Design sample from Open Look: RotoWorld Basketballl
1NBA Season Preview
ContenTs 2013 Rotoworld NBA Season Preview
Top 24 Offseason
Sleepers and busts
Over the Hill
DYNASTY TIPS AND
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH
DRAFT GUIDE ROUNDBALL
3 BOLD PREDICTIOS
NBA Contract Year
TOP 20 ROOKIE PREVIEWS
RISK AND REWARD PLAYERS
photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
121 Point- Based Top 200
122 Category Based Top 200
123 Dynasty Top 200
124 Point- Based Rankings PG/SG/SF/PF/C
125 Category Based Rankings PG/SG/SF/PF/C
127 Dynasty Rankings PG/SG/SF/PF/C
4 NBA Season Preview
By: Ryan Knaus
Dwight Howard photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Top offseason transactions24
Dwight Howard signs with the Rockets
Four years, $88 million with a fourth-
year player option
Daryl Morey’s machinations finally paid off. Years of draft-day
tinkering and a sprinkling of luck enabled the Rockets to sign the
summer’s preeminent free agent – a physical anomaly who is en-
tering his prime at 27 years old. Howard is already the only player
in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding for five consecu-
tive seasons (2005-2010) and the only player to ever win Defensive
Player of the Year honors in three consecutive seasons (2009-
2011). His rebounding and shot-blocking give him elite fantasy
potential in any situation—witness his 17.9 points, 15.2 rebounds
and 2.9 blocks per game in March last season. Now that he’s
healthy, his offense should also recover, especially if he’s willing to
sacrifice the spotlighting effect of post-ups (0.74 points per posses-
sion last year, ranking 121st in the league) and play to his strengths
as a roll-man (1.29 points per possession, 9th in the league).
Lest anyone doubt Dwight’s outlook, consider what he overcame
while leading the NBA in rebounds last season (excerpted from
a RW blurb): “Dwight had back surgery [in April 2012] to relieve
nerve pressure which was causing him to lose feeling in his foot.
When his back and foot recovered, he was out of shape and
frequently brought the ball down to gather himself, at which point
opponents whacked him, held him and generally aggravated the
torn labrum in his right shoulder.” He played through the shoulder
ailment last year, however, and has missed a grand total of 25
games in nine NBA seasons, one more reason to love his fantasy
outlook as a Rocket.*
*The standard asterisk is that Dwight was the No. 93 player in
eight-cat leagues last season on a per-game basis. If you were will-
ing to punt his 49.2 percent free throw shooting, he jumped to No.
3 overall. You may hear reports of his improved concentration at
the FT line before the season. You may hear that he’s working with
a shot-doctor, a yogi or a faith-healer, but don’t believe the hype:
Dwight’s FT percentage has been on a fitful downward trajectory
ever since his rookie season, when he coolly knocked down 67.1
percent of his freebies.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry
traded to the Nets
Celtics get Gerald Wallace, MarShon
Brooks, Kris Humphries and draft picks
This deal must be understood in the context of owner Mikhail
Prokhorov’s willingness to throw around millions of dollars like
confetti and his single-minded focus on winning a champion-
ship. Why else would Brooklyn set themselves up for a whopping
$101 million payroll and accompanying $75+ million luxury tax,
while purging themselves of young players and draft picks? In the
short-term, the Nets are simply stacked at every position, with the
talent and depth to legitimately challenge for supremacy in the
East. The situation is much gloomier for fantasy owners, though,
as that depth will likely translate to muddled roles, limited minutes
and precautionary DNPs. Garnett averaged 30 minutes per game
last season, and Terry averaged 27 minutes, the lowest totals since
they were rookies, while Pierce averaged a career-low 33 minutes.
Their playing time will decrease even more in Brooklyn, as Jason
Kidd parcels out their minutes to keep them healthy and fresh
for the postseason. Looking at cumulative nine-cat value, owners
should target KG somewhere around the seventh round and Pierce
in the sixth round, but Terry is unlikely to be worth drafting unless
you’re desperate for 3-pointers.
Kevin Martin signs with the Timberwolves
Four years, $28 million
Martin accepted a sixth-man role with the Thunder last season, av-
eraging just 28 minutes per game and fewer shots (10.1 per game)
than he’d taken since the 2005-06 season. As a result, his fantasy
value plummeted to the late-middle rounds. He avoided injury
and played in 77 games, however, and he should bounce back as
the Wolves’ starting SG this season—who better for Ricky Rubio to
pass to than Martin, a career 38.5 percent shooter from
5NBA Season Preview
downtown? His FT accuracy and knack for drawing fouls have
always buoyed his fantasy value, but it’s worth noting that on a
per-36-minute basis, he’s dropped from 9.3 FT attempts (2010-11)
to 5.1 FT attempts (2011-12) to 4.1 FT attempts (2012-13). Fantasy
owners should give him a look anywhere past the fifth round.
Andrea Bargnani traded to the Knicks
Raptors get Steve Novak, Quentin
Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and two
future second-round picks*
Bargnani shot 39.9 percent from the field last year. He rebounded
at a historically pathetic rate for a seven-footer (4.6 boards per
36 minutes). He continued to struggle defensively, particularly
as a help defender (0.8 blocks per game), and he appeared in
just 35 games due to a sequence of injuries and ineffective play.
But through the kaleidoscopic lens of James Dolan’s imagina-
tion, Bargnani was worth $22.3 million over the next two years
as well as the Knicks’ sacrifice of healthy veterans, draft picks and
financial flexibility. Bargnani’s health will be critical to New York’s
success, which is terrifying since he has missed 43 percent of his
games over the past three seasons. Amare Stoudemire can’t shake
the injury bug either, and he’s projected to play a backup role, but
fantasy owners shouldn’t even consider drafting Bargs before the
10th round. The odds that Bargnani has a bounce-back season =
the odds that Bargnani boxes out aggressively after a jump shot =
the odds that whoever drafts Bargnani before the 8th round will
win their fantasy league.
*Marcus Camby was amicably bought out by Toronto and has
since signed on as veteran mentor/emergency depth with the
Rockets. Quentin Richardson earned a ridiculous $5 million salary
to make the financial numbers work. This was a ridiculous, unfath-
omable amount of assets for the Knicks to give up for Bargnani,
and to my knowledge nobody has earnestly argued otherwise.
Andrew Bynum signs with the Cavaliers
Two years, $24.8 million with incen-
tives and a second-year team option
The Cavaliers expect Bynum to start at center “if he’s healthy,”
a phrase which will follow him like a shadow for the rest of his
career. The former All-Star’s contract is worth as much as $24.4
million over two years, but only $6 million is guaranteed—the
deal is understandably laden with incentives for minutes-played
and games-played. The only way for fantasy owners to limit their
exposure to risk is to avoid Bynum on draft day, viewing him as a
flier pick with too much potential to pass up in the final rounds. If
he does wind up on any of my fantasy rosters, I plan to trade him
the moment he strings together consecutive double-doubles.
Andre Iguodala signs with the Warriors
Four years, $48 million
Iguodala nearly signed with the Mavericks, and he flirted with the
Kings, but he ultimately signed with the Warriors after a series
of salary-clearing moves allowed them to make a hefty-enough
offer. It seems like a brilliant match all around. Iguodala joins a
playoff contender with a dearth of defense-oriented players, his
speed in transition meshes perfectly with the Warriors’ speedy
attack (fourth-quickest pace in the NBA last year) and his shaky
perimeter shooting (31.7 percent from deep last year) will be
compensated for by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Harrison
Barnes is expected to shift to the bench, where he’s being called the
“sixth starter,” and coach Mark Jackson will find a way to give both
Barnes and Iggy sufficient minutes, most likely by leaning heavily
on small lineups and using Barnes as a PF. Fantasy owners should
view Iguodala as a nice upside pick in the fifth round, though he
plummets in formats that count FT percentage (57.4 percent last
Tyreke Evans sign-and-traded to the
Four years, $44 million
New Orleans may deploy Evans as a sixth-man, where his ball-
dominant offense will be a welcome addition, rather than
Andre Igoudala photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images
6 NBA Season Preview
starting him at SF and risk stagnation as he fights for posses-
sions with Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. It’s a lot of money for a
backup swingman, but the Pelicans desperately needed an upgrade
at SF, where inconsistent Al-Farouq Aminu (who re-signed on a
one-year deal) is expected to start. Evans’ splits on Synergy Sports
confirm that while he struggled in isolation and spot-up opportu-
nities, he was very efficient as the pick-and-roll ball-handler. More
surprisingly, he was mediocre in transition (1.15 points per pos-
session), where his phenomenal athleticism was tempered by poor
decision-making (i.e. chronic forced shots and turnovers). He was
a sixth-round fantasy value last season, while playing 31 minutes
per game in a discombobulated offense, and it’s reasonable to think
he’ll jump up a round with a clearly-defined role for the Pelicans.
Al Jefferson signs with the Bobcats
Three years, $41 million with a third-
year player option
The Bobcats gave Jefferson the biggest free agent contract in fran-
chise history, and it’s pretty easy to understand their reasoning. Big
Al is a borderline All-Star (he’s never made the cut) who wanted to
sign in Charlotte, and he addresses the Bobcats’ utter lack of inte-
rior scoring, even if he does nothing to improve their frontcourt’s
league-worst defense. He averaged 17.8 points on 49.4 percent
shooting last year, with 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1
blocks, while turning the ball over a scant 1.3 times per game. The
10-year veteran isn’t likely to have a career renaissance in Char-
lotte, but more points and boards can be expected since the ‘Cats
will inevitably lean on him in the half-court. His fantasy value
exceeds his real-world value, and he’s a reasonable first-round pick
in nine-cat leagues (bump him down a round in eight-cat).
Eric Bledsoe traded to Suns
Phoenix gets Bledsoe and Caron
Butler; L.A. Clippers receive J.J. Redick and
Jared Dudley; Milwaukee gets two future
Bledsoe’s move to Phoenix was overshadowed by bigger-name
transactions, but he may end up being the biggest winner in
fantasy leagues. Suns GM Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hor-
nacek have vowed to play Goran Dragic alongside Bledsoe, their
coveted combo guard, and Hornacek boiled his philosophy during
Summer League down to four words—“Just go. Everybody Run.”
It makes sense that Phoenix jettisoned deliberate veteran Luis
Scola to acquire young talent while clearing minutes for Markieff
Morris and, to a lesser extent, Marcus Morris (and lest we forget,
Channing Frye could return after missing the entire 2012-13
season). Returning to Bledsoe’s fantasy outlook, his averages in
12 starts with L.A. last season give a tantalizing glimpse of his
upside: 14.2 points with 0.6 threes (43.8 percent from downtown),
4.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.6 turnovers
per game. Without getting carried away, forward-thinking fantasy
owners can confidently draft Bledsoe in the fourth round.
Monta Ellis signs with the Mavericks
Three years, $25-$30 million depend-
ing upon incentives
The Mavs were elated to land Ellis, an elite scorer in his prime at
28 years old, for roughly $8 million per season. He’ll take immense
pressure off Dirk Nowitzki offensively, while the efficiency of Dirk,
Shawn Marion and Jose Calderon should mitigate Ellis’ lousy pe-
rimeter shooting (28.7 percent from downtown) and shaky overall
efficiency (49.5 percent effective FGs). He may also get a boost as
a post player—the Mavs ran nearly twice as many post-ups than
the Bucks last season—and he should share pick-and-roll ball-
handling duties with Jose Calderon, who is a far deadlier spot-up
shooter. Owners willing to absorb (or punt) turnovers and low FG
percentage should target him in the third or fourth round, while
everyone else should wait a few more rounds before pouncing.
Jose Calderon signs with the Mavericks
Four years, $29 million
Mark Cuban was incredulous when critics said Calderon’s contract
is too rich and too long. He pointed to Calderon’s 3-point ac-
curacy (46.1 percent from downtown last year), pure PG skills
(7.1 assists in under 30 minutes per game) and always-stellar
assist-to-turnover ratio (4.1, trailing only Chris Paul). Those are
the same reasons fantasy owners shouldn’t overlook Calderon on
draft day – he quietly posted top-50 value in limited playing time
last year, ranking as the 12th most valuable fantasy PG in nine-cat
roto leagues (ahead of Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson, Kyle Lowry and
Jrue Holiday). His lamentable defense shouldn’t matter to fantasy
owners and the Mavs will likely play him hefty minutes ahead of
rookies Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin, so the only major caveat is
Calderon’s health – he’s missed an average of 12.8 games over the
past five seasons.
Paul Millsap signs with the Hawks
Two years, $19 million
Danny Ferry’s streak of impressive and cap-conscious moves
continued with Millsap—the two-year deal maintains the Hawks’
super-flexible financial outlook, and his $9.5 million annual salary
is on par with a guy like Shawn Marion ($9.3 million) and way
cheaper than David Lee ($13.9 million) or even Kris Humphries
($12.0 million). The value is more than surface-deep. Millsap is as
durable as they come (18 total DNPs in seven seasons), he scores
efficiently (career 56.3 true shooting), he rebounds well (9.2 boards
per 36 minutes), he averaged 1.3 steals per game last year and he
has a career PER of 18.8 (Josh Smith’s career PER is 18.4). His
minutes will undoubtedly exceed the 30 per game he averaged last
season, which makes him a borderline second-round pick in most
formats. The Hawks also signed Elton Brand to a one-year, $4
million deal, but EB isn’t likely to have more than late-round value
while the Sapper and Al Horford are healthy.
8 NBA Season Preview
Josh Smith signs with the Pistons
Four years, $56 million
Hawks fans will no longer groan every time Josh Smith launches a
perimeter jumper, since he’ll be doing it in a Pistons uniform. That
he will attempt such ill-advised shots is a given, especially if the
Pistons deploy him as their starting SF alongside Greg Monroe and
Andre Drummond, and the only real mystery is how Mo Cheeks
will react. Will he scream as Smoove trots back from the 3-point
line, playing half-speed transition defense after his miss? Will he
scour from his chair, grudgingly accepting the reality that big-
name players hold the power in today’s NBA? Either way, fantasy
owners will surely live with the results. Once you ignore his career-
low 51.1 percent FT shooting (a must if you want to draft him),
Smoove was a top-15 roto player on the strength of 17.5 points, 0.8
triples, 8.4 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.
He missed six games last year and has been remarkably durable
throughout his career, another reason to target the über-talented
28-year-old on draft day.
Brandon Jennings signed-and-traded to
Three years, $24 million
Jennings set career-highs last season with 6.5 assists and 2.2
three-pointers per game, but habitually poor shooting percentages
and high turnovers limited him to fourth-round value in nine-
cat leagues (third-round in eight-cat). His assists may jump even
higher in Detroit, where he has a corps of big men (Drummond,
Monroe, Smoove) capable of finishing his passes. His scoring
may also get a boost since he’s no longer competing for shots with
Monta Ellis. Pistons fans, however, can only hope that the 24-year-
old improves his shot selection (60 percent of his shots came from
beyond 15 feet last season), ball protection (24th among PGs in
assist-to-turnover ratio) and defense (opponents scored 9.2 more
points per 48 minutes with Jennings off the court).
In return for Jennings, the Bucks got Brandon Knight, Slava
Kravtsov and Khris Middleton. Knight immediately assumes
starting PG duties in Milwaukee and has a great chance to improve
upon last year’s 13.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.
He took a step backward during his second NBA season, averaging
13.3 points on 40.7 percent shooting with few assists (4.0) or steals
(0.8) but enough turnovers (2.7) to do damage in nine-cat leagues.
His saving grace in fantasy leagues is perimeter shooting—he
made 1.6 triples last year at a 36.7 percent clip. Hopefully the
Bucks will give him a green light all season, but his looks could be
limited with O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal, Luke Ridnour, Carlos Delfino
and Ersan Ilyasova all capable perimeter shooters.
Jrue Holiday traded to the Pelicans
New Orleans receives Holiday and
Pierre Jackson; Philadelphia receives No. 6
pick Nerlens Noel and a top-five protected
Holiday was the only player in the NBA to average at least 17.0
points and 8.0 assists last season. He made the All-Star team at
age 23. He’s missed five games total in the past three seasons, he’s a
career 37.4 percent shooter from downtown and his total rebound
percentage last year ranked sixth in the NBA among starters 6’3”
or shorter. The Pelicans saw an opportunity and they seized it, and
the acquisition of Holiday began a chain of roster-altering moves—
Tyreke Evans signed as a free agent, Robin Lopez was traded to
the Blazers and the roster was filled out with Al-Farouq Aminu,
Anthony Morrow and Greg Stiemsma. Tyreke is expected to play
sixth-man, where his ball-dominance will be minimally disruptive
to Holiday’s game, and Jrue should thrive on a Pelicans team built
to run the rubber off their soles. His fantasy value could increase
now that he’s out of Doug Collins’ deliberate offensive system (21st
in the league in pace), although his usual sky-high turnovers are
part of the package.
Brandon Jennings photo by Allen Einstein/Getty Images
9NBA Season Preview
Honorable mention transactions
16Gerald Henderson stayed with the Bobcats, agreeing to a rea-
sonable three-year, $18 million deal. It’s a steal for Charlotte
considering Henderson’s production last season was very
similar to Tyreke Evans, who will make an average of $11 mil-
lion annually. Fantasy owners should target him in the fifth or
17Greivis Vasquez was sent to the Kings in the Tyreke Evans
deal, and he seems like the favorite to start at PG ahead of
Isaiah Thomas. He was a great source of assists last year, while
barely moving the needle in other fantasy categories, and
there’s no reason to expect more from him in Sacramento.
18Carl Landry rejoined the Kings on a four-year, $26 million deal.
His efficient scoring and rebounding can be eye-catching,
but savvy fantasy owners know to avoid him until the final
rounds. It’s unclear whether Landry will pry the starting PF
job away from Jason Thompson.
19Manu Ginobili re-signed with the Spurs, where his minutes will
likely decrease from the 23 per game he averaged last season.
He’s a classic risk vs. reward pick in the final rounds.
20Chris Kaman signed a one-year, $3.2 million deal to join the
Lakers, where he’ll likely start alongside Pau Gasol. Kaman
needs to prove he can stay healthy before fantasy owners trust
him as more than a late-rounder.
21Kosta Koufos was traded from the Nuggets to the Grizzlies in
exchange for Darrell Arthur and a second-round pick. It’s
a nice deal for Memphis, allowing them to maintain a solid
presence behind Marc Gasol without overpaying for a guy
like Timofey Mozgov (who landed a three-year, $14 million
deal from the Nuggets). Koufos won’t have fantasy value in
standard leagues while Gasol is healthy.
22Luis Scola was traded to the Pacers for Miles Plumlee, Gerald
Green and a protected 2014 first-round pick. He’ll come off
the bench behind David West, which crushes his fantasy
outlook but is a very nice fit for the Pacers. Scola’s offensive
creativity is a welcome addition, and his defensive limitations
should be masked by Indy’s stellar team defense. If and when
players blow past Scola, they’ll face rotating help defenders
and either Roy Hibbert or Ian Mahinmi lurking near the rim.
23Mike Miller signed a two-year deal to return to the Grizzlies.
He’ll come off the bench and give them much-needed perim-
24Ryan Gomes signed with the Thunder, a deal which is only
remarkable since it’s the most important non-draft addition
OKC made all summer.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Charlotte Bobcats photo by Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images
10 NBA Season Preview
SLEEPERS AND BUSTS
inding those diamonds in the rough is one of the most important aspects of fantasy
sports, while identifying big names that will fizzle out is also quite helpful. While
there will be several players not listed here that will break out and become hot
pickups, these are the guys we think have the best chance of doing so. Steve Alexander
handles the sleepers, while Aaron Bruski lists the players he thinks may fail to meet
expectations. For the record, we disagree on Al Jefferson, as Bruski has him busting, and
Alexander thinks he’ll beast alone in the middle for Michael Jordan’s Bobcats.
Eric Bledsoe SUNS
Bledsoe has the talent to be a fantasy beast,
and it looks like he’ll get the opportunity
to play for the Suns. He will spend a lot of
time at shooting guard, but will also back
up Goran Dragic at point guard. We’ve got
him at about 15 points, four rebounds, four
assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer
per game. He appears to be a can’t-miss
player this year.
There are huge concerns about his shooting
percentage, but Burke should win the start-
ing point guard job and doesn’t have much
competition. It may take him some time to
figure out the NBA game, but once he does,
he should be in the running for Rookie of
Michael Carter -
The Sixers shuttled Jrue Holiday out of town
and will hand the reins of the offense to
MCW this season. He’ll struggle at times,
but with the Sixers ready to tank and pre-
pare for the future, Carter-Williams should
have a long leash, and a lot of big games as
he learns how to play professional basket-
Mayo struggled when Dirk Nowitzki re-
turned from knee surgery last year, but also
got off to a hot start. Monta Ellis and Bran-
don Jennings are gone, and Mayo should be
option No. 1 in Milwaukee. He should score
a ton of points, hit a lot of threes and be a
fun player to own.
Jimmy Butler BULLS
Butler looks like the starting shooting guard
for the Bulls, and his ability to rebound,
steal, score and hit 3-pointers should make
him a popular target in fantasy. Add in the
fact that he doesn’t miss games, and it would
appear that a breakout is coming.
Martin is a bit fragile, but a move from
OKC to Minnesota, where he’ll play for
Rick Adelman and start at shooting guard,
should be just what the doctor ordered. He
should be option No. 2 for the Wolves (after
Kevin Love), and owners can expect at least
17 points and a boatload of 3-pointers from
Martin this season. He’s also an excellent
free throw shooter and gets to the line often.
Randy Foye is gone, and it appears it’s time
for Burks to start at shooting guard as he
prepares for a breakout season. We’ve got
him penciled in for around 12 points and
plenty of 3-pointers, but he could easily end
up scoring closer to 15 points a night.
Kevin Martin’s departure probably means
that defensive wiz Thabo Sefolosha is still
the starter, but Lamb should get plenty of
minutes off the bench. And given that he’ll
follow in the footsteps of James Harden and
Martin, there’s a very good chance Lamb
pays off for those of you drafting him in the
later rounds. Twelve points and a 3-pointer
per game might be conservative estimates.
Redick will have to compete with Jamal
Crawford for minutes but looks like the
starting shooting guard for the Clippers,
who no longer have Caron Butler. If Redick
gets the minutes we’re expecting, he should
hit more than two 3-pointers per game and
post solid, all-around numbers alongside
John Jenkins HAWKS
Lou Williams is still recovering from knee
surgery and we’ve got Jenkins listed as the
starting shooting guard. And if he gets 25-30
minutes per night, he could pay off as a late-
round flier in almost all fantasy leagues. Of
course, if Lou-Will returns strong, Jenkins
could also end up being a bust.
With Jason Richardson’s season in doubt
and Evan Turner set to play a lot of small
forward, Anderson is going to have to step
up. He’s a long shot for fantasy value, but we
should all keep a close eye on him in train-
ing camp and the preseason. He will likely
be worth a last-round pick on draft night if
hes the starter.
Jeff Green CELTICS
Green somehow made it through every
game last season after missing a year due to
heart surgery. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett
are in Brooklyn, and the only thing standing
in Green’s way is Gerald Wallace, who forgot
how to play basketball last year. Green can
score, board, steal, block and hit 3-pointers,
and we are expecting a monster year from
him, comparable to what Nicolas Batum will
do. Go get him.
By: Steve Alexander and Aaron Bruski
photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
11NBA Season Preview
Carlos Delﬁno/Khris Mid-
The Bucks don’t appear to be ready to play
Ersan Ilyasova at small forward, meaning
Delfino looks like the guy. And while he’s in-
jury prone, he’s also one of the best 3-point
shooters in the league, and can steal the
ball. His shooting percentage won’t be ideal,
but he could lead the league in 3-pointers
made if he can stay healthy. And if he falters,
look for Middleton to step up his game and
become worth owning in most leagues.
Harris went on a crazy tear when he was
traded to the Magic last season, and we see
no reason why he can’t do it again. We’ve got
him penciled in for 16 points, 7.4 rebounds,
a steal, a block and a 3-pointer per game this
season. Unfortunately, the secret is out, and
he’s going to go higher in drafts than we’d
prefer, but he should still pay off.
Barnes had the dunk of the summer and
things were really looking up for him until
the Warriors landed Andre Iguodala. Barnes
will still have plenty of opportunities to
score, rebound, steal and hit 3-pointers, but
we’d be a lot more confident in his game
if he didn’t have to fight for minutes with
The Kings have always been weak at small
forward, and it looks like Salmons will have
the job this season with Tyreke Evans in
New Orleans. Salmons isn’t going to single-
handedly win you a fantasy league, but he
should put up solid numbers as long as he’s
starting. Twelve points, three boards, three
assists, a steal and a couple threes per game
are not out of the question.
Nick Young/Wes Johnson
Metta World Peace is in New York, and
Young and Johnson are set to split time at
small forward for the Lakers. And if Kobe
Bryant misses time with his Achilles injury,
both players could end up starting until he’s
good to go. Both of them are volume scorers
and can hit 3-pointers, and both should be
worth owning in most leagues. Just don’t
target them until the end of your draft.
Chandler has the ability to contribute in
almost every fantasy category, and we have
no idea when teammate Danilo Gallinari
might be ready to play this season. Chandler
should come out of the gates healthy, ready
to score, and put up all-around solid fantasy
numbers. Don’t be afraid to jump on him
once the big-named small forwards are off
the board, as he could be one of the steals of
With Al Jefferson (CHA) and Paul Millsap
(ATL) out of the way, Favors should run the
show at power forward in Utah this season.
Fourteen points, 10 boards, a steal and two
blocks sounds about right, and he won’t kill
you at the free throw line (70%).
Andrea Bargnani is with the Knicks, and Ed
Davis is in Memphis, clearing the way for
Johnson to be the primary power forward
for Toronto this season. A breakout season
should be coming, and we think he’ll aver-
age at least 14 points, nine boards, a steal
and 1.5 blocks this season.
The Sixers are a mess and Young is coming
off a fine season, as usual. We’ve got him tar-
geted at 78 games, 16 points, eight boards,
two steals and nearly a block per game, so
don’t sleep on him.
We’re guessing Morris will play in all 82
games this season, and Luis Scola is in Indi-
an. That should clear the way for a breakout
season of 13 points, seven boards, a steal,
a block and nearly a 3-pointer per game,
which is gold from a big man.
Zeller should start at PF for Charlotte, as
long as he can hold off Josh McRoberts, and
is many people’s pick for Rookie of the Year.
He should be a nice complement to new
center Al Jefferson, and average around 12
points, 7.5 rebounds and a block per game.
Everyone on the Rotoworld staff seems
to be in agreement that this is the time
for Valanciunas to break out. He was
fantastic in the Summer League, is the
clear starter at center, and all signs are
pointing to him becoming one of the
best centers in the league, despite av-
eraging just nine points and six boards
last season. We see him at 13 points,
nine boards and two blocks, and it’s
possible that those projections are too
conservative. Don’t be afraid to make
him your No. 1 center, as the Raptors
seem fully invested in running the of-
fense through the big man this year.
Kanter showed a lot of skills and tools
last season, and Al Jefferson and Paul
Millsap are no longer in Utah. He
should get all the minutes he can handle
and should be a double-double machine
this year, along with a block per game.
And he can shoot free throws.
JaVale McGee NUGGETS
George Karl and Kosta Koufos are gone,
and Brian Shaw will now coach the
Nuggets. All of those facts give McGee
some serious hope, and he’s the easy fa-
vorite to start at center in Denver. Sure,
he could tick his coach off at any time
by making a bone-headed play or two,
but there is a very good chance McGee
could be a monster this year. We’ve
got him at 13 points, nine boards and
2.5 blocks this season, and if he gains
confidence and stops constantly looking
over his shoulder, could be even better
Yes, the free throw shooting is going to
be abysmal, as in dreadful, and possibly
devastating. But he should also average
at least 12 points, nine boards and two
blocks this season. The bad news is that
he’ll have to compete with Greg Mon-
roe and Josh Smith for his boards and
blocks, but should be one of the most
fun young players in the league to own.
Kaman will start for the Lakers and
while he’s no longer the player he once
was for the Clippers, there should still
be something left in the tank. If 13
points, six boards and solid percentages
work for you, Kaman should be a de-
cent late-round fantasy pick this year.
12 NBA Season Preview
his minutes and touches get divided up
among a deeper Warriors squad.
Jamal Crawford CLIPPERS
He’s still going to get his minutes, and
owners will remember the good times
from last season on draft day, but the
additions of J.J. Redick and Jared Dud-
ley bring two serviceable players into
Crawford’s situation and not in a good
Dwyane Wade HEAT
If there was ever a guy that profiles to
take the regular season off, it’s Wade,
whose knees are officially suspect along
with his jumper that he refused to take
in the Finals. A player of his caliber will
always command a stiff price, but days
off and injury risk give him the look of
a nasty headache.
Ray Allen HEAT
Approaching league-worst defensive
levels, it’s going to be hard for the Heat
Jeremy Lin ROCKETS
With Patrick Beverley breathing down
his neck and a solid fantasy season
under his belt to drive up his price, the
going rate for Linsanity could end up
being a drain on owners’ pocketbooks.
Steve Nash LAKERS
Nash’s numbers took a big hit in the
assists department playing next to
Kobe, and it’s a fair question to wonder
whetherif he can play more than 60
games this season. Decreased athleti-
cism has already impacted the way he
plays, and a precipitous decline could
be in store for a guy whose name value
can still command a mid-round pick.
Jrue Holiday PELICANS
Along the same lines as Monroe, hHe
added Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans
to his life. If the Pelicans don’t run and
gun Nellie style, there might be a fight
for the ball at halfcourt.
Greivis Vasquez KINGS
After the fawning media is done for-
getting that Isaiah Thomas had to play
for Keith Smart last year, the latter will
surprise them by being just as good of a
passer as Vasquez and a better defender.
With holes in his fantasy game already,
look for Vasquez to be overdrafted if he
wins the starting job in Sacramento.
Joe Johnson NETS
Iso-Joe had more name than game
last year, and with the Nets adding
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei
Kirilenko he’s bound to get overdrafted.
In fact, you can make a case for all four
players being in the same predicament.
Klay Thompson WARRIORS
Thompson isn’t going to be a huge bust,
but given where he will be drafted, he’ll
have the potential to be a miss when
to keep Allen on the court if he’s not
hitting his shots. A decline in shooting
last season could easily get swept under
the rug after he hit the shot that saved
the Heat’s championship.
Josh Smith PISTONS
Not only is Smith one of the worst free
throw shooters in the league, he will
have to deal with two rebounding studs
in Detroit (Andre Drummond, Greg
Monroe). Smoove is still a very talented
fantasy player, but with more competi-
tion for both rebounding and scoring,
and his terrible stats from the line, he
will likely be drafted too early in most
Paul Pierce NETS
Pierce not only has to deal with Andrei
Kirilenko playing his position in Brook-
lyn, but the Nets are one of the deepest
teams in the league. He’s already said he
photo by Issac Baldizon/Getty Images
13NBA Season Preview
is ready to be a role player, and while
he’ll still offer fantasy value, the days of
him being a workhorse at small forward
are probably over.
Danilo Gallinari NUGGETS
Gallinari may not be ready to play
until January after knee surgery, and
even then it could be a lost season for
him. We’ve got his substitute, Wilson
Chandler, listed as a sleeper (for good
reason), and he looks like a much better
pick than Gallinari this year.
Don’t let the name fool you. The Suns
have plenty of other players to handle
small forward and Beasley’s marijuana
arrest over the summer isn’t going to
help his cause. He was a disaster last
season, as he’s been for most of his
career, and there is no reason to think
anything will change this season.
David Lee WARRIORS
Lee’s defense is suspect, as he doesn’t
block shots and is mainly known for
scoring and rebounding. And given
Lee’s big name, and the added juice
to GSW’s lineup, there’s a very good
chance Lee will disappoint owners who
take him in the early rounds of their
David West PACERS
Yes, he just signed a big contract and
he beat down owners’ criticisms last
season, but the Pacers have much more
depth and can preserve their team lead-
er’s health by cutting his minutes. With
Paul George, Lance Stephenson, George
Hill and Roy Hibbert coming into their
own, his touches could go down too.
Pau Gasol LAKERS
He’s going to have a better season than
the one he posted last year, but with
Dwight Howard gone, owners are al-
ready forgetting that Gasol’s game is in
decline and that Mike D’Antoni doesn’t
like to play two centers. Chris Kaman
will bear the brunt of that philosophy,
but the early draft pick that Gasol will
cost is a risk-reward play on a guy that
appeared to be falling apart.
Zach Randolph GRIZZLIES
Management appears, at least superfi-
cially, to not view Randolph as a part of
their long-term future. And there are
signs that the relationship has strained,
though we won’t be bumping him down
draft boards much for these reasons.
But when talking busts, an aging mid-
round guy that might be unhappy is
Greg Monroe PISTONS
Used to operating with the ball in his
hands, he just acquired two reasons that
won’t happen as much – Brandon Jen-
nings and Josh Smith. Good luck, Greg.
Glen Davis MAGIC
I’m trying not to unfairly picture him
coming back Oliver Miller style after
a long layoff, but however he returns
he’ll come back to a team that is no-
where near ‘his,’ no matter how much
he thinks that statement isn’t true.
Andrea Bargnani F and
Amare Stoudemire KNICKS
Both will be overdrafted and both
could very well sit on the waiver wire
for much of the year.
Al Jefferson BOBCATS
Big Al showed signs of decline last
season and looked slower than ever.
With what looks to be a cushy fantasy
situation, a precipitous decline could
hurt when considering he’ll be an early
round draft pick.
Andrew Bynum CAVALIERS
The jokes almost write themselves with
this guy, but with his proverbial upside
comes the potential for a massive flop.
We prefer to take our chances on guys
that actually love the game of basket-
photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
14 NBA Season Preview
Earlier this year, I paid $150 to go to a Bob Dylan concert.
The performance was so bad, I left early and felt like I’d
been taken into a dark alley and robbed of my money.
In the end, however, this waste of cash was really my fault.
I paid for the young Dylan, not the 72-year-old Dylan. The
problem? Dylan is a shell of himself because, well, he’s 72
years old. It’s not his fault.
When it comes to fantasy basketball, paying for past per-
formances is equally as inexcusable. By identifying when
players have hit the top of their career arc and are coming
back down, we can avoid overpaying. Future returns - i.e.
the 2013-14 season - are all we care about.
Here are 10 candidates to be overdrafted because they’re
over the hill.
Dwyane Wade SG, Heat
Wade has long been a candidate to hit the wall early be-
cause of the way he attacks the rim and consistently ends
up on his backside. The wear and tear has caught up to him
Over the last two seasons, Wade has missed 30-of-148
games (20.2 percent). Last season, his 21.2 points and 0.81
blocks per game were the lowest marks since his rookie
year. Wade was a serviceable 3-point shooter at one time,
but as his legs have left him, that part of his game has gone
by the wayside as well. Wade was just 17-of-66 (25.8 per-
cent) last season.
Wade’s knee issues are chronic at age 31. He even missed
a playoff game against the Bucks. Furthermore, head-to-
head owners need to avoid Wade like the plague. Since the
Heat only have the playoffs on their mind, they’ll rest Wade
down the stretch. He sat nine of the final 14 games in 2012-
13 and eight of the final 16 in 2011-12.
Dirk Nowitzki PF, Mavs
Owners that wasted a pick on Nowitzki last year felt the pain. He sat out
the first 27 games of the year and then posted just 17.3 points per game –
his lowest mark since 1999-2000.
The Mavs clearly know they have to become less reliant on Dirk. He
played just 31.6 minutes a night last year, the lowest since his rookie year.
In the offseason, they went out and got three new starters in Monta Ellis,
Jose Calderon and Sam Dalembert. Dirk’s offensive role will continue to
decline because he’s 35 years old and is no longer able to carry a team.
By: Adam Levitan
photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
15NBA Season Preview
Steve NashPG, Lakers
The hamstring and hip injuries that kept Nash out of 32 games last year
are expected to be back to 100 percent. There will be preseason stories
about how good and young he’s feeling. Don’t buy it. Listen to Lakers
trainer Gary Vitti.
“Figure out the appropriate minutes that put him in a successful situation.
The example I use is Robert Horry, where we played him a lot of minutes,
and it was difficult for him to recover and be productive at his age. But he
goes to San Antonio, plays 18 minutes a game, and the guy was an unbe-
lievable force off the bench for them. I think if we figure out how best to
use Steve, he can be the same way.”
Nash was a well below average defender when he was in his 20s. He was
atrocious in his 30s. Now that he’s going to turn 40 in February, he’s a
liability. Even Mike D’Antoni can’t afford to keep Nash out on the floor
for extended stretches against the game’s minions of lightning-fast point
guards. Even trying to keep up with them will wear Nash down.
If the Lakers can get 26-28 minutes a night for 60 games out of Nash,
they’ll consider it a win.
Jameer Nelson PG, Magic
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that we’ve seen the best of Nelson –
and the Magic know it.
First of all, Nelson has been unable to sustain health thanks to constant
knee pain. Over the last five seasons, he’s missed 98-of-394 games (24.8
percent). He’s also seen his shooting percentage drop drastically over that
span, declining sharply in five straight seasons. After peaking at 50.3 per-
cent in 2008-09, Nelson shot a painful 39.2 percent in 2012-13. When
smaller point guards lose athleticism, the wall comes quickly.
Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the Magic used the No. 2 overall pick
on Victor Oladipo and have been using him at point guard during the
offseason. Nelson only has enough juice left to be a No. 2 point guard.
Joe Johnson SG, Nets
IIt feels like yesterday that Johnson was an electric, high-flying, rising star
for the Suns. Then we realize that was literally a decade ago.
Since the 2006-07 season when he averaged a career-high 25.0 points per
game, Johnson’s scoring has declined every year but one. That can be tied
to his free-throw attempts per game, which have declined every single
year since that ‘06-‘07 season. Frankly, Johnson can’t go by defenders any-
more and doesn’t attack the rim. He’s a jumpshooter.
That may be fine for the Nets, but it’s not for fantasy owners. And with
Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett coming aboard, there will be more chances for
Johnson to rest his body and settle for jumpers.
Amare Stoudemire PF, Knicks
In theory, Stoudemire isn’t injured anymore. He’s had his knee surgeries,
he’s had his follow-ups and he’s had his repairs. But the remnants of all
those injuries have left a permanent mark that Stoudemire is unlikely to
recover from even though he’s just 30 years old.
At this point, Stoudemire is a guy that catches the ball at the high post and
either takes a jumper or swings the ball along. He’s no longer a shot block-
er or rebounder because he doesn’t have the lift. What’s worse is that the
Knicks are intent on handling their max contract man with kid gloves. He
likely won’t play on back-to-backs and will have a minutes cap this season.
photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
photo by Issac Baldizon/Getty Images
16 NBA Season Preview
Jeremy Lin PG, Rockets
It’s not that Lin has lost a step or that he’s washed up physically at age 25. It’s that
he’s the rare guy that hit his career peak as a second-year player and has been
tumbling down ever since.
Lin is always going to be a candidate to be overdrafted thanks to his performance
across 11 February 2012 games with the Knicks. During that time, he averaged
20.9 points, 8.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 0.9 3-pointers while becoming
the talk of the world. Last year, while playing in an ideal scheme with the up-tem-
po Rockets, he averaged just 13.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals and
1.1 3-pointers. That’s a more realistic expectation of his career, but the chances to
score will be fewer to come by now that Dwight Howard is in town.
Andrew Bogut C, Warriors
Remember the Andrew Bogut that was a fantasy monster, double-doubling every
night while sticking among the league-leaders in blocks and field-goal percent-
age? That’s a distant memory now.
Bogut is just 28 years old, but the handful of serious injuries he’s sustained over
the last few years have sapped his game. The Warriors don’t even try to run of-
fense through him in the post. He’s just asked to rebound and defend for as long
as he can. Last year, that was 24.6 minutes a night, a span in which he averaged
just 5.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and shot an uncharacteristic 45.1 percent from the
field. His ankle pain isn’t going away.
Gerald Wallace PF, Celtics
One thing to watch closely when examining career arcs is the super-athletic guys.
For example, Paul Pierce is certainly slower and can’t jump as high as he used to,
but he’s still extremely effective because of his shooting ability and basketball IQ.
Guys like Gerald Wallace, on the other hand, have serious problems.
Wallace became an NBA star and fantasy stud because of his unique athleticism
in a league full of athletes. He just ran past and jumped over everyone. Now that
Wallace is 31 and has been “crashing” into the floor for 12 seasons, he’s not capable
of those athletic feats anymore. His brutal jumper never got better, and therefore,
he has nothing to fall back on. Wallace’s 39.7 percent shooting and 7.7 points a
night last year were for real.
Manu Ginobili SG, Spurs
The Spurs like wrapping their players in foil, preserving them for the playoffs at
all costs. So when a player that was coddled all year can’t even perform in the
playoffs, it’s a bad very sign.
In 21 postseason games last year, Ginobili could muster just 11.5 points on 39.9
percent shooting in 26.7 minutes a night. He turned 36 in June, has an injury re-
sume longer than Rudy Gobert and will show up with random DNPs in addition
to his usual games missed for actual bumps.
The Spurs – and fantasy teams – are better off giving all the wing minutes to
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
OVER THE HILL
18 NBA Season Preview
nformation is always going to be the key
piece of a fantasy basketball champion-
ship. The more we know more about a
player’s role, ability and condition, the easier
it will be to dominate.
Perhaps the simplest but most important tool
to have with you on draft day is a full under-
standing of the league’s injuries:
Injury: Tore left ACL on April 28, 2012
Rose had the unfortunate circumstance of
blowing out his knee in the AAP (after Adri-
an Peterson) era.
Five years ago, it was widely assumed that
a player wouldn’t be 100 percent until a full
two years after his knee reconstruction. A
decade or two ago, this was a career-threat-
ening kind of injury. But in the AAP era,
Rose got crucified for sitting out the entire
2012-13 season. All that doesn’t matter now.
What does matter is how Rose will fare in the
upcoming season, one in which he’s fully ex-
pected to be a full go from Opening Night.
Come November 1, the 2010-11 MVP will
be 18 months removed from his injury. By all
accounts, he’s in tremendous shape and has
finally regained confidence in his knee. Rose
says he’s now 100 percent and believes he’s
the best player in the NBA.
The concern is that Rose’s athleticism is what
made him such a dominant player before
the injury. He’s not someone that’s wins with
jumpers or making 3-pointers with his feet
set. It’s that violent change-of-direction and
explosion to the hoop that made him a MVP.
OUTLOOK: Rose figures to be playing start-
er’s minutes right out of the gate. But owners
drafting Rose will be betting that he hasn’t
lost any of that trademark athleticism. Even
if he says he’s 100 percent, it’s a risky proposi-
tion given Rose’s high ADP.
Injury: Ruptured left Achilles’ tendon on
April 12, 2013
Part of Bryant’s historic legacy will be his
durability and ability to will his way through
the bumps and bruises of the NBA. Sprained
ankles that kept most players out for weeks
kept Kobe out for a quarter. Slight tears in a
shooting shoulder were brushed off.
However, a full Achilles’ rupture is not one
of those garden-variety NBA injuries. Kobe
was slapped with a 6-9 month recovery time-
table, meaning the very earliest he’d be back
There are two factors fighting each other
here. It’s the extreme seriousness of Bryant’s
injury coupled with his advancing age (35
years old in August) versus Kobe’s penchant
for quick recovery.
OUTLOOK: There’s some feeling in the
sports medicine community that an Achil-
les’ rupture is actually worse than an ACL
tear. Kobe’s mid-range jumper is his great-
est weapon now, but he might not be back to
himself until the All-Star break. Someone in
your league will jump the gun here based on
name value alone.
Injury: Bone bruise, chronic pain in both
In 2011-12, good Bynum missed just six
games while playing 35.2 minutes a night.
He showed his upside, averaging 18.7 points,
11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Then came
2012-13, when bad Bynum didn’t play in a
single game. He spent his time at strip clubs,
19NBA Season Preview
playing pop-a-shot at Dave and Busters, try-
ing out crazy hairstyles and infuriating the
Philadelphia fan base.
Now Bynum has to prove himself once again.
As an unrestricted free agent, he refused to
work out for teams. He gained 15 pounds and
we are virtually certain it wasn’t of the muscle
variety (think beer belly). Bynum settled for
a two-year, $24.8 million contract with the
Cavs. That deal only includes $6 million in
OUTLOOK: There are going to be missed
games and limited minutes here. The ques-
tion is just how many missed games and just
how low the minutes cap will be. If Bynum’s
knee looks good through the preseason, he’ll
be worth a risk/reward pick because most
owners will simply want to avoid the head-
Injury: Partial ACL tear on Jan. 25, 2013
Rondo’s tear wasn’t as severe as the one sus-
tained by Derrick Rose. In fact, Rondo didn’t
even come out of the game when he original-
ly hurt the knee and was initially diagnosed
with a hyperextension. Only two days later
did the dreaded ACL news come down.
Still, a partial tear is far better than a full tear.
Rondo is expected to be ready for a limited
training camp and then go full blast come
OUTLOOK: There are a lot of adjustments to
make here. Rondo will be trying to get com-
fortable with his knee while simultaneously
learning to play without Kevin Garnett and
Paul Pierce. He’ll be asked to score more and
play more minutes, a lot of pressure for a guy
coming off a serious injury. If he handles it,
Rondo will be a steal. The partial nature of
his tear makes it more likely he’ll succeed.
Injury: Tore right lateral meniscus on
April 24, 2013
The Thunder’s title hopes got flushed down
the toilet when feisty Rockets G Patrick Bev-
erley tried to steal the ball from Westbrook
while he was trying to call a timeout. It’s a
play that happens a million times during an
NBA season, and one that players actually try
to execute successfully during the playoffs.
Westbrook and Thunder fans shouldn’t be
mad at Beverley.
Anyway, meniscus injuries are the least se-
vere of the knee injuries. The meniscus is
essentially the padding in a knee – it’s not
a ligament that controls the joint. Further-
more, reports said that only 2 percent of
Westbrook’s meniscus was torn.
It’s possible that Westbrook could have played
through the injury during the playoffs, but the
Thunder wisely took the long-range view. By
getting the surgery, he’ll have more padding
going forward and therefore extend his career.
OUTLOOK: We can be confident Westbrook
will not be hampered at all this season. Me-
niscus surgeries are relatively minor and have
short recovery timetables.
Injury: Tore left ACL on April 4, 2013
When Gallinari went down in a heap against
the Mavs, it looked like the most severe kind of
knee injury a player can suffer. But when sur-
geons went into Gallo’s knee, they found good
It turned out that Gallinari only sustained a
partial tear. The Nuggets originally said he
wouldn’t be back until February at the earli-
est – now he’s targeting a return to basketball
activities in December.
OUTLOOK: The Nuggets are solid at the
swingman spot with starting-caliber backup
Wilson Chandler ready to step in. Gallo won’t
be rushed, but he also won’t have to regain all
of his athleticism to be effective. He’ll be a help
in the 3-point category late in the season.
– Underwent surgery to repair a torn right
hip flexor. He’s expected to be ready for
– After getting his $24.7M deal from the
Knicks, Smith underwent patella and me-
niscus surgery. He’s in doubt for Opening
– Big Baby broke his left foot way back in
January. Then he had to undergo another
procedure in July, which was deemed a set-
back. Conditioning will be a concern, even
if he is a go come November.
– The impressive rising sophomore missed
most of the offseason due to a stress reac-
tion in his leg. It’s the kind of injury that
photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
20 NBA Season Preview
n January of 2013, a long-tenured NBA scout told
Bobcats beat reporter Rick Bonnell, “I don’t think
this is a good draft. This is the year you should con-
sider trading your draft pick—no matter where it is.” The
sentiment seems to have stuck, as draft night featured
16 trades with a total of 22 draft picks changing hands
(not counting future picks). The skepticism of scouts
and the eagerness of GMs to swap picks does not, of
course, mean that the draft lacked solid NBA rotation
players or the occasional guy with All-Star potential.
Every year there are overlooked players who defy ex-
pectations both in reality and in fantasy leagues. I must,
however, begin with my standard disclaimer—rookies
are typically more trouble than they’re worth in fantasy
Here are the fantasy values for the top 12 draft picks
*NOTE: I’m listing per-game rotisserie rankings for
eight-cat and nine-cat leagues, respectively, accord-
ing to BasketballMonster.com. Assuming a ‘standard’
12-person league with 13 roster spots, the cut-off for
fantasy usefulness would be No. 156.
Not very impressive. Only four rookies provided season-long fantasy value in 2012-13, only Anthony Davis and Da-
mian Lillard provided better than 10th-round value in eight- or nine-cat leagues, and not a single player drafted after
Andre Drummond at No. 9 cracked the top-160. Keep in mind that while most rookies aren’t worth drafting, they can
certainly be useful throughout the season—e.g. Moe Harkless (the No. 15 pick) was the No. 164 player overall but he
returned ninth-round value during the final month of the season. Bradley Beal, similarly, was a fifth-round value in the
final two months. Thus forewarned, let’s proceed to this year’s rookies.
Cavaliers draft F (6’8”, 240 lbs.)
The Cavs’ selection of Bennett was unexpected but log-
ical. He averaged 16.1 points on 53.3 percent shooting
as a freshman with UNLV, playing only 27 minutes per
game, and he proved equally adept scoring at the rim
and from the perimeter (38.3 percent from downtown).
He came into the draft recovering from rotator cuff sur-
gery while facing questions about his conditioning after
weighing in at 261 lbs. during the Combine, but there
were similarly serious concerns about other top pros-
pects. Bennett is expected to be fully healthy for training
camp, and coach Mike Brown said he’ll play most of his
minutes at PF as a rookie, possibly transitioning to SF
“way, way down the road.” Unless Brown speeds up the
transition (which he may, as Earl Clark might not work as
a full-time SF, and the Cavs view Alonzo Gee as a back-
up), Bennett may find himself battling Tristan Thompson
for frontcourt minutes behind a starting tandem of An-
drew Bynum and Anderson Varejao. Developing the No.
1 pick is a no-brainer, but Kyrie Irving is getting restless
and the Cavaliers intend to make the playoffs this sea-
son, so don’t assume that he’ll be handed a 32-minute
role on opening night.
Magic draft G (6’4”, 213 lbs.)
The Magic never seemed to waver from their interest in
Oladipo, a relentlessly physical defender who represents
the future of the team’s backcourt. Jameer Nelson is in
the final fully-guaranteed year of his contract and Ola-
dipo is playing extensive minutes at PG during Summer
League, training camp and the preseason. Early returns
haven’t been great (he averaged 5.0 assists vs. 4.8
turnovers during Summer League), but it hardly matters
for fantasy purposes. Orlando is openly rebuilding their
team around young guys like Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic
and Tobias Harris, and they’ll find a way to keep the No.
2 pick on the court. He’s a terrific athlete who improved
to 44.2 percent shooting beyond the arc as a junior with
Indiana, and fantasy owners should view him as a high-
upside source of steals, points and 3-pointers, with a
dash of assists and a small mountain of turnovers.
2013-14 By: Ryan Knaus
photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images
21NBA Season Preview
Wizards draft F (6’9”, 200 lbs.)
Otto Porter’s Summer League was a debacle, as he shot
30 percent from the field in three games before shutting
it down due to a sore right hamstring. The Wizards tried
to play him at SG, testing his offensive versatility, and as
a result, he seemed tentative and passive. This may dis-
suade some fantasy owners from plucking him out of the
final round, but it shouldn’t. Porter has legitimate 3-point
range (42.2 percent last year), a 7’1” wingspan,and
enough speed and athleticism to thrive as a wingman
alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal. He may not start
for a while (veterans Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster
can hold down the SF job while Porter acclimates to the
NBA), but it would be surprising if he’s not a fantasy as-
set after the All-Star break.
76ers acquire C (6’11”, 219 lbs.)
Noel was the overwhelming favorite to be drafted No. 1
overall, despite having ACL surgery in February. Owing
to fears about his knee and concerns about his skinny
frame, however, he fell to the Pelicans at No. 6 and was
quickly flipped to the Sixers in a deal for Jrue Holiday. It
hasn’t taken long for Philly to downplay expectations for
Noel’s rookie season. New GM Sam Hinkie emphasized
that his long-term health is the team’s sole focus – 76ers
writer Jason Wolf believes Noel will be out “until around
Christmas at the earliest,” and Hinkie wouldn’t rule out
Noel missing the entire 2013-14 season. Add in his rail-
thin frame and the fact that he’s still developing at 19
years old, and fantasy owners are forced to view him
as a late-season blocks specialist. With those near-term
challenges swirling, it’s easy to lose sight of his tremen-
dous potential as an NBA center—he has an enviable
7’4” wingspan and elite quickness, timing and athleti-
cism, which enabled him to average 4.4 blocks and 2.1
steals in 32 minutes as a rangy freshman with Kentucky.
Jazz acquire PG (6’1”, 186 lbs.)
Burke averaged 9.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists
during Summer League, admitting afterward that he was
inconsistent with his shooting, playmaking and defense.
He shot 24.1 percent from the field (including a stunning
1-of-19 from downtown) and was even benched for one
game so that he could collect himself and see the game
from a different angle. The Jazz may install a veteran
starting PG while Burke acclimates to the NBA, but it
shouldn’t take long for him to find his niche—he was
very efficient in pick-and-roll sets as a sophomore with
Michigan, while shooting with consistency (46.0 percent)
and range (38.3 percent from downtown). The rebuilding
Jazz have plenty of incentive to develop him as a rookie.
His stingy turnover ratio also works in his favor, and he
remains an early Rookie of the Year candidate despite
his disastrous Summer League.
Trail Blazers draft G (6’3”, 197 lbs.)
The Blazers desperately needed to add scoring punch
to their league-worst bench this summer, so they passed
up a viable big man to draft McCollum, a scoring guard
whose game is reminiscent of new teammate Damian
Lillard. He finished second during the Las Vegas Sum-
mer League with 21.0 points per game, despite fre-
quently being the focus of opposing defenses (he shot
just 36.6 percent from the field). His defense could be
the most significant determinant in his playing time as a
rookie and Portland is reportedly leery about playing him
for long stretches alongside Lillard. He’s more developed
than most rookies, having played four years with Lehigh,
and fantasy owners can anticipate double-digit scoring
with a 3-pointer per game, to go along with a trickle of
assists, rebounds and steals.
Kings draft SG (6’5”, 189 lbs.)
McLemore struggled with his shot (33 percent FGs)
and turnovers during some rough games in the Las Ve-
gas Summer League, but those performances can be
fairly dismissed. He was playing in a haphazard offense
against defenses formulated to stop him, and the Kings
were intentionally pushing his limits by putting him in
uncomfortable situations as a primary ball-handler. He
was most effective for Kansas while playing off the ball
and in transition, and as the Kings’ projected starting SG
he should find success alongside pass-first PG Greivis
Vasquez and/or Isaiah Thomas. Jimmer Fredette doesn’t
seem problematic, but the lurking presence of Marcus
Thornton should make fantasy owners pause, and there
are no guarantees that McLemore’s game will hold up
against NBA defenders. In particular, he needs to im-
prove his ball-handling and develop as a pick-and-roll
threat, something he didn’t do very often last year.
Pistons draft G/F (6’5”, 206 lbs.)
Caldwell-Pope improved across the board during his
sophomore season with Georgia, thriving as a focal point
of the offense. He averaged 18.5 points, 2.6 threes, 7.1
rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game, and he
should be an immediate part of Detroit’s rotation behind
Rodney Stuckey at SG. He looked out of sorts while
shooting 37.0 percent from the field during the Orlando
Summer League, however, and a bench role for a high-
volume shooter with mediocre peripheral stats doesn’t
bode well for fantasy purposes.
Bobcats draft PF/C (6’11”, 230 lbs.)
Charlotte’s selection of Zeller at No. 4 was met with in-
stant skepticism, which is only natural given the team’s
macabre draft history under Michael Jordan’s guidance.
Zeller is not an Adam Morrison-style flop, but he does
have to prove that his terrific athleticism and efficient
scoring in college can be adapted to the NBA. Most
glaringly, he needs to continue adding strength to com-
bat NBA big men, and he made a paltry 37.5 percent of
his jumpers during his sophomore year with Indiana. The
good news is that he shot a phenomenal 62.3 percent
overall, thanks to copious transition buckets, and the
Bobcats’ projected starting lineup is built to run (Kemba
Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Zeller
and Al Jefferson). The bad news is that PF Josh McRob-
erts is also athletic and fast, but he’s a more adept re-
bounder and passer who should be marginally better
on defense. Steve Clifford’s rotations will go a long way
toward determining Zeller’s fantasy value, or lack thereof,
but owners shouldn’t rely on him for more than a handful
of points and boards.
Suns draft C (7’1”, 255 lbs.)
Len required surgery on both ankles this summer, pro-
cedures the Suns dubbed “precautionary” but neverthe-
less reflect a major reason he was passed over by four
teams. He had a partial stress fracture in his left ankle,
but assuming he’s healthy on opening night, as expect-
ed, the Suns’ minor gamble could be richly rewarded.
Len is a true center with uncommon athleticism and skill
for his position. He was an elite finisher in the paint with
Maryland last season, he’s strong and fundamentally
sound enough to consistently box out, pin smaller de-
fenders, finish in the paint and pass out of double teams,
and he has the potential to become a solid pick-and-pop
jump shooter. The Suns can afford to bring him along
slowly with Marcin Gortat starting at center, but they’re
going nowhere this season and will undoubtedly find a
bigger role for him as the season progresses.
photo by Brian Babineau/Getty Images
22 NBA Season Preview
Celtics draft C (7’0”, 234 lbs.)
Olynyk enters the season as the likely starting center for
the Celtics, and as a four-year college player, he’s better
positioned than most rookies to provide fantasy value.
His potential was on display during Summer League,
where he averaged 18.0 points on 57.8 percent shoot-
ing, with 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals in only
24 minutes per game. Those numbers won’t mean any-
thing on opening night, but he’s a smart player with good
shooting range, and his post game should benefit from
superior spacing in the NBA. The downside is that he’s
not a terrific rebounder, and he’s unlikely to block many
shots (just 1.1 per game against college players last
year), which severely caps his fantasy upside.
Timberwolves acquire G/F (6’6”, 224 lbs.)
Muhammad had a total of 27 assists in 32 games during
his lone season at UCLA. He wasn’t shy about shooting
the ball, averaging 17.9 points and 1.3 threes on 44.3
percent shooting but didn’t provide enough in other cat-
egories for fantasy owners to rely on him as a rookie.
Perhaps most concerning, he entered Summer League
vowing to improve his ball-movement and playmaking,
but wound up with five assists in six games. The Wolves
are ready to go with Kevin Martin at SG and Chase
Budinger/Corey Brewer at SF, and they’re legitimately
vying for a playoff berth, which leaves precious little room
for Muhammad’s in-game development. He also got
kicked out of rookie orientation and will need to keep his
attitude in check.
Thunder draft C (7’0”, 255 lbs.)
The Thunder are looking forward to the expiration of
Kendrick Perkins’ contract, and they couldn’t pass up
Adams with the No. 12 pick. The 20-year-old center is
physically imposing and athletic enough to project as a
future starter in the NBA, on the condition that he refines
his game and develops some moves offensively. Pitts-
burgh rarely asked him to score as a freshman, and he
made a paltry 44 percent of his FTs, a potential liability in
Mavericks acquire PG (5’11”, 171 lbs.)
Take a look at those measurements again. As a sub-six-
foot PG with a slight build, Larkin’s fantasy-relevance al-
ready faces daunting odds. There were six players in the
NBA last season who stand 5’11” or shorter, and only
three had fantasy value—Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson and
Isaiah Thomas. Things got bleaker when he fractured his
right ankle in July, requiring surgery that may keep him
out until mid-October. With Jose Calderon starting at PG
and Gal Mekel ready for backup minutes, there’s no rea-
son to think Larkin will have relevance as a rookie.
Cavaliers draft SF (6’7”, 197 lbs.)
Karasev is a 19-year-old Russian who has an impressive
history despite his age. He’s already played in the Olym-
pics, he led Russia’s pro league in scoring for the 2012-
13 season and he averaged 16.1 points, 2.3 threes, 3.0
rebounds and 2.4 assists against solid competition in the
Eurocup tournament. Karasev admitted he needs to get
stronger and bigger to compete at the highest level, es-
pecially on defense, but the Cavs think enough of him
to bring him to the NBA immediately and there’s a good
chance that he’ll carve out a bench role. Working in his
favor: Cleveland feels that he can play both SG and SF,
they view Alonzo Gee as a backup and they want to de-
velop No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett as a PF.
Bulls draft SF (6’7”, 198 lbs.)
Snell played three years with New Mexico, culminating
with last year’s first-round exit in the NCAA tournament.
His terrific defense should quickly endear him to Tom
Thibodeau, who has never been shy about favoring de-
fensive lineups, and he has legitimate 3-point range. Un-
fortunately, the Bulls’ biggest offseason move was add-
ing Mike Dunleavy as depth on the wings. With backup
minutes uncertain, Snell isn’t even worth owning as long
as Luol Deng is healthy enough to play. And considering
Deng has averaged 7.8 DNPs in the past four seasons,
while leading the NBA in minutes-played, Snell isn’t a
promising rookie fantasy player.
*There are a handful of rookies drafted later than No. 20 who should carve
out a bench role, guys like Archie Goodwin or Mason Plumlee, but fantasy
owners can afford to ignore them on draft day.
Bucks draft F (6’9”, 196 lbs.)
The Bucks drafted an 18-year-old SF whom none of their
fans had likely heard of before June 27, but whose excel-
lent size and diverse skill-set had already earned him a
draft promise from the Mavericks at No. 17 overall. An-
tetokounmpo has enormous hands which complement
his surprisingly refined ball-handling and passing, and
his defensive potential is off the charts, but he undoubt-
edly needs a few years of development before reaching
his NBA potential physically or mentally. The director of
the Bucks’ scouting program, Billy McKinney, said the
rookie’s season will be a success if he gets “consistent
minutes on the court.”
Hawks acquire C (7’0”, 220 lbs.)
Nogueira has great height and length and extraordinary
quickness, but he suffers from an almost cliché list of
rookie big men ailments: he badly needs to bulk up to
effectively rebound and play defense in the NBA, and his
post game ranges from raw to non-existent. The Hawks
have a stacked frontcourt this season (Al Horford, Paul
Millsap, Elton Brand and Pero Antic) and Nogueira has a
fairly steep $2 million buyout with his team in Spain, so he
may not join the Hawks this season.
Hawks draft PG (6’2”, 165 lbs.)
Schröder’s fantasy outlook dimmed significantly when
the Hawks matched a three-year offer for Jeff Teague,
but there’s a good chance that he’ll lock down the back-
up PG job. He shot 40.0 percent from downtown while
playing in Germany last season, and his offense looks
ready-made with terrific speed and ball-handling to go
along with a reliable jump shot. His effectiveness in pick-
76ers draft PG 6’6”, 185 lbs.)
Carter-Williams, at 6’6” tall, has an inherent advantage
at the PG position. He averaged 11.9 points, 4.9 re-
bounds, 7.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game during his
sophomore year with Syracuse, which culminated with a
march to the Final Four. That’s where the unimpeachable
attributes stop and the questions begin. Can he improve
his jump shooting to a respectable level in the NBA,
where savvy, athletic defenders have read the scouting
report and are willing to dive under the screen on each
and every pick-and-roll?
He shouldn’t, based upon his thoroughly awful shoot-
ing from 3-point range (29.2 percent) and inside the arc
(43.8 percent) last year. He also turned the ball over on
28 percent of his pick-and-rolls, according to DraftEx-
press.com, and his struggles as a shooter and ball-pro-
tector were on full display during the Orlando Summer
League—in five games, he averaged 13.6 points on 27.1
percent shooting, with a disturbingly high 4.8 turnovers
per game, and John Mitchell of the Inquirer reports that
he “struggled going to his left.” The good news is that he
also posted 4.2 boards and 6.8 assists per game. The
Sixers are gleefully tanking the 2013-14 season and will
play him as many minutes as he can handle, but fantasy
owners should give him a wide berth.
11 and-rolls impressed scouts while he was in Germany,
but his 3.1 assists vs. 2.5 turnovers last season suggest
that he’ll still face a significant learning curve. Defensively,
he’s quick and pesky enough to do a serviceable job as
a rookie, and as he gets stronger, he could become a
TOP 20 ROOKIE PREVIEWS
24 NBA Season Preview
’m not going to list Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio or Greg Oden
in this column. After last season (and most of his career) Curry
has shown that he is ready to go, and you simply can’t decide
to pass on him because he ‘might’ roll his ankle on opening night.
Rubio isn’t dealing with any current injury problems, and Oden
simply isn’t worth the time it would take to write him up. Don’t
draft him. Here are the players who come with some baggage but
will pay off in a big way if all goes well.
Derrick Rose PG Bulls
Rose is this year’s RvR poster child after missing all of last season
due to his devastating knee injury. He should be well-rested, ready
for opening night and relatively healthy all season. However, I’m
still not ready to take a dive on him with a first-round pick. And
if he makes it through 75 games and plays heavy minutes, I might
look like a fool (see Stephen Curry last year).
Kobe Bryant SG Lakers
I’m still not ready to tell you to stay away from Kobe this season,
even if we don’t know if he’ll be ready for opening night after rup-
turing his Achilles last season. And if he is in there opening night,
Guards it might go down as the quickest recovery from that injury in the
history of sports. Whether he comes back and can still play like the
Kobe Bryant we all know is up for debate, but if anyone can, it’s Bry-
ant. And with the Lakers’ shaky roster, they’ll need Kobe to dom-
inate if they’re going to make the playoffs. I don’t have a problem
with taking him in Round 2 if it appears he’ll play on opening night,
but there’s certainly a lot of risk involved with doing so.
Dwyane Wade SG Heat
Wade seems to make it through most of his seasons, but his knees
appear to be a disaster, he’s another year older and he can kick back
and watch LeBron James play anytime he chooses to do so. Wade is
still a fantasy beast when he plays, but we’ve got him playing in just
65 games this season, meaning owners could be scrambling at times
this season. I’m not touching him in Round 1 and may just pass on
By: Steve Alexander
25NBA Season Preview
Kyrie Irving PG Cavaliers
Irving may or may not be injury prone, but the numbers say he
missed 15 games during his rookie season and 23 more in his sec-
ond season. Maybe this is the year he plays in 78 games and avoids
nagging injuries, but his size and stature don’t work in his favor. I’m
still not scared enough to let him drop out of the Top 15 picks in
Steve Nash PG Lakers
Nash’s broken leg ruined his season last year, while playing along-
side Kobe Bryant doesn’t appear to be something that works well
for his fantasy numbers. Owners have to hope he falls far enough in
drafts (likely) to become a solid value pick (maybe), but the main
concern is that the 39-year-old could have trouble staying healthy
again this year. We’ve got him penciled in for 70 games, which could
be generous, but he missed just four games in 2011-12 and played in
at least 74 games in the 10 seasons prior to that one.
Rajon Rondo PG Celtics
Rondo is coming off major knee surgery, and while he seems to
think he’ll be ready for the start of the season, we all saw what hap-
pened to Rose last year. We’ve only got him slated for 62 games, and
if that’s not a big enough concern, consider he’s playing for a coach
who looks five years younger than him (and has never coached an
NBA game) and that he no longer has Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett
as his go-to guys. The potential reward is the league lead in steals
(and a lot of dimes), but the risk is just too great. I’m thinking you’re
better off letting someone else deal with Rondo this year.
photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
26 NBA Season Preview
Danny Granger G/F Pacers
Granger is coming off a lost season due to what appears to be
chronic knee problems and sat on the sidelines as Paul George
became the face of the franchise. Granger will play shooting guard
this season, which isn’t his natural position, and the last time
he was really healthy, he tended to stand out on the perimeter,
launching threes without a conscience. His draft stock has taken a
pretty strong hit in the past year, and his role with the Pacers is still
changing. He could be boom or bust, but I wouldn’t plan on taking
him before Round 4 or 5, as the risk is definitely still there.
Eric Gordon SG Pelicans
The list of owners who will never draft Gordon again has grown
by leaps and bounds over the last three years and could include ev-
eryone in your league. The nice thing about that is he should be
available pretty deep into fantasy drafts, making him look more like
a low-risk, high-reward prospect than he has in previous seasons.
No, I don’t trust Gordon at all and probably never will again. But
if you can get him in Round 5 or 6, the risk will be low enough to
make him worth it.
J.R. Smith SG Knicks
Smith will be questionable for the start of the season after offseason
knee surgery, while he also signed a nice contract over the summer.
Add those two things together, and his history of being a little flaky
(OK, a lot) when it comes to relationships with coaches, and he
could be heading for an implosion. But the numbers were nice last
season, he’s a big part of what the Knicks plan on doing and we’ve
got him projected at 70 games. His price tag should be low enough
that the risk will be minimal.
Kyle Lowry PG Raptors
Lowry was expected to be a monster last year, racking up points,
rebounds, assists, steals and 3-pointers like nobody’s business, but it
just never happened. He also missed 14 games after missing 19 the
previous season, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of his owners.
He’s all set to start for the Raptors and won’t have to worry about
Jose Calderon this year. And after the disappointment that came
with him over the last two seasons, he’ll fall in drafts. But if he can
stay healthy and has his head screwed on straight, he has the talent
to be a legitimate Top 3 point guard, and Top 15 fantasy player. I
think he’ll play in 72 games and fully expect his numbers to take a
nice leap this season, so I’m buying.
Trey Burke PG Jazz
Burke’s Summer League was a disaster, and his (small) size is a real
issue. But he was so dominant at times last season at Michigan, and
he shouldn’t have much trouble winning the starting job for the
Jazz. And even if he doesn’t start, he should see plenty of run. In
addition to his small stature, his poor shooting is a huge concern,
but the fact remains that if he gets hot and makes the most of his
opportunity, he could quite easily win the Rookie of the Year award.
After you’ve got two quality point guards on your roster, feel free to
jump on Burke.
RISK VS REWARD
27NBA Season Preview
Brook Lopez C Nets
Lopez still isn’t doing basketball drills as of press time and spent
most of the summer in a walking boot after having (another) screw
put into his foot. But he made it through 74 games last season and
was one of the best fantasy centers in the league. We (foolishly?)
have him pegged for 75 games this season, and if it happens, he’ll
be worth drafting in the early rounds of your draft. I’m willing to
take a chance on Bro-Lo again this year.
Andrew Bogut C Warriors
I’m not going to say much here. He hobbled through just 32 games
last season, 12 the season before and 65 in 2010-11. With Stephen
Curry back in good graces in these parts, the “Doritos ankle” now
belongs to Bogut, and unless you’re desperate for a center late in
your draft, let someone else take a flier on Bogut.
JaVale McGee C Nuggets
McGee’s basketball IQ is the stuff of legend and low-light reels, but
he can jump out of the gym and block shots as well as any player in
recent memory. He also got out from under the thumb of George
Karl and is slated to start this season for new coach Brian Shaw. If
Shaw truly turns him loose and lets him play through the 10 or so
mistakes he’ll make per game, he should be a fantasy beast. And
given that his ADP should be in check, I’m all about taking a ride
on McGee’s massive back this year.
Samuel Dalembert C Mavericks
Dalembert has had some very big games in his long career and
now looks like the starter for the Mavericks. He’s also disappeared
for months at a time, and there are no guarantees he’ll still be start-
ing by Christmas. But if he holds the job all year, a ton of boards
and blocks should follow, and he won’t cost you a high draft pick.
Just make sure you have some other starting centers in the barn
before going after Sammy D.
Kevin Love PF Timberwolves
Love’s twice broken shooting hand not only ruined his season
from a games-played standpoint, but he couldn’t shoot it when he
was playing last year. But if you simply look at his numbers prior
to when he got hurt, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the
league. Points, rebounds, 3-pointers and solid shooting percent-
ages are his calling card, and I fully expect him to bounce back
this season. However, if you want him, you’ll have to take him in
the first round, which potentially makes him the biggest risk vs.
reward player on this list. And keep in mind that even if he does
make it to April unharmed, he has consistently failed to finish out
the season (fantasy playoffs) throughout his career. I think the po-
tential reward outweighs the risk involved with taking him in the
first round, but if you talk to anyone who drafted him last season,
they’ll probably tell you there’s no way they’d do it again.
photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
28 NBA Season Preview
Wings and point guards
Brandon Jennings Bucks
He’s the poster child for terrible shooting,
and it’s even worse because he’s taken 15.5
shots per game over his career. He and the
Bucks made it to the playoffs for the first
time since 2010, and Jennings was horrible
in the spotlight, making just 29.8 percent of
his shots. This is nothing new for B-Jen, and
he shot 39.9 percent on the regular season
last year, just a shade above his career aver-
age of 39.4 percent. Interestingly, he shot a
career-high 37.5 percent from beyond the
arc, so what gives? Well, Jennings is one of
the worst players in the NBA around the
hoop. He shot just 49.2 percent at the rim
and 28.5 percent on shots from 3-10 feet –
the league averages are 64.7 and 39.9 per-
cent, respectively. However, for the second
year in a row, he had a strong April to close
out the regular season, shooting 43.4 per-
cent. Jennings’ shots in the month were more
from the outside, so it’s hard to put much
stock into his improvement.
He heads to Detroit, and his shots around
the rim could go down with his three big for-
wards of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe
and Josh Smith in the mix. Jennings has yet
to prove he’s capable of being a good pick-
and-roll PG, but defenses might fear the lob,
and that could help Jennings get better shots
around the basket. While there’s a chance
that he could approach 42 percent from the
field this year, he’s likely to be one of the
worst in this category yet again.
Ricky Rubio Timberwolves
He was one of the better assets in fantasy
hoops with his strong second-half schedule
and loads of dimes. He also had the most
steals after the break by a margin of 19. As
for scoring himself, he has some issues. Ru-
bio takes 32.2 percent of his shots from 16
feet to inside of the 3-point line, which spells
trouble for a guy that shot 32 percent on his
jumpers in each of his last two seasons.
What’s more, Rubio can’t finish around the
rim, and he shot just 29.3 percent from be-
yond the arc. When push comes to shove,
he’s really the worst scoring guard in the en-
tire NBA. On the plus side, he only attempt-
ed 9.0 shots per game last year, and almost
all of those games were without Kevin Love.
Love coming back should help Rubio’s
shooting not only because he should have
less shots, but also because Love drawing
the attention of defenses should soften the
weak side of the play when Love is setting
up in the post. Love’s passing skills could
also translate to better shooting as a team.
The Spaniard should keep you entertained
with steals and assists enough to offset his
Trey Burke Jazz
If you heard anything about Trey Burke this
offseason, you probably heard about his di-
sastrous Summer League. He shot a pathet-
t’s almost always costly to neglect something in your fantasy
draft, and not paying attention to your team’s percentages is
something that owners will want to avoid. Sure, field goal per-
centage is arguably the biggest hit-or-miss stat on a week-to-week
basis, but having it as a strength can go a long way.
The nice thing about percentages is that they’re the least likely to
be hurt by the injury bug. Teams that are losing multiple studs will
be crippled in multiple categories. In other words, if Rajon Rondo
goes down, the assist totals for a fantasy team will plummet com-
pared to usual. However, if a field goal percentage stud goes down,
it’s less likely to impact the bottom line because it’s not a volume
stat like dimes, points, boards, blocks, threes and steals.
If you’re scoring at home, the league averages were 45.4 percent
from the field and 75.5 percent from the line. Those will be inter-
esting numbers to keep in mind as you look at last year’s stats and
our projections. Also, the amount of shots a player takes can have
a profound impact.
Lastly, while percentages should be a focus in Roto leagues, it’s
something that owners should try and address in head-to-head
leagues as well. If your team is consistently winning percentages,
you’d only have to win two of the remaining four categories to
push, and if you can split those, that’s a 6-2 win in eight-category
Here are some of guys who will be hot topics with regards to per-
centages for the upcoming season.
percentage killers By: Mike Gallagher
FIELD GOAL KILLERS
photo by Jordan Johnson/Getty Images
29NBA Season Preview
ic 24 percent from the field and made only
one of his 19 attempts from downtown. Of
course, Burke isn’t going to shoot 24 percent
in his rookie season. Last year at Michigan,
the six-foot point guard shot 46.3 percent
from the field and 38.4 percent from down-
town. The big difference for Burke was the
height of NBA players compared to in col-
lege. His frame is going to be a detriment,
and he’s going to have to get creative in
There have been some comparisons to Da-
mian Lillard, but they’re a little bit unfair
to the reigning Rookie of the Year. While
Lillard’s field goal shooting is similar at
46.7 percent in his last year at Weber State,
even at 6’3”, he wasn’t too stellar in finishing
around the basket on his way to 42.9 per-
cent from the field last year.
Furthermore, rookie point guards have tra-
ditionally struggled in their first years.
According to Jazz play-by-play guy, Da-
vid Locke, the 11 point guards drafted in
the top 10 since 2005 who played at 21 or
younger combined to shoot 39.9 percent
from field their rookie year. The best shoot-
ing clip by a rookie taken in the top 10 since
2005 playing at 21 or under was 43 percent
by both D.J. Augustin and Chris Paul. In
conclusion, Burke is going to be really bad
this year, and 40 percent seems like a fairly
optimistic number. Hopefully, he doesn’t
take too many bad shots.
Jameer Nelson Magic
He had his worst year shooting the basketHe
had his worst year shooting the basketball,
and it wasn’t even close. Among quali-
fiers, Nelson ranked dead last in the NBA
with his 39.2 percent from the field, which
shattered his previous career-low of 42.7
percent from 2011-12. We can’t just brush
this off, and Nelson’s field goal shooting has
dropped in each of his last five seasons. It’s
not tough to figure out since his 3-point at-
tempts have gone up in each of his last four
years and his shots on attempts from the last
three seasons have also dropped.
One thing that makes the most sense is that
the loss of Dwight Howard hurt Nelson’s
shooting. Plus, the Magic don’t have a lot
of guys that demand double teams. Nelson
probably won’t be as bad as last year, but 42
percent seems to be a fair expectation.
Roy Hibbert Pacers
He was last among centers in field goal per-
centage at 44.8 percent last year. Quite frank-
ly, it was one of the biggest head-scratching
stories of the season. It was really a tale of
two halves of the season for Hibbert, though.
He shot a horrific 41.4 percent from the field
before the break, 50.8 percent after the break
and 51.1 percent in his 19 playoff games. He
struggled mightily around the rim before the
break but finally figured it out.
Since the 2011 All-Star break, Hibbert did
not shoot below 47.8 percent from the field
in any half of a season -- excluding the ugly
number before the break last year, of course.
His rough start last year should be dismissed,
and he could flirt with 50 percent this year.
DeMarcus Cousins Kings
Not being able to hit jumpers is a bit of a
problem for a basketball player, and that’s
what caused DeMarcus Cousins to have a
sub-par 2012-13. Unbelievably, he shot just
29 percent on his jump shots but still shot a
career-best 46.5 percent from the field. That’s
obviously not a bad number at the end of the
day, but big men should be closer to 50 per-
cent than 45. Furthermore, DMC was solid at
shooting the ball in the second half, making
49.1 percent of his 12.8 shots per game. The
Kings losing Tyreke Evans could mean more
shots for Cousins, but hopefully coach Mike
Malone can find ways to put his big man in
an advantageous position. Like Hibbert, he’s
a bit of a false positive.
Andrea Bargnani Knicks
Don’t draft him, and you won’t have to worry
about him hurting your shooting numbers.
Fantasy owners generally want to take big
men that can help in field goal percentage, so
they can take a bit of a hit with their guards.
There really isn’t much analysis needed here
since shooting a free throw doesn’t really in-
volve anything that has to do with making
an uncontested shot from 15 feet. In short, if
you’re going to draft one of the following big
men, you might as well just draft all of the
poor shooters from the charity stripe.
Dwight Howard Rockets
If you’re in a Roto league, he’s almost en-
tirely hands-off material. It’s pretty simple.
DeAndre Jordan Clippers
What’s worse than Jordan’s 38.6 percent
from the line during the last season? His
22.2 percent in the playoffs.
Josh Smith and
Andre Drummond Pistons
The Pistons are going to be one of the worst
free-throw-shooting teams in the NBA.
Josh Smith is in a rut from the line, and in
spectacular fashion, his percentage dropped
from 72.5 percent in 2010-11 to 63.0 per-
cent in 2011-12 and then a hideous 51.7
percent last year. Drummond was worse at
37.1 percent. Roto owners probably can’t
touch either, but those in head-to-head
leagues will want to go for the gusto and
tank in this category and try and solidify
Wings and point guards
Andre Iguodala Warriors
Iggy can’t make free throws these days, and
he shot a career-low 57.4 percent last year.
His shooting from the line has dropped in
each of the last four years. On the bright
side, his volume of free throws should go
down since he’s no longer in George Karl’s
Rajon Rondo Celtics
Rondo is one of the worst point guards
from the line. He has never shot above 65
percent in any season, and the lack of of-
fensive playmakers could mean he gets a lot
Moe Harkless Magic
He shot just 57 percent last year in his rook-
ie campaign and is one of the worst jump-
shooting players in the NBA. He’s going to
bring D and some boards, but he’s going to
be a headache on percentages.
FREE THROW KILLERS