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2013 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Team-by-team breakdowns

Fantasy Writer
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You don't want to take too much out of preseason action. It isn't meaningless, necessarily, but a lot of teams aren't going to look like their preseason versions once the ball tips off on opening night.

But that doesn't mean we should ignore it entirely. A lot of preseason action is about unproven players proving they deserve a shot in the rotation come regular season. And sometimes, a player's production during the exhibition schedule can change his Fantasy value, even in subtle ways.

I've gone across the league to take a look at how the preseason schedule is going so far, with less than a week until the schedule ends, to see how each team's Fantasy outlook might be shifting.

Atlantic

Boston Celtics: The Celtics are going to fire away from three-point range. That is the first takeaway you get from their preseason so far. Six different players have attempted at least two 3-pointers per game, including center Jared Sullinger, who attempted just five in 45 games as a rookie.

Brooklyn Nets: For veteran teams, it is hard to take much out of preseason. We know just about everything we need to know about the players on this team, though the fact that Deron Williams still isn't playing is something of a concern heading into the season. His ankle is one of the biggest injury concerns in the league at this point.

New York Knicks: This team has real questions to sort out about its frontcourt rotation. Andrea Bargnani has started each game at power forward, a good indication of the team's plans. Bargnani has not shot the ball well in years, and I don't see much of a Fantasy resurgence coming from him.

Philadelphia 76ers: This team is a mess, but they should have some solid Fantasy options. Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young lead the team in scoring, and new coach Brett Brown appears to have lifted Doug Collins' restriction on young shooting 3-pointers. That bodes well for his Fantasy value heading into the season.

Toronto Raptors: Remember when Rudy Gay had LASIK surgery this offseason that was supposed to help him overcome his shooting issues? The early returns are not particularly promising, as Gay is shooting just 4 for 14 from three-point range through five games. Jonas Valanciunas can be dominant, but touches have been hard to come by in the preseason, a trend we hope changes when the games start to matter.

Central

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose has looked excellent through four games, and the lone game he missed was due to routine soreness in his knee that proved to be a non-issue. Joakim Noah looks decidedly less great, having played in just one game due to groin issues. He has already been shut down for a week due to the injury, and the Bulls training staff's track record is enough to make me want to stay away from Noah in later drafts.

Cleveland Cavaliers: No sign of Andrew Bynum yet, beyond some closed practices and a bit of working out prior to one game. Until Bynum is cleared, there really is no reason to target him for Fantasy purposes, but I know his upside makes it hard to stay away. At the very least, nobody should expect him to be a Fantasy starter until we actually see him on the floor. That hasn't changed yet.

Detroit Pistons: One of the things I am most interested in seeing is how Andre Drummond's free-throw shooting evolves. He is currently at 57.1 percent after five games, which would be enough to make me think he can be a No. 1 center. Of course, I don't really believe in his ability to sustain that mark full time. He is also currently averaging fewer minutes per game than Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, a trend I expect to continue when the season begins.

Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger's numbers are bad, and he hasn't particularly looked any better than they would suggest. He is shooting just 31.8 percent from the field, and looks uncomfortable in his return from knee surgery. My expectations are low at this point, especially with head coach Frank Vogel talking about Granger like a sixth man.

Milwaukee Bucks: There are a lot of new faces in the Bucks' rotation, and it is hard to know exactly how much of the preseason rotation will carry forward to the regular season. But one person to keep an eye on is second-year forward John Henson, who has stepped into the starting lineup in Ersan Ilyasova's absence. If Ilyasova is out, Henson could be worth starting early in the season.

Southeast

Miami Heat: This is probably the least intriguing team in the league from a Fantasy perspective Even with Dwyane Wade's age and injury concerns leading to an expected drop in playing time, there isn't much in the way of breakout potential. The preseason is almost meaningless in Miami, but we are seeing James Jones play more than he has in recent years, likely as a result of the absence of Mike Miller. He could be a cheap option for 3-pointers in deeper leagues.

Atlanta Hawks: There isn't much to see here either, though the Hawks certainly do have more potential Fantasy options here than in Miami. DeMarre Carroll has surprisingly been sat starter at small forward, and is averaging 12.0 points per game, so he could end up being a sleeper this season.

Charlotte Bobcats: This team is supposed to be built around Al Jefferson's offense in the post, but an ankle injury has all but robbed us of the chance to watch how the team plays around him. Jefferson has played in just two preseason games. One player we might be able to write off already is MIchael Kidd-Gilchrist. He did not fill up the box score as much as we expected as a rookie,and the early returns on his reworked jumper are not promising; Kidd-Gilchrist is shooting just 32.1 percent from the field in five games.

Orlando Magic: This team has a ton of upside, but they are crowded at three of five positions. Maurice Harkless has started every game, and there is every reason to expect that to continue into the regular season. Beyond that, we don't know if Arron Afflalo or Victor Oladipo will start at shooting guard, and we have seen Kyle O'Quinn, Andrew Nicholson and Tobias Harris all see time as starters. Harris obviously has the most upside based on his strong performance last season, but the minute crunch worries me.

Washington Wizards: For the Wizards, it is all about Bradley Beal's development, along with how well he plays with John Wall. Wall is averaging 7.3 assists in just 27.8 minutes per game, while Beal is scoring 19.3 points per game, so things seem to be going swimmingly there. There isn't a ton else there for Fantasy owners to look at here.

Pacific

Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes' foot injury appears to have settled the position battle on the wings; Klay Thompson will start at shooting guard, and Andre Iguodala will be the small forward. Iguodala's scoring could fall off again this season, but Fantasy owners should expected him to fill the box score up well yet again as he continues to embrace his role as a team's Swiss army knife. He had 14 assists in the team's game Friday.

Los Angeles Clippers: This team is pretty much settled in the rotation, though they have not seen their full starting lineup play, as J.J. Redick has been sidelined by a thigh injury. Backup big men Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens are combining for nearly 40 minutes per game, a trend that surely won't continue in the regular season. I expect both DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin to average more minutes than they did last season.

Los Angeles Lakers: Everything here is waiting on Kobe Bryant's return from Achilles surgery. Nick Young is putting up big numbers as a gunner, averaging 13.3 points in just 23.8 minutes, and we might see more of the same from him until Kobe gets back. Pau Gasol has been the focal point of the offense in the exhibition games, and we definitely expect that to continue this season, as he tries to make up for a down year heading into free agency.

Phoenix Suns: Eric Bledsoe is the sexy pick on Draft Day because of his breakout potential, but you won't want to sleep on Goran Dragic. Freed from having to carry a woeful offense by himself, Dragic could thrive with a little less pressure on him. He is averaging 12.6 points in just 18.2 minutes per game in the preseason, before an ankle injury sidelined him. Dragic, Bledsoe and Marcin Gortat are the only Suns worth drafting in most leagues, and the preseason has given us no reason to change our expectations.

Sacramento Kings: We still don't know who the starting point guard will be, and Greivis Vasquez's recovery from ankle surgery has clouded that whole situation by limiting him to just two games. Surprisingly, rookie top pick Ben McLemore has yet to start in the preseason, so he might be looking at a sixth-man role to open the season. That could limit his Fantasy value at least initially.

Southwest

Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks don't have much depth in the front court this season, and an injury to Brandan Wright has certainly only made things worse at this point. Despite this, DeJuan Blair has been able to get just 13.7 minute per game in the first four games, a sign that the team might not be too high on him. He has sleeper potential based on his post production, but I wouldn't draft him at this point.

Houston Rockets: The big question remains, "Who will start next to Dwight Howard?" Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones have been so disappointing that Omri Casspi, added almost as an afterthought this offseason, has pushed his way into the battle. Casspi's offensive abilities probably makes him the most intriguing Fantasy option, but you'll probably want to wait it out and see who is most effective once the season starts. All three will be available on waivers in most leagues.

Memphis Grizzlies: Another team that doesn't exactly have a plethora of Fantasy options beyond their high-end options. One interesting development has been the play of Quincy Pondexter, who came on strong late last season as one of the team's lone three-point threats. Pondexter is averaging 12.3 points per game, and should see a decent amount of time between both spots on the wing. He has sleeper potential.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis has been tremendous in the preseason, and is clearly emerging as the team's star. What we haven't really been able to see is how the team's high-priced backcourt is going to play, thanks t injuries to Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. Sorting out the minutes and finding the right fit on the perimeter is going to be a hassle for coach Monty Williams, and that situation Evans, Gordon and even All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday somewhat risky Fantasy options until we see how everything gets sorted out.

San Antonio Spurs: For a team that treats some regular season games like the preseason, you can feel very confident in not taking anything from the Spurs. More than just about any other team, they just want to get guys out of the exhibition schedule without too many bumps and bruises. No player is averaging more than 20.8 minutes per game in the preseason, while 15 of 16 players are averaging at least 12. There is nothing to see here. Move along.

Northwest

Denver Nuggets: Based on the roster, this is technically the same Nuggets team that led the league in scoring last season at 106.1 points per game. The results, however, suggest a rascally different team, as Denver has put up just 91.0 points in four games so far. New coach Brian Shaw seems to want the team to slow it down this season, which could have a negative impact on the entire roster's Fantasy value. I am especially worried about Kenneth Faried, who does not seem to have a starting spot locked up, averaging just 16.5 minutes while starting two of four games.

Minnesota Timberwolves: This is another team without many question marks entering the season, but their small forward rotation is still a little unsettled after the injury to Chase Budinger. Corey Brewer has the starting job locked down, and it looks like Derrick Williams is the primary backup, averaging 13.3 points in 26.7 minutes per game. Unfortunately for Williams, reports came out this week that the team might be looking for some depth on the wings, as they still don't think he can play small forward full time. His upside is enough to make Williams worth drafting but it is still hard to see him getting enough minutes to be worth starting.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson is going to be asked to carry a heavy load with Russell Westbrook likely out for the first month of the season, and he is showing in the preseason at least that he can do so. Of course, he also showed that in last season's postseason. The bigger question mark remains Jeremy Lamb, who is averaging just 8.5 points in 30.0 minutes per game in four preseason games, while shooting 30.2 percent from the field. He is supposed to be a solid shooter, but that has yet to manifest itself into production. He has high upside as the Thunder's sixth man, but there is a lot of risk involved in investing a draft pick in Lamb.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers rebuilt their bench this offseason, but it didn't really change the Fantasy outlook of their roster too much. Their starting lineup is chock full of solid Fantasy options, and there isn't much beyond that, especially when CJ McCollum went down with a foot injury. Mo Williams is averaging 11.8 points and 5.3 assists per game off the bench in the preseason, and that sounds like what we should expect from him when the games start to count.

Utah Jazz: The biggest surprise from the Jazz so far has been that veteran Richard Jefferson appears to be in line to start at small forward. We assumed the Jazz would go young across the board with the starting lineup, but Alec Burks now seems likely to come off the bench as the sixth man. It is hard to blame them for that based on Burks' performance, as he is averaging 9.3 points per game on 9.3 field-goal attempts. If Burks can't take on a big role early, there might be only three Jazz players worth drafting from Day One -- Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

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Player News
Warriors recall Ognjen Kuzmic, James McAdoo
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) The Warriors have recalled center Ognjen Kuzmic and forward James McAdoo from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League, the team announced Monday.

The two players combined to score 31 points in Game 2 of the NBA D-League Finals Sunday, capturing a sweep in the best-of-three series to lead the Santa Cruz team to its first title. Both should be available for Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.


Report: Kevin Love getting second opinion on shoulder
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:23 pm ET) The status of Cavaliers forward Kevin Love's injured shoulder may be delayed as the player seeks a second opinion on the severity of the injury, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. 

Love, who dislocated his shoulder as he was tangled up with the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk in Sunday's game 4 victory, will be a free agent after the season and ensuring the shoulder will remain structurally sound is a critical bit of information for prospective suitors. 

Love was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday and initial reports suggested he may miss two weeks of action. 


Raptors' Casey: Kyle Lowry needs to reduce weight this summer
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:21 pm ET) Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Monday that guard Kyle Lowry has to get his weight back down this summer, TSN reports.

Casey added that Lowry came into camp in great shape but that the guard had trouble after returning from his injuries. Lowry delivered his second straight quality scoring season this year, finishing with an average of 17.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds.


Report: Celtics looking to deal first-round pick to dump Wallace
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:51 pm ET) The Celtics have stockpiled draft picks over the years, and they are hoping to use one of their first-round picks to sweeten a deal that would allow them to get veteran Gerald Wallace off their roster, per ProBasketballTalk.com.

Wallace is owed $10.1 million next season and the 33-year-old wasn't much more than a deep bench option this season for the Celtics. Boston, meanwhile, has up to 10 first-round picks in the next four drafts, making it worth the cost of taking on Wallace's salary. 


Grizzlies PG Mike Conley undergoes successful facial surgery
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:33 pm ET) Mike Conley underwent successful facial surgery to repair a fracture near his left eye on Monday in Memphis, per The Commercial Appeal

The injury occured when the Grizzlies point guard took an inadvertent elbow he took to his face in Game 3 of the team's series against Portland. 

Conley was already ruled out of Monday's Game 4, and team officials do not have a timetable for his return to the court, which could take several weeks depending on the severity of the injury. If he does return this season, he will have to wear a mask to protect the area around his eye.

Yahoo! Sports reports that once the swelling goes down in the next 48 hours, Grizzlies officials will have a better idea of a timeframe for a possible playoff return.  


Raptors' Patrick Patterson wants to start, accepts any role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 pm ET) Raptors forward Patrick Patterson indicated Monday that while he'd rather be a starter, he's OK with whatever role the team assigns him as long as he's playing, TSN reports.

"Of course I'd love to start," Patterson said. "What NBA player wouldn't want to start?"

Patterson played 81 games this season but made just four starts, averaging 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 26.6 minutes per game. He scored 10.3 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field during the playoffs as the Raptors suffered a first-round sweep at the hands of the Wizards.


Celtics' Jae Crowder diagnosed with ACL sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) Celtics forward Jae Crowder has been diagnosed with a left ACL sprain, the team announced Monday.

Crowder went for an MRI Sunday and met with a team doctor to discuss the results of the test Monday morning. He injured the knee during Sunday's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers on a hard foul by Cleveland guard J.R. Smith, who was ejected for the play.

Crowder appears to be on track for a normal offseason after avoiding a more serious knee injury, as he told the Boston Globe Monday that the injury will sideline him for only a few weeks. He averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 82 games between the Mavericks and Celtics during the regular season.


Jonas Jerebko considering return to Celtics, Brad Stevens
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:35 am ET) Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko said after the team's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers that a potential return to Boston to continue playing under coach Brad Stevens will weigh heavily on the impending free agent's thought process this offseason, MassLive.com reports.

"He's been the best coach I've had in the NBA," Jerebko said. "He leads this team very well, and he's a great coach, so he definitely weighs in a lot."

Jerebko played under four coaches with the Pistons in five-plus years before being dealt to the Celtics this season. He was able to play in the postseason for the first time in his career, and though the Celtics were swept, he indicated that the playoff experience meant a big deal for the young team.

"For a lot of guys being in the playoffs for the first time, now we know during the season where we want to be at," Jerebko said. "You don't want to be outside the playoffs when the season's over, because we want to be in this next year, and we want to take it further than we did last year. It makes the season important. Sometimes, you forget that every game matters. We want to do this again. I haven't felt like this in all my years in the league. I've had my ups and downs in this league, and making the playoffs with this team really gave me some motivation, and I just want to get back and get there again."

Jerebko averaged 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 18.2 minutes in 29 games with the Celtics.


Brandon Bass would welcome return to Celtics
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:01 am ET) Celtics forward Brandon Bass is set to become a free agent this summer, but he said after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Cavaliers that he would welcome a return to Boston, Basketball Insiders reports.

"I don’t know what the future holds," Bass said. "That’s up to (President of Basketball Operations) Danny (Ainge). But Boston’s been great to me over the last couple years, so it’ll be great for me to come back."

Bass averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 82 games for a second straight season.

"I thought I had a pretty good season. Based on how I started, I didn’t finish it anywhere near where I wanted to as far as the playoffs,” Bass said. "But it gives me great motivation to go back to the gym and improve my skills mentally and physically."

Bass averaged just five points and two rebounds as the Celtics were swept by the Cavaliers.

"It was a mental thing this playoff series," Bass said. "I just didn’t play well. I don’t have really any excuses. I prepared well, I just wasn’t able to perform in the playoffs like I wanted to."


Celtics' Kelly Olynyk denies trying to injure Cavaliers' Kevin Love
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Celtics center Kelly Olynyk was stunned that Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said he intentionally tried to injure Love on the play in which the forward suffered a dislocated shoulder Sunday, the Boston Herald reports.

"I thought it was a bush league play," Love said. "Olynyk was in a compromising position, had no chance to get the ball and it’s just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of the game and do that to someone. I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose."

Olynyk's opinion of what happened on the first-quarter play was in stark contrast to Love's words.

"That’s ridiculous," Olynyk said after Sunday's game. "I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else. He locked my arm up, I locked up his as we were fighting for a loose ball. You lock up arms all the time in this league."

Love is set to undergo an MRI Monday but is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks, which could keep him sidelined through the team's second-round matchup if not longer.

"I was definitely surprised (by what Love said)," Olynyk said. "In basketball, I don’t think anyone is trying to hurt anyone. For (Love), it’s very unfortunate. I know they’re trying to make a run right now."


 
 
 
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