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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
Report: Hawks recall Adreian Payne from NBADL
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET)
The Hawks recalled forward Adreian Payne from the NBA Development League on Monday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Payne has not appeared in a game for the Hawks this season.

Wizards guard Martell Webster is nearing return
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) After practicing in most of Monday’s practice, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said guard Martell Webster is inching closer to his return.

Webster has yet to play this season after suffering a back injury. Webster averaged 9.7 points for the Wizards last season. The Wizards next play Tuesday against the Bulls.


Report: Rockets appear to be leader for Josh Smith
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Sources indicated the Houston Rockets are the frontrunners to land forward Josh Smith, reports Yahoo Sports.

Smith was waived by the Pistons on Monday and is expected to clear waivers on Wendesday. If he clears waivers, Smith would be free to sign with any team.

The Rockets tried to lure Smith to the team when he was a free agent in 2013. Smith is also reportedly good friends with Rockets center Dwight Howard.

In addition to the Rockets, the Heat, Mavericks, Kings and Clippers have expressed interest in signing Smith.


Bucks unsure if Ersan Ilyasova will play Tuesday
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(3:01 pm ET) After practicing Monday, Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova is nearing his return and is hoping to play Tuesday against the Hornets, reports Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Ilyasova has missed the last nine games with a broken nose. In 19 games, Illyasova is averaging 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

With forward Jabari Parker out for the season, Ilyasova could see an increased role upon his return.


Wizards forward Paul Pierce expects to play Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) Despite missing practice Monday, Wizards forward Paul Pierce told the media he plans to play Tuesday against the Bulls, reports The Washington Post.

Pierce missed Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves with a toe injury, but was able to play in the next two games.

The Wizards are 3 1/2-point favorites.


Thunder forward Kevin Durant will be game-time decision Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:38 pm ET) Thunder coach Scott Brooks told reporters Monday forward Kevin Durant will be a game-time decision for Tuesday’s game against the Trail Blazers, reports ESPN.com.

Durant has missed the last two games after suffering a sprained ankle during Thursday’s loss to the Warriors and was not able to practice Monday.

Forward Perry Jones has replaced Durant in the starting lineup the last two games and averaged 6.0 points in those two starts.

The Thunder are 1 1/2–point favorites.


NBA fines Knicks' Samuel Dalembert $10,000 for elbow
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:26 pm ET) The NBA fined Knicks center Samuel Dalembert $10,000 for elbowing Rapotrs center Jonas Valanciunas during Sunday’s loss to the Raptors, reports the New York Post.

Dalembert was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game. He did not receive a suspension for the foul.


Clippers C Spencer Hawes remains out Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:50 pm ET) Clippers center Spencer Hawes will not be available to play Monday at San Antonio, reports the Los Angeles Times.

It will be the sixth straight game Hawes has missed while dealing with a knee injury. He is averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds over 17.0 minutes. His next opportunity to play will be Tuesday at Atlanta.


Hawks' Jeff Teague doubtful to play Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:40 pm ET) Hawks guard Jeff Teague is doubtful to play Monday against the Mavericks, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Teague has missed the last two games while dealing with a hamstring injury. Guard Dennis Schroder has been starting in Teague’s place. Schroder scored eight points and dished out six assists during Saturday’s victory over the Rockets.

The Hawks are 4 1/2-point underdogs.


Spurs upgrade Tony Parker to questionable Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:30 pm ET) The Spurs announced guard Tony Parker has been upgraded to questionable for Monday’s game against the Clippers.

Parker has missed the last five games while dealing with a hamstring injury. Guard Cory Joseph has been starting in Parker’s absence. Joseph is averaging 12.1 points over the last six games.

The Spurs are 1 1/2-point underdogs.


 
 
 
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