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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: Celtics looking to deal first-round pick to dump Wallace
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:51 pm ET) The Celtics have stockpiled draft picks over the years, and they are hoping to use one of their first-round picks to sweeten a deal that would allow them to get veteran Gerald Wallace off their roster, per ProBasketballTalk.com.

Wallace is owed $10.1 million next season and the 33-year-old wasn't much more than a deep bench option this season for the Celtics. Boston, meanwhile, has up to 10 first-round picks in the next four drafts, making it worth the cost of taking on Wallace's salary. 


Grizzlies PG Mike Conley undergoes successful facial surgery
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:33 pm ET) Mike Conley underwent successful facial surgery to repair a fracture near his left eye on Monday in Memphis, per The Commercial Appeal

The injury occured when the Grizzlies point guard took an inadvertent elbow he took to his face in Game 3 of the team's series against Portland. 

Conley was already ruled out of Monday's Game 4, and team officials do not have a timetable for his return to the court, which could take several weeks depending on the severity of the injury. If he does return this season, he will have to wear a mask to protect the area around his eye. 


Raptors' Patrick Patterson wants to start, accepts any role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 pm ET) Raptors forward Patrick Patterson indicated Monday that while he'd rather be a starter, he's OK with whatever role the team assigns him as long as he's playing, TSN reports.

"Of course I'd love to start," Patterson said. "What NBA player wouldn't want to start?"

Patterson played 81 games this season but made just four starts, averaging 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 26.6 minutes per game. He scored 10.3 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field during the playoffs as the Raptors suffered a first-round sweep at the hands of the Wizards.


Celtics' Jae Crowder diagnosed with ACL sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) Celtics forward Jae Crowder has been diagnosed with a left ACL sprain, the team announced Monday.

Crowder went for an MRI Sunday and met with a team doctor to discuss the results of the test Monday morning. He injured the knee during Sunday's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers on a hard foul by Cleveland guard J.R. Smith, who was ejected for the play.

Crowder appears to be on track for a normal offseason after avoiding a more serious knee injury, as he told the Boston Globe Monday that the injury will sideline him for only a few weeks. He averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 82 games between the Mavericks and Celtics during the regular season.


Jonas Jerebko considering return to Celtics, Brad Stevens
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:35 am ET) Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko said after the team's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers that a potential return to Boston to continue playing under coach Brad Stevens will weigh heavily on the impending free agent's thought process this offseason, MassLive.com reports.

"He's been the best coach I've had in the NBA," Jerebko said. "He leads this team very well, and he's a great coach, so he definitely weighs in a lot."

Jerebko played under four coaches with the Pistons in five-plus years before being dealt to the Celtics this season. He was able to play in the postseason for the first time in his career, and though the Celtics were swept, he indicated that the playoff experience meant a big deal for the young team.

"For a lot of guys being in the playoffs for the first time, now we know during the season where we want to be at," Jerebko said. "You don't want to be outside the playoffs when the season's over, because we want to be in this next year, and we want to take it further than we did last year. It makes the season important. Sometimes, you forget that every game matters. We want to do this again. I haven't felt like this in all my years in the league. I've had my ups and downs in this league, and making the playoffs with this team really gave me some motivation, and I just want to get back and get there again."

Jerebko averaged 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 18.2 minutes in 29 games with the Celtics.


Brandon Bass would welcome return to Celtics
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:01 am ET) Celtics forward Brandon Bass is set to become a free agent this summer, but he said after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Cavaliers that he would welcome a return to Boston, Basketball Insiders reports.

"I don’t know what the future holds," Bass said. "That’s up to (President of Basketball Operations) Danny (Ainge). But Boston’s been great to me over the last couple years, so it’ll be great for me to come back."

Bass averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 82 games for a second straight season.

"I thought I had a pretty good season. Based on how I started, I didn’t finish it anywhere near where I wanted to as far as the playoffs,” Bass said. "But it gives me great motivation to go back to the gym and improve my skills mentally and physically."

Bass averaged just five points and two rebounds as the Celtics were swept by the Cavaliers.

"It was a mental thing this playoff series," Bass said. "I just didn’t play well. I don’t have really any excuses. I prepared well, I just wasn’t able to perform in the playoffs like I wanted to."


Celtics' Kelly Olynyk denies trying to injure Cavaliers' Kevin Love
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Celtics center Kelly Olynyk was stunned that Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said he intentionally tried to injure Love on the play in which the forward suffered a dislocated shoulder Sunday, the Boston Herald reports.

"I thought it was a bush league play," Love said. "Olynyk was in a compromising position, had no chance to get the ball and it’s just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of the game and do that to someone. I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose."

Olynyk's opinion of what happened on the first-quarter play was in stark contrast to Love's words.

"That’s ridiculous," Olynyk said after Sunday's game. "I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else. He locked my arm up, I locked up his as we were fighting for a loose ball. You lock up arms all the time in this league."

Love is set to undergo an MRI Monday but is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks, which could keep him sidelined through the team's second-round matchup if not longer.

"I was definitely surprised (by what Love said)," Olynyk said. "In basketball, I don’t think anyone is trying to hurt anyone. For (Love), it’s very unfortunate. I know they’re trying to make a run right now."


Warriors' David Lee (back) expects to play in second round
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:44 am ET) Warriors center David Lee is ready to return to action after missing the team's first-round sweep of the Pelicans due to a lower back strain, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Lee has seen a reduction in his role this season, as his averages of 7.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 18.4 minutes per game all fall far short of his production in his first four seasons with the team.

"Although I haven't gotten the minutes sometimes that I've wanted, coach (Steve) Kerr and the rest of the staff has been really cool about being upfront and honest about it and saying that it's circumstance," Lee said. "As a pro, it's my job to stay ready. This isn't about me. It's about our team as a whole, so it's not a big deal at all."

Though Lee didn't play in the first-round series, he was available for Game 4 if needed.


Celtics' Luigi Datome: 'Too early' to talk about future
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:21 am ET) Celtics forward Luigi Datome is headed for unrestricted free agency this offseason, but he said Monday it's "too early" to talk about his future plans, Sportando reports.

"It is too early to talk about," Datome said in a postgame interview with Gazzetta TV. "I will decide my future after I will get some offers during the summer. I expect to have proposals from both the NBA and European teams. Then I will sit and make the best decision for me and my career as I’ve always tried to do."

Datome saw the first significant action of his career after being traded to the Celtics, averaging 5.2 points and 10.7 minutes in 18 games with Boston.

"It was great to play for the Celtics and to reach the NBA playoffs," Datome said. "I had my first real chance in the NBA, after almost two years. It was great to wear the Celtics jersey.

Datome made three playoff appearances, seeing a total of 14 minutes of action while scoring four points on 2 of 6 shooting.


76ers' Nerlens Noel 'ecstatic' to play with Joel Embiid
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:12 am ET) 76ers center Nerlens Noel said Sunday that he's "ecstatic" to play with center Joel Embiid and that he things the pairing will be "something special," NBA.com reports.

"I’m ecstatic to play with Joel," Noel said. "I think it’s going to be something special. The chemistry we already have, and we haven’t even been on the court together, is something that’s great to have.

"I think things we need to work on, me personally, I need to continue to work on the shooting and be able to spread the floor a little bit, be able to knock down a 15-footer with more consistency. And as time goes on, I think Joel’s going to be good. He already has touch around the basket, and he can extend his game out to 15-footers, so I think it’s going to be very complimentary. Both of us having the ability to pass the ball, I think that’s going to be something that people don’t know too much about that’s going to help us a lot."

Noel averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.8 steals while shooting 46.2 percent in 75 games during his rookie season. Embiid missed the season while recovering from a foot injury.


 
 
 
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