The NBA regular season will commence on Tuesday, Oct. 29. There will be three games held to open up the 2013-14 campaign, with the likes of LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Paul George, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Pau Gasol all taking center stage.
As we take note of the stars, it's important for fantasy basketball owners keep an eye on the underrated players. It's easy to develop a star-studded rotation, but it's not as easy to find the under-the-radar contributors.
Here are the all-around players who you should be paying attention to.
|1.||LeBron James, Miami Heat||26.8||8.0||7.3||0.9||1.7||.406|
|2.||Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder||28.1||7.9||4.6||1.3||1.4||.416|
|3.||Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets||17.1||12.4||1.4||2.4||1.1||.167|
|4.||James Harden, Houston Rockets||25.9||4.9||5.8||0.5||1.8||.368|
|5.||Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers||16.9||3.7||9.7||0.1||2.4||.328|
|6.||Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors||22.9||4.0||6.9||0.2||1.6||.453|
|7.||Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat||21.2||5.0||5.1||0.8||1.9||.258|
|8.||Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder||23.2||5.2||7.4||0.3||1.8||.323|
|9.||Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks||28.7||6.9||2.6||0.5||0.8||.379|
|10.||Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons||17.5||8.4||4.2||1.8||1.2||.303|
Stats provided by NBA.com
Average draft positions provided by ESPN.
Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards
2012-13 Season Statistics
15.45 PER, 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.6 BPG, 0.7 SPG
One of the most difficult tasks in a fantasy basketball draft is landing an interior player who can contribute in multiple statistical categories. Serge Ibaka will block shots, but he doesn't crash the boards well; Kenneth Faried will dominate the glass, but is unproven in most other areas.
Marcin Gortat is one of the few who can do a little bit of everything. Now, he's joining a team with a star point guard who can maximize those abilities.
Hearing: Suns are trading Marcin Gortat to the Wizards. Okafor on his way to Phoenix. More details to come— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 25, 2013
That's what you call a game-changing acquisition.
Gortat is the offensive-minded player that the Wizards have needed down low. He'll return to his double-double ways from the 2011-12 season, utilizing the world-class facilitating ability of John Wall to score both off of the pick-and-roll and out of the low post.
You'd be wise to scoop him up earlier than his average draft position of 110.5.
Gortat will contribute as a scorer and be a force on the glass, but the deciding factors are on defense. Gortat can block shots at a high rate, and even forces turnovers as an on-ball defender.
He's not a flashy player, but if you're looking for all-around value out of an interior player, it doesn't get much better than Gortat.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Position: Point Guard
2012-13 Season Statistics
17.51 PER, 11.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 36.2% 3PT
The Toronto Raptors have a roster that's in position to make a push for the 2014 NBA playoffs. There are top-tier slashers, hard-nosed interior defenders and an improved second unit that should help to alleviate the pressure from the starters.
In the end, Toronto's success all boils down to the health of one man: point guard Kyle Lowry.
Lowry, 27, averaged 11.6 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals during the 2012-13 regular season. Not only is that a well-rounded stat line, but it put Lowry in a rare position of dynamic versatility amongst players at his position.
What puts Lowry in a class of his own is the fact that he drained 36.2 percent of his three-point field goal attempts. Neither Rondo nor Westbrook topped 32.5 percent shooting from distance.
In terms of all-around fantasy basketball value, a case could be made that Lowry is the biggest steal you could find.
2012-13 Season Averages
17.82 PER, 17.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.2 SPG
No player has struggled with the label of a borderline star as much as Josh Smith of the Detroit Pistons. No matter how awe-inspiring his statistics may be, fans and coaches always find a way to keep Smith from participating in the All-Star Game.
Fortunately for fantasy basketball owners, statistics are the only thing that matters.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Smith was the only player in the NBA to average at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game in 2012-2013. That includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant and every other star you can think of.
Love him or hate him, Smith's versatility makes him an incredibly valuable fantasy basketball weapon.
In 2012-13, Smith averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals on a slash line of .465/.303/.517. Free throws and three-pointers are a concern, but that shouldn't be enough to deter you from acquiring production in every single statistical category.
Smith's average draft position is 25.2, after players such as Nicolas Batum and Paul George—all-around forces who didn't produce at the same rate as J-Smoove. In fantasy basketball, that's all that matters.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers
2012-13 Season Statistics
18.27 PER, 14.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG
The Philadelphia 76ers are preparing to enter the 2013-14 regular season with limited sources of reliability. If there's one Sixers player who the NBA community knows to respect, however, it's do-it-all forward Thaddeus Young.
Somehow, Young's average draft position is 58.0.
At 6'8" and 230 pounds, Young is utilized at both forward spots as an offensive and defensive weapon. He's a strong player on the glass, a menace defensively and a rapidly developing offensive player who scores with extraordinary efficiency at 53.1 percent shooting from the field.
Young isn't a great shooter, but his marks of 12.5 percent from beyond the arc and 57.4 percent from the free throw line last season were statistical anomalies that fail to reflect his career slash line of .512/.332/.697.
Young won't hit many three-pointers, but he will flirt with 15 points on a nightly basis. More importantly, he's a threat for top-10 rebounding, will get his fair share of assists, routinely forces turnovers and is capable of protecting the rim.
On a Sixers team that doesn't have an established lead scorer, Young is in position to post a career year as he approaches his prime. Keep an eye on this rising force.