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17. Monta Ellis - GSW [PG,SG]
Ellis looks to be the player to benefit the most from the Warriors’ trade of Jason Richardson to the Bobcats. Ellis already exploded onto the scene as a 21-year-old sophomore, using his extreme quickness and good ball-handling to get to the rim almost at will on his way to new career highs in almost every roto category. With Richardson gone, the path is clear for Ellis to take another step towards becoming an impact player. Ellis also gets some time at the point guard position, which gives him assist opportunities. He will also use his quickness on defense to grab steals and even a few rebounds. In Golden State’s fast-paced environment, there’s a lot of upside here if Ellis plays consistently big minutes.
18. Rudy Gay - MEM [SG,SF]
Many people felt that Gay was the best overall talent in the 2006 NBA Draft, but questions about his mindset and commitment to the game likely caused him to slide down to the eighth overall pick. Gay responded to those questions by turning in a first-team NBA All-Rookie team performance last season, finishing the year by averaging almost 14 points and six rebounds after the All-Star break. Gay is 6-9 with extremely long arms, outstanding leaping ability, and the quickness to defend most guards. He had a strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, and with a full season now under his belt, could be on tap for a breakout sophomore campaign.
19. Richard Hamilton - DET [SG]
Hamilton is a known commodity at this point in his career. He’s perfected moving without the ball and nailing the catch-and-shoot mid-range jumper. He always scores around 20 ppg on good shooting percentages, with about 3–4 rebounds and 3–4 assists per night. He won’t give you many threes or help in the defensive categories, but you know what you’re getting on a nightly and yearly basis, which makes him easy to add into your roto plans as a solid early-to-mid round pick.
20. Peja Stojakovic - NOH [SG]
Stojakovic’s season was decimated by a back injury that limited him to only 13 games last year. Stojakovic was effective when healthy, averaging 17.8 points, 4.1 boards and 2.6 treys per game. His game (long-range spot-up shooter, limited defense) would seem to fit well next to a penetrating point guard like Chris Paul and a defensive front line led by Tyson Chandler and David West. However, back issues tend to linger so Stojakovic will likely slide well into the middle rounds of most fantasy drafts this season. He’s a possible bargain, but just don’t count too heavily on him staying healthy.
21. Raja Bell - PHX [SG]
After a breakout 2005-06 season that put him on the fantasy map, Bell turned in an almost carbon copy of those numbers in 2006-07. His roto value is heavily tied to his three-point shot, which he hits at a high clip (2.6 threes/game) due to his role of “wing player that makes wide open jumpers when fed by Steve Nash.” Bell also gives you solid scoring (14.7 ppg) and decent peripheral numbers for a long-range specialist. The only area of his game that’s a bit disappointing is his lack of steals and blocks (0.9 combined last season), especially considering his reputation as a rugged defender.
22. Larry Hughes - CLE [PG,SG]
Hughes produced even more disappointing numbers during his second year in Cleveland than he did in his first, reaching new four-year lows in points (14.9 ppg), rebounds (3.8 rpg), steals (1.3 spg) and free throw percentage (67.6 percent) while setting a three-year low in field goal percentage (40.0 percent). Nagging injuries have plagued Hughes for most of his career, and they seem to have robbed some of the quickness and explosion that made him a breakout fantasy stud in 2005. Also, most of Hughes’ strengths are redundant with LeBron James around. As a result, Hughes is asked to take on a less important role and his numbers suffer. It’s always possible that Hughes will finally get healthy and find his groove next to James, but based on the last two seasons, we would bet against that happening.
23. Marco Belinelli - GSW [PG,SG]
Belinelli put himself on a lot of sleeper lists with a strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League. If he can earn a spot in the Warriors’ rotation, he’ll be in a great position to produce as a rookie. At age 21, Belinelli is already a veteran in professional basketball, having played in Europe prior to coming to the U.S. With his outside shooting touch, confidence, and creative shot-making ability, he seems perfect for the wide open Don Nelson offense. Be on the lookout for him in the later rounds of your draft.
24. Cuttino Mobley - LAC [PG,SG]
Mobley has settled into his role on the Clippers as a secondary scorer that shoots primarily from the perimeter and helps out with the ball-handling and passing when the point guard needs a break. He doesn’t have a lot of upside, but he’s consistent with his mid-teens scoring and solid threes and steals output. With Elton Brand now out with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Mobley could help pick up the scoring slack a bit this season.
25. Steve Francis - HOU [PG,SG]
After once enjoying status as “The Franchise” in Houston, Francis returns to the Rockets this year for what may be his last chance to produce in the NBA. Francis has steadily declined during the last couple of seasons in Orlando and New York. He even had his contract bought out after he was traded to Portland. On the court, he appears to have lost at least one step, maybe even two, so it’s likely that the player that once averaged 21/7/6 no longer exists. Even if that talent were still there, though, he would still be at best the third offensive option for the Rockets behind Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Don’t expect a return to the glory days for Francis, though he could at least put up decent counting numbers if he earns a starting job. His field goal percentage, on the other hand, is likely to be in the low-40s.
26. Jamal Crawford - NYK [SG]
Crawford is an explosive long-range scorer. In fact, he was playing at a high level last season before injuries sidelined him. The Knicks traded Steve Francis this offseason, which should help open up space for Crawford to get minutes in what’s still a packed Knicks’ perimeter rotation. If he’s healthy and can earn the starting nod, though, he is one of the better scoring/threes combos in the league.
27. Mike Dunleavy - IND [SG]
Dunleavy improved his numbers slightly across the board once he was traded to Indiana last season, but those numbers remain average at best from a fantasy perspective. With his size (6-9, 230 pounds) and lack of foot-speed, he would be best served to play small forward. However, since the Pacers team boast an abundance of frontcourt players and no proven shooting guards, Dunleavy has been playing a lot in the backcourt. His production has been pretty consistent for most of his career, so expect him to continue to give you low double-digit scoring with around five boards, three assists and perhaps a steal and a trey. Solid numbers for a late, fill-out-the-roster kind of fantasy pick, but nothing worth getting excited over.
28. Anthony Parker - TOR [SG,SF]
Parker is a solid roto producer across the board, but his three-point shooting is the most valuable asset. He fits well in Toronto’s Euroleague style and should remain the starting shooting guard for the Raptors this season. Don’t expect much more than good percentages, occasional steals and a couple threes per game.
29. Tony Allen - BOS [SG]
Allen enters this season with two big question marks. First, has he recovered from his torn ACL injury from last season? Second, are there any further ramifications from his legal issues last year? If both of these questions are answered in his favor, Allen could be in a position to produce well in a sixth-man role for the now woefully depth-challenged Celtics. Allen has always been a strong, physical defensive player, and his offense was coming along as well before the knee injury. With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on board, Tony Allen won’t be asked to shoot very often, but his defense and athleticism could make him a valuable role player on this team.
30. Rodney Stuckey - DET [PG,SG]
The Pistons used their first pick in this year’s draft, just outside of the lottery, on Stuckey. He is an explosive scoring combo guard that reminds some of Randy Foye. He’ll likely back up both Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, but barring some sort of injury, he may not get enough playing time to make a big fantasy impact. Keep an eye on him though as he’s got enough talent to score in double-figures right off the bat should one of the two starting guards go down.
31. Josh Childress - ATL [SG]
Very quietly, Childress had a strong fantasy impact last season, posting solid across-the-board numbers that kept him toward the top of player raters in most roto formats. He missed a lot of time at the start of the year due to injuries, but once he got back on the court he set new career highs in points (13.0 ppg), rebounds (6.1 rpg), assists (2.3 apg), and blocks (0.7 bpg) while also adding more than a steal per night and shooting 50 percent from the floor. He continues to be stuck behind fantasy stalwarts Joe Johnson and Josh Smithon the Hawks, he still managed to play almost 37 minutes per night (starting in 13 games). As long as he is able to get his minutes, he should continue to be one of the better cheap across-the-board fantasy producers in the NBA.