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31. Antonio McDyess - DET [PF]
Like an aging pitcher who loses the life on his fastball but learns to get by throwing junk and changing speeds, McDyess has re-invented himself as one of the most effective bench forwards in the league. He can’t jump out of the gym any more, but he can play effective help defense, score from 12 feet and in, and use experience and positioning to get more than his share of boards. He’s certainly an effective fantasy reserve, and he might have substantial upside and a bigger offensive role this season, depending on how Detroit decides to replace Chris Webber.
32. Ryan Gomes - MIN [SF,PF]
Gomes is a really solid, skilled player who gives up a lot of size and athleticism to most of the power forwards he’s matched up against, but who will never be out-worked. It probably doesn’t make a ton of sense for the T-Wolves to retain both Gomes and Craig Smith. If traded to a team that will use him as the first forward off the bench, Gomes might have decent fantasy value. In the meantime, it looks like he might be buried in Minnesota.
33. Shareef Abdur-Rahim - SAC [PF,C]
Abdur-Rahim’s fantasy value has dropped like a stone during the last several years. Once a top-30 pick and potential 20-and-10 man, he struggled to average half that – 9.9 points and 5.0 boards – for the Kings in 2006-07. He has the opportunity to launch a major comeback this season. New Sacramento coach Reggie Theus is expected to run an up-tempo offense that should suit ‘Reef far more than it will Kenny Thomas. Not to mention, Mikki Moore doesn’t project to be nearly as productive without Jason Kidd’s feeds.
34. Donyell Marshall - CLE [PF]
On paper, it was brilliant. Bring in Donyell Marshall to stand out on the three-point line and make defenses pay for collapsing on LeBron James. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. Marshall’s numbers have sagged across the board, and he’s yet to approach 40 percent shooting from downtown since arriving in Cleveland. Unless he makes sudden and significant improvements from his 2006-07 numbers of 7.0 ppg (his worst average since 1995-96), 4.0 rpg and 1.2 threes per game, he won’t earn him a spot on too many fantasy rosters.
35. Craig Smith - MIN [SF,PF]
It appears the T-Wolves have found a real second-round keeper in Smith. The forward out of Boston College played his way on to the roster, appeared in all 82 games and really impressed when Kevin Garnett was unavailable at the end of the season. He’ll likely serve as Al Jefferson’s primary backup this year, but we can envision alignments that put Jefferson and Smith on the floor together. However, with Jefferson, Smith and Ryan Gomes all playing power forward, we can also envision a trade.
36. Yi Jianlian - MIL [PF]
Yi is a seven-footer that moves like a guard and tests out great athletically. Unfortunately, he has a lot of unknowns. It’s always difficult to project how overseas competition compares with college as preparation for the NBA. If Yi does play for the Bucks, he has the skills to post numbers similar to Andrea Bargnani’s last year, only without the three-pointers.
37. Brandan Wright - GSW [PF,C]
Many thought Chris Mullin’s draft night acquisition of Wright in the Jason Richardson deal was simply a matter of gathering trade assets in the hopes of making a run at Kevin Garnett. Eh, not so much. While it’s still possible that Wright might be used to make a deal for, say, Jermaine O’Neal, it now appears that he’ll be yet another young athletic forward on a team loaded with ‘em. He might have a bigger role with Golden State this season if Mullin opts not to re-sign Mickael Pietrus.
38. Channing Frye - POR [SF,PF]
Not long ago, Frye was one of the untouchable prospects Isiah Thomas wanted to build with. But after a promising rookie season, Frye’s development stalled badly as a soph. Some theorized that he had bulked up too much and lost the touch on his jumper as a result. Others thought he was a bad fit on the floor with Eddy Curry. Either way, he’ll have an opportunity for a fresh start in Portland, likely as the first forward off the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge.
39. Anderson Varejao - CLE [PF,C]
Like teammate Daniel Gibson, Varejao made a name for himself with an impressive showing in Cleveland’s Eastern Conference Finals series against Detroit. He’s a restricted free agent who has generated some interest from a variety of clubs, but is expected back with the Cavs for next season. Assuming he returns to Cleveland, look for him in a high-energy, defense-and-rebounding role off the bench. As he improves, he may start to steal minutes from aging center Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Drew Gooden.
40. Mikki Moore - SAC [PF]
Before Moore’s career-making run with the Nets last season, who even knew he pronounced his first name “Mikey” like the Life cereal kid? A return to the Nets seemed like a safe bet, but Moore took Sacramento’s money instead. Without Jason Kidd setting him up for easy baskets, we expect Moore to fade back into fantasy obscurity shortly.
41. Joe Smith - CHI [PF]
The veteran Smith showed he’s still got some game, posting averages of 9.2 points and 6.7 boards in 25.1 minutes per game after being traded to Philadelphia. He parlayed that productive run into a two-year, $10 million contract with the Bulls, where he’ll provide some badly needed inside scoring. Of course, Smith isn’t exactly at the level of Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal or Zach Randolph – power forwards the Bulls have reportedly considered acquiring in the last year or so. However, that may be a sign that Chicago hopes to hand the job to Tyrus Thomas in the near future.
42. Eduardo Najera - DEN [PF]
Najera is an excellent insurance policy for an NBA team – he stepped up nicely when Denver’s front line was decimated by injuries. But with Nene in his second year back after ACL surgery and Linas Kleiza and even Kenyon Martin expected to contribute, Najera simply won’t play enough to merit a spot on most fantasy rosters.
43. Ike Diogu - IND [PF,C]
Diogu was touted as an NBA-ready big man coming out of Arizona State, but he fell behind the likes of Andris Biedrins and Matt Barnes in Golden State and now Jermaine O’Neal in Indiana. It might take a trade of O’Neal for Diogu to make “the leap,” but there’s basically a new trade rumor involving O’Neal in the papers every day.
44. Kenny Thomas - SAC [PF]
Thomas is another small-ish power forward who survives in the NBA by out-working opponents. He split playing time with Shareef Abdur-Rahim and, at times, Corliss Williamson, an arrangement which more or less eliminated fantasy value any of them might have had.
45. * Elton Brand - LAC [PF,C]
Brand ruptured his Achilles’ tendon during a workout on August 3. The injury will require surgery. Fortunately, there’s been a lot of improvement in treatment for this sort of injury. Unfortunately, however, the anticipated recovery time is approximately six months after surgery and rehab. Assuming all goes well, we’ll be looking at a return some time around the All-Star Game in mid-February. When drafting Brand, don’t make the mistake of considering his post-return numbers in a vacuum. Remember, you’ll essentially be picking a third of a season of Brand and adding two thirds of a season of whichever power forward you choose to start in his place until February. Make your projections accordingly.
* Based on 25 games.