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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
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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:23 am ET) Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson scored a career-high 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting while racking up a career-high 12 rebounds in his team's 114-109 loss to the Warriors Thursday.

Roberson played 34 minutes Thursday, his highest amount of playing time since missing two weeks in November with a foot injury. He managed to deliver his first career double-double Thursday despite not coming into the game with any double-digit performances in points or rebounds. He also managed three assists and one steal in the loss, which ended the team's seven-game winning streak. The Thunder will move on to face the Lakers Friday.


Thunder PG Russell Westbrook scores team-high 33 vs. Warriors
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(1:17 am ET) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 33 points on 11 of 30 shooting, including 3 of 10 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 114-109 loss to the Warriors Thursday.

Westbrook was tasked with filling the role of top scorer after Kevin Durant went down with an ankle injury in the first half. He responded by setting a season high in field-goal attempts while posting his third 30-point performance in the last four games. The point guard also tallied eight assists, three rebounds and two steals in 40 minutes but turned the ball over six times. The Thunder will square off with the Lakers Friday.


Warriors PG Stephen Curry scores team-high 34 vs. Thunder
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:14 am ET) Warriors point guard Stephen Curry scored a team-high 34 points on 14 of 24 shooting, including 5 of 12 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 114-109 win over the Thunder Thursday.

The Warriors saw their 16-game winning streak come to an end Tuesday but bounced right back in a tough matchup against the Thunder. Curry racked up nine assists, seven rebounds, four steals and one block in 42 minutes. He'll square off with the Kings Monday.


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(1:11 am ET) Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes will undergo a minor procedure to restraighten his broken nose Friday, Yahoo! Sports reports.

The Warriors are off until Monday after winning Thursday's game against the Thunder, leaving Barnes with the entire weekend to heal up for his team's next game. He scored 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 4 shooting from three-point range, Thursday against the Thunder, adding seven rebounds, two steals and one assist in 34 minutes.


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(12:43 am ET) Kings small forward Rudy Gay scored 20 points on 9 of 15 shooting in his team's 108-107 loss to the Bucks Thursday.

Gay was listed as probable to play Thursday due to Achilles tendinitis and logged 39 minutes in the game, just missing a double-double while picking up nine rebounds, six assists and one steal in the loss. The Kings are riding five straight losses into Sunday's matchup with the Lakers.


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(12:39 am ET) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins scored a team-high 27 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field and 11 of 13 shooting from the free-throw line while racking up 11 rebounds in his team's 108-107 loss to the Bucks Thursday.

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(12:35 am ET) Bucks point guard Jerryd Bayless scored 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 4 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 108-107 win over the Kings Thursday.

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Bucks SF Jared Dudley scores season-high 19 vs. Kings
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(12:32 am ET) Bucks small forward Jared Dudley scored a season-high 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting, including 2 of 3 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 108-107 win over the Kings Thursday.

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(12:28 am ET) Thunder small forward Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with a mild sprain of his right ankle and will not return to Thursday's game against the Warriors, the team announced.

Durant had X-rays on the injured ankle as a precautionary measure, but the tests came back negative. He appeared to roll the ankle late in the first half. Durant finishes the game with 30 points on 10 of 13 shooting, including 5 of 6 shooting from three-point range, with the 30 points representing a career scoring high for one half.

The Thunder have a quick turnaround to face the Lakers Friday. Coach Scott Brooks said after the game he was unsure whether Durant would be available Friday, Yahoo! Sports reports. Durant added that he doesn't think the injury is serious and that he had to be convinced not to return to action in the second half.


Thunder SF Kevin Durant suffers apparent foot injury Thursday
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(12:11 am ET) Thunder small forward Kevin Durant suffered an apparent injury to his right foot late in the first half of his team's game against the Warriors Thursday and did not join the team on the floor to start the second half.

Durant scored 30 points in the first half before the injury, shooting 10 of 13 from the field and 5 of 6 from three-point range (the 30 points represented a career high for one half). The apparent injury was to the same foot that suffered a Jones fracture earlier this season. The team has yet to give an update on his status.


 
 
 
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