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31. Mickael Pietrus - GSW [SF]
Pietrus is the kind of athletic, defensive stopper that should fit perfectly in Don Nelson’s system. At 6-6, he shot 38.8 percent from three-point range last year (1.3 threes per game), shot 48.8 percent from the field and averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in only 26.5 minutes. He’ll start the season backing up Stephen Jackson at small forward but could start the first seven games of the year while Jackson is serving his suspension. Keep an eye on Pietrus if he starts to play more than 30 minutes a night.
32. Matt Barnes - GSW [SF,PF]
Barnes had an up-and-down season last year, playing well when given steady minutes but declining later in the year when the Warriors became healthy. Unable to find a long-term contract offer, Barnes has re-signed with the Warriors. As a result, his role and production should be similar to last year’s. Expect a fair number of threes and some decent contributions in steals.
33. Hedo Turkoglu - ORL [SF]
Turkoglu started all 73 games that he played in last season and was an effective player, producing solid numbers in scoring, assists, rebounds and three-pointers. While the Magic’s offseason addition of Rashard Lewis means that Turkoglu is likely heading to the bench, he should still be a serviceable roto producer as a sixth man - a role he’s been accustomed to for years.
34. Quentin Richardson - NYK [SG,SF]
Richardson started last season on the right foot before injuries slowed and sidelined him. He is an intriguing inside/outside combo swingman, capable of grabbing lots of rebounds while also hitting lots of treys. Richardson has a nice low-post game as well and can be a matchup problem if he’s guarded by smaller twos. Health and opportunity are the big question marks for Richardson in a log-jammed Knicks’ perimeter rotation – Jamal Crawford, Renaldo Balkman and David Lee also need to get their minutes.
35. Renaldo Balkman - NYK [SF,PF]
After being booed by Knicks’ fans on draft night in 2006, Balkman came in and had a surprisingly solid rookie year. He’s an excellent defensive player, and with his length and athleticism, he’s able to crash the boards and finish around the rim. His fantasy value will be tied directly to his playing time, but if he earns a starting nod as a defensive stopper (something the Knicks need) he could post enough steals, blocks, and boards to be worthy of attention. Of course, Quentin Richardson and even David Lee will also be in the mix at the three, and Jamal Crawford is likely to see playing time at the off guard spot as well.
36. Julian Wright - NOH [SF,PF]
Wright is an intriguing fantasy prospect. He’s very long and athletic, has good ball-handling and passing skills, is a solid defender, and can run the floor on the fast break. He also showed some solid rebounding skills at the Las Vegas Summer League. In today’s NBA, he could potentially see some part-time minutes at the power forward slot as well. Unfortunately, his jump shot lacks consistency and range, which will likely limit his minutes initially behind shooters like Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson. Also, his frame lacks the strength he would need to bang with NBA forwards on a regular basis. On a positive note, his skill set is unique from the rest of his teammates, and since Stojakovic missed 69 games last season due to injury, Wright could get more minutes sooner rather than later.
37. John Salmons - SAC [SF]
Salmons was the big free agent acquisition for the Kings last season, but he never really panned out for them on the court. He’s touted as a 6-6 wing that can play every position from the PG down to SF, but those are the Kings’ three strongest positions with Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest there. The rumor mill suggests that Artest, and possibly even Bibby, could be traded at some point this offseason, which could open up more space for Salmons. He averaged a respectable 12.2 points, 4.3 boards, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 18 games as a starting forward last season, so Salmons could produce if he gets the minutes.
38. Wally Szczerbiak - SEA [SF]
Szczerbiak’s career is at a bit of a crossroads right now. He entered last season as an impact roto player, good for close to 20 points and solid three-pointers on excellent shooting from both the field and the line. Injuries have derailed his last two seasons, though, and he was traded to the Sonics pretty much as salary filler during the offseason. It remains to be seen whether he is healthy enough to play, but even if he is, he may not have a role on a Sonics team that just spent two top-five draft picks on guys that play his position. If Szczerbiak is healthy and can earn a starting spot, he’s still worthy of fantasy attention as a role player.
39. James Posey - BOS [SF]
Posey has shown in the past that he can be a solid contributor in categories like points, steals, treys, and rebounds if given a prominent role on a team. His health and playing time have been sporadic for the last couple of seasons, though. Unless he lands in a perfect opportunity this season, it is questionable whether he’ll be drafted in most fantasy leagues.
40. Travis Outlaw - POR [SF,PF]
Outlaw finished last season with a very strong April, averaging almost 19 points and four boards per game in the final nine games of the season. With Ime Udoka gone, it is possible that Outlaw could win the starting small forward job this season, in which case he may have some fantasy relevance late in your draft. Martell Webster will compete with him for the team’s starting small forward job.
41. Thaddeus Young - PHI [SF,PF]
Young has excellent athleticism and nice scoring touch from both inside and out. He enters his rookie season after a strong freshman season at Georgia Tech, and he has high expectations upon him down the road. Because he is so young, he may not achieve his potential immediately, which makes him more of a “keep your eye on him” than a “must draft” player. He could be worth taking a late-round flyer on, though, after his impressive performance in the Las Vegas Summer League. Because the Sixers are very young as a team, they could conceivably give him minutes sooner than expected.
42. Matt Harpring - UTA [SG,SF]
Harpring had another solid season last year, but his lack of contributions in the peripheral categories (only one combined steal, block, and trey) combined with his merely average scoring and rebounding capabilities make him a fringe fantasy prospect.
43. Bruce Bowen - SAS [SF]
In real life, Bowen’s strength on the basketball court is his defense, but he does not produce in the defensive stats (1.1 combined steals/blocks) from a fantasy standpoint. His only roto value comes from his ability to knock down the trey, but his poor percentages from the floor and the line make him difficult to use even as a specialist.
44. Antoine Walker - MIN [SF]
Walker still has the ability to step up on occasion, but he’s not even part of Miami’s top eight any more. Look to him if Dwyane Wade takes longer to return than anticipated; however, don’t consider him an every day fantasy option, especially if your league counts free throw and field goal percentage.
Note: After press time, the Heat sent Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien and a first-round pick to Minnesota for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount. To learn more about the fantasy impact, read here.