|Spencer For Hire|
Early Round Pans
> Dwight Howard. OK, he promises to care now, and the career numbers of 21/14 with 2 blocks a game should only rise now that he's got Steve Nash setting him up, rather than Jameer Nelson. And if Nash could turn Marcin Gortat into a top center option, what can he do with the guy that kept Gortat pinned to the bench? Well, plenty... assuming that (a) Howard stays healthy, which is far from a given, and (b) the Lakers don't do the sensible thing and conserve Howard's minutes for games that matter.
Look, LA doesn't care about a great regular season record, and Mike Brown is not going to run the risk of Howard not being ready to dominate in the playoffs. So that career mark of 36 minutes a game is about to go to 30, which means that the most you are going to get is 18 and 12. With a category-killing 59% and often FT mark. And all of that assumes health. There are better guys to go make or break with.
> Kyrie Irving. Ready for a heaping helping of sophomore slump? Then step on down to Cleveland, where Irving is about to make the tragic mistake of trying to make his team better by spreading the ball around more. Last year's 18/4/5 will become 16/4/7, and while you might like the trade-off in points for assists, you aren't going to like what happens to his three point attempts. He's still a very good player, but not where he's currently being drafted.
Early Round Picks
> Deron Williams. Here's the sum and substance of why DW hasn't been as good for the Nets as he was for the Jazz: shooting percentages that went from 45-51 in Utah, and have been 35-41 on the East Coast. It's not that he's forgotten how to shoot; it's just that he's been the whole show, the only guy you had to game plan for, and a guy playing career-high minutes. This year, he's 28, in a new building, with actual fans, and with solid (albeit overrated) teammates. Write him down for 20/4/9, with a hair less threes and percentages that will be back to his career norms. In other words, look for a guy that's going to rival Chris Paul as best PG in the game.
> Ty Lawson. Man alive, am I in love with his game -- and as the straw that stirs the drink in Denver, along with a guy that's got room to move in terms of minutes if and when Andre Miller's deal with Satan ever comes due. I think this is the year he really gets some room to hit more threes, along with a few game-winning moments that give him the leeway to be the alpha dog in the Denver wolfpack. And don't you want the point guard who will be feeding Kenneth Faried?
Mid Round Picks
> Kevin Garnett. His 15/8/3 line is set in stone, with a side order of defense and very solid percentages for a guy with center eligibility. On a Boston team that will struggle with turnover and personnel, and who no longer can depend on a gift-wrapped top 4 seed in an Atlantic Division that's suddenly frisky, he's not going to lose minutes. Heck, I think he might even gain them. And since the refs give him a lifetime of leeway to be a dirtball veteran, he can still be effective against any center in the league. The only problem with drafting him is that you kind of have to root for him. (Shudder.)
> Anthony Davis. Boy, I hope your draft happens fast enough, or is with enough owners that aren't paying attention to preseason. The Unibrow is the best-looking rookie power player in years, and while he's got hops to spare, the hands are also world-class, and he also cares about defense. On a Hornets team that's going to have a pulse all year due to good ball movement, it wouldn't surprise me if he's a top 5 PF, when he's currently ranked around 20. Besides, owning the Rookie of the Year is fun.
Mid Round Pans
> DeMarcus Cousins. I have seen this movie before, folks, and it rarely becomes a feel-good hit: the talented knucklehead on a bad team and franchise, who just needs the love of a good coach / fan base / point guard to give up his bad boy ways and dominate. The problem is that bad franchises are that way for a reason: they draft and coddle people like Cousins, need him more than he needs them, and silently kills his club with poor percentages, turnovers and fouls. Cousins shots 43.9% from the floor, turns it over 3 times for every 2 assists, and commits a foul every 7.5 minutes. Run, do not walk, away from him.
> Danny Granger. I just don't like his game, really: it seems like he's either bombing from distance to poor percentages, or mixing it up inside and losing all interest in providing anything beyond a high free throw percentage. Do you really need a 20/5/2 guy who'll shoot in the low 40s and is aging fast (29 with heavy minutes)? I don't, and the Pacers have to know by now that if he's their best player, they aren't going anywhere.
Late Round Picks
> Jeremy Lin. The pick will make the cognoscenti roll their eyes, but tell me this -- if he could help make Steve Novak deadly from distance, what can he do with Kevin Martin? Houston's not going to be good enough to ever get him off the floor, and with his size, he's going to be the rare point guard that doesn't regard rebounding as servant's work. Sure, the turnovers are going to be trouble, and the Rockets won't play at the same secret speed that made the Knicks a fantasy gold mine last year, but they've paid him too much to not give him the chance to roll up numbers in volume.
> DeAndre Jordan. Still just 24 years old, Jordan's poised for more minutes in Clipperland with the departure of Reggie Evans and Kelvin Martin. Yes, the FT numbers are terrible, but he did get a hair better last year, and doesn't go there enough to kill you anyway. I think you could easily see 10/10 with a dunk-tastic FG% and second only to Serge Ibaka performance in blocked shots. In many ways, DeAndre is on the rise.
Late Round Pans
> Arron Afflalo. I know what you are thinking here -- lots of minutes, shooting guard is a secretly weak position, he shot 47% from the floor last year while still giving you 1.4 threes a game, and his defense always passes the eye test. But all of that happened in an optimal situation in Denver, where no one had to plan for him, and he had point guards that got him separation. In the Orlando wasteland, he's going to be hounded, slowed down, and depressed in any number of ways. Oh, and his good defense? Doesn't translate to steals. Stay away.
> John Wall. You know what you call a point guard with absolutely no shot from the three-point line? A liability in the modern NBA, especially when you couple it with a 41.6% career field goal percentage and a middling path to the free throw line (6 attempts a game). Wall may be a physical marvel and as fast as anybody in the NBA from end to end with the ball in his hands, but there's a lot more to the game than that, and the 8 assists per game don't look so good when you factor in the 3.8 turnovers in 9-category leagues. He'll be a little better this year if the Wizards are actually competitive, but I didn't like his game before he got hurt. And, well, now he's that.
Ten Sleepers for Real (Deep) Leagues - Past The Top 100
> Bradley Beal. Scary talent, terrible team; could get a lot of minutes and pay off big. Perfect late-round flyer.
> Andrei Kirilenko. Might have recharged his batteries with a year away from the Association, and more importantly, Jerry Sloan, who used to just ream him out for every mistake. I like his chances to drive big value, especially if Ricky Rubio comes back strong.
> Glen Davis. OK, everybody knows he's a Drunken Seal, the most favorite guy in the NBA for rival shot-blockers, and pining to go back to a roster where his shortcomings aren't on such prominent display. But in the last 12 games of 2011, when Howard quit on his team and Orlando had no better options in the pivot, he got 31 minutes a game and delivered 16/9/1 on 50% from the floor. As a bargain basement PF/C, you could do a lot worse.
> Spencer Hawes. Nearly as hard to watch as Davis, but will have an opportunity early with Andrew Bynum on the shelf, and he did come out last year like a house on fire. At power forward with teams keying on Bynum, he could have a ton of open looks, and he provides reasonable assist and percentage numbers for a center.
> Greivis Vasquez. How can you not love a guy who looks like Snidely Whiplash, has a name like a Star Wars character, and parlayed some reasonable playoff moments into a starting gig? It's especially solid when Eric Gordon gets hurt again, but seriously... opportunity is everything, especially when you are a Euro point guard.
> JJ Hickson. Portland's not going to waste LaMarcus Aldridge in the pivot for huge minutes, and he showed something late in the year. Could be a cheap 18/10 kind of guy.
> Kirk Hinrich. He'll be worthless if and when Derrick Rose returns, but until then, he'll provide sneaky top 20 PG value with his all-around game. It also doesn't hurt that the town loves him and that the other guys who can take minutes at the 1 here are defensive sieves.
> Ricky Rubio. I love to stash hurt guys at the start of the year, particularly when they have sex appeal in trades. Rubio desperately needs to get a handle on his outside shot, but the 8 assists and 2 steals per game play regardless, and you'll be able to move him for a lot more than he's worth after a few highlight reel games.
> OJ Mayo. Has shown something in preseason in Dallas, and with Dirk Nowitzki out for a little while, he might have the opportunity to be The Man for the first time in years. I'm not in big love with his game, but Dallas does play up-tempo, and he's got a lot to prove.
> Chandler Parsons. When you fill out the end of your roster, most guys go for single category savants... but I'm not one of them, for two reasons. The first is that a single category guy will frequently just murder you, especially in defense or threes. The second is that savants have erratic playing time because, well, they are savants. Parsons isn't anything to write home about, but he can get you 13/6/3 with a steal and a three per game if he gets 30 minutes of run... which, well, is what he got for the last 43 games of 2011. Not bad for a second rounder, and really not bad for a guy off the scrap heap.
Good luck and good drafting!