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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
Bulls SG E'Twaun Moore scores career-high 19 vs. Thunder
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:09 pm ET) Bulls shooting guard E'Twaun Moore scored a career-high 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting in his team's 108-105 win over the Thunder Thursday.

Moore was already in the midst of a fantastic shooting night when, with the Bulls down one point and four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, coach Tom Thibodeau called a play for the fourth-year player. Power forward Pau Gasol took the inbound pass and immediately kicked out to Moore, who buried a three-pointer with a player in his face to put the team up two with two seconds to play.

Moore played 22 minutes in the victory, seeing 20 minutes of action for the first time since the end of December, and managed four rebounds, two steals and one block in addition to his excellent shooting performance. The Bulls will square off with the Pacers Friday.


Bulls PF Nikola Mirotic scores team-high 26 vs. Thunder
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:04 pm ET) Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic scored a team-high 26 points on 5 of 15 shooting, including 2 of 9 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 108-105 win over the Thunder Thursday.

Mirotic did a majority of his damage at the free-throw line, making 14 of his 16 attempts from the charity stripe. He's seen an increase in playing time over the last three games, averaging 26 points during that stretch. Mirotic also chipped in eight rebounds, two assists and one block in 34 minutes in the win.

The Bulls will look for a third straight victory Friday against the Pacers.


Thunder PG Russell Westbrook scores 43 vs. Bulls Thursday
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(11:00 pm ET) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 43 points on 14 of 32 shooting, including 3 of 5 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 108-105 loss to the Bulls Thursday.

While scoring 40 points can't be labeled a disappointment, Westbrook "only" racked up eight rebounds and seven assists, bringing his streak of four straight triple-doubles to an end. He also kicked in two steals while turning the ball over five times in 38 minutes of action.

Westbrook has delivered three straight performances with at least 40 points heading into Sunday's matchup with the Raptors.


Mavericks C Tyson Chandler in starting lineup Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:43 pm ET) Mavericks center Tyson Chandler (hip) is in the starting lineup for Thursday's matchup against the Blazers.

Chandler missed the team's previous three games with a hip injury, but coach Rick Carlisle said earlier Thursday that the center was "looking good" for the Thursday matchup. He has averaged 10.6 points and 11.7 rebounds in 56 games.

The Mavericks are 2 1/2-point underdogs in Portland Thursday.


Thunder rule center Steven Adams (hand) out of Thursday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:55 pm ET) Thunder center Steven Adams has been ruled out of Thursday's game at Chicago, reports The Oklahoman.

Adams has not played since Feb. 8 after undergoing hand surgery, but coach Scott Brooks sounded optimistic that Adams would be available to play in Sunday's game against the Raptors. Center Enes Kanter has been starting in place of Adams.

The Thunder are 1-point favorites.


Wolves waive Glenn Robinson in order to sign Justin Hamilton
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) The Timberwolves waived guard Glenn Robinson on Thursday, the team announced. 

With an extra roster spot, the Timberwovles signed center Justin Hamilton. Robinson is averaging 1.2 points in 25 games this season.

Hamilton was recently waived by the Pelicans after spending the season with the Heat. In 20 games this season, Hamilton is averaging 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds. Coach Flip Saunders said he likes what Hamilton can offer the team.

"He's got a unique skill set, size and a great basketball IQ," Saunders said. 


Lakers list Nick Young (knee) as questionable for Friday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:21 pm ET) The Lakers listed guard Nick Young as questionable for Friday's game at Memphis, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.

Young has missed the last five games with swelling in his knee. He has said he is targeting Sunday's game against the Mavericks to return. In 42 games, Young is averaging 13.4 points and 2.3 rebounds.


Celtics rule Avery Bradley (elbow) out of Friday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) Celtics guard Avery Bradley has been ruled out of Friday's game at New Orleans, the team announced.

Bradley sprained his left elbow during Wednesday’s contest, but he was able to play 36 minutes and score 13 points. Guard Isaiah Thomas could see an expanded role with Bradley out.


Mavs' Chandler 'looking good' to return Thursday; Parsons out
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:55 pm ET) Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said center Tyson Chandler (hip) is 'looking good' to play in Thursday's game at Portland, reports the team's official website.

While Chandler appears to ready to return, forward Chandler Parsons (ankle) will miss the next two games. The ankle injury has already caused Parsons to miss the last five games. Parsons said he hopes to return Sunday. Forward Richard Jefferson is expected to continue to receive an increased role with Parsons out.

The Mavericks are 3-point underdogs at Portland.


Wizards rule forward Kris Humphries (groin) out of Friday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:29 pm ET) Wizards forward Kris Humphries has been ruled out of Friday's game against the Heat, reports The Washington Post.

It will be the fourth straight game Humphries has missed with a groin injury. Forward Otto Porter has seen his role increase with Humphries sidelined.


 
 
 
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