[Fantasy Basketball '12: A vast majority of fantasy basketball drafts have yet to take place, but enough have gone down to allow us to identify some of the more underappreciated options in Yahoo! leagues. Below is a list of the most fantasy-friendly players owned in under 30 percent of leagues. If you’ve already drafted, consider these players relative to your current roster and see if an add/drop is in order; and if you are drafting in the coming days, be sure to keep these options in mind as you are perusing the available players lists in the final rounds.Play the official game of NBA.com]
C.J. Miles, CLE, GF - 8% owned
Miles is entering his eighth NBA season despite being just 25 years old. His stock has been rising over the entire preseason and he's emerged as the key wing player for the Cavs, regardless of specific role. Take a look at this roster and ask yourself where the scoring is going to come from beyond Kyrie Irving. Miles has a career per-36 scoring average of 15.7 points, which topped out at 18.3 points in 10-11 [stats], and he's eager to put last season's contract-year disappointments well behind him. Points, threes, and steals will be his major contributions, but you do need to be wary of a fairly substantial FG% hit.
Tiago Splitter, SAS, C - 7% owned
The setup for Splitter to emerge as a reliable contributor could not be better. He's entering a contract season at age 27 - the Spurs need to see exactly what they've got and he'll be motivated to show that he should figure largely in their future planning (or someone else's). Pop will continue to limit Tim Duncan's minutes, DeJuan Blair will be a non-factor in the rotation, and last season's per-36s included 17.6 points on 62-percent shooting, 9.8 boards, and 1.5 blocks. Those brilliant numbers were the reason he was able to post a per-game rank of 168, despite just 19 minutes.
Chandler Parsons, HOU, F - 19% owned
Parsons is an ideal bench player for his "glue-guy" qualities as a multi-position player with multi-category contributions. He finished his rookie campaign on the upswing [splits], placing just outside the top 100 over the final two months, and should see his usage opportunities increase this season with Luis Scola having been replaced on the Rockets' roster by a gaggle of rookies.
Marvin Williams, UTA, SF - 18% owned
Williams has to be relieved to finally be free of the ghosts of the 2005 NBA Draft that haunted him in Atlanta, and his efficient, low usage game is an excellent fit among the rest of the Jazz starters. He's looked comfortable in the preseason [game log] and could end up as a sneaky-good addition to fantasy rosters, especially if he can stay in the same neighborhood as last season's career-high 39-percent shooting from three. Don't underestimate the power of a line that "doesn't hurt you anywhere", particularly in roto leagues.
Gustavo Ayon, ORL, FC - 10% owned
Orlando's FC minutes are up in the air beyond Glen Davis, but it's easy to root for Ayon and those excellent per-36s from his rookie season [stats]. Al Harrington's knee injury will keep him out at least through mid-December, putting Ayon in an excellent spot to carve out a steady role with his hustle-board ways from the outset.
Jerryd Bayless, MEM, G - 4% owned
Bayless is coming off the best per-minute numbers of his career - per-36s that include 18 points, 2.2 threes, 6 assists, and 1.2 steals - but managed only 31 games played. He steps into a ready-made role as the Grizzlies' sixth man, and has a very realistic shot at topping last season's career-high 23 minutes per game. Yes, Josh Selby went nuts in Summer League play [stats], but Bayless himself converted 42% of his threes in 11-12 and is the more impactful player overall.
Markieff Morris, PHO, PF - 4% owned
Morris will get a chance to assert himself for the Suns with Channing Frye out for the season. He can stretch the floor much in much the same way that Frye did - and in a way that Luis Scola can't - and per-36s from his rookie season that included 1.3 threes, 8.2 boards, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks [stats] should not be overlooked.
Kevin Seraphin, WAS, FC - 7% owned
Seraphin posted top-75 value over the final six weeks last season, averaging 13.6 points on 54-percent shooting, 6.7 boards, and 1.7 blocks in 30 minutes. He's currently dealing with a calf injury, but it's tame compared to Nene Hilario's issues with plantar fasciitis, and Seraphin will be a rotation regular even when Nene happens to be active. Upgrade Seraphin relative to how many games you believe Nene will be able to play this season.
Gerald Green, IND, GF - 6% owned
Green posted a per-game rank of 111 in 25 minutes last season, is headed for a very similar role with the Pacers (at worst), and yet somehow remains almost universally unrostered. He has developed into much more than just a finisher at this point of his career - he made 41 percent of his long twos and 39 percent of his threes in 11-12 [splits], and his per-36s included 2 threes, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks. Frank Vogel likes to use his bench, so Green will have steady minutes as the primary reserve GF, but there's also real upside involved here with Danny Granger's knee problems not going away.
Taj Gibson, CHI, PF - 15% owned
Gibson has been a consistent per-minute contributor for the Bulls over this three seasons and is looking at an expanded role now that Omer Asik is elsewhere. Scale his 11-12 numbers up to 25 minutes per game and you get 9.4 points, 6.5 boards, and 1.6 blocks, and both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer have been known to miss games now and again. You'll have a tough time finding better or more bankable widely-available big-man stats.
Tristan Thompson, CLE, FC - 27% owned
Thompson showed some statistical promise as a 20-year-old rookie, with per-36s that included 9.8 boards (4.7 offensive), 0.7 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Of course, he also shot just 44% from the field, but that will get a boost from running with a healthy Kyrie Irving [11-12 splits] and Anderson Varejao. This Thompson endorsement comes with a qualifier: his free-throw percentage. He's ideally employed in the punt-FT% build for useful big-man stats, but the substantial categorical hit makes him much tougher to roster in other team scenarios.
Byron Mullens, CHA, FC - 23% owned
Mullens has been raising some eyebrows this preseason, having successfully converted 14 of 32 threes in the span of four games [game log]. A whopping 68 percent of his shot attempts have come from long range, and he's made 44 percent of the tries. While this does make Mullens an intriguing end-of-the-bench option, if only for the novelty, the quantity and quality of his looks are due for a precipitous drop once the games start to count. You'll also have to get comfortable with what the trade-offs are (FG%, boards) for those threes from an unusual source.
Richard Hamilton, CHI, SG - 9% owned
You shouldn't have the expectation that Rip is going to stay healthy for a full season, but you should assume that his usage will increase a great deal while Derrick Rose is sidelined, if last season is any indication [splits]. Oh yeah, and Hamilton himself has grown tired of missing games every season, and he's hoping that a revamped off-season regimen will help keep him on the court. He'll post numbers while he plays, especially with the ultra-low-usage Kirk Hinrich manning the point.
Jae Crowder, DAL, F - 2% owned
Crowder was Big East Player of the Year in 11-12 thanks to these numbers, was very productive in Summer League action, and has been impressive enough in the preseason that Rick Carlisle is already singing his praises. He'll get extra burn in the early season while Dirk Nowitzki sits, but count on his being effective enough of a two-way player to push Shawn Marion for playing time all season. There is serious multi-cat potential here.
Trevor Booker, WAS, PF - 6% owned
Like Seraphin, Booker will be particularly useful to fantasy owners any time Nene Hilario or Emeka Okafor miss games, and that's likely to include the start of the season. Look beyond the modest scoring and you'll find very solid big-man numbers (53% FG, 6.5 boards, 1 steal, 0.9 blocks in 25 minutes in 11-12).
Tobias Harris, MIL, F - 1% owned
Harris figures to start for the Bucks at SF on opening night, and will continue to do so at the very least until Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's knee rehabilitates enough to get him back on the court. There is some definite potential for deep-leaguers here - Harris' per-36s as a rookie included 15.6 points, 7.6 boards, 1 steal, and 0.5 blocks [stats], and he put up some big offensive numbers during Summer League play.
Kosta Koufos, DEN, FC - 4% owned
Koufos looks to be in line for the starts at center for the Nuggets. JaVale McGee will comfortably play the most minutes at center as a reserve, but a slight uptick for Koufos from his numbers as a starter in 11-12 [splits] would clearly register an impact in deep leagues.
You can find Matt at Basketball Monster and follow him on Twitter @busersports. Basketball Monster offers custom player projections and rankings; team, matchup, and schedule analysis tools; and a new advanced Draft Tracker.
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