Player Rankings: Small Forwards
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1. LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Well, that didn't take long. Three years in the league and LeBron James is the unquestioned number one pick in fantasy basketball and will be for a long time to come. The numbers from last year: 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.6 threes, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks per game to go with 48 percent shooting from the field and 73.8 percent from the line. You should close your mouth before you drool all over the page. Seriously, that's nasty. The scary part about James' game is that it should still get better. He could easily become an 80 percent free throw shooter and if he decided that blocking shots was a priority, you think he couldn't pick that up as well? While it is more likely that he adds improved free throw shooting to his repertoire, James has the ability to do whatever he wants in this game. In the fantasy game, you won't have that luxury unless you have the number one pick because that is where LeBron should be going in every draft this year.
Bottom Line: The King. LBJ. Bron Bron. Call him what you will, he is the number one fantasy player in the game today. Draft him and know that he is helping in every category except turnovers.
2. Shawn Marion - Phoenix Suns
In many fantasy formats last season, it was Shawn Marion, not LeBron James, who was the top ranked fantasy player. Marion is amazing in that he helps in almost every category and yet does not commit many turnovers. With the best players in the game, it is almost a certainty that they will have a high volume of turnovers by virtue of how often the ball is in their hands. Not so with the Matrix. His numbers were dazzling last season: 21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.2 threes, 2.0 steals, 1.7 blocks and just 1.5 turnovers per game on 52.5 percent shooting from the field and 80.9 from the line. The only stat he doesn't help with is assists (just 1.8 per game). Well, eight out of nine isn't bad, right? How will the Matrix fare this season? We can expect a slight drop off. With Amare Stoudemire coming back and a healthy Kurt Thomas, Marion's points will likely drop back to the 19 point per game range, and he may lose half a rebound or so per game. Marion shouldn't have to log 40 plus minutes per game with these two back in the Phoenix frontcourt. He will still have Steve Nash and Boris Diaw passing him the ball, so Marion will enjoy plenty of high percentage shots.
Bottom Line: Marion is a top five pick, and in leagues that count turnovers, you could argue top three. Wherever you take Marion, you will be getting fantasy stud who helps everywhere except assists. But, hey, that's what point guards are for.
3. Andrei Kirilenko - Utah Jazz
Andrei Kirilenko is a draft day dilemma. He does so many things so well, you would think he has to be a top five pick. Then you look at his games played and realize he logged just 41 games in 2004-05 and 69 last season. Every player in the league has injury risk. Kirilenko has had some bad luck with a sprained ankle and broken wrist. His knee is fine as was seen in his 220 blocks last year. His back spasms are a concern if they become chronic. It's too early to tell if that's the case. When healthy, AK-47 is a monster. Last year he averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. His percentages slipped a bit last year (46 percent from the field and 69.9 from the line) but after a sloppy first two months, AK righted the ship and returned to his normal high 40s from the field and mid 70s from the line. This year, he should maintain his high percentages. He will once again use his long arms and impeccable timing to pick off passes and swat shots. With Deron Williams maturing as a point guard and Derek Fisher on the team, he could see an increase in scoring from better passing.
Bottom Line: Injury concerns could let Kirilenko slip to the end of or even out of the first round. If this happens, enjoy the bargain and grab him up. Like LeBron and Marion, he is another small forward, multi-cat monster.
Update: AK-47 has added some muscle during the off-season and comes into camp in the best shape of his life. His new dedication to health and nutrition should help keep him healthy, making him less of a risk entering fantasy drafts.
4. Peja Stojakovic - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
After playing for the Kings and Pacers last season, Peja finds himself in new surroundings this year. Now working alongside Chris Paul, there is every reason to expect Peja to look very good in his new uniform. With Paul's ability to breakdown defenses and kick to the open shooter and Peja's ability to shoot over the top of most defenders, we should see an improvement across the board for Peja. While his overall numbers weren't what we have come to expect from Peja, he certainly improved once he moved to Indiana, averaging 19.5 points, 2.3 threes and 6.3 rebounds with only 1.3 turnovers on 46.1 percent shooting from the field and 90.3 from the line. This year, he should easily top 20 points, hit 2.5 threes per game and provide you with great percentages. His rebounding won't blow you away and defense isn't why you draft him, though he is capable of a steal per game. Enjoy Peja's strengths and his low turnovers. He remains a solid pick.
Bottom Line: Draft Peja for his scoring, threes and great percentages. The Hornets will be looking his way for scoring early and often this year, making him a low-risk second or third round pick in fantasy drafts.
5. Rashard Lewis - Seattle Supersonics
For a 6’10” player, Lewis has incredible touch on his shot from the outside and will be one of the best three point shooters in the game for many years to come. Playing in the fast-paced Sonics offense will help and with opposing defenses keying on Ray Allen and sharp-eye Luke Ridnour looking for him, Lewis will get his fair share of open looks. Expect numbers similar to last year when he averaged 20.1 points, 1.8 threes, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks on 46.7 percent shooting from the field and 81.8 percent from the line. His rebounding and shot-blocking are weak for a player of his size, but he makes up for it with his great percentages, modest turnovers and great outside shooting. He is essentially a Peja Stojakovic clone with fewer points and more steals.
Bottom Line: Lewis will probably be available later than he should. Jump all over him if he's available in the late third to fourth rounds in your draft.
6. Gerald Wallace - Charlotte Bobcats
Gerald Wallace exploded on the fantasy scene last season. His numbers were dazzling: he averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game with 53.8 percent shooting from the field and 61.4 percent from the line. The free throw shooting was poor—and is consistent with his career average—but, man, the numbers everywhere else were just sick. Wallace was the only player in the league to average over two steals and two blocks per game. Those numbers alone elevate him to the elite. But he can score, rebound and shoots a very good percentage to boot. Not to mention his turnovers are low as well. He is an amazing athlete with incredible quickness and leaping ability. He is not afraid of contact and has the toughness to once again provide elite defensive stats. So what's the catch? Injuries. Wallace has never played more than 70 games in a season. If he can maintain his health, he could move to near the top of this list.
Bottom Line: On talent alone, Wallace is one of the best players on this list. He is a tenacious defender and is a great finisher around the rim. If you are looking to capitalize on great defensive numbers from one player, Wallace is your man. Just be ready for a few trips to the injured list.
7. Ron Artest - Sacramento Kings
Ron Artest starts with a clean slate this season. How many times do you figure you'll read that leading up to the season? Well, it's true and it's not. Artest played great defense for the Kings once he arrived and won over the Arco faithful. As a King, he averaged 16.9 points, 1.5 threes, 5.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks on a ghastly 38.3 percent from the field and 71.7 percent from the line. These numbers should improve this year. Part of the reason for Artest's low field goal percentage was his penchant for three-pointers. If he can cut back on his attempts, from five to around three, his overall shooting percentage should climb. Artest's value is that he can score, pass, hit some threes and is a born thief (career average 2.1 steals per game). Sounds like one of the top players in fantasy. But fantasy owners have long memories, and those who took him early in either of the past two seasons will be very wary of doing so again. That kind of doubt can be contagious. Take advantage if Artest slips in your draft.
Bottom Line: A high risk/high reward pick, Artest could pay huge dividends if he can keep himself out of trouble this season. All of his numbers should go up so long as he plays to his strengths—incredible defense and a nice mid-range jumper—and is more judicious with his shot selection.
8. Lamar Odom - Los Angeles Lakers
Often maligned as an underachiever, Odom provides excellent fantasy numbers at a good price. The public perception of Odom—often hurt, doesn't try hard—depresses his value. This is to your advantage. The numbers don't lie. No, Odom doesn't score as much as he could (14.8 per game last year), but since he does everything else so well, his owners shouldn't sweat that. After all, points are easily found in fantasy. Finding a player eligible at both forward spots who can average both ten rebounds and five assists is not. Odom is also solid on the defensive end, averaging almost a block and steal per game last year. He is a deft ballhandler and shoots an excellent percentage from the field. Don't overlook Odom on draft day this year. His combination of shooting, rebounding, passing and solid defense is a rare find.
Bottom Line: Play up his reputation as an underachiever and let your league mates pass on Odom. Then swoop in and steal him in the 4th round.
9. Josh Smith - Atlanta Hawks
Move over small forwards, there's a new a kid in the top ten, and his name is Josh Smith. He started the season slowly but blew up the last few months. Post-All-Star break Josh averaged 15 points, 1.1 threes, 7.8 boards, 4.1 assists, 3.1 blocks and 1.0 steals. The blocked shots we expected; the added three-point shooting and assists were the shockers. It goes to show how much talent this kid has that he could suddenly add two categories to his repertoire. The best part? J-Smoove is only going to get better. He is becoming frighteningly similar to Andrei Kirilenko in his statistical aptitude. Smith won't go cheap this year as shot-blocking is always a premium in fantasy. Getting blocks from a guard-eligible player makes him all the more valuable. Add to this the possibility that he could be AK-47's equal at a cheaper price and you have a player to target. Let's just hope he can excel in the first half of the season as well as he has in the second.
Bottom Line: Smith is gold for teams in need of blocked shots—better still, in most leagues he can provide them from the guard spot as well as forward. Last year, he was a steal in the middle rounds. This year you'll have to go earlier to get him.
10. Carmelo Anthony - Denver Nuggets
If you are looking for scoring from your small forward, Carmelo is your man. He is a pure scorer, able to stroke jumpers from the wing and blow past most defenders. His first step and body control around the basket make him almost impossible to stop once he gets close to the rim. He developed very nicely in George Karl's offense and should continue to grow this year. Last year he averaged 26.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 80.8 from the line. His high volume of shots and free throws made make him an extremely valuable contributor in those categories. His defense and three-point shooting could stand improvement but remember this kid is only 21. He will just keep getting better and better. Don't be shocked to see him boost his rebounds this season. He was an excellent rebounder at Syracuse.
Bottom Line: We'd like Carmelo to improve his rebounding but can live with the great percentages and the fact that he will once again be among the league leaders in scoring.
11. Richard Jefferson - New Jersey Nets
Who loves Jason Kidd? Richard Jefferson does. Jefferson's offensive efficiency improved across the board from 2004-05 when Kidd missed the season with microfracture surgery. His field goal percentage climbed from .422 to .493, his turnovers dropped from 4.0 to 2.2 and while his scoring fell from 22.2 to 19.5, he took far fewer shots to get those points. This tells us that Jefferson can create his own offense if he has to but is far more efficient when he has a master like Jason Kidd setting him up. This year, he will remain the number two option on offense and will again score about 20 points, grab seven boards, hit almost one three, dish close to four assists per game and get you great percentages from the field and line. He won't help much in the defensive categories, so look elsewhere for blocks and steals.
Bottom Line: Jefferson is a model of efficiency who provides 50 percent shooting from the field and 80 percent from the line. He has the potential to score more than he does but so long as Vince Carter is healthy, Jefferson will remain a 20 PPG guy.
12. Caron Butler - Washington Wizards
Butler emerged as a stud small forward last season. He really turned it on after the All-Star break, averaging 19.3 points, 1.1 threes, 7.0 boards and 2.0 steals per game with 47.8 percent shooting from the field and a stellar 86.7 percent from the line. These are pretty good numbers for someone who is the third scoring option in Washington behind Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. Look for more of the same from Butler this year. Defensively, Butler will use his great anticipation and quickness to pick off passes. He is versatile offensively, scoring inside and out. Caron has found a new confidence in his three-point shooting last season, upping his attempts and percentage after the break. This is good news for his owners. Expect somewhere around 17-19 points with 6-7 boards, nearly 2 steals and a three per game with excellent percentages from Butler this season.
Bottom Line: Caron's overall numbers somewhat mask his excellence in the second half of last year. If he lasts into the middle rounds of your draft, you will have a bargain.
13. Andre Iguodala - Philadelphia 76ers
Talent may not grow on trees, but it does grow on Andre Iguodala. While he is known for his steals and high flying dunks, AI2 is capable of filling a stat sheet on any given night. Last year's numbers hinted at the promise to come: 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 threes per game to go with 50 percent shooting from the field and 75.4 percent shooting from the line. What's holding him back? The fact that he is the third option behind notorious gluttons Allen Iverson and Chris Webber. If his teammates looked for him more often, Iguodala would score much more frequently. Draft him for his all-around contributions and hope that either by injury or game plan he gets more looks on offense.
Bottom Line: Even if he remains the third option for the bulk of the season, his ability to rebound, steal and shoot a high percentage will endear Iguodala to his owners.
14. Ricky Davis - Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky started 68 of his 78 games at shooting guard last season and the rest at small forward. This year will be different. With Randy Foye ripping up the summer leagues, Davis shifts to small forward. The fantasy impact is minor. Ricky's splits between the two positions are nearly identical. With gunners like Foye and Mike James on board, Ricky could lose a few shot attempts. His assists should continue to delight at around five per game. He totaled more assists (394) than anyone on this list not named LeBron or Lamar. With fewer shot attempts, his field goal percentage could rise as that has been the case historically with Davis. If you draft Ricky, you'll get a high teens scorer who drops dimes like rhymes and shoots good percentages.
Bottom Line: Ricky may lose a few shot attempts with Randy Foye and Mike James joining the Timberwolves, but his assists and shooting percentage should rise. Ricky is an excellent option for assists and scoring and will provide steals and some threes as well.
15. Morris Peterson - Toronto Raptors
Coming off of his best professional season, Morris Peterson should see a little more love from fantasy owners come draft day this year. With Chris Bosh getting double-teamed so often, Peterson took advantage of the open space outside and averaged 16.8 points, 2.2 threes, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. His field goal percentage (.436) was very solid for a player who attempted as many threes as he did. Peterson is also money from the line (.820). With a drive and dish point guard like T.J. Ford now on the Raptors and Chris Bosh commanding even more attention from opposing defenses, Peterson will again be a fine option for points, threes and steals.
Bottom Line: Mo Pete has finally achieved the consistency his owners craved. His numbers really took off toward the end of last year. If his minutes reach the upper 30s, he could approach 20 points per game.
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 playe, 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.
31. Danny Granger - Indiana Pacers
As a fantasy prospect, Danny Granger has it all. He can score, rebound, steal, block and hit threes. The big question coming into this season is playing time. Will he start or come off the bench for the Pacers? If he starts, you can expect Matrix-like production. If not and his minutes are in the mid-20s, he may disappoint owners hoping for a breakout season. In 17 games as a starter last year, Granger averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.6 threes on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 75.5 from the line, giving us a hint of the bright future of this talented forward. It's just a matter of time before this kid becomes a third or fourth round pick.
Bottom Line: With his incredible upside, Granger should be taken as a flier in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, especially keeper leagues. Eventually, he will land a starting job in Indiana.
32. Grant Hill - Orlando Magic
It was another season lost to injury for Grant Hill, whose body won't to let him do what he was once capable of. The famously feeble ankle held up, but Hill fell with a sports hernia and appeared in just 21 games. The numbers were solid in those games: 15.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals on Hill's typically excellent 49 percent shooting from the field and 76.5 percent from the line. Hill is no longer the future of the Magic—that belongs to Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and now Darko Milicic—but if he can stay healthy, he will contribute.
Bottom Line: Take Hill late in your drafts as you fill out your bench. Set your expectations low, and whatever he gives you will be a bonus. If he can play north of 60 games, you will have great value with that pick.
33. Jalen Rose - New York Knicks
Jalen's best years are behind him, but he can still score when called upon. After joining the Knicks last season, he averaged 12.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 threes on 46 percent shooting from the field and 81.2 percent from the line. That was under Larry Brown. Now he will be coached by Isiah Thomas, who added Jared Jeffries to an already crowded position at small forward. Rose will likely see his minutes drop from 28.7 per game to the mid to low 20s unless Thomas initiates some trades to free up the logjam at small forward. Rose himself could be dealt but is more likely to play a backup role than garner big minutes with whatever team he is on.
Bottom Line: Jalen will get some points, threes and good percentages for his owners but is of little use elsewhere. Deeper leagues will look to pick him up late in drafts while mid-size leagues and smaller can wait to see what kind of minutes Rose gets before adding him.
34. Jerry Stackhouse - Dallas Mavericks
Plagued by injuries and inconsistent playing time during the last three seasons, Jerry Stackhouse’s fantasy value is not what it once was. Still a prolific scorer, Stackhouse can put up points in limited minutes and has a knack for getting to the free throw line where he shoots a stellar 80 percent for his career. He averaged 13.0 points, 2.8 boards, 0.7 steals and 0.7 threes in just 55 games. He will continue to provide scoring from the bench for the Mavs but with the improvement of Josh Howard and the free agent acquisition of Devean George, Stack will be pressed for minutes.
Bottom Line: Stackhouse can be a decent fantasy commodity for points, steals, threes and free throw percentage, but injury concerns and inconsistent playing time makes him no better than a late round selection for deep leagues.
35. Desmond Mason - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Desmond Mason will probably be the starting shooting guard for the Hornets after being their small forward last season. This could bode well for the natural slasher. He was hurt for part of the year, was asked to post up too often last year and at 6'5", he wasn't able to fully take advantage of his talents. His numbers reflect this: 10.8 points, 4.3 boards, 0.9 assists on an atrocious 39.9 percent from the field and career-low 68.2 percent from the line. The 2001 Dunk Champion has offensive talent and is entering a contract year. However, getting enough touches to return to his 14 PPG days could be tough.
Bottom Line: After most of a season plus training camp, look for Mason to be more integrated offensively. He will be motivated to improve on a down year and earn a good contract. Draft him late if you are in need of points and percentages.
36. Josh Childress - Atlanta Hawks
Childress is a very nice pick late in the draft for those of you in deeper leagues. He is eligible at both guard and forward and can contribute in several categories. He posted solid numbers last year: 10.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.4 threes and 0.5 blocks with excellent percentages. Childress will again use his extremely long arms to pick off passes and grab his share of rebounds. He won't get much more than the 30 minutes he averaged last season, so his numbers will only increase so much in his third year. He has the talent; time is the issue.
Bottom Line: For Childress to truly blossom, he needs to be in a situation where he plays 35+ minutes a game. He is a finesse payer but one who is driven. He should improve on most of his numbers this season but won't take a quantum leap without more minutes.
37. Gerald Green - Boston Celtics
Green is a player with all the talent in the world. He has three-point range and incredible hops. He is young and raw and is still learning the pro game, but there are good reasons to think he could break out this year. First, Wally Szczerbiak will have his minutes reduced to protect his knee. Second, the Celtics are looking to get more up-tempo, which will help create opportunities for dunks on the break and for transition threes. If he can play well enough on defense to keep himself off the bench, his owners could have a big-time sleeper on their hands.
Bottom Line: His stats from last year will keep Green un-drafted in most leagues outside the Boston area. The kid many compared to Tracy McGrady when the Cs drafted him may need a few years to establish himself just like T-Mac. Take a flyer on him late and hope that he matures enough to earn significant minutes.
38. Matt Harpring - Utah Jazz
Everyone's favorite backup, Matt Harpring, always seems to step up and provide good numbers when Andrei Kirilenko or Carlos Boozer sit with an injury. Last year he averaged 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.8 steals on an excellent 47.5 percent from the field and 72.5 from the line. Harpring is quite strong for a small forward and finishes well close to the bucket, leading to his solid shooting from the field. He is a good player to add at the end of your draft for points, rebounds and field goal percentage.
Bottom Line: He’s not going to blow you away with statistics, but Harpring is a solid option to have at the end of your fantasy roster. And if injuries strike the Jazz again this season, Harpring will step up to fill in the gaps.
39. Adam Morrison - Charlotte Bobcats
Adam Morrison's name recognition and his reputation as a great three-point shooter will probably lead him to be selected too soon in most drafts. Last year's numbers at Gonzaga are flashy: 28.1 points, 5.5 boards, 2.2 threes, 1.1 steals, a .496 field goal percentage and .772 from the line. Morrison can score from the three point line all the way to the rim. He is very creative in getting his shot off and is fiercely competitive. He will find ways to score his rookie season, but his defense and lack of physical strength could land him on the bench for long stretches.
Bottom Line: Morrison will have a harder time getting clean looks in the pros, and his field goal percentage will drop considerably from college. He will become a solid player in the league and should score this year, but he'll need to add some muscle and work on his defense to become a fantasy force.
40. Jumaine Jones - Charlotte Bobcats
Jones proved to be a quality pickup in fantasy leagues after Gerald Wallace went down last season. As a starter, he put up 13.3 points, 5.7 boards, 1.0 steals and 2.0 threes a game. As a bench player, Jones will have the occasional big game but can’t be counted on to get consistent production. He is a player who has proven he can score and get decent numbers if given the time. Keep an eye on his situation and if he starts, don't hesitate to pick him up.
Bottom Line: He should be a solid in-season pickup candidate if he moves into the starting rotation for his points, threes, steals and rebounds.
41. James Posey - Miami Heat
James Posey is a good defensive player who uses his long arms to pick off passes and frustrate shooters. He won’t impress you anywhere but is capable from deep and will get his share of steals. Last year, he averaged 7.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.8 threes on 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 78.7 percent from the line. Posey is best used on head-to-head teams as a substitute who comes in to provide threes and a few boards.
Bottom Line: Posey will be a good option for threes and steals but will have a hard time scoring more than 10 points a game in a stacked Heat lineup.
42. Quentin Richardson - New York Knicks
If he stays with the Knicks all season, it will be hard for Q to get the minutes he needs to be the fantasy force he was just a few years ago. Richardson averaged 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.2 threes on a career-low 35.5 percent shooting from the field last year. Richardson was buried on the bench and was not able to exploit his talents. If the Knicks trade him or reassert him as a three-point threat, Q could be very valuable again. Keep an eye on Isiah's rotations to see how Q fits in.
Bottom Line: Steals and threes are what you can expect when Q is on. The question is how much time will he see and how effectively will he be used.
43. Ruben Patterson - Milwaukee Bucks
Patterson is a bench player who is capable of double-digit scoring even in limited minutes. He does most of his damage close to the rim, where his imposing strength makes him hard to stop. Last year, between Portland and Denver, he averaged 12.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals on 51.5 percent shooting from the field and 60.1 percent from the line. he will back up Bobby Simmons this season, but should earn similar minutes to last year (25.2) with his strong defense. Expect scoring in the low double-digits, some steals and a high shooting percentage.
Bottom Line: Patterson is valuable for points, steals and field goal shooting but always has a hard time hitting shots from the free throw line.
44. Mickael Pietrus - Golden State Warriors
Pietrus got some starts last year at small forward and averaged 11.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 threes and 1.1 steals in 14 games. The downside is that his shot selection is often poor (.404) and he is not good from the line (.608). Pietrus is very athletic and a good defender but still needs to refine his offensive game to become a fantasy threat. Pietrus has the flexibility to fill in at both SG and SF and will be the primary backup to Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy. Needless to say, he’ll have value if either of those two go down with an injury.
Bottom Line: Pietrus’ upside makes him a good late round gamble in case he takes the starting job from a struggling Mike Dunleavy.
45. Bruce Bowen - San Antonio Spurs
As one of the league’s best one-on-one defenders, Bruce Bowen is not asked to participate much on the offensive end: just to spot up for that corner three he loves so well. He still has some value in the fantasy world, but not as much as he does in the real world. Bowen is a pillar of health and has started in all 82 games for the Spurs in each of the last four years. Bowen averaged 7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.3 threes a game last year. That's decent production in threes and steals and worth a look in deep leagues.
Bottom Line: Bowen is one of those players that is more valuable to the Spurs than he is to your fantasy team. He’s a decent option as a three-point specialist and picks up some steals but doesn’t have the all-around game to be anything more than a late round pick in deeper leagues.
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