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NBA Draft Guide Preview

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Mike Gallagher discusses Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant to kick off this stat-packed edition

Rotoworld’s 2014-15 NBA Draft Guide has officially launched! While the NBA sleep-walks through the lazy summer months, our NBA staff has been hard at work compiling our biggest and best Draft Guide ever. For just $14.99 you’ll get access to a ridiculous amount of fantasy tools, including:

  • Top-200 fantasy rankings for Head-to-Head, Rotisserie, Points, and Dynasty leagues
  • 350 individual player outlooks and stat projections
  • Team outlooks, position battles and depth charts
  • Customized rankings tailored to your league’s particular scoring system
  • The ever-popular schedule grid, allowing you to maximize games-played
  • An exhaustive league-wide injury report
  • Tiered ranks and sleepers/busts for each position
  • Eight mock drafts covering the most popular fantasy formats

We’ve also written 24 columns (and counting) exclusive to Draft Guide members, discussing a huge range of topics including draft-day strategies, risk/reward players, position battles, and the staff’s favorite flier picks and bold predictions. There’s so much content that I’m struggling just to sum it up.

Below are a few excerpts from my Draft Guide columns as a preview, but you can access the full columns and so much more for just $14.99.

2014 Injury Report

DNPs are death for a player's fantasy value, and a deep familiarity with the NBA injury report can be an invaluable resource on draft day. This column serves up a comprehensive list of injured players […] I’ve assigned an ‘Injury Risk’ to each player listed, on a scale of 1-to-10, which refers to the risk for their season outlook if you drafted them today. I tried to factor in injury history, current health and timetable, age, and whether their injury/surgery might affect their production once they return […]

Denver Nuggets

Danilo Gallinari had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee back in April of 2013. That was followed by surgery to repair a partially torn left ACL in June, but he required yet another surgery to reconstruct the same ACL in January. He began moving without restrictions in May of 2014 and said that participating in the Nuggets' training camp is "realistic." Denver will take every precaution with their prized forward, who is owed $22.4 million over the next two seasons, and fantasy owners should expect steady but slow progress when the season begins, considering he won't have played a game in about 18 months. Injury Risk: 7

Nate Robinson tore his ACL in January but he's already back on the court, and he posted a video of himself dunking in mid-August. That's an encouraging sign for his opening-night availability, but ACL recoveries can be fickle and fantasy owners should ignore him in a competitive backcourt that also features Ty Lawson, Randy Foye and Arron Afflalo. Injury Risk: 6

Ty Lawson finished the 2013-14 season with six DNPs after spraining his left ankle in early April. He wasn't unable to run in mid-June, which suggests that it was more than a simple sprain, but X-rays and MRIs have ruled out any structural damage. He's been patiently resting while lifting weights and training as much as possible, and all signs point to Lawson being ready for training camp. Injury Risk: 2

JaVale McGee played only five games last season before fracturing his left tibia and handing the Nuggets' starting C job to Timofey Mozgov. Nuggets GM Tim Connelly said in late May that McGee was expected to return to the court "any day" but there haven't been any reports of him practicing, let alone playing 5-on-5. Coach Brian Shaw has already stated that McGee will be battling Timofey Mozgov for the starting center job, and there are too many red flags here for McGee to be more than a late-round flier -- during his best season, in 2011-11, he was still only a mid-round value in eight- and nine-cat leagues. Injury Risk: 5 […]

Punting Strategy

Intentionally ceding a fantasy category week after week is inherently risky, and 'punting' should never be casually employed as a strategy on draft day. If you’re going to do it, you must have a plan. The first consideration should be, does your league's format reward punting? […]

If you draft Andre Drummond in the second round [of a head-to-head league], for instance, you'll try to also acquire guys like Thaddeus Young, Kenneth Faried, Omer Asik, and maybe some poor-FT% guards like Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Lance Stephenson and Tony Wroten. All four of those guards I just mentioned are also below-average for 3-point shooting (an unsurprising correlation), so if you do succeed in building such a team you'd have semi-punted a second category unintentionally.

My bigger issue is that by locking yourself into a punt-FT% strategy you limit your managerial flexibility as the draft progresses, and also as the season progresses. With Dwight/Drummond/etc. anchoring your frontcourt, you can't simply take the best available player, the best available at a given position, or even the best available in a category you're targeting. Instead, available players are filtered through the lens of FT%—and perversely, the worse the player is the higher you value him.

As the season progresses, moreover, you can't easily switch strategies if your team struggles. A GM with a balanced roster could trade Carmelo Anthony for whatever needs they perceive, and it's relatively straightforward. A GM punting FT% could trade Andre Drummond but (if they committed to punting on draft day) they'd likely still be stuck with a team that can't win FT% even without Drummond […]

Follow me on Twitter for stats, injury news and player updates throughout the season!

Top Transactions

Bulls sign Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol flirted with the idea of signing with the Thunder, or re-signing with the Lakers, but ultimately signed with the Bulls for his first season in the Eastern Conference. He joins a defense-first team with an established frontcourt duo in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, but Gasol is expected to earn the starting PF job with Gibson persisting in a sixth-man role.

Noah averaged a double-double and 5.4 assists per game last season, while notching four triple-doubles. Gibson scored a career-high 13.0 points per game in under 29 minutes off the bench, and the addition of Gasol makes Chicago's frontcourt even more formidable. He did the bulk of his work in the post, a play type that accounted for 38.6 percent of his opportunities, yet he scored a middling 0.83 points per possession.

His most efficient scoring came as a roll-man off screens, so it comes as good news that L.A. ran many more post-ups last season (a less-efficient play for Gasol) while the Bulls ran more pick-and-rolls. The flipside is that Gasol is going from the second-fastest to the third-slowest NBA team, as gauged by pace. Joakim Noah will steal some of his rebounds, the Bulls' slow pace and deliberate offense may dent his scoring and shot attempts, and Gasol is a growing injury risk as he ages (he missed 22 games last season, and 33 games in 2012-13) […]

Pelicans trade for Omer Asik

Omer Asik is a perfect example of a talented player who fits great with his new team in reality, but whom I have zero desire to draft in fantasy leagues. His best season was 2012-13 with Houston, and even then he barely had standard-league value in 30 minutes per game. Free throw percentage is the culprit, as he's a 54.4 percent FT shooter for his career. Even without the FT caveat, however, his stats from 2012-13 are strikingly reminiscent of a late-round value like Tyson Chandler -- Asik averaged 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.1 blocks, while shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

This is just the tip of the Draft Guide iceberg, representing a sliver of three columns (out of more than two dozen). So what are you waiting for? Get the Guide!

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