Finding top talent for your NBA fantasy team is sometimes difficult. Injuries, trades and coaches commentary on who they intend to start are all distortions that factor into the equation of drafting a great fantasy team. My other article, "Five Tips to Fantasy Stardom" will prepare you on how to draft a great fantasy team if your inexperienced, and I recommend that you read it. But now, the question is "who do you draft"?
Listed below are the players who I think have the best potential of breaking into NBA Stardom. NBA players in the prime of their careers are generally considered to be between 26-30 years old. Over the years, I have made it a rule not to draft anyone over their NBA Prime in the first round, and found great success with that strategy. Players over their prime are the target of reduced minutes and injuries that take much longer to heal. Even though players like Steve Nash & Allen Iverson have recovered from their injuries and produce consistent numbers, their stats are likely to decline and the risk just isn't worth it. If you have an upcoming draft and your overall selection is late in the draft (picks 10-12), its important to understand that you will need to take more risk and find greater draft pick values in order to win in a competitive NBA fantasy league. If you have a top draft selection (pick 1-5) or a mid-round selection (picks 6-9) and you choose these players, your chances of winning the league will substantially increase.
Now, on to the good stuff. Listed below are players in the league that I consider to be fantasy gems for the upcoming season. For the purpose of analyzing these players and anticipating where they may fall in the draft, refer to using a twelve-owner, H2H fantasy league. All of these players are in or entering the prime of their careers, they are:
Arguably, a fantasy first round pick. Elton will slide into the 2nd and possibly into the 3rd round of your draft because owners are still spooked by an injury he sustained in the preseason last year. Elton is not injury-prone, and what happened to him last year was just an accident. He is 29, fully recovered and played in the last two weeks of the season last year with the Clippers. If Brand lives up to his talent, he has the potential to put up stats comparable to a top 5 pick this year, and that is someone like a Dwight Howard or Dwayne Wade.
Draft Analysis - If Brand is taken in the first round between picks 10-12, an owner is getting on or around equal value for selecting him. If he is drafted in the second round between picks 13-19, you'll be getting a great value and he will exceed your fantasy expectations of him as a second round pick. If Brand has not been drafted in the second round after 19 overall picks, consider him a fantasy gem and draft him immediately.
Rudy came back with a vengeance in his second season as a pro, averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists a game. Last year, he gave fantasy owners only a glimpse of his offensive game. Fortunately for fantasy owners, he will only continue to get better. He is 22 years old and stuck on an awful team. Rudy is unquestionably the number one scoring option and leader of the Grizzlies. He is destined for fantasy stardom and I believe this year he will make the leap over. This season, Gay has the potential to put up stats comparable to a late, first-round pick.
Draft Analysis - If Gay gets drafted at the end of the 2nd round or early in the 3 round between picks 21-27 overall, an owner should consider that equal value for the pick. If he is drafted late in the 3rd round between 28-35, you will be getting a great value for the pick. If Rudy is available after 36 overall picks, you've found a fantasy gem and should scoop him up immediately.
Durant, like Rudy Gay, is the number one scoring option on a terrible NBA team. Kevin is a 2nd year pro and a great pick because he has unlimited potential and showed flashes of brilliance in hisa rookie year. With all of the attention that Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley are receiving, Durant has been considerably overlooked in fantasy drafts this year. I suspect that Durant will have a huge, coming out party in terms of offensive output this year, much like Rudy Gay did last year. One drawback to Durant is that the teams will double and triple team him because of the lack of scoring threats on the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, don't let that keep you from drafting him. He's the total package and should be looked at in this manner, being a franchise player. Durant has the potential to put up stats considerable to a late first round or early second round pick.
Draft Analysis - If Durant is taken late in the second round or early in the 3rd round between picks 24-30 overall, this is equal value for the selection. If Durant is taken in the third round between picks 31-37 overall, you'll be getting greater value for the selection. If Durant is drafted after 38 overall picks, you've found another fantasy gem. Lock him in immediately and move on.
Bogut broke out in his 3rd year with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. As a fourth year pro, he has continue his statistical progression. Bogut should average about 16-18 points, 12 rebounds and 3-4 assists this year, and will now be considered the 2nd or 3rd scoring option for his team, depending on the head coach. He has the potential to do much more statistically, but the problem is that the Bucks are loaded with offensive weapons. With Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson commanding the ball, it may be a negative in terms of his development. However, I suspect that this will not affect him. Bogut also has no where to go but up. His coaches are anxious to see how far he will go in terms of development and will continue to feed him the rock. Bogut has the potential to put up stats consistent to a mid second-round pick this year.
Draft Analysis - If Bogut is selected in the middle of the third round between picks 28-36 overall, the owner will be receiving equal value for the pick. If Andrew is selected late in the third round or in the middle of the fourth round between picks 37-44 overall, the owner will be getting greater value for the pick. If Bogut is chosen after 45 overall picks, you've found a fantasy gem and should also scoop him up.
Unquestionably, Martin is the number one offensive option for the Sacramento Kings and is on another awful team. Kevin's situation is a great one for fantasy owners, meaning that he will get the rock more this year than ever before. With Ron Artest traded to the Rockets, expect Martin to carry more of the offensive load. Martin doesn't do much more than score the rock, but if you're in a H2H league, that won't matter. Last year, he was a member of my team that won the crown, and he made big statistical contributions. I see no reason why Martin won't continue to develop in his 5th season as a pro, especially with Artest out of Sacramento. Martin would be much higher if he did more than score. But because of this, he will only have the potential of putting up stats consistent with an early, third-round pick.
Draft Analysis - If Martin is drafted late in the 4th round with picks 44-48 overall, you'll get even-value for him as a fantasy owner. If Kevin is drafted in the fifth round somewhere between 49-56 overall, you will get greater value for the pick. If Kevin is available after 57 overall picks, you have found another fantasy gem. Select him and don't look back.
Randy has the potential of being the biggest fantasy surprise this year, out of all the players mentioned in this article. Randy is the second scoring option for the Minnesota Timberwolves and is also their starting point guard with unlimited potential. He was out for most of last year with an injury and may be inconspicuous to fantasy owners, people don't know how good this guy really is. Foye is hungry to win and this fits in great with his aresenal of offensive talent. What makes him so great is that he is a combo-guard, and can play effectively at multiple positions. He can score the rock at will and dish it with ease, making him extremely unpredictable, somewhat like Chris Paul. I would not be surprised to see this guy average about 6-7 assists a game, in addition to his rebounds and scoring. This is the only guy in this draft class who has the potential of putting up the stats of an early second-round pick, and most likely be selected much later in most drafts.
Draft Analysis - If Foye gets drafted late in round five or early in round six, between picks 58-64 overall, the owner will be great value for the pick. If Randy is selected overall between 65-73, the owner will be receiving exceptional value. If Foye is selected after 77 overall picks, you've most likely found the biggest fantasy gem out there in your league. I saw an owner draft Foye at 82 this year and I couldn't believe it.
One final note - I would not recommend trading any of these players if you draft them. The purpose of finding fantasy gems is to reap their rewards, not trade them away. Some owners will flood you with ridiculous trade offers once they see the production you're getting, all you have to do now is reject them.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, John Tamel, at Jetam2@hotmail.com.