Player Rankings: Power Forwards (16-30)
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16. Zach Randolph - Portland Trail Blazers
For the second year in a row, Randolph disappointed fantasy owners. Bothered by soreness in his right knee and clashing with his coach, Zach Randolph did not deliver on his promise of two seasons ago when he won the Most Improved Player award. He averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks on 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 71.4 percent from the field last year. Because Randolph is such a poor shot-blocker, he must have good percentages to retain his value. Last year he didn't. It was a season of regression, but Randolph is still young enough to reclaim his promise of a few years ago. He is a gifted scorer in the post and has the ability to hit 80 percent from the line. If he can embrace his new role as elder statesman on a young Blazers team, perhaps he can recover the love of fantasy owners.
Bottom Line: Randolph is a year and half removed from microfracture surgery on his right knee. If he has recovered physically and can mature mentally, Randolph still has good fantasy value. He is a risk on draft day, but even in a down year his scoring and rebounding remain impressive.
17. Emeka Okafor - Charlotte Bobcats
Limited to just 23 games last season, Okafor was unable to fulfill the hopes inspired by his strong rookie campaign. Even more troubling than the sprained ankle that refused to heal was Okafor's sharp regression in his field goal shooting. He fell from 44.7 percent as a rookie to 41.5 in his second season. Unsurprisingly, his scoring dipped as well: from 15.1 per game to 13.2. Okafor's defense and rebounding are good enough to give him value even if his percentages remain low. He should grab ten-plus boards a game plus two blocks and a steal. Okafor will vault up these rankings if he can get his shooting north of 45 percent from the line and 70 percent from the line. Staying healthy would help too.
Bottom Line: Okafor is a good gamble this year as he will slip some because of his injury marred 2005-06 season. Charles Oakley has joined the Bobcats’ coaching staff and could help Okafor to become an even stronger rebounder and defender. And if he improved his shooting, he could be scary next year.
18. Chris Wilcox - Seattle SuperSonics
Chris Wilcox finally got the playing time he needed to flourish in the NBA. Sitting behind Elton Brand in LA, it wasn't ever going to happen. Once he moved to Seattle, however, things changed quickly. After joining the Sonics, Wilcox averaged 14.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks on an eye-popping .592 shooting percentage from the field and .787 from the line. While the defensive stats are subpar, the offense and rebounding are of great help for fantasy teams. Because Wilcox put up his best numbers in just 29 games with the Sonics, he may get overlooked. He will be a starter this year, and his hops and great upper body strength will translate to a lot of points in the paint.
Bottom Line: A power forward who will average around 15 points and 8 boards with great percentages? Yes, I'll take some please. Wilcox should be available later in drafts, and you should be ready to grab him if he's there.
19. Troy Murphy- Golden State Warriors
Troy Murphy is a nice addition to your team in the middle rounds of your drafts. He is a proven rebounder and gives you three-point range from the power forward position. If your league counts double-doubles as a category, bump his value up, as Murphy racked up 34 last season, tied for eleventh best in the NBA. He will get you between 14 and 15 points to go with ten boards and a little less than one made three per game. Fine numbers, so what's the catch? No defense and a career average of 43.1 percent shooting from the field. That'll happen when you have no post game and rely on jumpers. To be fair, Murphy also has a deceptively quick first step and is solid from the stripe after being fouled. And it isn't every day you can draft a double-digit rebounder who can hits threes like he can.
Bottom Line: Troy will help your team get near the top in rebounding. Just be prepared for the occasional 1-for-14 nights from the field. They are part of the package.
Update: Don Nelson is bringing his unique style to the Warriors and in keeping with his small ball strategy, he is moving the 6'11" Murphy to center. Murphy seems happy to play in the middle. He should be. Most centers will have a hard time guarding him on the outside. On the flip side, Murphy figures to get punished inside by bigger, more physical centers. This move raises Murphy's value by granting him eligibility at a thin position. His threes will be a welcome asset from the center spot though his lack of blocks will not.
20. Drew Gooden - Cleveland Cavaliers
If inconsistency had a name, it might be Drew Gooden, whose stats yo-yoed from excellent to inconsequential from game to game last season. He was in a time share with Donyell Marshall all season and that hurt. Still, Gooden found ways to give himself fantasy relevance. His averages were solid: 10.7 points and 8.4 rebounds on 51.2 percent shooting from the field and 68.2 percent from the line in 27.5 minutes a game. If Gooden were to get his minutes in the low to mid-thirties, he would be a double-double threat every night. He has the skills, he just needs to stop being kidnapped from the box score every other game.
Bottom Line: Gooden is more valuable in a rotisserie league than in head-to-head. His up and down play can cost teams their H2H match-ups, whereas his averages will come out in the wash for roto teams. In the end it's all about the minutes. If he gets starter's minutes, the peaks will be higher and the valleys not so low.
21. Shareef Abdur-Rahim - Sacramento Kings
Shareef used to be fixture in top ten power forward lists. No longer. Injuries and reduced playing time have taxed his value. But remember this: at age 29, Abdur-Rahim is still in what should be his physical prime. Last year was his first season for the Kings and in 27 games before his jaw was broken in late December, Shareef averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks on 54.8 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the line. Those percentages are fantastic and should be repeated this year. Shareef will once again be battling with Kenny Thomas for minutes. If he can avoid a time share and get the minutes he got the first two months of last year, Shareef will be a steal.
Bottom Line: If he gets starter minutes again, Shareef will be a great option in fantasy leagues this season. If not, ouch. His rebounding was down, but his assists came up last year on the Kings. That trend should continue this year.
22. Kenyon Martin - Denver Nuggets
Martin's left knee was the main culprit behind the worst numbers of his career. Martin fell off his previous career averages of 15 points, 8 boards and better than a steal and block per game to 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks. His percentages were stable at .495 from the field and .712 from the line. There was some bad blood brewing between Martin and coach George Karl at the end of the season. If Martin works it out with Karl (or a head coach from another team) and can regain his former explosiveness, he should see his numbers return to their career norms.
Bottom Line: His greatest fantasy asset is his defense. Every year only about ten or so players average better than a block and steal per game; Martin is one who can.
23. Channing Frye - New York Knicks
After being called soft coming out of Arizona and largely dismissed in fantasy drafts last fall, Channing Frye made a lot people look silly. Frye is mobile, has a very nice mid-range game and is long. He showed that is going to be able to get his points in this league so long as he gets his minutes. Given that Isiah wouldn't trade him last year despite multiple offers and that Isiah is now the coach, Frye should get plenty of PT. Here are his numbers as a starter last year: 15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 83.3 from the line in 32.1 minutes. We can all use some of that.
Bottom Line: Frye needs to bulk up and work on his rebounding, but otherwise it's all pretty good. He shoots great percentages, scores, and even blocks a few shots. He's a great grab later in your draft.
24. Kurt Thomas - Phoenix Suns
Thomas should see decent minutes this year despite the fact that he will likely be coming off the bench. He will backup all three frontcourt starters for the Suns because of the positional flexibility enjoyed by all four players. That, plus the fact that the Suns may not load the minutes on Amare to start the season means Thomas should be playing more than 30 minutes a game. If he does, expect him to average close to a double-double with his always excellent percentages plus a steal and block per game.
Bottom Line: Thomas has value later in drafts. He can play both center and power forward in fantasy leagues, and his solid if unspectacular averages hurt you nowhere.
25. Marvin Williams - Atlanta Hawks
Taking the long view, the Hawks may yet get some credit for selecting Marvin Williams ahead of Chris Paul. It's hard to see now but if Williams' summer league play is any indication, this kid wants to make good on his number two overall selection in 2005. Make no mistake, Williams is a very talented young player. He is faster than most fours and too strong for small forwards. He has an excellent shot and has the ability to contribute in multiple categories. With Al Harrington out of town, the starting power forward gig is all his.
Bottom Line: Williams could be the definitive sleeper of the 2006-07 season. He won the MVP award in the Rocky Mountain Revue on the strength of his back to the basket game and all-around play. He shoots great percentages and has the chance to blossom as a scorer this season.
26. Donyell Marshall - Cleveland Cavaliers
Just like Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall's fantasy value took a hit with their time share last season. Donyell made matters worse by shooting an appalling 39.5 percent from the field. The main cause was that he lost his range from outside. The previous two seasons shot in the low 40s from behind the arc. Last year, he shot 32.4 from deep and took a lot of shots. Donyell retains some value because he still helps in threes made and rebounding. It was three seasons ago when he last averaged over a block per game, so don't expect that from Donyell. Instead, hope he gets more minutes and that he fixes his three point shot.
Bottom Line: Many fantasy owners will shy away from Marshall due to his performance over the last two seasons, so he’ll likely come at a discount price in this year’s draft. His potential to hit threes, rebound and block shots remain tantalizing but know he is unlikely to ever equal 2003-04's totals again.
27. Ryan Gomes - Boston Celtics
Though he has the height of a small forward, Ryan Gomes has the heft of a power forward. His surprising numbers last year point to the four as his more natural position. In the last two and half months of the season after Gomes became a starter, he averaged 12.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 0.9 steals on 51.5 percent shooting from the field and 77.6 percent from the line. He will compete with Al Jefferson for the starting power forward job, but if his summer league play was any indication, he should win it. Gomes has a great nose for the ball and has a polished game both in the paint and from mid-range. He could take another step this year, but even if he doesn't, he remains solid.
Bottom Line: Gomes is a great addition to teams in deeper leagues. He may get overlooked because he started only 33 games, depressing his totals, but he will deliver very solid numbers to whoever takes him.
28. Ike Diogu - Golden State Warriors
Diogu should get minutes one way or another this season. He will be the primary backup to Troy Murphy and if last year is any indication, he could get some starts at center when the match-up is right. Diogu has great footwork and post moves to go with albatross-like arms. He shoots high percentages from the field (.524) and the line (.810), so the offensive potential is there. He scored in double-digits in each of his last seven games last year. If he can stay away from the cheap fouls and use his long arms to improve his blocks, Diogu could really blossom this year. The Warriors will give him the opportunity; it's up to Diogu to take the next step.
Bottom Line: Take a flyer towards the end of your draft and you could have a gem of a sleeper. His offensive potential and toughness on the glass make him an excellent gamble.
29. Al Jefferson - Boston Celtics
Many experts picked Jefferson to break out last season. It didn't happen. Jefferson was hampered by a sprained right ankle and was never comfortable on the floor, especially on defensive rotations. His limited minutes (18 per game) and poor numbers will cause Jefferson to drop in this year's drafts. The other issue is that he is battling Ryan Gomes for the starting job. Jefferson has more upside, but Gomes has a more refined game and it showed in their summer league play. Don't write Jefferson off yet, however. His ankle wasn't 100 percent this summer and isn't expected to be until the start of the season.
Bottom Line: This year could be the breakout season for the young power forward. However, he needs to get his ankle completely healthy and play better defense to keep himself on the floor. If these things happen, this sleeper will finally awaken.
Update: Losing weight to add quickness seems to be the common theme in the NBA, and Big Al is the winner of this year’s Biggest Loser competition, shedding a whopping 30 pounds during the summer. Pounds like that just don’t come off without a serious work ethic, and Jefferson is earning the respect of his teammates and coach due to his dedication. Oh yeah, he’s also quicker on the defensive end and has noticeably increased his hops due to his hard work. Start moving him up on your draft boards, folks.
30. Udonis Haslem - Miami Heat
Udonis Haslem is consistently one of the more underrated fantasy players in the game. Yet for the past two seasons, he has averaged close to a double-double with great percentages. Antoine Walker's arrival did trim Haslem's minutes some, but he still helped the Heat and his fantasy owners. Haslem averaged 9.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 50.8 percent shooting from the field and 78.9 percent from the line. Very solid. He won't block shots, but if you are getting near the end of your draft and need rebounding, Haslem is your man.
Bottom Line: He is a younger version of P.J. Brown. That's a good thing. Expect a steady diet of double-doubles and good percentages. No, he won't score a ton inside with Shaq there, but if the big fella goes down, watch Haslem's numbers jump up.
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