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2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Roto specialists

by | Fantasy Writer
  •  

As the sport of basketball continues to evolve, we're getting closer to the day when everybody in the NBA does a little bit of everything. Centers shoot threes, point guards grab rebounds and small forwards dish out assists. These stat sheet fillers are great for Fantasy purposes, but in the Rotisserie format, there comes a time when you need someone who's great at one thing rather than good at several things.

That's where these guys come in.

Below is a list of players who aren't flying off draft boards, but should still prove useful in a long Roto season. Maybe Andre Drummond and Larry Sanders have you crushing the competition in blocks and rebounds, but you'll need a lights-out free throw shooter to make up for their deficiencies. Or maybe James Harden and Jrue Holiday are scoring in bunches but ruining your turnover category. Depending on how your season unfolds, you might think it wise to punt on certain categories in favor of maintaining others. But if you decide to try to maintain balance between all the relevant stats consider using one of the guys below to counteract your stars' weaknesses.

Scoring

Poster Boy: Nick Young, Lakers

Similar Options: MarShon Brooks, Celtics; Jordan Crawford, Celtics

This is for the scenario where you've filled your roster with team-first guys, who put up all sorts of numbers but might not be selfish enough to put you over the top in points. Enter Nick Young -- a guy who for 30 minutes per game is capable of thinking he's Kobe Bryant. His usage peaked between 2010 and 2012 with the Wizards, when he averaged more than 14 field goal attempts per game. Young should get back to those levels with the Lakers. When you look at the rest of his career stats, you see why he has had trouble sticking on a team and why he made it onto this list. He averages 1.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.5 steals per game for his career. So if you're comfortable in other categories, consider Young a cheap source of points on one of the more talent-deprived teams in the West. Somebody has to lead L.A. in scoring while Kobe's out, and Nick Young is just the guy to do so.

FG percentage

Poster Boy: Brandan Wright, Mavericks

Similar options: Nick Collison, Thunder; Kosta Koufos, Grizzlies

Some of the best Fantasy options have to take a lot of shots to succeed. This group of bigs should come in handy if the majority of your Roto production comes from inefficient scorers, such as Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Mavericks' backup Brandan Wright has the highest potential for blocks and points, but all three of these guys are good at only shooting from point-blank range. Wright's youth alone should garner him some playing time, as he'll be one of the guys backing up Drik Nowitki, who missed 29 games last season. Collison will likely lead these three in playing time, but his basketball value falls more into non-stat categories, like setting screens and swinging the ball. All three have hovered around the 60 percent mark the last two seasons, so consider them strong candidates to help revive your field goal percentage category.

Rebounds

Poster Boy: Reggie Evans, Nets

Similar options: Jason Thompson, Kings; Omer Asik, Rockets

Just because a guy is tall, doesn't mean he's a natural at snatching rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh both shoot a high percentage and can score, but neither is known for their rebounding. That's why you might pair them with Reggie Evans. This guy epitomizes the title of "specialist," and is in the league for only one reason: He's a scrap-tastic rebounding machine. If there's one thing the revamped Nets team will need, it's hustle, which Evans brings in droves. He grabbed 20 or more rebounds in nine games last year while averaging 11.1 boards in 24 minutes per contest. He's one of the few dirty work experts left in the league, and he should have plenty of opportunities to take out the trash on an older team with long-term aspirations. Once again, this is the only reason he'll see the floor, so consider Evans an "in case of emergency" option – only smash the glass if you're desperate, because his 10-15 boards will cost you in every other category.

Assists

Poster Boy: Shaun Livingston, Nets

Similar Options: Beno Udrih, Knicks; Pablo Prigioni, Knicks

After a year of isolation offense found them bounced in the first round to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, it's not a far cry to say the Nets could use some ball movement. Surrounded by proven scorers and finishers, Shaun Livingston finds himself in the perfect scenario to have one of his best years. The Nets added big-time shot takers in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, and their new coach has the second most assists in NBA history. With Deron Williams sidelined by ankle issues, Livingston is already showing some promise by leading the Nets in assists so far this preseason. Their third point guard, Tyshon Taylor, still has a ways to go before he's able to lead a playoff caliber lineup like Brooklyn's. Livingston's skill set makes him a good fit to help run the offense while Williams is hurt or resting. If you find yourself in need of assistance, you could do worse than a pass-first guy on a team of shoot-first veterans.

Blocks

Poster Boy: Greg Stiemsma, Pelicans

Similar Options: Bismack Biyombo, Bobcats; Terrence Jones, Rockets

Some big men score and grab rebounds, but don't do much for you in the shot blocking department – we're looking at you Kevin Love and David Lee. Luckily, there are a few guys in the league who earn a living solely on the defensive end. Greg Stiemsma is one of these guys. New Orleans brought him in to replace Robin Lopez, and the 6-foot-11 center has shown the ability to anchor defenses in the past. In his two years playing NBA ball, Stiemsma has averaged 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes, so a larger role with the Pelicans should improve his block totals. Biyombo is another one of these block specialists, but he'll be stuck behind Al Jefferson in the Bobcat's lineup, making him more of a desperation play. Terrence Jones, on the other hand, isn't your stereotypical block guy, but he's talented enough to swat a few while contributing to other categories.

Steals

Poster Boy: Corey Brewer, Timberwolves

Other Options: Avery Bradley, Celtics; Mario Chalmers, Heat

Fitting the mold of a steals guy, Corey Brewer has long arms, quick feet and a relentless motor on defense. He averaged 1.4 steals per game in a reserve role for the Nuggets last season, so that number should increase as he takes on a larger responsibility with the Timberwolves. Minnesota will again be without Chase Budinger, so Brewer is looking like a lock for the starting job. While he's always been an erratic, yet willing three point shooter, Brewer did shoot 49 percent from two-point territory last year, and sharing the court with Ricky Rubio should only help his scoring. The 6-foot-9 guard has the length to be a menace in the passing lanes and the quickness to finish at the other end, making him a nice option for steals and low-end scoring.

Free-throw percentage

Poster Boy: Chauncey Billups, Pistons

Similar Options: Francisco Garcia, Rockets; Jodie Meeks, Lakers

When you've made 89.4 percent of your 5,017 free throws, you've earned yourself the title of specialist. Chauncey Billups is the kind of fringe player you might want to own if you also start Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan or any other perennial free throw clanker. Billups is set to play a larger role, especially given injuries to fellow Detroit guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings. He's one of the most proven free throw shooters in the NBA, and should help out with a few steals and three pointers from time to time. Francisco Garcia and Jodie Meeks are two other free throw aces who can help you out with threes and points.

Three-pointers

Poster Boy: Randy Foye, Nuggets

Similar Options: Dorell Wright, Trail Blazers; C.J. Miles, Cavaliers

If the majority of your points are coming from stars like Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade or John Wall, chances are you're going to need some help from beyond the arc. Randy Foye finished 7th in the league last year with 178 made three pointers, making him a strong candidate to help out your Roto team from downtown this season. He'll be one of the Nuggets' few options for fire power off the bench, so one can reasonable expect him to keep pace with his last year, when he averaged 5.4 three point attempts per game. What separates Foye from other run-of-the-mill shooters is the fact that he can be a volume shooter and still hit at a high percentage. He'll likely be given the green light to fire away playing alongside non-shooter Andre Miller of Denver's second unit, so look for Foye if you need some help from deep.

Turnovers

Poster Boy: Steve Novak, Raptors

Similar Options: Matt Bonner, Spurs; Thabo Sefolosha, Thunder

When you consider the fact that Rajon Rondo, James Harden and Kobe Bryant led the league in turnovers per game last year, you can see why it might be hard to keep this number down while thriving in other categories. That's why you employ the help of these one-trick ponies (or two if you count Thabo Sefolosha's defense). All three of these guys take good care of the basketball simply because when they get it, they're usually sitting in the corner ready to shoot. Steve Novak is the Michael Jordan of not turning the ball over, averaging just 0.2 giveaways per game for his career. All three will help you keep turnovers down while giving a slight boost in shooting categories.

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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