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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
Thunder's Anthony Morrow adjusting to small-forward role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:34 am ET) Anthony Morrow signed with the Thunder in the offseason expecting to come off the bench as a backup shooting guard. However, he has been coach Scott Brooks' choice recently to fill the starting small-forward role with star Kevin Durant sidelined due to a foot injury.

"That’s something I’ve had to do in the past, gotten used to it," Morrow said of sliding over to the small forward, per The Oklahoman. "Guarding guys like Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette (at Golden State), I learned a lot from them early on. So a lot of times I’d be playing small forward my first couple years in the league."

Morrow said he has no preference as to starting or coming off the bench.

"Your physical preparation is the same," Morrow said. "But mentally, I’m the type of guy who wants to get off to a good start. So knowing if I don’t get off to a good start, I got the rest of the game to pick it up (helps). That’s something I had to (adjust to) over the years as I’ve started to come off the bench more."


Thunder have 'very realistic' expectations for Andre Roberson
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Thunder guard Andre Roberson is tasked with the responsibility of replacing Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup in 2014-15 after Sefolosha left for Atlanta in free agency. While Roberson is viewed to have similar defensive skills to Sefolosha, his offensive game is still a work in progress.

"Him and I have had many conversations on what I need from him on the offensive end. And they’re very realistic," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, per The Oklahoman. "I’m not throwing him out there to say, ‘On any given night I need you to hit 10 3s.’ That’s not the case. He just has to continue to compete on both ends of the floor and get better as the year goes on."

Roberson has appeared in all six preseason games, averaging 6.0 points on 48.3 percent shooting. He is averaging 27.5 minutes per game. Though, he has been hesitant to shoot from long range, as he has attempted only four 3-pointers.

"I got to stop hesitating and shoot it," Roberson admitted.


Stomach virus still has Nets veteran Kevin Garnett sidelined
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Nets forward Kevin Garnett was sidelined again during Monday's preseason game against the 76ers due to a stomach virus. The illness is also expected to keep Garnett out of Wednesday's preseason finale against the Celtics, per the New York Post.

"I don’t want to get into his personal bathroom habits," coach Lionel Hollins said with a smile, "But he’s been sick … sick enough to the point where he’s not playing."

The Celtics open the season Oct. 29 against Boston. Garnett should have enough time to recover before the season opener.


Anthony Davis sprains right wrist
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis sprained his right wrist during Monday's game against the Wizards, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Hornets G Lance Stephenson a late scratch Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Hornets guard Lance Stephenson was a late scratch Monday night against the Hawks in preseason action because of more groin soreness, the Charlotte Observer reports. Stephenson returned from the injury Sunday, so it appears as if the team is taking a cautious approach with their newly-acquired shooting guard.

The Hornets will open the season Oct. 29 at home against Milwaukee.


Mavericks' Raymond Felton making progress from ankle issue
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters guard Raymond Felton is starting to make some progress in his recovery from a right ankle injury, according to the team's official website. Felton suffered the injury Oct. 10 and was given a 10-day timetable for recovery.

"He's doing much better. He's walking, and that's good," Carlisle said. "He's progressing every day."

Felton will not play Monday against the Grizzlies and will have games to return in the preseason. If he is unable to return, he'll be sidelined until Nov. 6 at Portland due to a four-game suspension.


Spurs C Tiago Splitter's status for opener becoming uncertain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Spurs center Tiago Splitter's status for the regular season opener is starting to look cloudy, according to the San Antonio News-Express. Splitter will not play Monday against the Kings and will likely sit out the team's penultimate preseason game on Wednesday against Atlanta because of a strained right soleus.

The Spurs will open the season Oct. 28 against Dallas.


Spurs will re-evaluate Kawhi Leonard Tuesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters that forward Kawhi Leonard will be re-evaluated on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Leonard has been dealing with an eye infection that has spread to both of his eyes and will likely miss the remainder of the regular season.

"He had a really strong strain of whatever virus it is," Popovich said. "He's still out and they're going to re-evaluate (tomorrow)."

Celtics F Gerald Wallace still bothered by surgically-repaired knee
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Celtics forward Gerald Wallace was limited to only five minutes of game action off the bench during Sunday's 44-minute experimental preseason game against the Nets.

Wallace, who is working his way back from a knee bruise, told reporters on Monday that he's still dealing with discomfort whenever he pushes off or tries to explode off his surgically-repaired knee, according to MassLive.com. Wallace's role with the team also remains uncertain.

"It's just really whatever the team needs me to do," Wallace said. "I told them, if they need me, they need me, if they don't, they don't. I'm here. I'm always prepared and I'm ready to go whenever they give me the call to go in."


Suns C Alex Len takes part in Monday scrimmage
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Suns center Alex Len took part in a scrimmage for the first time since breaking his right pinkie finger and "did pretty well," according to coach Jeff Hornacek on Monday, per ArizonaSports.com. The Suns have three preseason games remaining before the start of the regular season on Oct. 29 against the Lakers.

 
 
 
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