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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
Hawks guard Jeff Teague scores 30 points in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Hawks guard Jeff Teague scored 30 points on 9 of 23 shooting from the field, including 3 of 8 from 3-point range, in Atlanta's 114-111 loss to the Cavaliers in overtime in Game 3.

Teague also dished out seven assists and pulled down six rebounds in the contest. His 30 points was a playoff career-high for Teague, who was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line. He and the Hawks will look to stave off elimination on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.


Cavaliers' LeBron James posts highest triple-double in playoff history
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers forward LeBron James scored 37 points on 14 of 37 shooting from the field, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range in Cleveland's 114-111 win over the Hawks in overtime in Game 3.

James also pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out 13 assists, recording his first triple-double in the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season. James is also recorded the highest totals for a triple-double in NBA playoff history with his performance. It was his 12th career triple-double.

James, who was noticeably banged up throughout the game, said after there was no chance at all of him missing Game 4. He and the Cavaliers will look to advance to the NBA Finals in Game 4 on Tuesday. 


Hawks F Al Horford ejected after Flagrant 2 foul
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/24/2015) Hawks forward Al Horford was ejected in the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday after committing a Flagrant 2 foul against the Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova

Horford, who was leading the Hawks with 14 points and four rebounds, was entangled with Dellavedova when he delivered an elbow to the Cleveland guard's head with 34.3 seconds remaining in the half. 

After the officials reviewed the foul, with Cleveland fans chanting Dellavedova's name, they decided to assess a Flagrant 2 to Horford, which results in an automatic ejection, and a technical foul to Dellavedova. 

A Flagrant 2 foul also warrants a one-game suspension, which could be huge for a Hawks team on the ropes and without guard Kyle Korver. 


Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving officially out for Game 3
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will not play in Game 3 against the Hawks on Sunday, the team announced.

Irving was considered a game-time decision for the contest while battling a foot injury. He was able to go through a pregame warm up and was hoping to give it a go. Irving also missed Game 2 because of the injury and is averaging 18.9 points and 3.6 assists per game in the playoffs this season.

The Cavaliers are currently 9-point favorites against Atlanta on Sunday.


Report: Cavs G Kyrie Irving not expected to play in Game 3
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is unlikely to suit up for Sunday night's Game 3 matchup against the Hawks. 

According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, Irving has been working out prior to the game but is not expected to play. Irving has a knee injury that has sidelined him. 

With the Cavaliers up 2-0 over the Hawks, Irving could very well sit as a precaution. Matthew Delavedova has played well of late in Irving's absence, which gives the Cavs the option of being careful with their star point guard. 


Hawks F DeMarre Carroll: Basketball is 'bigger than money'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll is expected to play again in Game 3 against the Cavs despite having a severely sprained knee that isn't close to 100 percent. 

Carroll is hitting the free-agent market after this season and could be in line for a big contract. However, if he re-injures the knee, Carroll could see his pricetag drop this offseason. 

However, given that the Hawks are in the Eastern Conference finals, Carroll would rather fight the pain and go for a championship than worry about his contract championship. 

“I’ve been getting a million calls and emails about me, why am I there, this might be the biggest contract of my life," Carroll said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz. "But at the end of the day this game isn’t promised to you. So whenever you’ve got an opportunity to play basketball, a lot of people say it’s bigger than money and it feels like that to me. I cherish this game and I want to be out there fighting, and if I have to fight on one leg, I’m gonna fight on one leg. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. Eastern Conference finals, playing against LeBron James. I don’t care if I have to do it on one leg, I’ll hobble out there.”

The Hawks trail the Cavs in the series 0-2. 


Warriors PF Marreese Speights (calf) out for Game 4
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(5/24/2015) Warriors power forward Marreese Speights will not play in Game 4 against the Rockets. 

Speights has been dealing with a moderate right calf strain, which has affected the rotation some. But it hasn't been too big of a deal because the Warriors lead the Rockets 3-0 in the series. 

Speights hasn't played since Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. 


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
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(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.


 
 
 
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