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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
Grizzlies guard Beno Udrih available to play Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Grizzlies backup guard Beno Udrih is available to play in Monday's Game 4 against the Trail Blazers, according to sideline reporter Rob Fischer.

Udrih, who is dealing with an ankle injury, sat out in Game 3 with an ankle sprain suffered in Game 2. Udrih averaged 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds this season.


Bulls forward Pau Gasol doubles up Bucks in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Bulls forward Pau Gasol scored 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field and 7 of 9 from the free throw line in Chicago's 94-88 loss to the Bucks, forcing a Game 6 in their opening round playoff series.

Gasol also pulled down 10 rebounds in the contest for his fifth consecutive double-double in the series. It's his longest double-double streak in the playoffs since the 2008-2009 season. He added four assists and two blocks to his totals.


Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams flirts with triple-double in win
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Bucks point guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field in Milwaukee's 94-88 win over the Bucks to force a Game 6 in their opening round playoff matchup.

Carter-Williams, who had a bit of an injury scare when he appeared to roll his ankle, came back into the game and finished with nine assists and eight rebounds in the contest. It was his third game in the series scoring in double figures and first in his playoff career scoring over 20.


Hawks guard Jeff Teague scores 20 points in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Hawks point guard Jeff Teague scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting from the field, including 1 of 4 from 3-point range, in Atlanta's 120-115 overtime loss to the Nets, tying their first round playoff series at 2-2.

Teague also dished out 11 assists for just his second career double-double in the playoffs. He also pulled down four rebounds and added two steals to his totals.


Nets guard Deron Williams ties playoff career-high with 35 points
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Nets point guard Deron Williams scored 35 points on 13 of 25 shooting from the field, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range, in Brooklyn's 120-115 overtime win over the Hawks to even the series 2-2.

Williams' 35 points tied his playoff career, which he set in 2009 with the Jazz against the Lakers. Williams also dished out seven assists and pulled down five rebounds in the contest. 


Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams leaves with ankle injury, able to return
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams was forced to leave Monday's game against the Bulls with an apparent ankle injury. Carter-Williams suffered a sprained right ankle and is available to return.

He landed awkwardly on Bulls forward Pau Gasol's foot and twisted his ankle. 


Report: Mavs' Chandler Parsons might require microfracture surgery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons could be in line for microfracture surgery on his right knee, according to a report from ESPN Dallas

It's not a definite as arthroscopic surgery is still a possibility. However, if microfracture surgery is required, the recovery period could last past the beginning of the 2015-16 season. Parsons' knee injury forced him to miss the remainder of the playoffs. 


NBA suspends J.R. Smith two games, Kelly Olynyk one game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) The NBA has suspended Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith two games and Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk for their actions in Sunday's Game 4 in Boston, according to ESPN.

Smith punch forward Jae Crowder in the head while jumping up for a rebound and was immediately ejected. Crowder landed awkwardly on his leg and was later diagnosed with an ACL sprain. He will miss the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Smith is averaging 9.8 points per game this postseason.

Olynyk grabbed forward Kevin Love's arm while fighting for a loose ball, dislocating his shoulder. He will serve his suspension to begin the 2015-2016 season. 


Cavs F Kevin Love (shoulder) out for conference semifinals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) The Cavaliers announced that they will be without forward Kevin Love for the conference semifinals, according to FOX Sports. 

Love dislocated his shoulder early in Game 4 against the Celtics. He was tangled up with Kelly Olynyk on a play that could now impact the next round. The Cavaliers will play the winner of the Bulls and Bucks series, with Chicago leading 3-1 at the moment. 

"Evaluation and imaging have defined the extent of the injury: an acute anterior inferior glenohumeral dislocation with the corresponding ligament/labrum tearing and humeral head bone bruising," the Cavaliers said in a statement. "Currently, Love is undergoing training room treatments while additional opinions are being obtained and treatment options being explored. Love will be unavailable for Cavaliers' upcoming Conference Semifinal playoff series and an update regarding his status beyond that will be determined over the next several days."  

It was previously reported that Love could miss up to two weeks at minimum with the injury. While Love is out for the conference semis, there's still a chance he could be back for the conference finals if Cleveland advances. However, nothing is certain at this time. 

After the game against Boston, Love voiced his displeasure at Olynyk's play. 

"I have no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose," Love said.


Rockets G Patrick Beverley able to shoot at practice
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/27/2015) Rockets guard Patrick Beverley was able to get up some shots at practice on Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle

Beverley is coming off of wrist surgery that could take up to four months to recover from. He was wearing a cast while shooting. There's a small chance Beverley could come back this postseason, but that could probably only happen if the Rockets reached the NBA finals. 


 
 
 
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