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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
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili to return for upcoming season
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:39 pm ET) Spurs guard Manu Ginobili announced via his Twitter that he would be returning to the team for the 2015-16, writing "Happy to announce that I'm coming back next season." Contract details between the team and Ginobili are still being finalized. 

Last season, Ginobili averaged 10.5 points in 70 games, while shooting 42.6 percent from the floor, the second-worst mark of his 13-year career. He said after the season, he would have to think about returning for another campaign. 

In his Twitter announcement, Ginobili closed with the hashtag #TDwouldvemissedmetoomuch, a reference to friend and teammate Tim Duncan, who recently announced he was returning to the Spurs for another year. 


Nets reach deal with forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(12:42 pm ET) The Nets and first-round pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, whom they acquired in a draft-night trade with the Trail Blazers, have reached agreement on a multi-year contract, per the Daily News

Hollis-Jefferson, who was picked at No. 23 before being dealt in exchange for center Mason Plumlee, will make around $1.3 million this year based on the rookie wage scale. He is playing for the Nets' summer league team in Orlando. 


PG Jordan Farmar signs with Israeli team
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:55 am ET) Point guard Jordan Farmar will try to revitalize his career in Israel, as he has signed a deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv per Sportando and the team's Twitter account. 

Farmar was released by the Clippers in mid-January after averaging 4.6 points on 38.6 percent shooting in 36 games.


Report: Drew Gooden likely to return to Wizards
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:45 am ET) Drew Gooden has been a valuable player off the bench for the Wizards during the past two seasons, and per a report by CSNWashington.com, it looks as if the team will try to retain him with another veteran mininum deal. 

Gooden made $1.4 million last season and proved his worth in the playoffs, shooting 46 percent from 3-point range. The veteran will be 34 next season and earned more minutes this year than in any other since 2011-12 while averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.


Thunder SF Kevin Durant says he'll be ready for hoops by August
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:17 am ET) Thunder forward Kevin Durant was a surprise observer at NBA Summer League action in Orlando this weekend, but was walking without a boot around his troublesome right foot and saying that he'll be ready for full basketball activities in August, per The Oklahoman

Durant underwent a third surgery on his foot in March, with a four-to-six month timeline for his recovery. He said he expected to be cleared by August, on the early end of the rehab scale. 

"We're close to Phase 3 now," Durant said. "A three-phase rehab. It's going well. I'm jumping when I'm shooting. I'm not quite running and cutting yet but I'm almost there. So it's going well. I'm excited."


Raptors ink PG Cory Joseph to four-year deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:56 am ET) Point guard Cory Joseph landed a big deal late Sunday, inking a four-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, per ESPN.com. 

Joseph served as the primary backup to Tony Parker with the Spurs for four years. San Antonio pulled a qualifying offer to Joseph in order to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, giving the Raptors the chance to move in on the reported $30 million contract. 

Joseph played in 79 games last season for the Spurs, averaging 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game -- all career-highs. 


Report: Mavericks targeting PG Jeremy Lin
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:42 am ET) Point guard Jeremy Lin, after an up and down season with the Lakers, appears to be a target of the Mavericks, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. 

The Mavericks still need salary cap in order to make the acquisition work, and could take part in a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers to accommodate the move. 

Lin, who earned $14.9 million last year, finished the campaign averaging 11.2 points and 4.6 assists in 74 games, including 44 off the bench.


Report: Kings, Omri Casspi agree on two-year, $6 million deal
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:57 am ET) The Kings and gree-agent guard Omri Casspi have agreed on a two-year, $6 million deal, according to Probasketballtalk.com.

Casspi averaged 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Kings last season.


Report: Pistons, PG Reggie Jackson agree to five-year deal
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:44 am ET) The Pistons and restricted free-agent guard Reggie Jackson have agreed on a five-year, $80 million deal, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The 25-year-old Jackson came to Detroit as a part of a mid-season trade last year. In 27 games for the Pistons last season, Jackson averaged 17.6 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Jackson turned down a four-year, $48 million-plus extension from the Thunder last year before he was eventually traded to Detroit.


Report: Lakers sign PF Brandon Bass
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) The Lakers continued their offseason makeover Sunday, reportedly reaching an agreement with free-agent power forward Brandon Bass, according to the team website. 

The durable Bass played his second straight 82-game season in 2014-15 for the Celtics, averaging 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds. The 10-year veteran has averaged 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds for four teams. 


 
 
 
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