2012-13 Draft Prep: Bench players worth a shot
Just because a player starts in the NBA doesn't mean he's a must for your team. There's gold on the benches and you need to know where to find it. Adam Moore points to some bench playes to target and starters to ignore on Draft Day.
There are approximately 450 players in the NBA and keeping track of all of them can be quite challenging, especially on Draft Day. With most owners playing in 12- to 14-team Fantasy leagues, there comes a point in the later rounds where the names become unfamiliar and just make a selection based on the player's past history or playing time. However, that can be detrimental to building a Championship caliber Fantasy squad, especially when owners take a player solely based on the fact that he is a starter. To combat this issue, we have once again put together a list of players who are considered regulars in their team's starting lineup but aren't worth drafting in most formats. Conversely, we have also included a list of players, who don't start but are worthy of scooping up on Draft Day.
While everyone knows the obvious choices of players who fall into these two categories such as Thabo Sefolosha , Jason Terry , Jamal Crawford and Thaddeus Young just to name a few, we have tried to look for more low-profile options who fit the bill this year. As always, we recommend owners do their own homework but we hope this will prove to be a useful tool on Draft Day.
Starters to ignore
Tony Allen , G, Grizzlies: Allen was a tough choice for this list since he usually finds himself near the top of the leader board in the steals department. However, the 30-year-old struggles to consistently get his numbers in the other areas of the box score, despite being a regular in Memphis' starting lineup the last two seasons. He did post some of his more productive scoring (9.8 ppg)and rebounding(4.0 rpg) totals last year, albeit Allen did so averaging a career-best 26.6 minutes per game. His minutes are expected to fall back into 20-per game range this year and we would expect his slight increase in scoring to fall back down right along with his playing time. While Allen's all-around production makes him a very useful low-end option in category-based formats, there are far too many more productive options to choose from in standard formats on Draft Day. Still, Allen could make for a nice waiver-wire addition down the line.
Ronnie Brewer , G, Knicks: Brewer decided to sign with the Knicks over the offseason mostly because he was promised a chance to be the team's starting shooting guard. Despite undergoing surgery on his left knee, the 27-year-old is still expected to be the in the starting lineup on Opening Night but we aren't so sure Brewer's increased role will lead to a bump in Fantasy value. Keep in mind that Brewer did see nearly 25 minutes per game last season and still wound up averaging just 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest while shooting 42.7 percent from the field. However, he was brought to New York more for his defensive talents rather than his offensive ones, which could limit his playing time down the road. While he will get a chance to start for the Knicks, his minutes will likely remain very similar to what they were in Chicago, especially with J.R. Smith backing up his position. Iman Shumpert will also be in line to see minutes at shooting guard once he returns, which will restrict Brewer's minutes as well. With so many other options at guard, owners shouldn't pay much attention to Brewer on Draft Day.
Metta World Peace , F, Lakers: World Peace has been a fixture in the Lakers starting lineup over his first three seasons in Los Angeles, but hasn't been much of a Fantasy option over that stretch. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, we would expect both of those trends to continue this season. Despite the addition of several quality players -- Steve Nash , Dwight Howard , Jodie Meeks , Antawn Jamison -- World Peace will once again open up the season as the team's starting small forward. However, he has averaged just 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game during his tenure in Southern California and there isn't much reason to think those numbers will increase this year. Kobe Bryant , Nash, Pau Gasol and Howard all on the court at the same time, World Peace will likely have a hard time just getting the ball in his hands let alone improving on his production. While his ability to fill up the stat sheet makes him relevant in deeper category-based leagues, owners in standard formats should target other options on Draft Day.
Jason Maxiell , F, Pistons: Maxiell is projected to be Detroit's starting power forward this season, leaving many to think that he could be ready to take the next step in Fantasy. However, Maxiell has averaged just 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over his 104 career starts while seeing around 25 minutes per contest over that stretch. That is likely about how much time he will spend on the court this season and he could also be pushed for minutes by Jonas Jerebko and rookie Andre Drummond . Maxiell also is very limited offensively and at 29 years old, it doesn't appear he has much upside left at this point. With so many other viable options available at forward, owners should leave Maxiell on the waiver wire to start the year.
Robin Lopez , C, Hornets: Lopez was shipped off to New Orleans as part of a three-player trade in the offseason and he will get another chance to start for the Hornets. However, the 7-footer hasn't fared that well as a starter in the past as he has averaged just 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over his 94 career starts. He will be part of the team's starting five on Opening Night, but likely won't be in line to see more than 20-25 minutes per contest as he will be pushed for playing time by Jason Smith . Anthony Davis is also expected to see some time at center, so we are expecting more of the same from the 24-year-old during his tenure in the Big Easy. While center remains the shallowest position in Fantasy basketball, Lopez should go undrafted in most formats.
Bench players to target
Eric Bledsoe , G, Clippers: Bledsoe is entering his third year in the league with the Clippers and is expected to have a much bigger role on the team this season. He is coming off a very disappointing 2011-12 campaign as he averaged just 3.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game while seeing around 11 minutes per contest. However, the Clippers were very deep at guard last year and Bledsoe had to compete with Chris Paul , Mo Williams , Chauncey Billups and Randy Foye for minutes. Now that Williams and Foye are gone, Bledsoe will be the first one off the bench and serve as Paul's primary backup. That should get his minutes up into the 20s on most nights, which should lead to a nice increase in production. The 22-year-old proved what he could do when given ample playing time last year as he scored 23 and 17 points in Los Angeles' playoff series against the Spurs. While owners may have grown accustomed to bypassing Bledsoe on Draft Day in years past, make sure to scoop him up in the later rounds of most formats.
J.R. Smith , G, Knicks: Smith entered training camp with a chance to start at shooting guard, but coach Mike Woodson decided to go with the more defensive-minded Ronnie Brewer as his starting two-guard – at least for now. As expected, Smith and Fantasy owner's weren't very happy about the decision but just because he won't be starting, doesn't mean he won't be able to make an impact. Woodson has said repeatedly he wants Smith to be his sixth-man off the bench and even referenced Manu Ginobili and James Harden when he was pressed by reporters about how Smith exactly would be used. That means Smith could end up seeing more minutes off the bench than Brewer does as a starter. The 27-year-old thrived in a similar reserve role when he was in Denver and averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last three seasons with the Nuggets. While Smith can drive some owner's crazy with his streaky play, he should be targeted in the later rounds of most formats.
Taj Gibson , F, Bulls: With Omer Asik now in Houston with the Rockets, Gibson should be line for a major increase in playing time this year. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 20.4 minutes as a reserve last season but will now be Chicago's first big man off the bench. Most are estimating Gibson to see around 30 minutes per game this season as he will serve as Carlos Boozer 's and Joakim Noah's primary backups. That alone should lead to a substantial increase in production for the 27-year-old, possibly even getting his scoring into double digits for the first time in his career. While Gibson has not been a popular selection on Draft Day over the last few seasons, owners should plan on spending a late-round pick in most formats on the fourth-year forward this year.
Jeff Green , F, Celtics: After missing all of last season due to an aortic aneurysm that required surgery, Green is most likely happy just to be back on the court this year. The 26-year-old looks to be fully healthy entering the 2012-13 campaign and is expected to once again come off the bench for the Celtics. While he averaged just 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in a reserve role for Boston in 26 games two years ago, Green has looked sharp in the preseason. He has showed no ill-effects from his offseason health issues and also looked to have a little extra bounce in his step. The former No. 5 overall pick in the draft has yet to live up to his potential over his short tenure in the NBA, but is expected to see a healthy 25-30 minutes per game this season. Green's upside alone makes him worthy of taking with a late-round pick in most formats.
Andre Drummond , F, Pistons: Drummond is one of the more intriguing rookies to bust on the scene this season as the 19-year-old looks to have all the tools to be a prime-time producer. However, there was a slight sense of disappointment when coach Lawrence Frank announced that he would come off the bench this season. Still, Drummond is expected to see a healthy amount of playing time in his first year in the league and has impressed during the preseason. While most believe for former UConn standout should be considered more of a long-term keeper option, we feel Drummond can come in and contribute right away. With a ton of upside and the promise of seeing minutes right off the bat, owners should plan on spending a late-round pick on Drummond.
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