By Emry DowningHall
In Part II of the fantasy preview (click here for part I) we are taking a look at the front court, and the guys you shouldn’t be nappin’ on in the late rounds of your draft, the sleepers…
POWER FORWARD– The power forward slot has some up and comers but the top of the food chain is still controlled by the old heads. If you can manage to grab a PF who also qualifies at center in your league, that’s the ideal situation.
- Kevin Garnett – I have Garnett listed ahead of Marion because he will likely gain center eligibility, manning the middle for the Celtics. That kind of flexibility is lovely, especially in leagues that start two centers. Even with Allen and Pierce surrounding him, KG will still feast on the East. Grab him in the top three.
- Shawn Marion – If you believe Marion will be moved this season, you may want to pass on selecting him on draft night. I believe he won’t be moved and I think this talk will only make the man play with a chip on his shoulder, putting up monster numbers all year long.
- Dirk Nowitzki – Get that, playoff loss off your shoulder, you better, get that, playoff loss off your shoulder.
- Tim Duncan – Can we rename him Old Faithful? Duncan has forever been a bit underratted in fantasy hoops, but enters this season higher on most lists after last year’s strong showing. Minutes played are always a concern with Duncan, since the Spurs like to save him for the playoffs, but Duncan is very reliable source for points, boards, and blocks. He should be chosen in the late first round.
- Carlos Boozer – He has been extremely consistent and although injuries were a concern in the past, he is healthy now and can carry a fantasy team. He scores at a high percentage and dominates the boards. I like him in the beginning of the second round.
CENTER – The five spot is without a doubt the hardest position to fill with quality players. Most leagues start two centers and with that in mind, owners should make sure they have depth in the middle. This means drafting a center is your first priority.
- Amare Stoudemire – In fantasy sports you hear the term, “high risk, high reward,” tossed around often. No player better exemplifies it than Stoudemire. We all know the history with his knees, but then he bounced back and was first team All-NBA last season. He is scheduled to play in the Suns final two preseason games and should be good to go for the season tip.
- Pau Gasol – This uptempo Grizzlies attack fits Gasol’s game and now that he is healthy he is going to make that jump into the elite big category this season. When he was 100% last season he put up first round numbers with ease. If you trust the foot, take a chance on Gasol in the late first round.
- Yao Ming – The big fella missed 34 games last season, and 26 the year before that. There are questions surrounding his ability to get up and down the court with his teammates now that the Rockets plan to run and gun. If he is healthy, he blocks, boards, and is great from the line. He is a risky selection, but will go in the mid-to-late first round.
- Dwight Howard – Where he goes depends on whether your league counts free-throw percentage and turnovers. He will hurt you in those categories. If those aren’t counted, he is a no-brainer in the first round. I have him ranked here because of upside and the fact that he may improve drastically on last year’s already monstrous numbers.
- Marcus Camby – If injuries weren’t an issue he would be a first-round pick in every draft. The fact is he piles up the DNP’s and even though he was healthy last season Camby has shown thiis means little. He is another risk versus reward guy and I usually pass on the risk when it comes to the center slot.
With all the positive things the Internet has done for fantasy sports the fact that it effectively destroyed the concept of “sleepers” can be forgiven. Here are some guys you probably know, but might have under valued as you prepare for your draft.
- Louis Williams – Strong showings in both summer leagues has Philadelphia buzzing about this kid.
- Luis Scola – His MVP at the FIBA games really spoiled his sleeper status.
- Cuttino Mobley – His value has dipped since coming to L.A. but with Brand done until March he will once again be a focal point of the offense.
- Boris Diaw – Is far from an unknown name, but a miserable 2006-2007 season will keep him available until the later rounds of your draft. With Kurt Thomas in Seattle, Diaw will also play center at times for the Suns.
- Ricky Davis – If you know the name, you know the man is a gunner. With KG out of town I predict career highs across the board for Davis.
- Walter Herrmann – Sean May, and Adam Morrison are done for the year and the NBA’s Fabio just might be the Bobcats starting power forward.
- Marvin Williams – Owners that stuck with Williams last season were diggin’ the growth and the maturity. Expect continued improvements this season.
- Chucky Atkins – Word on the curb has AI moving to the #2 spot and Atkins starting in Denver. He can really shoot the three ball and has stayed healthy in the past few seasons.