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2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Rookies breakdown

Fantasy Writer
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This year's draft class was considered one of the weakest in years. And the rookie class that emerged looks extremely underwhelming as the start of their careers looms.

Looking over the first-year players, I don't see anyone who has a chance to come close to Trail Blazers Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, who emerged as a top 10 Fantasy guard last season thanks to a combination of skill and team need.

A number of rookies could be looking at a Lillard-esque role this season, but it is difficult to see any of them stepping up and emerging as stars in the same way. Still, that doesn't mean you should overlook all of this year's class, even in yearly Fantasy formats. This is how I would rank the rookies at this point in the preseason.

Starting Material

Michael Carter-Williams, G, 76ers; Trey Burke, G, Jazz; Victor Oladipo, G, Magic

This trio of guards shares three things in common that put them above their peers at the start of the season -- they play for bad teams, they should get big minutes on those bad teams and they should have the ball in their hands a lot. All three showed they had a lot to learn in the Orlando Summer League, but they all play on teams that are likely to let them learn on the fly.

Oladipo is likely a step below the other two, due to the presence of Arron Afflalo, as well as the learning curve that will be involved with a defense-first guard attempting to learn to run an offense on the fly.

Burke and Carter-Williams will almost certainly struggle with their efficiency, though for very different reasons. Burke has nice shooting range, shooting 38.4 percent on five 3-pointers per game as a sophomore. He may struggle to finish in the paint in the pros, which was his biggest issue in the summer league. Carter-Williams, on the other hand, has the length to become a really good finisher inside, but has absolutely no jump shot at this point, while playing on a team that offers him very little help.

On the border

Ben McLemore, G, Kings; Kelly Olynyk, F, Celtics; Cody Zeller, C, Bobcats; C.J. McCollum, G, Trail Blazers

It says a lot about how I feel about this rookie class that I would not be surprised if any of this group was the best Fantasy option as a rookie. They do all, however, carry some significant barriers to reaching that point, hence their lower rankings.

McLemore and McCollum have more than enough ability to be starting Fantasy options, but the opportunities may not be there. Even with the loss of Tyreke Evans through free agency, the Kings are still loaded with guards, which leaves his role in doubt at this point. McCollum is a big part of the Trail Blazers' revitalized bench, but the presence of Mo Williams as the backup point guard severely limits his potential.

As for Olynyk and Zeller, they are undoubtedly skilled offensive big men -- and have been since college. Both should get plenty of chances to show that on teams that desperately need offense. Still, Zeller will likely have to spend a lot of time out on the perimeter with Al Jefferson around, which should hurt his efficiency and rebounding numbers, while Olynyk has lingering injury concerns, as well as questions about his athleticism transferring to the NBA.

I would certainly draft every player mentioned so far and expect them to stay on at least someone's roster for much of the season.

Reserves

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Pistons; Otto Porter, F, Wizards; Anthony Bennett, F, Cavaliers; Alex Len, C, Suns; Sergey Karasev, F, Cavaliers

This is the part of the class where I start to think about leaving players off my draft board. I have concerns about every player here, mostly due to their probable roles.

Bennett has the skill set to be a solid stretch-four in a modern NBA offense, and that is the role the Cavaliers see for him now. Unfortunately, he has to contend with the presence of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao ahead of him, while also possible lineups with Earl Clark at power forward. I'm simply not convinced the No. 1 overall pick is going to stand out in a deep Cleveland frontcourt.

Caldwell-Pope, Porter and Karasev all look likely to take on roles from day one on their teams, but perhaps not big ones. They all look like role players at this point, who will likely be more important to their actual teams than Fantasy owners.

The big upside play in this group is obviously Len, a project center with injury concerns who was nonetheless in the conversation for the top pick in the draft. Len has a lot of work to do and the Suns can ease him in with Marcin Gortat around. If Len shows he can play, however, don't be surprised if a Gortat trade opens up a spot in the starting lineup. His potential could make him worth stashing even if his play is lackluster during the first half of the season.

Sleepers

Shabazz Muhammad, F, Timberwolves: Seems destined for an extended stay in the D-League, but Chase Budinger's injury could end up giving him a shot.

Shane Larkin, G, Mavericks: Larkin has recovered from a broken ankle and is ready for the start of the season. He is third on the depth chart at point guard, though he is behind a couple of players with some injury concerns.

Steven Adams, C, Thunder: High-upside big man, but unlikely to make an impact this season. He might be worth snagging in dynasty formats as the eventual replacement for Kendrick Perkins.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks: He's long and athletic -- that pretty much covers what we know for sure about Antetokounmpo. He played at a lower-level league in the Greek league last season -- and is very raw -- but the Bucks expect him to be a stat-sheet stuffer down the road.

Nerlens Noel, C, 76ers: Noel is recovering from knee surgery and is likely to miss a big chunk of his rookie season. Still, the 76ers are bad enough that he'll get plenty of minutes when he's ready.

Archie Goodwin, G, Suns: Goodwin was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, but his freshman season didn't blow people away. Still, he's a talented scorer on a bad team with a knack for drawing free throws, and he could emerge as a starter later in the season.

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Player News
Warriors guard Klay Thompson needs to pass concussion protocol
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Former NBA player Mychal Thompson, the father of Warriors guard Klay Thompson, said his son is feeling better Thursday, but he needs to pass the league's concussion protocol before he can play again, reports the Associated Press.

The younger Thompson sustained a knee to his head during the Game 5 win over the Rockets on Wednesday. He suffered concussion-like symptoms after the contest.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for June 4 and Mychal said Klay is on track to play. 


Dwyane Wade's agent on contract talks with Heat: It's early
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) With the recent report indicating the Heat and Dwyane Wade are significantly apart in contract negotiations, Wade's agent said Thursday that there is still plenty of time to reach an agreement, reports the Sun Sentinel.

"It's relatively early," Wade's agent, Henry Thomas said. "He's had a tremendous career [with the Heat] and we're just trying to see whether or not there's room to continue that."

Wade has until late June to decide on whether to opt out of his contract, which would pay him $16.1 million during the 2015-16 season. He has spent his entire 12-year career with the Heat.


Hawks F Elton Brand undecided on retirement plans
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Hawks forward Elton Brand will take his time before deciding whether to return for his 17th NBA season, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I'll see if I have another year of trying to get prepared and what it takes to be on an NBA roster," Brand said Thursday. "There is a lot of work you have to put in… After two or three weeks, I'll know. See if I have that itch. This team I might not and just lay back on the couch. We'll see."

Brand, 36, averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 36 games this season.


Lakers G Wayne Ellington says his shoulder is healed
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) After missing the last two weeks of the season with a separated shoulder, Lakers guard Wayne Ellington said Thursday the injury has healed, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.

Ellington was able to play in 65 games before suffering the season-ending injury. He averaged 10.0 points, 1.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds.


Lakers F Julius Randle cleared for half-court workouts
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Lakers forward Julius Randle has been cleared for full-contact half-court sessions, according to ESPN LA 710

Randle, who broke his leg in the first game of the 2014-15 season, can now participate in half-court sessions of 2-on-2 and 3-on-3. As part of a gradual progression in his recovery, the next step will be for Randle to be approved to take part in 4-on-4 games. 

Randle is hoping to re-join his team for the NBA summer league. Though he broke his leg, Randle still hit the gym and lost 18 pounds during the season. 


Surgery not needed for Hawks F Paul Millsap (shoulder)
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Hawks forward Paul Millsap will not need surgery on his injured shoulder, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Injuries took a toll on the Hawks in the Eastern Conference finals as Millsap, Kyle Korver (ankle), Shelvin Mack (shoulder) and DeMarre Carroll (knee, toe) all experienced them. For Millsap, it's a good sign that surgery isn't required as he now has plenty of time to let his shoulder heal on its own. 

Millsap is expected to explore plenty of options in free agency. He finished the year with averages of 16.7 points, 7.8 rebound and 3.1 assists per game. 


Report: Hawks' DeMarre Carroll interested in playing for Knicks
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll has interest in joining the Knicks this offseason, according to a report from the New York Post

Carroll used to work out with Knicks coach Derek Fisher in Southern California, which is the reason for the interest. Carroll, in a contract year, had the best NBA season of his career, posting averages of 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. 

He also built a reputation has being a strong defender. Carroll is coming off knee and turf toe injuries that he played through during this past NBA Eastern Conference finals. 


Rockets' James Harden sets playoff record with 13 turnovers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Rockets guard James Harden committed an NBA playoffs record 13 turnovers in Wednesday night's 104-90 loss to the Warriors in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. 

The loss eliminated the Rockets from the postseason and advanced the Warriors to the NBA finals. 

"Unacceptable," Harden said, via NBA.com.

Harden, who was brilliant in a 45-point effort in Game 4, struggled throughout Wednesday's elimination game. He scored 14 points but only went 2-of-11 shooting from the field. He made 10 of 11 free throws and missed all three of his three-point attempts. 


Warriors' Thompson develops postgame concussion-like symptoms
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) The Warriors announced that guard Klay Thompson developed concussion-like symptoms after the team's Game 5 win over the Rockets, CBSSports.com NBA Insider Ken Berger reports.

Thompson "began to not feel well" after the game. The team also said that the guard was evaluated for a concussion after taking a knee to the head but did not exhibit concussion-like symptoms at the time. Thompson will have to pass concussion testing before being cleared for action in the NBA Finals.

Thompson scored 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting in his team's series-clinching win over the Rockets on Wednesday. Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for June 4.


Warriors F Harrison Barnes scores 24 in Game 5 win over Rockets
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) 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. 


 
 
 
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