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Justin Phan

Court Report: Camp Storylines East

Justin Phan
Roto Arcade

With training camps finally upon us and preseason action just a few days away, it’s time to take an extensive look at all the Eastern Conference storylines and position battles that still need to be addressed as well as recent developments, whether it be player movement or injury updates. I’ll break it down team-by-team, with all the hard news items to start followed by quick-hitting analysis. Just a reminder that all player valuations are made on a nine-category, roto basis.

Atlanta Hawks

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Recent developments: Jamal Crawford(notes) showed up at media day and repeatedly reiterated that he will move forward even if he doesn’t get a contract extension before the start of the season. You’ve got to credit Crawford for being such a team player and not holding out when he’s already a grossly overpaid sixth man. We could all learn a lesson or two from “JC”. Crawford isn’t getting a big extension anytime soon either. The Hawks lost almost all of their financial flexibility this summer by handing out an exorbitant extension to Joe Johnson(notes). When you also factor in that Al Horford(notes) is due to at least double his modest $5.4M salary this summer as a restricted free agent, it’s easy to see how Crawford isn’t in the team’s long-term plans … The battle between Mike Bibby(notes) and Jeff Teague(notes) is heating up. It’s not completely out of the question that Teague could overtake Bibby as the team’s starting point guard with a strong camp. Bibby is a sinking ship at this point of his career, especially on the defensive end. Mike Woodson often had to hide Bibby in the corner on defense last year in favor of Johnson against teams with an above-average point guard. Teague has the quickness to stay in front of his man and is a better fit for Larry Drew’s faster-paced offense. If Teague can curb his propensity to turn the ball over, expect him to win the job sooner rather than later … Marvin Williams(notes) still looks to be, well, Marvin Williams.

Fantasy spin: Josh Smith(notes) and Al Horford are about the only two players on this roster you can count on to repeat. The Larry Drew era will be less about “Iso-Joe” and more about motion and ball movement, making Joe Johnson better suited as a late-third round pick. Let me just add that it wouldn’t surprise me if he dropped out of the top-40 completely. There were red flags and outliers all over the place when you compare Jamal Crawford’s ’09-’10 campaign to his career averages. You shouldn’t expect him to replicate those numbers, but he isn’t going to completely fall off the map either. The eighth round looks to be break-even territory for him. Marvin Williams is still a player with limited upside, while Teague makes for a nice speculative option in deeper leagues (think around pick 200). Bibby should continue his freefall into irrelevancy and is not worth serious consideration in standard leagues. Consider him a three-point specialist with an above-average assist-to-turnover ratio.

Boston Celtics

Recent developments: Kevin Garnett(notes) is reportedly in much better shape this off-season than last. It’s not hard to buy this given the sudden resurgence he exhibited down the stretch after looking all but done by midseason … Kendrick Perkins(notes) (torn ACL) says the starting center spot is his when he returns. Perk claims that he is ahead of schedule, but to expect him back before February is probably wishful thinking. A March or April return is more likely … The battle in the middle between Jermaine O’Neal(notes) and Shaquille O’Neal(notes) could come down to who has a better campGlen Davis(notes) looks to be the first player off the Celtics bench … Owners should take note that the Celtics plan to coast less during the late winter months to set themselves up for better playoff positioning.

Fantasy spin: Perception is reality. Rajon Rondo’s(notes) value is at an all-time high, while Garnett and Ray Allen’s(notes) ADPs are falling faster than this stack of brownies. Rondo is a second-round talent, but has two clearly defined weaknesses (FT%, turnovers) that you have to account for. Pierce is well-rounded and won’t really set you back in any one category, but he isn’t getting any younger and the third round appears to be his ceiling value. It’s hard to exude much confidence in Garnett and Allen given their clear decline, but at some point enough is enough. KG in the sixth and Allen in the seventh is just right. Any earlier is a bit of a reach and any later is a bargain. Jermaine is a gamble with his extensive injury history, but he could be worth a pick late as he goes from being the 2/3 option in Miami to more of a 5/6 in Boston. The added talent around him will only help take some of the pressure off.

Charlotte Bobcats

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Recent developments: The Bobcats’ reluctance to include DJ Augustin(notes) in a trade is at least a positive (perhaps promising) sign that they still want him around. At this point it looks like Augustin’s job to loseKwame Brown(notes) will miss four-to-six weeks with a severe ankle sprain. Bad news for an already thin frontcourt. Nazr Mohammed(notes) should get plenty of run at center … Can I get an Antoine Walker(notes) shimmy-shake one time?

Fantasy spin: Gerald Wallace(notes) and Stephen Jackson(notes) remain the go-to guys and should be in for another season of heavy usage. The supporting cast is a group of speculative options with upside, starting with Tyrus Thomas(notes). If you’re a Tyrus owner you’re hoping Diaw gets moved so he can move into the starting lineup (just 3 starts last year). The good news is the Raptors are still in pursuit. Either way, there’s enough of a payoff here to take a shot in the seventh to find out. If Diaw can get himself into game shape, he could be worth a look late as the Bobcats could really use his playmaking ability on the floor since they don’t have a true point guard on their roster. I’d like to see the position battle play itself out before really committing to one, but I’d bet Augustin has more value than Shaun Livingston(notes) this year. I just don’t see how Livingston’s body can hold up through an 82-game grind. Temper your expectations with Augustin – he’s worth a shot late but isn’t so much a prime breakout candidate.

Chicago Bulls

Recent developments: Taj Gibson(notes) appears to finally be healthy after battling plantar fasciitis for most of last season. Gibson should be the first big man off the bench and has shown excellent per-minute rebound and block potential when given the opportunity … The Bulls are otherwise a pretty stable bunch, with the starting lineup set for now (Derrick Rose(notes), Ronnie Brewer(notes), Luol Deng(notes), Carlos Boozer(notes), Joakim Noah(notes)). The biggest question is at shooting guard, where Kyle Korver(notes) and Keith Bogans(notes) could give Brewer some serious competition. The Bulls’ projected starting unit combined for 56 three-pointers last year, which would put them dead last by a significant margin. It certainly doesn’t help that they lost their four best perimeter shooters (Salmons, Hinrich, Brad Miller(notes), Jannero Pargo(notes)) this off-season. Rose struggled from distance in the FIBA World Championships (5-of-28 with a moved in three-point line) and his improvements in that regard are questionable at best, so the perimeter shooting is probably going to have to come from the swing spots. Korver set an NBA record in three-point percentage last year, hitting 53.6 percent of his attempts, so he seems like a prime candidate to see major run behind Brewer and Deng. Teams are going to start packing the paint and the Bulls will have to address this floor spacing issue sooner or later.

Fantasy spin: Rose’s value will go as high as his threes, steals, and blocks will take it. Boozer remains a steady 20/10 threat and is ideally suited as a third-round selection. Noah is due for incremental improvements across the board, but don’t expect anything significant in the breakout sense with the Bulls upgrading from Tyrus Thomas to Boozer at power forward. The same applies to Luol Deng, who has health concerns on top of that and could lose some minutes to Korver. Also don’t expect Deng to average 7.3 rebounds again with Boozer around. Korver, Brewer, and Gibson are all worthwhile gambles in deeper leagues depending on team needs.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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Recent developments: Mo Williams(notes) claimed that reports of him contemplating retirement were blown out of proportion. Either way, it’s concerning that his heart isn’t completely in it anymore and/or it was at least semi-dependent on LeBron’s presence. It also shows that Williams isn’t embracing the opportunity to step up as the Cavs’ go-to guy. He is also expected to be limited until mid-October with a groin injury. Someone’s had a rough summer … Anderson Varejao’s(notes) ankle is not 100 percent yet after injuring it during the FIBA Worlds while playing for Brazil. The injury is not considered serious and he should be ready for the season opener … The starting small forward spot is still up for grabs between Jawad Williams(notes), Jamario Moon(notes), and Joey Graham(notes). Moon appears to have the edge … No word on whether Ramon Sessions(notes) or Anthony Parker(notes) will start at off-guard … JJ Hickson(notes) is expected to start at power forward with Antawn Jamison(notes) coming off the bench, but no announcement has been made. Scott may decide to start Jamison at small forward instead to keep as much talent on the floor as possible.

Fantasy spin: Mo Williams was the go-to guy in Milwaukee and finished with fifth-round value in his last two seasons there, so he has proven that he could do it in the past. He will have plenty of chances to assert himself, but there are also some major concerns that could hold him back from posting top-40 value. His efficiency will plummet, for one. He isn’t shooting 43% from deep again without LeBron drawing all that attention from opposing defenses and setting him up, and his turnovers should also end up on the north side of 3 a game. Durability has been a major concern for most of his career – keep in mind that Mo has played 70+ games just once in the past five seasons. Increased usage and more minutes aren’t going to help his cause. Jamison is a guy you should also be concerned about, especially since he’s a major candidate to be moved at the trade deadline. Proceed with caution. Count me in as a Varejao supporter and a Hickson believer (to an extent). Sessions is a good speculative pick late and should be a great source of assists while also helping out with steals and free-throw percentage. Daniel Gibson(notes) is worth watching in deeper leagues. Jawad Williams is the deep, deep sleeper of this bunch.

Detroit Pistons

Recent developments: The Pistons are going to be a disaster this year, and an even bigger train wreck for fantasy owners. There isn’t a single player on this roster that warrants a top-100 pick … Rodney Stuckey(notes) is the starting point guard, but here’s a thorough and convincing case as to why Will Bynum(notes) should start instead … Things are ugly at the wings, with five players vying for two spots (Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes), Tracy McGrady(notes), Austin Daye(notes))Charlie Villanueva(notes) is making his push to win the starting power forward job from Jonas Jerebko(notes), but losing weight isn’t going to be the cure to his defensive woes … Greg Monroe(notes) has received full clearance to resume activity after having minor toe surgery in late-July, and will push Ben Wallace(notes) for minutes at center. The projected starting lineup: Stuckey, Rip, Prince, Jerebko, Big Ben.

Fantasy spin: Like I mentioned earlier, this is a team you generally want to avoid. Stuckey hasn’t shown much improvement since entering the league and has really seemed out of place at the point. Not surprising since he doesn’t have a playmaking bone in his body. Gordon and Villanueva are nice bounceback candidates, but what exactly is the upshot here? There is some potential to be had with Jerebko, Monroe, and Daye, but they’ll have plenty of competition for minutes. There is just an overload of mediocre options on this roster, each of which limits the others’ potential.

Indiana Pacers

Recent developments: Darren Collison(notes) (fractured finger) has been cleared to play and should be ready for the season opener … Tyler Hansbrough(notes) has also been cleared to play after a year-long bout with an ear infection/vertigo … Roy Hibbert(notes) has gotten down to 10% body fat … The Pacers may look to deal TJ Ford(notes) or Dahntay Jones(notes) to make room for Magnum Rolle(notes).

Fantasy spin: Danny Granger(notes) (top-10) and Collison (top-40) are quality investments this year, as is Hibbert (top-85). Beyond that it gets a bit murky because the question of who starts at shooting guard and power forward remains unresolved. Mike Dunleavy and Josh McRoberts(notes) are the starters for now, but Brandon Rush(notes) and Hansbrough are not far behind. Keep in mind that Rush will be suspended for the first five games of the season and will be at an immediate disadvantage in the position battle. McRoberts and Hansbrough are the two of interest here, and whoever wins out in that position battle may be worth rostering in standard leagues. Paul George(notes) is the deep sleeper here, but he’s still got a ways to go in terms of development.

Miami Heat

Recent developments: LeBron James(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) have both recovered from their respective injuries – James from a strained right elbow and Bosh from a facial fracture … The Heat decided not to offer a contract to Erick Dampier(notes)Mario Chalmers(notes) has been cleared after suffering a high ankle sprain … The case against Udonis Haslem(notes) on marijuana charges has been droppedJoel Anthony(notes) has the inside track to start at center.

Fantasy spin: LeBron and Wade are still first-round talents with Bosh warranting a mid-to-late-second round pick. Mike Miller(notes) will thrive alongside Wade and LeBron in an expanded spot shooting role, and is a good eighth-round target. Beyond those four there isn’t much to be excited about. Chalmers may enter the season as the starting point guard, but Erik Spoelstra said LeBron, Wade, and Miller will all assume PG duties at some point. Haslem will be a decent option in deeper leagues, but the Heat’s plan to primarily use Bosh at power forward puts a damper on his already limited upside.

Milwaukee Bucks

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Recent developments: Andrew Bogut(notes) will participate in training camp without any restrictions, but is still dealing with elbow pain and will likely have to play through it for the entire season … Corey Maggette(notes) is expected to miss the entire preseason as he recovers from off-season surgery to fix torn peroneal tendons. Full recovery usually takes about four months. Given that Maggette had the surgery in July, he’s on track to be at full strength around November, if not sooner … John Salmons(notes) could miss a few days of practice with a slightly sprained left knee.

Fantasy spin: Gone are the days of the Bucks having a perennial top-50 player in Michael Redd(notes). For fantasy purposes, this team will be built very similarly to the Houston Rockets this year. They have an injury-riddled center with top-25 upside in Bogut surrounded by two guards and a power forward who are all good bets to finish in the top-100. The fact that Bogut’s recovery is coming along well is generally a positive indication, but you have to consider the negatives before bumping him up on your cheat sheets. The fact that all three injuries occurred on his dominant hand/arm only exacerbates the drop-off in production that he faces. Not only will it give him some problems shooting, but it will affect his shot-blocking ability as well. You have to think Bogut will at least tone down his aggressiveness on the defensive end a bit in the interest of staying healthy. The top-25 upside that he displayed last season appears to be a thing of the past, and a lower ceiling value and the potential for another injury make him a very risky proposition this season. I wouldn’t seriously consider him until the seventh round. Brandon Jennings(notes) will build upon a strong rookie campaign and should show some improvement in year two, but his horrid field-goal percentage prevents him from being much more than a lower-end PG2. His effectiveness is also tied to Bogut being healthy, which is always concerning. Salmons is a solid all-around contributor best suited as a seventh-rounder, as he is unlikely to replicate his minutes (37.6 per game) or shot volume (14.8 field goal attempts). Gooden is a sneaky double-double threat and serviceable third center if you need him. Anywhere from the 10th round on is good value. Maggette will be overrated by many this year, as he’ll leave the friendly confines of Nellie ball and will face some stiff competition for minutes from Carlos Delfino(notes), Ersan Ilyasova(notes), and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute(notes). Delfino is a nice target in deeper leagues as he’ll enter the season as the starting small forward and will still be a great source of threes and steals. Maggette will push him for minutes, but Delfino should get ~24 minutes a game as the Bucks need shooters like him to space the floor. Ilyasova won’t repeat with the team’s added depth, but he’s still worth a look in deep leagues (around pick 175).

New Jersey Nets

Recent developments: Troy Murphy(notes) is dealing with a groin strain that could cost him some time if aggravated … The Nets’ four-team bid to land Carmelo Anthony(notes) appears to be officially dead. Melo recently denied saying he would sign an extension with the Nets, and it’s starting to look more and more like no trade is imminent … Avery Johnson expects Devin Harris(notes) to be a bigger part of the offense this year… Terrence Williams(notes) looks to have the early edge on Anthony Morrow(notes) for the starting shooting guard job.

Fantasy spin: While the Melo deal is dead (for now), you have to at least be a little cautious here as the Nets haven’t given up yet and are still trying to find a way to make the deal work. Brook Lopez(notes) would drop out of the top-25 if Melo was added, and you’d have to re-slot Murphy at the 4-5 turn. Harris should bounce back now that he is reunited with Avery Johnson, but he’s no more than a low-end PG2 to me. I’d much rather chance it with Jrue Holiday(notes) or Gilbert Arenas(notes), especially given Harris’ extensive injury history. Morrow should find an ultra-efficient way to sneak in the top-100, while Williams is much better suited for deeper leagues. A lot of people are high on Williams as a potential breakout candidate, but he’s going to come up too short in a number of categories (points, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage). The rebounds are coming down too with the addition of Murphy and Favors. Give him another year to develop and we can re-visit a potential breakout in 2011.

New York Knicks

Recent developments: Kelenna Azubuike(notes) should be ready for the season opener as he recovers from a torn patellar tendon … Mike D’Antoni plans to play Ronny Turiaf(notes) about 25 minutes a night … Wilson Chandler(notes) sat out of practice with a sore left calf, but will still travel with the team to Europe where they will kick off their preseason schedule. He is the frontrunner to start at shooting guard … Eddy Curry(notes) is clearly doing his part to earn his $11.3 million contract, reporting to camp at a whoppering 325 pounds. He’s also expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a strained right hamburgerstring. Never mind sabotaging the Knicks on LeBron, how about sabotaging your own career? … There’s a chance that Anthony Randolph(notes) could start at center in place of Turiaf.

Fantasy spin: The Knicks feature a group of high-risk, high-reward types who may generally be overvalued given the reputation of D’Antoni’s fantasy-friendly system. Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) certainly warrants strong consideration in the late-first, but how much will the difference between Nash and Raymond Felton(notes) affect his value? Sure, he created a good amount of his offense on his own, but his efficiency (points per possession) on those plays was significantly lower. Ideally you want to draft him in the second round, but the dearth of options at the 1-2 turn may not give you much of a choice. Danilo Gallinari(notes) is a great get at the 4-5 turn and a bargain if he slips out of the top-50. The pieces are in place for Felton to succeed, but I don’t trust him nearly enough to take him before the seventh. He is at his best when his usage rate is down (a bit odd, I know), and with him expected to initiate most of the offense, he won’t be able to maintain the improved (and highly fluky) efficiency spike he exhibited last year. Is this the year Randolph finally puts it all together? Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t spend much more than a sixth-round pick to find out. Azubuike and Chandler will be stuck in a platoon at the 2, and their upsides will be for the worse because of it. If Azubuike can regain his previous form, he could definitely end up being a useful utility option in standard leagues. His ability to space the floor is something Chandler sorely lacks, and is a big edge that will give him the upper hand in a position battle. Turiaf could be a serviceable third center in deeper leagues, while Roger Mason(notes) and Toney Douglas(notes) are both nice deep league sleepers.

Orlando Magic

Recent developments: Stan Van Gundy has been experimenting with Rashard Lewis(notes) at small forward. Van Gundy doesn’t plan to follow through with this arrangement though as Lewis is expected to start at power forward. Mickael Pietrus(notes) and Quentin Richardson(notes) will battle it out at the 3 … Jason Williams(notes) will have arthroscopic knee surgery and is questionable for the season opener. He falls further down the depth chart behind Chris Duhon(notes).

Fantasy spin: Not a whole lot changes from this year to last, with the Magic returning almost all of their major rotation players. It’s hard to trust Lewis given his clear decline, so draft him with tempered expectations. If he ends up replicating his numbers from last season then all the better. Jameer will bounce back a bit in a per-minute sense, but the Duhon signing means less minutes and a lower ceiling. Consider him a top-end PG3. Pietrus, JJ Redick(notes), Brandon Bass(notes), and Ryan Anderson(notes) are all intriguing targets in deep leagues.

Philadelphia 76ers

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Recent developments: Doug Collins has settled on a starting five – Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala(notes), Thaddeus Young(notes), Elton Brand(notes), and Spencer Hawes(notes). It appears Collins is intent on rolling with a big lineup that does not feature Brand at center, as he said Turner would replace Young if he was to start … Collins will utilize Lou Williams in a sixth-man role and will look for him to do one thing: score. “He could be our Jamal Crawford” … Brand has lost quite a bit of weight and is down to around 255 pounds …Andres Nocioni (ankle sprain) is practicing but not participating in contact drills. He may miss part of the preseason … Evan Turner(notes) has dropped 10 pounds since Summer League, where he was a disappointment and left much to be desired.

Fantasy spin: Iguodala’s role is a bit in flux, but he’ll still be the go-to guy in an active offense. You can’t help but be impressed at how much he matured over the summer at the FIBA Worlds. Expect an increase in field-goal percentage and assists at the expense of points and threes. The move from small forward to shooting guard shouldn’t affect his overall value significantly, so take him in the third round with confidence. I’ll be targeting Jrue Holiday in the sixth round of every draft as a high-end PG2. He thrived as a starter in the second-half (11.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 threes, 1.5 steals) when he was finally able to escape the shadows of Lou Williams and Allen Iverson(notes). It’s obvious that Collins has big plans for him this year, so I wouldn’t worry too much about Lou potentially threatening for the job. Young (ninth round) and Brand (eighth round) are nice bounce back candidates as they were largely held back and underutilized within Eddie Jordan’s “pro-style Princeton offense”. Those four words still haunt me to this day. Lou Williams could embrace his new role and thrive in it, but I can’t help but be skeptical after his field-goal percentage jumped from 39.8 percent to 47 percent last year. Proceed with caution. Same goes for Evan Turner, who looks like he got the shortest end of the stick here. He was expected to step in and start at shooting guard, but he now finds himself as the third shooting guard behind Iguodala and Lou Williams. Let someone else take the leap of faith. Hawes and Marreese Speights(notes) both get boosts in value and deserve to be rostered in standard leagues (Hawes especially). We’ll see what Hawes can do with the starting job, but I think Speights will end up being the better value pick when it’s all said and done.

Toronto Raptors

Recent developments: Linas Kleiza(notes) appears to have locked up a starting spot, most likely at small forward. He has improved significantly since his last stint with the Nuggets, and will see consistent minutes at power forward as well … There are a lot of position battles to watch here, first at point guard. Jarrett Jack(notes) has the upper hand over Jose Calderon(notes), but it will likely come down to who outperforms the other in camp … It is assumed that DeMar DeRozan(notes) will start at shooting guard … Ed Davis(notes) is out six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. Amir Johnson(notes) looks to be the starting 4 while Davis recovers and regains his conditioning … Toronto is one of two teams that Erick Dampier is deciding between. Dampier would immediately start at center for the Raptors if he was to sign.

Fantasy spin: Bargnani becomes the go-to option now with Bosh gone and will have every opportunity to cash in. Bosh’s presence will surely be missed, but Kleiza and DeRozan will step up and do more than people think to take some of the scoring burden off of Bargs. The probable drop in efficiency should be more than offset by an increase in counting stats (namely points, threes, rebounds, and blocks). He has two clearly defined weaknesses (steals and assists), but that isn’t all that uncommon for big men. Target Bargs at the 3-4 turn. After that you have a group that could fall under the radar and prove to be pretty nice bargains – Kleiza, Barbosa, Jack, Johnson, (and Tom O’Leary). They all make sense from the 10th round on depending on your team needs. There’s just too much negativity surrounding Calderon to feel optimistic about his prospects of bouncing back. The opposite applies to DeRozan, but he’s not well-rounded enough to warrant a roster spot in standard leagues. He’ll have to work on supplementing his steals, blocks, threes, and free-throw percentage first. Sonny Weems(notes) and Ed Davis are the two deep sleepers on this squad.

Washington Wizards

Recent developments: Andray Blatche(notes) (broken foot) remains sidelined for contact drills and scrimmages, but more as a precaution. He should be ready for the season opener, but expect him to be a bit rusty in the early going as he works his way back into shape … Al Thornton(notes) dropped 20-25 pounds this summer. Now if he can add 20-25 points to his basketball IQ …. Josh Howard(notes) isn’t likely to play until late November at the earliest and hopes to be at or near full strength by mid-season …Gilbert Arenas tweaked his right ankle after colliding with JaVale McGee(notes), but looks to be fine. He has looked on point in the early going, but the real question remains: how will he mesh with John Wall(notes)? … McGee now weighs 260 pounds, eight more pounds than he did last year. He finally got his athletic asthma diagnosed last February, and he is taking special pills and an inhaler to help him manage the disease.

Fantasy spin: This is a very tricky bunch to forecast, as there isn’t a single player on this roster you can really pin and predict with much certainty. First and foremost, is Arenas or Blatche the best option on this squad? Neither are locks to finish in the top-50, but both have shown the potential to put up top-25 numbers. We’re talking about a four-round range in value here, with a ceiling value in the 30s and a floor value in the 80s. Arenas has burned me way too many times in the past for me to consider him before the sixth, so I’ll take a more conservative approach here. Be extremely leery of all the positive reports that are flooding out of Wizards camp, as we heard the exact same things in the previous seasons where he has disappointed. Blatche’s poor work ethic and questionable attitude just rub me the wrong way, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about the extension he signed this off-season. For a guy with a hard-working, team-first alter ego known as “Seven-Day Dray”, a $28 million reward despite an incident where he repeatedly refused to play sends the wrong message. You have to at least question Blatche’s motivation level heading into this season. Yes, he displayed top-20 potential last year but I believe he’ll continue to do things in typical Seven-Day Dray fashion and be too erratic to warrant a top-50 selection. Like Arenas, I’m not going to consider him until the sixth. Like Westbrook, Wall will be better suited in head-to-head formats where his field-goal percentage and turnovers can be ignored. McGee is the one player on this roster I have full confidence in and feel comfortable owning. He is still pretty raw, but should thrive playing next to Wall and has more block upside than anyone in the league. McGee will be a solid third center and warrants consideration as early as the mid-to-late eighth. Yi Jianlian(notes) strikes me a lot like Darko does – an annual sleeper/breakthrough candidate that never follows through. I’ll have to see it before I believe it, but he’s worth a gamble in deeper leagues. Kirk Hinrich(notes) and Al Thornton are limited upside options only worth a look in deep formats.

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