Hickson, Gerald Wallace, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Andrei Kirilenko, Trevor Ariza, Jason Thompson, Otto Porter, Martell Webster, Jimmy Butler, Anthony Bennett, John Henson, Brandon Bass, Carl Landry, Derrick Williams, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino, Harrison Barnes (17)

The Late-Rounders
Taj Gibson, Danilo Gallinari, Josh McRoberts, Jared Sullinger, Elton Brand, Otto Porter, Thomas Robinson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Markieff Morris, Alonzo Gee, Matt Barnes, Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Rush, C.J. Miles, Dorell Wright, Michael Beasley, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis, Chase Budinger, Metta World Peace (20)

Center

This is actually a position of relative strength -- at least at the top. The league has moved away from the hulking, back-to-the-basket scorers of the 1990s and early aughts, but the new brand of quick, rangy pivot men has made big men easier to find. There's a lot of young talent here that you can bank on for breakouts, though the position becomes a bit scary once you start looking for that No. 2 guy in the middle rounds.

The Elite
Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson, Al Horford (4)

The Sub-Elite
Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, Roy Hibbert, Anthony Davis, Brook Lopez, Nikola Vucevic, Larry Sanders (7)

The Next-best thing
Nikola Pekovic, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Garnett, Joakim Noah (4)

The Fallback options
Marcin Gortat, Anderson Varejao, Andrew Bynum, Jonas Valanciunas, Tiago Splitter, Nene, Tristan Thompson (7)

The Low-End Starters
Enes, Kanter, Andre Drummond, JaVale McGee, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Hawes, Kelly Olynyk, Emeka Okafor, Robin Lopez, Glen Davis, Cody Zeller, Andrea Bargnani (9)

The Late-Rounders
Tyler Zeller, Kevin Seraphin, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, Andray Blatche, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bogut, Kosta Koufos, Jordan Hill, Timofey Mozgov, Samuel Dalembert, Meyers Leonard (12)

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Player News
Rockets center Dwight Howard doubles up Warriors in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard scored 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and pulled down 14 rebounds in Houston's 115-80 loss to the Warriors on Saturday.

It was Howard's 11th double-double in the playoffs this season and fifth in his last six games. Howard is averaging 16.4 points and 14 rebounds per game in the postseason. He and the Rockets will look to stave off elimination on Monday in Houston.


Warriors point guard Stephen Curry scores 40 points in blowout win
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Warriors point guard Stephen Curry scored 40 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field, including a blistering 7 of 9 from 3-point range, in Golden State's 115-80 win over the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

It was the second time this postseason Curry has scored at least 40 points and is averaging 29.9 points per game. Curry also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds in the game. Curry and the Warriors will look to close out the series and advance to the NBA Finals on Monday in Houston.


Rockets C Dwight Howard (knee) starting in Game 3
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5/23/2015) Rockets forward Dwight Howard is listed as a starter for Saturday's Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Howard was able to play in Game 2 on Thursday, but was listed as probable due to a nagging knee injury heading into action on Saturday.


Kevin Love does light workout for Cavaliers
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love was able to do a light workout on Saturday. 

Love is expected to miss the rest of the postseason with a shoulder injury. The Associated Press reported that Love was at the Cavs practice facility on Saturday and "got in some kind of workout, likely bike."


Pacers' Paul George still not 100 percent
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Pacers forward Paul George still isn't fully recovered from the broken leg that kept him out for much of the regular season. 

Appearing at the Indy 500 Festival Parade, George said he's doing "good" in his recovery from the injury, but he's still not at 100 percent. 

"Not yet," he said, per Vigilant Sports. "I’m working towards it though."


Kyrie Irving practices for Cavaliers, still questionable for Game 3
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving practiced on Saturday, wearing a soft sleeve on his injured left knee, per ESPN

Coach David Blatt said that Irving is still questionable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, per the Associated Press. Blatt said Irving's playing status would be a medical decision. The fact that the Cavaliers are leading the series two games to none over Atlanta will have no bearing. 


Hawks' Kyle Korver out for playoffs, may need surgery
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver suffered a high right ankle sprain in Game 2 and is out for the remainder of the playoffs, per the Journal Constitution

Korver's MRI on Saturday revealed a severe sprain, the team announced. He'll see a specialist to see if surgery is necessary. 

Korver averaged 12.1 points this year and led the NBA in 3-point percentage for the second straight year. 


Raptors' Terrence Ross has ankle surgery
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Raptors guard/forward Terrence Ross had ankle surgery on Friday to remove bone spurs and loose bodies, the team announced on Saturday. 

Ross had the procedure in Van Nuys, California and will rehab in Toronto. No timetable has been released. 

Ross averaged 9.8 points this season. 


Rockets' Dwight Howard's knee improving
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard said that his injured knee feels better than it did prior to Game 2, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Howard had 19 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes in Game 2. He said on Saturday, "I don't even want to think of it as an injury."


Knee of Hawks SF DeMarre Carroll 'must've felt good' Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll didn't feel well mentally after his team fell again to Cleveland at home Friday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. But he felt OK physically, which is saying something.

Carroll had to be helped off the court during the opener after taking a hard fall. A serious knee injury appeared likely, but he was diagnosed only with a bone bruise. Still, he was clearly not 100 percent and trying to hang with LeBron James on the court has a way of making knees not feel so good.

"I got out there, so I must've felt good," he said via cleveland.com. "But when you're a little kid, you dream of an opportunity to play in the Eastern Conference finals and playing against one of the best players in the world. I didn't care if I had one leg, I wasn't going to let his opportunity pass me by."

Carroll, however, expressed disappointment at the team effort, which inexplicably given the circumstances, was lacking.

"I don't know, man. I think we just came out flat," he said. "How does that happen? I don't know."


 
 
 
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