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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
Report: Rockets extend qualifying offer to PG Patrick Beverley
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) The Rockets have extended a qualifying offer to point guard Patrick Beverley, making him a restricted free agent, per BasketballInsiders.com.

Beverley, who sustained a wrist injury that prevented him from participating in the playoffs, averaged 10.1 points in 31 minutes per game last season, but shot a career-low 38.3 percent from the floor.


Report: Spurs talk trade with Cavaliers for C Brendan Haywood
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:59 pm ET) The Spurs have been discussing a deal with the Cavaliers that would land them forward Brendan Haywood, a league source had told the San Antonio Express-News.

That would free up cap space for Cleveland and allow the Spurs to shed his $10.5 million contract.

The 35-year-old Haywood has become more valuable for his contract than what he brings on the court. He played in just 22 games for the Cavaliers last season, mostly in garbage time.


Report: Pelicans determined to bring back C Omer Asik
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:28 pm ET) The Pelicans will push hard to bring back free agent center Omer Asik, sources have told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Asik struggled in the playoffs and is no offensive force, but he averaged 9.8 rebounds in just 26 minutes per game.


Report: Kings decline qualifying offer on F Derrick Williams
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:20 pm ET) The Kings will not issue a qualifying offer to disappointing forward Derrick Williams, according to KHTK Sports Radio. He will become an unrestricted free agent.

The second overall pick in the 2011 draft is likely to land on his third team after averaging 8.3 points in 20 minutes per game for Sacramento last season. He did shoot a career-best 44.7 percent from the field, but was called out by George Karl for his inconsistency.


Report: C Marc Gasol only interested in returning to Grizzlies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:00 pm ET) Grizzlies center Marc Gasol will not meet with other teams and is set to return to Memphis, league sources have told ESPN, which is reporting that he has already met with team officials to discuss a new contract.

Gasol is coming off his finest season, during which he was in the discussion for NBA Most Valuable Player honors. His production curtailed a bit down the stretch, but he still averaged 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in about 33 minutes per game.


Magic extend offers to forwards Tobias Harris, Kyle O'Qunn
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:51 pm ET) The Magic have extended qualifying offers to forwards Tobias Harris and Kyle O'Quinn, which makes them restricted free agents, per NBA.com. They can match any offer made to either player.

Harris started 63 games for Orlando last season and averaged 17.1 points in a career-high 34.8 minutes per game.

O'Quinn averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game.


Thunder deals bounced-around PG Luke Ridnour to Raptors
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:45 pm ET) Perhaps veteran point guard Luke Ridnour has finally landed at his ultimate destination. He has been traded from the Thunder to the Raptors for 2012 draft pick Tomislav Zubcic, who is not expected to join the team.

The Thunder can use the $2.85 million trade exception to acquire another player.

Ridnour has been swapped four times in a week. He has gone from Orlando to Memphis to Oklahoma City to Toronto.


Report: Trail Blazers likely to pick up option on C Chris Kaman
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) The Trail Blazers are primed to exercise their team option on center Chris Kaman, a source familiar with the situation told The Oregonian.

He will make $5 million next season if the team does follow through.

The 33-year-old Kaman averaged 8.6 points and 6.5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game last season.


Report: G Mike Dunleavy targeted by Cavaliers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) The Cavaliers are planning to pursue free agent guard Mike Dunleavy, sources have told ESPN.com.

Cleveland is desperate for depth, particularly in the backcourt, where point guard Kyrie Irving has been injury prone and J.R. Smith could leave in free agency. Iman Shumpert is also a free agent, but is expected to return.

Dunleavy would not only provide depth, but a keen outside shot that was lacking in the NBA Finals for the Cavaliers. He shot a fine 40.7 percent from beyond the arc this season and nearly 50 percent in the playoffs.

Sources, however, have also told ESPN that the 35-year-old Dunleavy is expected to stay in Chicago.


Cavaliers disappointing SF Mike Miller opts in for next season
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) In a move that came with all the surprise of the sun rising in the east, Cavaliers forward Mike Miller has exercised his player option for next season. He will earn $2.8 million, per the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Miller turned down a shot at free agency after a brutal year in which he played sparingly, averaging 2.1 points in 14 minutes per game. He was a frequent DNP, particularly in the playoffs, when he played just 64 total minutes for a depleted team that could have used his help.

The long-range specialist nailed just 32.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc for Cleveland.


 
 
 
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