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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
Wizards F Kris Humphries working to expand his range
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:28 am ET) Wizards veteran Kris Humphries has come to the realization that he might need to re-invent himself as a stretch forward to maximize his potential to remain a viable player in the NBA, according to CSNWashington.com.

And that means expanding his shooting range to beyond the arc.

That would be quite a departure for Humphires, who made two 3-pointers as a rookie and none since.

"I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff," he said. "I started working on it this year. I had a lot of success in the last month (practicing) and I was working on it every day."

Humphries was a forgotten man in the playoffs, playing just five total minutes after averaging 21 minutes a game in the regular season.


Hawks SF DeMarre Carroll wearing knee brace Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll, who is questionable for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night against Cleveland, is wearing a knee brace at shootaround, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Carroll sustained what was diagnosed as a knee bruise in the series opener Wednesday. The injury appeared far worse when he writhed in pain and was later helped off the court without putting any pressure on the leg.

His presence would be critical for Atlanta. Carroll is the team's leading scorer in the playoffs and is responsible for guarding Cleveland superstar LeBron James.


Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:19 am ET) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will be listed as questionable for Game 2 against the Hawks on Friday.

Irving did not attend the team's shootaround Friday morning in Atlanta, instead going to receive additional evaluation with the team's head physician. Irving received treatment following Wednesday's win, but the tendinitis in his left knee did not diminish.

Irving scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes in Game 1.


Free agent Knight sees future with Suns alongside Bledsoe
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:19 am ET) Suns guard Brandon Knight will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but a shared playmaker role next to Eric Bledsoe has him thinking about the long-term with the organization, per The Arizona Republic.

Knight, who can be signed to an offer sheet by any team in the league starting July 1, relished the opportunity to play alongside Bledsoe.

"I thought it was fine," Knight said. "If Eric was a selfish guy, then I think it wouldn't work but both of us being pretty unselfish guys and really just wanting to win and also being familiar with each other, I think that helps the situation."

Knight averaged 17 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game this season -- the best statistical numbers of his career -- but hopes to continue to increase his role with the Suns.

"I'll continue to do the same things that I did this past year to continue to get better," Knight said. "For me, it's more of a team thing. I really want to try to push the guys on the Suns and this organization to be better, not just myself. I think true leaders make people around them better and that's what it's going to take for us to really take that next step. We've got to have each and every guy get better, not just myself but our entire team has to take steps this summer. It starts right now."


Stephen Curry scores team-high 33, Warriors take 2-0 series lead
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored a team-high 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 5 of 11 shooting from 3-point range, in his team's 99-98 win over the Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Curry has stepped up his game even higher in the first two games of the series against the Rockets, scoring over 30 points in each while knocking down timely shots. He did turn the ball over six times on the night while adding six assists, three rebounds and one steal in 37 minutes in the nail-biter.

The Warriors will head to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.


Rockets' James Harden scores 38 in Game 2 loss vs. Warriors
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Rockets guard James Harden scored a team-high 38 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 6 shooting from behind the arc, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 99-98 loss to the Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Harden was magnificient for much of the night, but after the Rockets managed to force a missed shot with less than 10 seconds on the clock, they elected not to take their final timeout, racing down the court to try and take advantage of numbers. Harden found himself in a double-team and passed the ball away, but it was sent right back to him and he was unable to get a potential game-winning shot off before turning the ball over.

Harden also added 10 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and one block in the near triple-double. The Rockets head into Game 3 in Houston on Saturday down 2-0 in the series.


Rockets clear Dwight Howard (knee) to play in Game 2
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard will be able to play in Thursday's Game 2 matchup at Golden State, the team announced.

"I wanted to play, and you have to have some part of you that feels that you can contribute no matter what shape you're in," Howard said.

Howard was considered a game-time decision Thursday with a left knee bruise, which he sustained in Game 1. Howard was wearing a brace on the knee while warming up prior to the game.

The Rockets are 10-point underdogs at Golden State on Thursday.


Hawks' Paul Millsap 'wouldn't mind' guarding LeBron in Game 2
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) With Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll battling a knee injury, teammate Paul Millsap volunteered to guard LeBron James in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Millsap said he "wouldn't mind" guarding LeBron, per Cleveland.com.

After making the offer, Millsap admitted that me might be best used elsewhere. 

"We've got to be smart about it," he said. "If they've got (Timofey) Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in the game, more than likely not. Probably need to put a body on Tristan Thompson. Maybe if they go to a smaller lineup."


DeMarre Carroll injury may not get Hawks' Mike Scott more time
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) With Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll questionable for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals with a sprained left knee, it's natural to assume that forward Mike Scott could be in line for more minutes. 

Not so fast, said coach Mike Budenholzer. Carroll's injury status has very little effect on Scott's, Budeholzer said, because he considers Scott a power forward, per Bleacher Report.

Scott has not played in the last five games, but he told NBA.com that he was "healthy and ready to go." When asked about his lack of time on the court, Scott said, "You'll have to ask Bud about that."


Pelicans PG Tyreke Evans undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans underwent knee surgery Thursday, reports The Times-Picayune.

Evans was dealing with a deep bone bruise in his left knee during the first round of the playoffs.


 
 
 
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