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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
Timberwolves forward Anthony Bennett re-injures ankle Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:36 am ET) Timberwolves forward Anthony Bennett made his return to action Sunday after missing the last month with an ankle injury. The second-year forward resprained it a little in his 12 minutes of action, according to coach Flip Saunders per the Star Tribune.

"It felt good. It just got a little sore near the end, but I tried to push through," Bennett said after the game.

Bennett scored two points on 0 for 4 shooting from the field with two assists and one rebound in the contest.


Lakers forward Ed Davis to opt for free agency this offseason
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:29 am ET) Lakers forward Ed Davis is not happy with his role. So much so, he said Sunday he intends to test free agency this summer, according to the L.A. Times.

"Honestly, I don't like it," Davis said before Sunday's game. "I didn't ask to sit out or anything. I wanted to play 82 games this year. But, you know, it's not my decision."

Davis is averaging 8.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 71 games this season.

"Like I said, I wanted to play all 82," he said. "I'm going to support the guys and be there, stay professional and stay ready."


Suns G Brandon Knight may have reinjured ankle, doubtful for Monday
(1:02 am ET) Suns guard Brandon Knight may have reinjured his ankle during Sunday's loss as coach Jeff Hornacek said he is doubtful for Monday in Portland, reports the ArizonaSports.com.

Although he had no noticeable limp, Knight was slow to get up after missing a layup late in the third quarter of Sunday's game and did not return.

Knight had missed the past eight games before Sunday with a sprained left ankle.


Rookie Nick Johnson sees more time due to Rockets' mounting injuries
(12:41 am ET) With the injuries mounting, coach Kevin McHale will continue to increase the minutes of rookie guard Nick Johnson, according to the Houston Chronicle

Johnson played for more than 16 minutes off the bench in the Rockets' win on Sunday, more than he had in the six games combined he's played in since Jan. 2. 

“Nick’s a guy we’re going to play some,” McHale said. “We’re going to have to. We’re down on bodies. I’m comfortable with Nick."


Doc Rivers not surprised Celtics traded PG Rajon Rondo
(3/29/2015) Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was not surprised when point guard Rajon Rondo was traded to the Mavericks earlier this season, according to Boston.com.

Rivers coached Rondo for seven seasons before stepping down and taking over the Clippers in 2013.

"I didn’t know [if Rondo was going to be part of Boston's future]," Rivers said. "I think at the end of the day, it was more of a Rajon decision, in my opinion ... it was more his decision than [team president Danny Ainge) and the Celtics' staff."

The Celtics acquired forwards Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright, guard Jameer Nelson and a pair of future draft picks in the trade with the Mavs.

"I just think you get a feel for whether [Rondo] wanted to play it out [in Boston] or not, and when you're rebuilding you can't take that gamble of letting an asset out of the door and letting him become a free agent," Rivers said.


PF Markieff Morris posts 24 points in Suns' loss
(3/29/2015) Suns power forward Markieff Morris led his team with 24 points in a 109-97 loss to the Thunder on Sunday.

Morris also collected seven rebounds in the defeat.

G Russell Westbrook drops 33 points in Thunder's comeback victory
(3/29/2015) Guard Russell Westbrook provided 33 points, along with nine rebounds and seven assists, in the Thunder's 109-97 win against the Suns on Sunday.

Westbrook was 10 of 29 from the floor and also picked up three steals in the win.

G John Wall notches 25 points, 12 assists in Wizards' loss
(3/29/2015) Guard John Wall scored 25 points and missed a triple-double by two rebounds in the Wizards' 99-91 defeat to the Rockets.

Along with eight rebounds, Wall tallied 12 assists and was 11 of 12 from the free throw line.


G James Harden carries Rockets to victory with 24 points
(3/29/2015) Guard James Harden carried the Rockets Sunday, scoring 24 points and collecting six assists in their 99-91 win over the Wizards on Sunday.

Harden also added an important block for the Rockets. "I was surprised he got up there," Rockets teammate Dwight Howard said. "He's not known for blocking shots. That's what MVPs do."


F Chandler Parsons 27 points, 10 rebounds not enough for Mavericks
(3/29/2015) Forward Chandler Parsons scored a team-best 27 points but the Mavericks fell the Pacers on Sunday, 104-99.

Parsons also collected 10 rebounds in the loss.

 
 
 
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