Well, this is a fun preseason, right? We get to see each team play the same team twice and that's it. Chances are many of you already had your draft and aren't going to be able to use this priceless information for these six days (that was sarcastic). Today we're going to look at each game and what we learned in the first three days of actually seeing NBA teams on the court. I'll touch on some stats for the games, but the main focus of this will be on which guys could be some interesting late-round picks in your draft. The games really serve as a format.
Just a friendly reminder: don't overreact to things in the preseason. It should just be a tweak to your plan and help you with some guys to target after the 120th pick in your draft. You can ask me anything you want about a guy you're targeting on Twitter, too.
The Kemba Walker Experience is officially a go. The former MOP stole the show on Monday night by scoring 18 points in 19 minutes in the win. He was able to get to the line 11 times and made nine of them; his shooting from the floor wasn't that great with just 4-of-13 made. There's a whole lot to like about him and he will likely put some major heat on D.J. Augustin for the starting gig. Nothing is set in stone, so owners won't want to reach past 110 just yet. D.J. Augustin had a down game with a couple foolish plays by turning the ball over six times and making only 2-of-9 from the field. He tallied seven points, three dimes a steal and an assist. What's more, Kemba's +/- was +16 while DJA had -16. In other Bobbies news, Gerald Henderson played 28 minutes and his hip looks completely healthy. He's a sneaky pick in after some of the high-profile sleepers are gone. Tyrus Thomas suffered a mild ankle sprain in this game and he is likely going to be questionable for Thursday's preseason finale. Boris Diaw, who is a great value pick around the 80th selection, had 12 points, three steals and two triples. He can really fill up a stat sheet and should get significant minutes. The Bobcats also will have Bismack Biyombo since he got a buyout from his Spanish team. He's nothing more than a watch-list guy.
Jeff Teague didn't do much to back up the hype with only eight points and two assists in 18 minutes. He's still a nice guy to snag around pick 100, but owners should be aware he's not going to be a dime factor. Josh Smith dropped some weight this year and looks like he could have a big year. He served up a nice line of 11 points, seven boards, two blocks and a steal on 5-of-12 shooting. Don't draft T-Max and don't touch Marvin Williams this year unless you're in a very deep league.
Blazers 110, Jazz 90
The Blazers are one of the deeper teams on the wing with the addition of Jamal Crawford to Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace. Crash is one of my favorite players and was an absolute stud down the stretch last year. Don't be afraid to grab him in the later part of the third round. Raymond Felton and the Blazers figure to push the rock a little bit which gives Felton a nice upside once the elite point guards are off the board (Holiday and Lowry slightly better than Felton). There are not a lot of sleepers on this team with so much proven talent. Greg Oden is starting the season off on the wrong foot, so Camby could be a little bit of a steal after 150. If he gets hurt, just cut him since there was no investment.
Al Jefferson is dealing with a sore hamstring and only played 18 minutes of action. Big Al played in 82 games last year and should be ready for the season. He's still a top-20 pick any way you slice it. Derrick Favors had himself a ball game with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 12 boards in 29 minutes.Keep in mind Paul Millsap didn't play though. Favors is very raw and didn't really show much progress in his rookie campaign. He also has Millsap and Jefferson blocking him at the four and five. He's only worth taking in deeper weekly leagues or daily leagues with maximums for games played. Rookie Alec Burks hoisted 10 shots and only made three of them on his way to eight points in 23 minutes. He might be able to unseat Raja Bell in due time. He's certainly a sleeper even though he doesn't have a three-point shot. C.J. Miles didn't do much tonight. He has tremendous potential in fantasy leagues with some defense and shooting from distance for the Jazz and makes for a nice late-round pick.
Lob City made it's debut and CP3 and co. didn't disappoint. DeAndre Jordan made a living under the basket with six points, six boards and four blocks in 27 minutes. His presence on the defensive side of the floor makes him a guy to target in the late-middle rounds. Chauncey Billups was surprsingly effective with 23 points, three assists, three steals and four treys in just 20 minutes. That starting backcourt with CP3 could certainly work and Billups' sharpshooting could make him a decent pick around 70. As for that Paul dude, well he had one of the best lines of the preseason with 17 points, seven boards, nine assists, five steals, and a three in 24 minutes. He looked right at home. Caron Butler could also be valuable since he's a great free-throw shooter, can steal and shoots the three (made two on Monday night). Randy Foye probably has the upper hand on Mo Williams for the sixth-man role. Neither guy should be off the board before 120 though.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are really the only three guys that are locked in with their roles. Matt Barnes got the start at the three and only played 11 minutes. He and Ron Artest figure to split the chores; owners really shouldn't target either. The other position that's up in the air is point guard. Steve Blake drew the start and had a decent game with seven points, four boards, five assists, and a three in 24 minutes. Rookie Wolverine Darius Morris also was a blip on the radar with 11 points, three assists and a three in 24 minutes. It was pretty easy to see he was a little nervous on the big stage of Staples Center and was getting some extra pressure when he had the ball. He will need some seasoning, but he's worth putting on your watch list at the very least.
The big performance in this game came from Paul George with his 17 points, 10 boards, a three, two steals and a block in 25 minutes. George grew two inches this year to stand 6-foot-10 now and is as fit as ever. The Fresno State star really struggled for minutes last year, but in his best month in March he played 24 MPG and added 0.4 3PM, 1.4 blocks and 0.6 blocks. Fantasy owners might also remember his big game in fantasy playoffs with 23 points, six boards and five triples. The problem with George is playing time. The signing of George Hill does rain on his parade a bit and it will be tough for him to crack 30 MPG with Hill a fairly proven ball handler on the wing. This is a very sticky situation and owners would probably be better suited to grab another sleeper. As far as the pecking order in drafting Pacers goes it should be: Granger, West, Hibbert, Collison, Hill, George, Hansbrough and Rush.
The Bulls have one of the most clear rotations in the league. Derrick Rose is a top-five pick this year, Joakim Noah is a C1 in most leagues, Deng is locked in at the small forward and Boozer is a decent bounce-back candidate this year after an injury-plagued season last year. It seems like we've been trying to figure out who the starting SG will be for years now. Ronnie Brewer had some flashes last year and was a decent spot-start in daily leagues that needed steals in a pinch. Kyle Korver had his moments, too. The Bulls added Richard Hamilton via free agency and he figures to take on the bulk of the work at the two. Personally, you shouldn't care since Rip doesn't have true three-point range. Outside of the four stud starters, the only guy that's a possible late-round target is Taj Gibson since he serves as a double handcuff to Noah and Boozer.
Jodie Meeks is going to get the start at shooting guard for the Sixers. This puts a huge damper on last year's second pick to have a big sophomore campaign. Evan Turner does have the size to spell Andre Iguodala at the three and could find a way to carve out 30 minutes though. He got 30 in the preseason game and was able to turn in a line of 16 points, seven boards, three dimes, a steal and a three. Meek saw 34 minutes and hit a three on his way to eight points. The Sixers also have Lou Williams who is likely to be their main scorer off the bench. Turner will likely need AI2's Achilles or knee to act up to really become valuable. Nikola Vucevic, one of my deep sleepers this year, missed all four of his shots, but he did dish five assists, had a block and a steal in 22 minutes. The 6-foot-10 guy is worth watching in deep leagues since only has Spencer Hawes in his way to start producing.
The Wizards and Nick Young agreed to their offer sheet for this year worth $3.7 million. Jordan Crawford still did a lot of impressive things last year to be viewed as an excellent pick around 100. He shoots the three, swipes some steals and will be John Wall's backup at point guard. Wall has dealt with knee tendonitis and it's almost a lock that he'll miss a game or two this year. The Wizards are also a bit unclear at the other wing with Rashard Lewis getting the starting gig. Lewis has taken a monumental fall from fantasy stardom and isn't even worth drafting in standard leagues with his injury history and how the Wizards can't wait to get him off their roster next year. Behind Lewis there isn't much though. Rookies Jan Vesely - seven points in 22 minutes on Friday-- and Chris Singleton -- five points, three boards, two steals, a block and a three in 25 minutes-- showed some upside. Singelton is one of the best perimeter defenders to come out of the draft this year and he could become the new Nicolas Batum with his range and propensity to earn defensive stats. Keep an eye on them in very deep leagues. As for the studs, I'm higher on JaVale McGee for his blocking prowess and I'm not willing to take John Wall in the second round. Andray Blatche is a boring/safe pick as well (went 65 in a league draft last night and that seems about right).
This was arguably the most interesting game for fantasy impact of the weekend. Kyrie Irving looked the part of the top overall pick with 21 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, five turnover and an impressive 13-of-15 from the line. The other interesting point is that he took four attempts from downtown. Yeah, he missed them, but taking those means he shouldn't have a problem clearing the 1.0 3PM plateau this year. I had Kyrie at 51 on my board and I consider myself to be very high on him, so don't reach higher than 50 to grab him. Anderson Varejao is one of the most unsexy picks you'll see this year as he is coming off a bad ankle injury. He is a marvelous buy-low guy for his double-double upside with some blocks, good shooting from the floor and a free-throw percentage that won't destroy you with only 67 percent made last year (at a low clip). Andy V made all four of his attempts from the field on Friday night and added a steal and a block. Tristian Thompson's debut went as expected with 4-of-8 from the line with two blocks and eight points. He is extremely raw and owners in daily leagues where having a good bench is important might want to let him sit out on the wire. Chances are his owner will cut bait a couple weeks into the season. However, once the trade deadline approaches, owners might want to pounce on him since Jamison and his expiring contract are likely to be dealt. One more guy worth mentioning is Ramon Sessions. As much as I like Kyrie, he does have a foot injury that has bothered him for quite some time. If the Duke phenom does miss time, Sessions would be an elite option at point guard. He's worth owning and could produce even in a time-share split with Irving.
Brandon Knight was the other big story in this game. He came off the bench and looked like a capable NBA guard with nine points, four assists, two boards, a steal and a three. Knight is a great shooter from the line and made both of his attempts. On the other hand, he'll likely struggle from the field. Austin Daye had the big fantasy line of the night and possibly of the season so far with his 18 points, six boards, one steal, FIVE blocks and three triples. We've seen this before from Daye and he had fantasy owners salivating last year in the preseason, too. If the Pistons had not brought back Tayshaun Prince, Daye would have been well worth a pick in the 80-to-100 range in drafts. He has a fantastic roto game and is still worth a pick at the end of your draft. Oh and Greg Monroe being in the 70s for ESPN is a complete joke. Don't be afraid to reach for him around the 50th pick.
I have some serious love for E.J. this year. His upside is higher than any shooting guard this year (yes, that includes Dwyane Wade) since he will be doing some serious heavy lifting in the scoring department. When he was humming from mid-December to January he was knocking down 2.8 3PM per game at 25 points per, too.As for the rest of the Hornets, Jarrett Jack has a nice role as the point guard and should be well worth a pick around pick 100. Chris Kaman could be a big-time player, but he really struggles to stay on the court. Chris Paul's departure should really hurt Kaman's and Okafor's production on offense. Owners should also keep an eye on Trevor Ariza to see if he can keep Al-Farouq Aminu at bay.
The Grizzlies are one of the most potent teams for fantasy starters. Rudy Gay was outstanding last year before his partial dislocation of his shoulder. Don't worry about it and if you can get him after pick 25 you're stealing. Z-Bo is also a nice pick in the early fourth round, Marc Gasol should be off the board around pick 60 and Mike Conley is someone to think about for owners that missed the boat on PG around the seventh. Besides those reliable dudes, Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo will split the duties at the two. I wouldn't touch those guys before 130. As for very deep guys, maybe Walter Sharpe could carve out a role with Darrell Arthur out for the year with a torn Achilles' Tendon. They'll probably sign someone though.
Iman Shumpert was already climbing up the charts for me based on buzz and the amnesty of Billups. Shumpert showed off his lanky frame on defense with two steals on his way to 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting with a three. Toney Douglas is expected to grab most of the minutes, but I wouldn't be shocked at all if Shumpert leapfrogs him in a month. He's a favorite sleeper of mine this year now that Baron Davis could miss at least a month. Speaking of Baron, he has huge upside, so it's not a bad idea to stash him away for this week until we get a more concrete prognosis on his back. The three Knick forwards are valued slightly higher than they should be with Chandler's injury concerns, STAT's predicted drop in boards and blocks and Melo for not bringing much defense.
The other rookie in this game also had a nice showing. Marshon Brooks knocked down four of his six shots for 10 points. Brooks also took two attempts from behind the arc in his 15 minutes. Damion James hasn't really done much to assert himself to be the man at the three, so Anthony Morrow could slide over and allow Brooks to get some burn at the two. Keep an eye on this one. Brook Lopez had an impressive showing with 15 points,11 rebounds (!!), five blocks and a steal. If the Nets don't add another big, Bro-Lo could be a steal around the 40th pick (although I prefer Ibaka).
Luis Scola is another "boring" guy to take in drafts since he doesn't block shots much and is really just a two-cat player. He looked very good with 20 points and five boards and is a nice grab in the middle rounds once the bigs start to thin out. The big news from this game was Jordan Hill busting out to the tune of 17 points and 13 boards in 29 minutes. He has the inside track for the center gig over the garbage behind him (Thabeet). He's worth a grab and had solid percentages last year with 49 percent from the floor and 71 percent from the line. Chase Budinger looks to be the starter and does have some three-point capabilities. Personally, I like drafting Terrence Willams over Buds for his upside (and maybe I'm still happy about the triple-double he had back in his NJ days).
The Spurs have quickly become one of the least attractive teams for fantasy. With their Triassic roster, there could be some players that break through this year. Let's check out which guys could do it (this excludes Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Jefferson): DeJuan Blair is probably the most interesting guy since he really steps up his game when Duncan is out. Someone will probably draft him, but I'd rather have someone else at his current ADP. Tiago Splitter had huge buzz last year for his big FIBA with Brazil. He can't shoot free throws for his life, so he's off my radar. Kawhi Leonard was a huge steal in the draft and probably has the best sleeper allure in deep leagues. His lack of defensive stats is certainly a caveat, he did have a block, a steal and even shot a three in 23 minutes on Saturday. Another interesting guy is James Anderson. The sophomore out of Oklahoma State was one of my favorite picks in the draft last year with the 20th selection and could see action at the first sight of trouble for Manu. We should find out pretty quick on which guys will gain value once Pop irons out his rotation.
Ricky Rubio fared better than expected off the bench with six points, seven assist, six boards, two steals and an attempted three. He played 24 minutes and didn't look lost out there. Rubio wasn't the best point guard out there though; that honor goes to J.J. Barea with his 14 points, six dimes, three boards and two triples. I'd still rather grab Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight over Rubio. The other heralded rookie, Derrick Williams, looked great in his debut with 14 points including 3-of-4 from distance. He will have to figure out a way to get minutes with Beasley (21 points) and Kevin Love (21 points and 15 boards) in front of him. On another team, he might be a top-80 pick, not at this time though.
Milwaukee brought in Mike Dunleavy and he didn't disappoint in his first game with them. 16 points, five dishes, two steals, a block and three bombs will grab the attention of fantasy owners. Stephen Jackson did not play and the Bucks have a lot of guys on the wing with Carlos Delfino as well. Delfino's range and quick trigger makes him more attractive than Dunleavy at this time. Second-round pick Jon Leuer made a splash with 18 points, five boards and a dime in his 22 minutes. He is a Badger and will have the fans behind him. He Bucks are a little thin up front with the oft-injured Bogut and Drew Gooden at the starting spots. Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova couldn't do much, so maybe Leuer gets a crack (this only pertains to extremely deep leagues).
The Warriors have one of the best fantasy foursomes in the league with Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, David Lee and Dorell Wright all going in the top-40 picks in most leagues. The drama at center seems to be an ongoing endeavour. Andris Biedrins drew the start. Who cares? If you're looking for a sleeper at the GSW five, ya might want to try the athletic Ekpe Udoh. The other interesting thing to watch on this team is how they'll handle Klay Thompson. Thompson could be the sixth man on the wing and looked good in his first game with nine points and two steals in 16 minutes.
The Kings just voided Chuck Hayes contract for failing his physical. That means there should be some more minutes for DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson. Chug DMC could breakout this year and is a decent player to target in the middle rounds (give me Monroe by a mile though). Jimmer Fredette got the start for the Kings and put Jimmer Mania in full swing with 21 points, four boards, four assists, four threes and a steal in 35 minutes. Chances are someone will reach for him and owners shouldn't take the bait just yet. The Jimmer factor does decrease the Thornton love a little and he should be off the board around 85 now.
The Celtics are another team that has their rotation fairly set. Rajon Rondo (who I will never draft in eight- or nine-cat leagues), Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have pretty easy value to forecast. Jermaine O'Neal is the starting center and while his heart might still be in it, his knees aren't. Brandon Bass is a very interesting guy to grab in the later rounds.
DeMar DeRozan made just five three last year. He made two on Sunday! He reportedly worked on his J which would work wonders for his value. He is going off the board around the 90th pick and could be a steal there as long as he flirts with one trey a night. The Raptors have two very interesting position battles at the one with Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon and at the four with Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. At the point guard, it's probably safe to assume these two will split the duties at a 65-35 split in favor of Calderon. Bayless could see time at the two to give Double De a rest. At power forward Ed Davis finished strong last year and could have some value in the ninth round as long as he shoots better than 55.5 percent from the line. Amir Johnson was one of the biggest steals of the draft last year before he went down with a balky left ankle. The youthful Davis gets the edge for draft-day value, but don't forget about taking Amir just a couple rounds later.
One interesting development with Miami this week is how Chris Bosh has added a three-point shot to his game. Is he going to become the next Channing Frye? No. There's a decent chance he could add close to 0.4 per game which would make him well worth a pick in the late fourth. No need to discuss LeBron and Wade, folks. Mario Chalmers is signed and got the start. He should get a large chunk of the minutes at the one at least until rookie Norris Cole gets his feet wet. I was a bit surprised that Cole went 130 in our draft last night. Chalmers is a decent guy for steals and threes.
The Magic still haven't dealt Dwight and a lot of things are up in the air with this team. They really don't have any elite talent waiting in the wings, so don't worry about thinking about which guys will gain value once he's doubt just yet. Jason Richardson should be a decent man from three and is a bit of a post-hype guy. Although, I would highly suggest grabbing more big men when his ADP is up.Jameer Nelson missed all 10 from the field. He is still the starter and still shoots the three. He's one of the least desirable ones in the league and owners will probably be upset about having to take him.
Oklahoma City is the best team for fantasy purposes. Kevin Durant is the top pick, Westbrook should be off the board earlier part of the first round, too. If there is one player I have to have this year it's Serge Ibaka. After watching him rip up the league with swats down the stretch in the regular season and his monster postseason. He's 29 on my eight-cat board pushes top-25 status in nine cat. You don't have to draft him that high though and I got him at 40 in my 14-team draft last night. James Harden looks like he will come off the bench and is more of a guy to target in 75-to-85 area. Harden did hit three triples last night, too. Kendrick "Slim" Perkins is a decent guy to grab late and could be a dub-dub guy.
The Mavericks have some garbage from other teams by bringing in Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Carter has never really looked himself in the past couple years and isn't really a guy that fantasy owners should consider in shallow leagues. He and Dominque Jones will likely split duties on the wing. One of the most disappointing guys last year was Roddy Buckets. Beaubois dealt with a foot injury for most of the year and never really got off the ground. He has some serious potential and some of his owners might remember the 40-point game he had against Golden State two seasons ago. Buckets looked healthy with 17 points and he's a decent sleeper. Brendan Haywood will take over at center and could become a nice double-double guy. He does have a horrendous 36 percent made from the FT line though.
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