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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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(12:29 am ET) Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic injured his ankle during Saturday's game against the Grizzlies, according to the Star Tribune.

Pekovic was limited to just 92 seconds during the second half due his ankle acting up. Pekovic has been dealing with the injury all season, but it flared up during the contest. He'll be re-evaluated on Monday. Pekovic played just 12 minutes, scoring one point. He pulled down four rebounds and had one block.


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Mayo missed the last two games due to the issue. He played 27 minutes in his return, shooting 3-9 from the field. He was 2-5 from beyond the arc, finishing with eight points. Mayo also added six rebounds, two assists and two steals during the contest. 


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Stoudemire took a blow to the face during the contest, and needed three stiches across the bridge of his nose. He was able to play 20 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds. 


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(2/28/2015) Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard posted a double-double on Saturday against the Suns.

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Nowitzki had been struggling from the field in recent games, including making just two of his seven shots Wednesday against the Hawks. He was able to turn things around Saturday, making at least 50 percent of his shots for the first time since Feb. 9. Nowitzki also tallied six rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.

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Nets PG Deron Williams scores team-high 25 vs. Mavericks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Nets point guard Deron Williams scored a team-high 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 6 shooting from behind the arc, in his team's 104-94 win over the Mavericks on the road Saturday.

Williams turned in his best scoring performance since early November in the win, his team's third during its eight-game road trip. He also kicked in six rebounds, two assists and one steal in 35 minutes. The point guard has played 33 minutes or more in each of the team's five games since the All-Star break after reaching that level just once in his first six games since returning from a January injury absence.

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(2/28/2015) Heat guard Goran Dragic injured his back during Saturday's loss against the Hawks, according to the Sun Sentinel.

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(2/28/2015) Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio posted a double-double on Saturday against the Grizzlies.

Rubio had a poor shooting night, going just 3-12 from the field. He hit one of his four three-pointers and sunk six of eight free throw attempts. Rubio finished with 13 points. Rubio made up for his poor shooting by getting his teammates more involved. He dished out 11 assists during the contest. Rubio also added seven rebounds and four steals. 


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(2/28/2015) Grizzlies center Marc Gasol posted a double-double on Saturday against the Timberwolves.

Gasol shot 11-14 from the field, though he missed his only three point attempt. He managed to sink five of his nine free throws, finishing with 27 points. Gasol was active on the boards, pulling down 11 rebounds. He added four assists and two blocks during the contest. 


 
 
 
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