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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
Mavericks guard Devin Harris aggravates toe injury Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:41 am ET) Mavericks guard Devin Harris suffered a toe injury in Saturday's Game 1 loss to the Rockets. He played just 10 minutes and scored two points in the contest, but hopes to return for Game 2, reports the Dallas Morning News.

"The toe is pretty sore and I aggravated it during the game," Harris said. "We will have to continue to treat it and hopefully I'll be back. It remains to be seen and there are some things we have to figure out. We’ll see how it goes."


Spurs' Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter questionable for Game 1
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Spurs forward Matt Bonner (calf) and center Tiago Splitter (calf) are listed as questionable for Sunday's opening round game against the Clippers Sunday, the team announced Saturday. 

Bonner missed the final two games of the season with the injury while Splitter was out for the last six. The Spurs are currently 1-point underdogs against the Clippers.


Cavaliers assign Joe Harris to D-League
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Cavaliers have assigned guard Joe Harris to their D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, the team announced Saturday. Harris appeared in 51 games for the Cavaliers this season, averaging 2.7 points per game.

Trail Blazers list guard Arron Afflalo as doubtful for Sunday's game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Trail Blazers have listed guard Arron Afflalo as doubtful for Sunday's opening round game against the Grizzlies with a shoulder injury, the team announced. 

Afflalo missed the final three games of the regular season with the injury. If he is unable to go, CJ McCollum would likely fill in. Also listed on the injury report are Alonzo Gee (foot) as questionable, McCollum (ankle), Nicolas Batum (knee) and Chris Kaman (back) as probable.

The Trail Blazers are currently 5 1/2-point underdogs against Memphis


Pelicans G Tyreke Evans knocked out of Game 1 with knee bruise
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans was removed from Saturday's Western Conference Quarterfinals game against Golden State with a left knee bruise, according to the Associated Press.

Evans, who underwent minor right knee surgery last May, exited with 5:16 remaining in the first half and was taken back to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. He scored one point and grabbed one rebound before leaving the game. His return remains uncertain.

Evans said after the game he "felt a little pop" in his knee after a tangle for a loose ball, according to ESPN.com. He is scheduled for an MRI later Saturday.

Evans averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in the regular season. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from downtown in 79 games.


Hawks' Budenholzer on Mike Scott: 'We expect him to be available'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Hawks forward Mike Scott practiced again on Friday, and is expected to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Brooklyn on Sunday, Mike Budenholzer told reporters, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We expect him to be available," Budenholzer said.

Scott missed the last game of the regular season with a back injury. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds over 68 regular-season games.

Atlanta is a 10-point home favorite against Brooklyn, per VegasInsider.com.


Report: Brandon Knight underwent ankle surgery on Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Suns point guard Brandon Knight underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on Friday, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

The Bucks traded Knight to the Suns in a three-team trade, which also involved the 76ers sending Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks before this season's trade deadline. The injury kept him to 11 games after the Suns acquired him Feb. 19.

Knight averaged 17.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from downtown in 52 games with Milwaukee. In his 11 games for Phoenix, Knight averaged 13.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from 3-point range.


Mavericks' Chandler Parsons expected to start against former club
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Mavericks' Chandler Parsons (knee) is expected to reclaim his customary starting small forward spot for Game 1 of Western Conference Quarterfinals at Houston on Saturday, per the team's official website.

Parsons missed the last six games of the regular season with a knee injury. Parsons joined the Mavericks in the offseason after the Rockets failed to match the offer sheet submitted by the Dallas. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 66 games with Dallas this season.

"This series is much bigger than me going back there. It’s about us winning four games before they do," Parsons said.


Bulls G Kirk Hinrich ruled out for Game 1 vs. Milwaukee
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was ruled out for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Milwaukee, coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters, per the Chicago Tribune. Hinrich missed the last two games of the regular season with a hyperextended left knee. Thibodeau added that Hinrich was making progress and then "plateaued" and is "kind of stuck."

Chicago is an 8-point favorite at home on Saturday, per VegasInsider.com.


Grizzlies unsure if Jeff Green (back) will play in Game 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Grizzlies forward Jeff Green is considered questionable for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the team announced.

Green is dealing with tightness in his lower back. Green has been bothered by a back issue for most of April, but it did not cause him to miss any of the last regular-season games.

The Grizzlies are 4 1/2-point favorites.


 
 
 
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