Player Rankings: Small Forwards (16-30)
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16. Corey Maggette - Los Angeles Clippers
Last year was essentially a lost one for Maggette. While he joined his teammates on the best playoff run in franchise history, he was largely absent in the regular season, playing in just 32 games. Health is the big knock on Corey Maggette. If you draft Maggette, don't bank on getting a full season out of him. He has never played the full 82 and has averaged just over 63 games per season in his career. That said, Maggette has good fantasy value for a couple of reasons. He will score around 20 points per game and get close to a three per game. Maggette is a gifted athlete who drives the lane with authority and draws plenty of fouls. When he gets to the line, he is a lock to shoot better than 80 percent. Because of the number of attempts and makes, Maggette is a good player to pair with low percentage free throw shooters like Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'Neal.
Bottom Line: Enjoy the points and the high volume of made free throws but don't be surprised when he comes up injured. It is only concerns about Maggette's health that knocks him down this list.
17. Shane Battier - Houston Rockets
The low scoring turns many would-be fantasy owners away from Battier but to see his true value, you have to look past the most publicized stat in the game. True, Battier averaged just 10.1 points last year, but he was one of ten players in the league to average over a block and steal per game with 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals. He also shoots an excellent 48.8 percent from the field and hits almost a three per game. Houston is a great fit for Battier. Van Gundy will love his defense and T-Mac and Yao will find him for open looks when defenders swarm them. Most of Battier's numbers stand to improve if he is utilized correctly.
Bottom Line: Draft for scoring elsewhere, but don't overlook Shane Battier as a player who can be a statistical "glue" guy for your team, helping you in a variety of harder to fill categories.
18. Mike Miller - Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Miller is one of those players who seems like he should get better numbers than he does. He is a gifted shooter, a good ball-handler and his length and athleticism all point to a guy who should average 20 points per game. Those observations aside, Miller has a lot of fantasy value. Last year he averaged 13.7 points, 1.9 threes, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He shot 46.6 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line. Unless his minutes rise from 30 to 35 a game, these numbers should stay the same. No, he won't help much on defense, but the threes and percentages are a nice combination.
Bottom Line: Still only 26 years old with plenty of upside, Miller can certainly improve this season. He just needs minutes to do so.
Update: The injury to Pau Gasol makes Miller the number one scoring option and go-to-guy in Memphis. Expect a jump in numbers across the board (until Pau gets back) but beware of the Richard Jefferson effect: RJ was a stud with Jason Kidd and Vince Carter out a few years ago, but his field goal percentage plummeted while his turnover skyrocketed.
19. Al Harrington - Indiana Pacers
The biggest question coming into this season was where Harrington would play. His ability to play was not questioned. Harrington took another step last year, adding a three-point shot to his scoring arsenal. With ability to post up and hit the deep shot, Harrington is a threat to score 20 or more every night. His overall numbers should look something like 18 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and just under a three per game. His turnovers and free throw shooting (.694 last year) are weaknesses. Harrington’s overall production is positive, though at times his owners will wish for more peripherals outside of his steady scoring.
Bottom Line: Harrington is a solid fantasy forward. He is an excellent scorer who also helps in rebounds and assists. If his threes and steals improve and he can cut down on his TOs, Harrington will become a top flight small forward.
20. Josh Howard - Dallas Mavericks
Howard's numbers have tracked upward across his first three professional seasons. Howard can grab tough rebounds in traffic, and he uses his long arms to pick off passes on the defensive end. He is one of those players that finds the seam in opposing defenses then exploits it. Howard had a hard time staying healthy last season, appearing in just 59 games. Plus, concerns about how his thin frame handles the banging for rebounds push him down this list a bit. Still, last year's numbers: 15.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.5 threes and 1.2 steals on 47.1 percent shooting from the field and 73.4 from the line should increase as Howard enters his fourth season. His three-point accuracy was excellent last year at 42.9 percent. A few more attempts at that rate would boost his value considerably.
Bottom Line: He won’t hurt you in any category and is a solid scorer with good percentages who will grab his share of rebounds and pick up enough steals to make his owners happy. If he can stay healthy this year, he’ll enjoy a breakout season.
21. Tayshaun Prince - Detroit Pistons
Tayshaun Prince is as solid as they come both in real life and in fantasy basketball. Prince’s fantasy value lies in his ability to contribute in multiple categories while limiting his turnovers to 1.1 a game. He won't wow you anywhere but will average around 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks with 46 percent shooting from the field and 77 percent from the line. Tayshaun will have nice scoring games followed by single-digit efforts. This inconsistency follows him across categories from game to game but when taken together, you have a solid player worth a look in the middle rounds.
Bottom Line: Other than some streaks of inconsistency, there isn’t much to complain about in Tayshaun Prince. An accurate shooter from both the floor and free throw line, he won’t hurt you in any category.
22. Hedo Turkoglu - Orlando Magic
Turkoglu should be ahead of Grant Hill on the Magic's depth chart this year. And if he comes of the bench, he is still going to hit his threes and score often. Even with J.J. Redick on board, Turkoglu remains the top option from deep range. He averaged 1.5 threes per game last year on 40.3 percent from downtown. His overall numbers were quite solid: 14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.9 steals with 45.4 percent shooting from the field and an excellent 86.2 percent from the line. Those numbers project well for this year, as Hill is unlikely to stay healthy and take minutes from Turkoglu.
Bottom Line: Turkoglu is often overlooked in drafts. Don't make that mistake especially if you are looking for threes but are wary of low percentages. Grant Hill isn’t exactly the most durable player, so Turkoglu is likely to be called upon to start.
23. Andres Nocioni - Chicago Bulls
Nocioni is developing a reputation as hard-nosed defender with serious offensive game. He has shown his talent in flashes, but this could be the season he puts together a sustained effort for a career year. While his minutes yo-yoed through the early part of the season, his post All-Star numbers should turn heads: 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 threes on a sterling 47.9 percent from the field and 83 percent from the line. Facing Miami in the playoffs, Nocioni exploded for 22.3 points, 8.8 boards and 1.6 threes on 56 percent from the field and 85.7 from the line. If he can do that against the World Champions, think what he could do for your team.
Bottom Line: The key to Nocioni's second half and playoff performances was playing time. If he plays the 38.3 minutes he averaged in the playoffs, his value will explode. Unfortunately, one can't expect anything so logical to a fantasy player from Scott Skiles. After all, he is trying to win real games, not your league championship.
24. Wally Szczerbiak - Boston Celtics
Wally played well for Boston after he joined the team last season despite playing on a bum knee, averaging 17.5 points, 1.4 threes, 3.8 boards and 3.2 assists in 36.7 minutes to go with his excellent percentages: .476 from the field and .898 from the line. He had surgery to repair torn cartilage on April 11 and should be ready to start the regular season. Still, with any cartilage loss there is concern about the repeated pounding knees take over a long season. Expect the Celtics to limit Wally's minutes to get youngster Gerald Green more minutes.
Bottom Line: What you see is what you get with Wally, great percentages, scoring in the teens, plus some assists and, of course, threes. Wally's minutes will likely be down to 30 per game, so his numbers should slip a bit from last year.
25. Kyle Korver - Philadelphia 76ers
Korver has made his mark on the league and in fantasy as a deadeye from long distance. Last season he was fifth in the NBA (and first among forwards) in made threes with 184. He will score between 10 and 12 points a game as most of the Sixers' offense will be generated by Iverson and Webber, with Iguodala as the third option. Korver can also bring some steals to the table. He had 1.3 per game two seasons ago but fell off to 0.8 last season. It is reasonable to expect about one per game. Korver's percentage from deep has improved each year of his career. If the Sixers see fit to get him more attempts, there is no reason he couldn't lead the league in made threes again as he did in 2004-05.
Bottom Line: Don't expect a lot in other categories but because Korver is such a dominant force in threes, one can justify a sixth or seventh round selection in fantasy drafts.
26. Bobby Simmons - Milwaukee Bucks
A season after winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award, Simmons moved to the Bucks from the Clippers and regressed slightly in some areas. The percentages were still excellent, but his scoring and rebounding slipped. On the other hand, he took and made more three pointers. This year, Simmons will face some competition for minutes with the addition of Ruben Patterson to the team. Patterson will be used more as defensive stopper, while Simmons will be looked to for his strong shooting. Expect similar numbers to last season with minutes in the low 30s.
Bottom Line: Simmons is a nice mid-to late round selection for teams looking for solid production with few weaknesses. Simmons won't excel anywhere (except from the line), but he doesn't hurt you either.
27. Luol Deng - Chicago Bulls
Deng is another small forward who can do a bit of everything. He is very young and as he learns the game and develops more physically, he will only get better. He averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 boards, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 33.4 minutes in just his second season. Even with the same minutes, his numbers should improve. He is not a good three point shooter but can score in a variety of other ways. His length helps him on defense but to take it to the next level, he will have to add some upper body strength. Still, he should get more than a steal and around a block per game.
Bottom Line: Don’t sleep on Deng. He’s got plenty of talent and should be in line for an improved third season.
28. Antoine Walker - Miami Heat
The fantasy book on Antoine Walker is well known: expect low percentages (especially from the line) and a propensity to turn the ball over at a high rate to go along with plenty of threes and solid rebounding. Walker's numbers came down with the Heat in part because his minutes dropped as he shared time with James Posey and Udonis Haslem on the front line. Look for similar production this year: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and nearly 2 threes per game. He'll again shoot in the low 40s from the field and low 60s from the line.
Bottom Line: If Walker relied less on his three-point shooting and utilized his strong post up game, his shooting and scoring would improve. Don't expect that to happen. Take Walker later in your draft if you are strong in the percentages but in need of threes.
29. Darius Miles - Portland Trail Blazers
Miles still only 25 years old but with all of that raw athleticism, he should be a superstar in the NBA already. At times, Miles shows flashes of the potential that made him the third overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Last year he started the season with a bang, sending owners scrambling to the free agent list before coming up injured. He averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks a game for the season. His turnovers (2.5) and free throw shooting (.534), not to mention his often poor attitude, are serious flaws, but his all-around game will temp owners once more this season. It is possible that Miles could be traded. If he is, new surroundings could lead to improved play on the court.
Bottom Line: If Miles can take his anger out on the opposition instead of his teammates and coaches, he could be a force in the league. He has the ability to do a bit everything.
Update: Miles is sitting out of training camp for at least the next two weeks due to a sore right knee. His starting status isn’t in jeopardy just yet, but youngsters Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw are too good to keep off the court if Miles can’t come back strong. Proceed with caution…
30. Mike Dunleavy - Golden State Warriors
There may be no more frustrating player to own in fantasy basketball than Mike Dunleavy. He has all the physical tools to succeed: good size, great court vision, excellent ball handling and a nice-looking follow-through on his jumper. Yet it never quite comes together for Dunleavy. The fans in Golden State have grown impatient with Dunleavy and a change of scenery, especially to a team where his role is more defined, would do wonders for this kid. As it is, expect about 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, one three-pointer and a little less than a steal per game.
Bottom Line: Dunleavy needs to stop thinking about his game and just start playing it. If the Warriors can define his role better and Dunleavy finds his comfort zone, he has loads of potential. Consider Dunleavy late in your draft.
Update: New coach Don Nelson could give Dunleavy a significant jump in value. Nellie wants to use Dunleavy as a “point-forward” and is expected to give the perennial bust major minutes on the court. He’s already received a vote of confidence being named team captain (along with Jason Richardson and Baron Davis) and this could finally be the year Dunleavy breaks out.
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