By Chris Lehman
With the announcement that the NBA season will start in what is now twenty days, fantasy fanatics are scrambling to get into their leagues. With that come the predictions. In my opinion, there’s no point in trying to figure out whether you should pick James, Wade, Rose or Durant first, but instead will focus on players who might be slightly undervalued.
This list is in no particular order:
Blake Griffin – You might think, well how is this guy undervalued when he had such a huge year? Because he’s THAT good. His redshirt rookie year was special. He was a top-ten overall fantasy player last year, and did you see how easy he made it look? Expect him to be in the top five this year. His athleticism isn’t going anywhere. After having a year under his belt, he had a chance to mature as a professional player. And I can guarantee you that he worked on his jump shot this offseason. Expect Griffin to be an absolutely unstoppable force. Easily worth a first round pick but you can probably steal him in the second or maybe even third.
Ty Lawson – Last year, he was one of the most efficient players. He did not see a whole lot of time, but when he did, he made the most out of it. Now that Billups is in New York, Lawson will step in as the starter. The Nuggets have total faith that he is their guy. They brought in Andre Miller to be a mentor, not a starter, so don’t expect him to cut into Lawson’s time. I’m not saying he’s as good as Paul, Rose and Westbrook, but you can expect Lawson to fall into the second tier of fantasy point guards.
James Harden – Once again, here’s a player who is coming off a big year. The Thunder keep getting stronger so expect them to put up a lot of points. Regardless of whether he starts or is the sixth man, Harden figures to be the third highest scorer behind Durant and Westbrook. It’s safe to predict another breakout year after his breakout year.
Javale McGee – He’s a rare athlete. A lot of people have no clue who he is, which will change after this year. Everyone knows who Tyson Chandler is. Now take him, but add more muscle and you have McGee. As John Wall matures, McGee’s stock will only go up. Watch for Wall and McGee to be a strong combination for years to come.
Wesley Matthews – Matthews quietly had one of the best seasons out of any shooting guard / small forward last year. When gameplanning for the Blazers, you have to watch out for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. Matthews becomes the forgotten one, leaving him open from beyond the arc. This offense is perfect for him so expect him to blossom once again.
Dorell Wright – Who? The average fan just all said that together as they read his name. Until last year, no one knew. But in his seventh year in the league, he played for a team that was a perfect fit. He averaged 38 minutes a game last year so you know he’s going to get his playing time. Most leagues favor three-point shooters and as a career 37% shooter from downtown, what’s not to love? The Warriors love to run and score a lot. There’s no reason he’ll have any worse of a year than last year.
DeJuan Blair – You can’t go wrong here. As of now, he’s a backup. But similar to Lawson, he is a very efficient player. Last year he averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds while only playing for 21 minutes a game. As McDyess and Duncan continue to age, Blair should start to see more minutes. I’d go as far as to say that given the minutes, we’d see a player putting up numbers similar to those of Kevin Love. Quote me on it.
Tyrus Thomas – Thomas has disappointed me year after year. After seeing him at LSU, I thought he would have a very prolific NBA career. I still think he will. He has all the potential in the world. He has the body and athleticism to dominate on offense like Amare Stoudemire, but is also a very capable defender. It’s unknown whether he will or not, but if Thomas can put it together, he’ll be scary.
C.J. Miles – Devin Harris loves to drive & kick. Miles loves to shoot. It’s a match made in heaven. Miles won’t put up spectacular numbers, but he will be solid. He will be available in the late rounds of most drafts so he’s worth a pick towards the end.
Ricky Rubio – Who knows what to expect? We haven’t really seen the kid play, but have heard an awful lot. For all we know, we could have a Kevin Kolb situation on our hands. On the other hand, it’s hard to have as much worldwide hype as he has if you aren’t actually good. I haven’t actually seen him play so it’s hard to make any kind of predictions, but he’s one to keep an eye on.