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Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em Alone (Pre-Draft Edition)

Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em Alone (Pre-Draft Edition)

Thankfully the NBA season begins Tuesday. If your league’s draft is this weekend you might be looking for a few players to take in the middle and late rounds. Let’s take a look at a few guys that you should either love or leave alone on draft day. A small caveat before we begin. Leaving ‘Em alone doesn’t mean that you don’t draft the players at all. It just means that if you do draft them don’t overpay by drafting them to early. Players are listed in alphabetical order:

DJ Augustine: Before the pre-season began it looked as if there was going to be a timeshare at the point between Augustine and Shaun Livingston. Unfortunately for the Bobcats Livingston is again battling injuries clearing the way for Augustine to log heavy minutes. Coach Brown has accepted Augustine for who he is and that makes all the difference for DJ going into season. The former Texas guard is locked in as the starter and for what he lacks in play making he makes up for as a shooter and with quickness. 13.3ppg, 5apg, 1.3stls and a ton of 3’s should make Augustine a great pick in the middle to later rounds of your draft. Love ‘Em!

Elton Brand: For the record I struggled mightily in deciding what my actual feeling on Brand is having been torched by his injuries and inconsistency in years past. Nevertheless, I find Brand to be a player with excellent value late in your draft. He should still be there in round 7 or 8 as owners want nothing to do with the former 20-10 machine. Let’s be clear, Brand is NOT a 20-10 guy anymore but what’s wrong with 15 and 7 mixed in with some nice block totals and decent percentages? I would take him before guys like Rashard Lewis, Anthony Randolph, or Boris Diaw. Love ‘Em might be a little strong given his past two years, so I will go with Like ‘Em.

Caron Butler: The stars are aligning for Butler to have a strong comeback season. Dallas is said to want to cut Dirk’s minutes this year and Butler is actually in a contract year (never underestimate the power of the contract year). So naturally Butler is in the “best shape of his life” and all the other clichés that are used around this time of the year. Tough Juice will be trying to squeeze out his best numbers in hopes of landing a lucrative contract extension. I like his chances and he is going as an afterthought in many drafts. He will be an excellent value pick this year. Love ‘Em!

Loul Deng: Deng is a productive forward who is worth owning but not at the price certain ranking systems have him. The Bulls are just a deeper team and that spells bad news for the numbers of Deng. His percentages should increase with more quality shots but less of them overall. He should get out to a nice start while Carlos Boozer misses the first month of the season but don’t overpay for Deng with anything earlier than a 6th round pick. Leave ‘Em Alone!

Andrea Bargnani: Some people have actually forgotten that he was the number one overall pick in 2007. He has steadily improved his overall play as has adjusted to the physical nature of the league over the last 3 years. No longer in the shadow Chris Bosh, Bargnani is primed to set career highs across the board as the primary option for the Raptors. 21.7 pts, 7.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.8 blks with percentages near 86% from the line and 39% from three is a realistic forecast. Sounds like a lot to love.

Vince Carter: Vinsanity is entering his 2nd year with the Orlando Magic and after a subpar first year I look for Vince to transition to larger role in the Magic offense. Early reports say the Magic will deploy Carter out behind the three point arc to spot up more this season as well as get him some quality time down in the post. VC will be 34 in January and nobody expects him to be leaping over the heads of seven footers and dunking like he did on Frederic Weiss in the 2000 Olympics. (I can’t believe that was 10 years ago!) Carter should be more efficient this year with a few less dimes but overall better numbers and percentages. Many owners were burned by him last year and are shy to draft him this year. Don’t let that be you! Love ‘Em.

Darren Collison: Collison only makes this list due to the low draft position I have seen him go in fantasy drafts but he has been skyrocketing up. The second year point guard is quite a coupe for the Pacers, even with New Orleans handcuffing James Posey’s contract to the terms of the deal. He will turn the ball over….ALOT. Unfortunately DC has had a sub-par preseason but should have regular season averages around 16pts, 7.9 apg, 3.5 rpg, and 1.3 stls. Love ‘Em.

Raymond Felton: Free of the “play the right way” system of Larry Brown, Raymond Felton is expected to surge in the Mike D’Antoni “Seven Seconds or Less” offense in New York. I am not sold on Felton’s ability to be an elite fantasy guard even in that system. Something just seems to be missing with Felton ever since he entered the league. I am not willing to pay a 3rd or 4th round price to get Felton and unless you’re a delusional Knick fan, nor should you. He is another player who has had a terrible pre-season and I am not convinced he will figure it out. Let someone else deal with that headache. Leave ‘Em Alone.

Roy Hibbert: The former Georgetown star is unchallenged at the center position in Indiana this season. He is a skilled big man with range who also takes pride in blocking shots and rebounding. If he can avoid the foul trouble that has plagued him in the early part of his career 15-16pg, 9rpg, with 2blks are within his capability. Love ‘Em.

Antwan Jamison: With the sting of the King abandoning his throne, the Cavaliers are left as jesters amidst confusion. Jamison is known around the league as a nice guy and also as a guy Lebron lobbied to get in Cleveland last year. Lebron is gone and well you know where last guys finish. To add to the gumbo mess, Jamison has a new coach in Byron Scott who loves defense and that has never been one of Jamison’s strong suits. The player who is slated to help Jamison lead the Cavaliers this season is Mo Williams, a guy who nearly retired this summer because Lebron took his talents…ah you know the rest. To make matters worse JJ Hickson is said to have won the starting power forward job regulating Jamison to the bench to start the season. Jamison is a consummate nice guy and professional who will play whatever role Coach Scott request much to the chagrin of Jamison’s owners. At this point Jamison is still a player worth owning and could end up in the starting lineup at any point, but there is nothing to love about his situation today. Leave ‘Em alone unless you are acquiring him after round 4.

JaVale McGee: McGee had an amazing Summer League leaping and flying through the air snatching passes out of the sky from John Wall. Then McGee was invited to play with Team USA and was less than impressive when the competition got stiff. Team USA teammate Lamar Odom said “The game is called basketball, not run and jump” in reference to McGee. Fortunately for you it seems fantasy owners are excited by McGee’e athleticism, spectacular alley oops and blocks. If you need a specialist he is your guy but with the return of Gilbert Arenas and emergence of Andray Blatche there isn’t enough ball to go around to make McGee worthy of a pick in the middle rounds. Leave ‘Em alone till later.

Anthony Randolph: Randolph’s basketball IQ and focus has yet to match his talent level. As the pre-season has unfolded it has become clear the Knicks are not in love with Mr. Randolph. He has already been mentioned in trade rumors as a piece in the potential package to acquire Carmelo Anthony. He is another player big on flash but light on substance but owners seem to like the disappointment. Leave ‘Em alone!

Jason Richardson: Somebody has to score in Phoenix. Enter Jason Richardson who isn’t exactly shy about firing it up. Richardson and newly acquired Hedo Turkgolu are going to be the biggest beneficiaries of the up tempo Suns offensive accented by the passing mastery of Steve Nash. With the shooting guard position being as shallow as is, don’t forget about Richardson when you are finishing your player rankings. Love ‘Em.

Hedo Turkgolu: Turkgolu hated being in Toronto last year. The situation just didn’t work and Turkgolu was about as inspired as Vince Carter was during his last two years in Toronto. (What is it about that place?) Now basking in the Sun in Phoenix with Steve Nash, Turkgolu is set to run circles around opposing power forwards this season. At 6’10 Turkgolu is a nice fit in the Phoenix offense and will help shoulder the scoring load left by Amare’s departure. What will truly make him valuable is his passing ability as he is skating by slower power forwards this year. He is another guy who burned owners last year and is not being forgiven easily but I say Love ‘Em.

Evan Turner: The Ohio State standout and number 2 overall pick is experiencing some growing pains in Philly. Coach Doug Collins seems to be unsure of how to use the multi talented Turner. One thing is for sure, Turner is too talented to be sitting on the talent challenged bench of the 76ers. To date Collins has devised a plan that will have Turner backing up Jrue Holliday at point guard. Collins is respected teacher and coach in the NBA and should be given the benefit of the doubt in most cases but something about this just seems wrong. Turner is not going to get the opportunity to contribute the way most #2 picks usually do. You would be wise to leave him alone all together but I can’t fault you if you decide to grab him late.

That is all for now. I will be back each week before you need to set your lineups with suggestions to help you in your leagues!

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I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at

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