POSTED: Oct 20, 2014 2:29 AM ET
The 2014-15 NBA season is right around the corner, which means it's time to start preparing for your Yahoo! NBA Fantasy draft!
Use our Fantasy Draft Kit to find out which players are the best in each statistical category and outsmart your competition. Make sure to check back to NBA.com/fantasy throughout the season as we feature weekly articles.
Fantasy drafts are all about maximizing your mid-to-late round selections and these eight players appear positioned to provide much less value than their average draft range would indicate.
Brook Lopez was one of the best centers in the league during the first 17 games of last season, averaging 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 56.3 percent shooting. Then he suffered a fractured metatarsal in his right foot, the same injury that caused him to miss all but five games in 2011-12. Last week, Lopez suffered a "mild" sprain of that same foot after it was stepped on during a preseason game against the Kings. This injury is only supposed to sideline Lopez for 10-14 days, but it's hard to imagine his ailing foot will be problem-free the whole year after it has caused him to miss time in each of the last three seasons. Lopez is currently being picked towards the end of the second round when there are better, safer selections (see Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan) to be had at this point in your draft.
No guard is more disastrous to your field goal percentage category than Brandon Jennings. The Pistons' point guard has shot below 40 percent during four of his five seasons in the league and last season he recorded his worst percentage (37.1) since his rookie year. He can provide assists at a decent rate, setting a career-high with 7.6 per game last season. But unless you're planning to lose field goal percentage every week, there will be better guards available around the eighth round (Jose Calderon, Elfrid Payton or Brandon Knight).
Thaddeus Young was one of the few offensive weapons in Philadelphia last season and his numbers rose because of that. Now in Minnesota, expect his points per game average to drop from last year's 17.9 mark to something closer to his career-average of 13.7. He provides steals and rebounds at solid clips and shoots a good percentage. But the mid-fourth round is way too high for Young, especially since players like DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Jabari Parker should still be available.
Remember the Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul debates that would occur during the players' first few years in the league? Many thought Williams was the better of the two and it was hard to argue against his numbers of 19.0 points, 10.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 48.3 percent shooting from 2007-10. However, this production took a sudden dip after Williams forced a trade from Utah to New Jersey (now Brooklyn) in 2010 and it's difficult to expect the five-time All-Star to rise back to his pre-Nets level. He's currently being drafted in the middle of the third round, which makes little sense after last year's numbers of 14.3 points, 6.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 3-pointers made per game on 45.0 percent shooting. Stay away and consider Mike Conley, Ty Lawson or Jeff Teague instead.
Despite winning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams was pretty inconsistent in Philadelphia last season to average 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals on 40.5 percent shooting. This inconsistency isn't why he's on this list, though. It's because of the offseason shoulder surgery that will cause him to miss at least two months of the regular season. And with how poor the Sixers should be this year, don't be surprised if they sit him out longer than expected. Look at Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon or Trey Burke instead of Carter-Williams around the seventh round.
Gerald Green played the best basketball of his career last season in Phoenix to average 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers as he shot a career-high from 3-point (40.0 percent). A likely dip from deep back to his career-average of 37.2 percent, along with a potentially reduced role in Phoenix after their offseason addition of Isaiah Thomas, makes Green a lot less valuable than his average draft selection in the eighth round would indicate. Consider Trey Burke, Eric Gordon or Jeremy Lin in this range instead.
Like Green, Trevor Ariza experienced a career year from beyond the arc last season in Washington to record 40.7 percent on 5.7 attempts per game. These numbers are way above his career averages of 34.7 percent and 2.6 attempts, so expect these numbers to drop back towards his average this season in Houston. Currently being selected in the sixth round, there are better options than Ariza at this point in the draft like Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and George Hill.
Fresh off signing a large contract with Detroit last summer, Josh Smith played the worst basketball of his career last season with the Pistons to average 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game on a career-low 41.9 percent shooting. He continues to bomb away from 3-point land (where he's a career 27.9 percent shooter) and he connected on just 53.2 percent of his free throw attempts. Coach Stan Van Gundy may be able to transform Smith back into the productive player he was for so many years in Atlanta. But there's no reason to take a chance on that happening in the seventh round, when productive players like Zach Randolph, Nikola Pekovic and Robin Lopez should still be available.