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2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Updated positional tiers

Fantasy Writer
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Earlier in the offseason, I presented my positional tier rankings, broken down by the three standard positions: guard, forward and center. That is a useful starting point for getting yourself ready for the draft, but it also shouldn't be the end of your studies.

This is especially true for those of you in leagues that allow a bit more nuance in your roster construction. After all, many leagues allow you to differentiate between point guards from shooting guards or small forwards from power forwards -- you need to know how everyone stacks up there as well.

Use these tier rankings to get a better idea of how every player stacks up to his peers as you get ready to draft.

Point Guard

Much ink has been spilled over the last few years about the strength of the point guard position in the league, and that transfers over nicely for Fantasy purposes. Point guard is, without question, the deepest position available on Draft Day. The one issue is seven of the elite or sub-elite options carry somewhat significant injury risks -- only Brandon Jennings, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley come without baggage. Don't worry too much about that, because you still have fantastic options available all the way down the line, leaving plenty of depth for you to pick up a quality backup to handcuff your starter. This is the one position you can go any number of ways with on Draft Day -- load up on two top-10 players to make up for deficiency elsewhere or wait and pick up a John Wall type as a No. 1, a nice consolation prize. Either way, you can enter the draft room confident in picking up a strong option at this spot.

The Elite: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul

Sub-Elite: Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Derrick Rose

Next-best thing: Tony Parker, Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Ricky Rubio, Kyle Lowry

Fallback options: Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, Greivis Vasquez, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton

Low-end starters: George Hill,Eric Bledsoe,

Late-rounders: Jose Calderon, Michael Carter-Williams, Jameer Nelson, Trey Burke, Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, Nate Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Jarrett Jack, Luke Ridnour, Andre Miller, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Beverley, Mo Williams

Shooting Guard

Just as in the league itself, shooting guard is a position of weakness right now. Due to age and injury concerns, a lot of the formerly elite options have fallen off just a bit, and the next generation isn't quite ready to pick them up. One caveat: if you could guarantee 75-plus games of healthy Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, they'd slot right in behind James Harden, bumping Paul George down a bit. Unfortunately, injuries make investing a high pick in either one an extremely risky proposition. Once you get below the top-15 or so, you start to see a lot of specialists of one sort or another -- either shooters like Kevin Martin and Danny Green, or empty scorers like Jamal Crawford and DeMar DeRozan. Luck for you, the rest of your league-mates are picking from the same sad crop.

The Elite: James Harden, Paul George

Sub-Elite: Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Monta Ellis

Next-best thing: Andre Iguodala, O.J. Mayo, Evan Turner, Klay Thompson, Tyreke Evans, Bradley Beal

Fallback options: Kevin Martin, Arron Afflalo, DeMar DeRozan, Joe Johnson, Victor Oladipo, Jamal Crawford, Dion Waiters, Lou Williams, Eric Gordon

Low-end starters: Danny Green, J.J. Redick, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Gerald Henderson

Late-rounders: Vince Carter, Jared Dudley, Thabo Sefolosha, Marcus Thornton, Iman Shumpert, Tony Allen, Manu Ginobili, Ray Allen

Small Forward

Yikes. At least LeBron and Durant are great and Carmelo is pretty close, because it gets really ugly after that. Batum, Parsons and Gay are all solid players, to be sure, but they are hardly the near-elite options their ranking suggests. My tactic when targeting a small forward is to grab one of the first six early, because there are a lot of question marks beyond that point. That Kawhi Leonard, Gordan Heyward, Maurice Harkless, Jimmy Butler group has a lot of upside, but they're all a gamble you might not want to stake your team to.

The Elite: LeBron James, Kevin Durant

Sub-Elite: Carmelo Anthony

Next-best thing: Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons, Rudy Gay

Fallback options: Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward, Maurice Harkless, Thaddeus Young, Luol Deng, Paul Pierce, Jimmy Butler

Low-end starters: Otto Porter, Danny Granger, Tobias Harris, Shawn Marion, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Andrei Kirilenko, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Carlos Delfino, Harrison Barnes

Late-rounders: Gerald Wallace, Danilo Gallinari, Al-Farouq Aminu, Alonzo Gee, Matt Barnes, Brandon Rush, C.J. Miles, Dorell Wright, Michael Beasley, Chase Budinger, Metta World Peace

Power Forward

Power forward and small forward show how this type of exercise if all relative -- the elite power forwards can't touch LeBron and Durant and the mid-range small forwards barely register next to their power forward peers. This is a position with solid depth across the board, as it features some elite options as well as 20 or so players you'd have no qualms about starting every week. In a league where you are drafting by specific positions, this is one where you can take your time and still find a solid option while shoring up other positions of need. Take advantage of that when building your team, you can wait a few rounds and see only a minor drop-off in quality here.

The Elite: Blake Griffin, Josh Smith, Kevin Love

Sub-Elite: Serge Ibaka, Tim Duncan, Paul Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis

Next-best thing: Ryan Anderson, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, David Lee, Zach Randolph

Fallback options: Derrick Favors, Ersan Ilyasova, Jeff Green, Amir Johnson, David West, Kenneth Faried, Carlos Boozer, Tristan Thompson

Low-end starters: Amar'e Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler, Jason Thompson, Anthony Bennett

Late-rounders: John Henson, Brandon Bass, Carl Landry, Derrick Williams, Luis Scola, Taj Gibson, Josh McRoberts, Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger, Elton Brand, BIsmack Biyombo, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis

Center

The perception of the center hasn't quite caught up to reality for Fantasy owners. Rather than some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland where you have to fight for every precious resource, center is almost a position you can wait on at this point. It is deep with elite options thanks to some players who took the next step last season, as well depth. I could go as far down as 15 on the list before reaching a player I don't like, and even then only because of injuries. There is still more separation between the elite and non-elite here, but center is finally a position at which you can build a little depth.

The Elite: Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson, Al Horford

The Sub-Elite: Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Nikola Vucevic, Larry Sanders

The Next-best thing: Nikola Pekovic, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Garnett, Joakim Noah

The Fallback options: Marcin Gortat, Anderson Varejao, Andrew Bynum, Jonas Valanciunas, Tiago Splitter, Nene

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

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

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Player News
Warriors F Harrison Barnes scores 24 in Game 5 win over Rockets
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Warriors forward Harrison Barnes played one of his best games of the season in Thursday's 104-90 win over the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. 

Barnes scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, which included going 2 for 5 from behind the arc. He also made both of his free-throw attempts. Barnes got a lot of looks around the rim late in the game, scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter. 

This marked the most points Barnes has scored this postseason and the second-highest he's scored all year. His season high is 25, scored against the Hawks in a win on March 18. 


Warriors G Stephen Curry scores 26 in elimination win over Rockets
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:26 am ET) Warriors guard and NBA MVP Stephen Curry scored a game-high 26 points in Wednesday's 104-90 win over the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. 

The win eliminated the Rockets and advanced the Warriors to the NBA finals, where they'll face the Cavaliers. 

Curry made 7 of 21 shots from the field, which included going 3 for 11 from three-point land. It wasn't his best game given the number of shots he was forced to put up, but he came through with some clutch plays in the fourth quarter. 


Warriors F Andre Iguodala injures shoulder but returns to Game 5
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Warriors forward Andre Iguodala injured his left shoulder with under four minutes left to go in Thursday's 104-90 win against the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

Iguodala took a high forearm to his shoulder and neck area from Dwight Howard on what appeared to be somewhat of an attempt at a screen. Upon review, Howard was not called for anything more than an offensive foul. 

Iguodala was able to return to the game. He finished with six points, six assists and four rebounds. 


Warriors' Klay Thompson sustains right ear laceration, scores 20
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Warriors guard Klay Thompson left Wednesday's 104-90 win against the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals due to a right ear laceration.

In the fourth quarter, Thompson pump-faked to get Trevor Ariza in the air, who then accidentally collided his knee into the right side of Thompson's head. He was diagnosed with the ear injury and didn't need to be administered a concussion test, according to ESPN's Doris Burke. 

Thompson finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. This included making 4 of his 6 three-point attempts. He also had four assists and one rebound. 

Coincidentally, Ariza was the same player involved when Stephen Curry sustained a head injury during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Curry passed two concussion exams and was able to return to the game.


Rockets' Dwight Howard gets 7th playoff technical, could face ban
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard received his seventh playoff technical foul during Game 5 of the Western Conference playoffs against the Warriors. 

Howard clapped his hands near Warriors center Andrew Bogut before putting them on his chest in the first half. Bogut pushed them away and the two were called for a double technical.

The technical will be reviewed by the NBA league office. If the Rockets win, and the technical is upheld, then Howard will be suspended for Game 6. 

Howard finished the game with 18 points and 16 rebounds. The Rockets lost 104-90 and were eliminated from the playoffs. 


Hawks G Shelvin Mack to have surgery on separated shoulder
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Hawks guard Shelvin Mack separated his right shoulder and will need surgery to repair it, the team announced

Mack was injured with two minutes left in Game 4 against the Cavaliers on Tuesday. This season, Mack averaged 5.4 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. 


Hawks G Kyle Korver undergoes successful surgery on ankle
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Hawks guard Kyle Korver underwent successful surgery on his ankle, the team announced

Korver suffered a high ankle sprain during the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavaliers. Korver's recovery is expected to be about three months. 

This season, Korver averaged 12.1 points per game. The Hawks were swept 4-0 by the Cavs. 


Warriors F Marreese Speights (calf) out for Game 5
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) The Warriors will be without forward Marreese Speights for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Rockets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Speights is still rehabbing a right calf injury. 

Speights is apparently progressing and did participate in on-court activities. If the Warriors advance to the finals, perhaps Speights could be available to play. 


Hawks F DeMarre Carroll (knee) also has turf toe
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll was dealing with more than just an injured knee during the playoffs. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carroll was also dealing with turf toe, an injury that normallly take three to four weeks to heal. Carroll told the AJC that he was unable to do much with his left leg. 

"That’s why I kept getting shots blocked,” Carroll said.

After scoring 25 in the series-clinching win over the Wizards on May 15, Carroll only scored a combined 28 points in four games against the Cavaliers. 


James Harden said Rockets won't quit down 3-1 to Warriors
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Though the Rockets were able to win Game 4, they still face an uphill climb as their down 3-1 in the Western Conference finals to the Warriors. 

Even with the odds stacked against them, the Rockets don't plan on backing down in Game 5. Guard James Harden, who scored 45 points in Game 4, said his team will be up for the challenge once again Wednesday night. 

“We just don’t quit,” Harden said, via the Houston Chronicle. “No matter how down we look, we just don’t ever give up. It’s another case tonight where we have to win a tough one on the road. We have to be locked in.”


 
 
 
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