- Guy Lake
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The only thing that has changed is his jersey. Kevin Garnett remains a fantasy owner's dream. He has posted seven straight seasons of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks, with great percentages. He has missed only 15 games total in the past eight years and contributes in every single category except for 3-pointers. The move to Boston could make him even more dominant. While the points, rebounds and defensive numbers should remain about the same, his field-goal percentage is sure to rise, as his All-Star teammates Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will reduce the number of double-teams he'll see. Additionally, their shooting will boost his assists above five per game. He could get some starts at center for the Celtics, and getting center qualification would help his fantasy value.
Bottom Line: There were some grumblings that he had lost a step last season, but don't believe it. Garnett shouldn't fall any farther than the No. 3 overall pick in your draft.
Marion is amazing in that he helps in almost every category and yet does not commit many turnovers. With the best players in the game, it is almost a certainty that they will have a high volume of turnovers by virtue of how often the ball is in their hands. Not so with The Matrix. His numbers were typically excellent: 17.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 3-pointers, 2.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, and just 1.5 turnovers per game on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 81.1 from the line. The only stat he doesn't help with is assists (just 1.8 per game). Well, eight out of nine isn't bad, right? How will The Matrix fare this season? He should put up very similar numbers, though as Amare Stoudemire develops into more of a force he will inevitably take some shots and boards from Marion as we saw last season.
Bottom Line: Marion is a top-3 pick, and in leagues that count turnovers, you could argue he's No. 1 overall. Wherever you take Marion, you're getting a fantasy stud who helps everywhere except assists. But, hey, that's what point guards are for.
Dirk did not have the greatest 2007 playoffs (is it still plural if you get bounced in the first round?), but do not let that diminish your appreciation of the man. He is still a fine fantasy power forward. Last season, Dirk scored 24.6 points per game, with 8.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 steals and 0.9 3-pointers per game. Clearly, Dirk is not the 3-point bomber he was earlier in his career, but his field-goal percentage has climbed as a result. Last season his percentages were otherworldly, as he reached career-highs with 50.2 percent from the floor and 90.4 percent from the free-throw line. His all-around production makes him a fantasy stud on offense. Be aware that his defense has slipped the past few years, and you will need to supplement blocked shots if you draft Dirk early.
Bottom Line: Dirk is still one of the great forces on offense, but his decline in 3-point shooting and defense pushes him into the late-first/early-second round level. On the plus side, he rarely misses games due to injury.
Duncan might not get many points from the bling set, but fans of the game know he remains one of the greatest players in professional basketball. He is the Big Fundamental after all, establishing post position with ease and grace and passing skillfully out of the inevitable double-team. After being doubted last season, Duncan put up great numbers. In addition to his typically impressive scoring and rebounding, he blocked 2.4 shots and dished out 3.4 assists. Look for a repeat of last season's numbers: another 20 and 10 season, with great blocks and good assists from a center-eligible power forward. The knocks against Duncan are typical for big men: His free-throw shooting is subpar (63.7 percent last season), and the turnovers are high (2.8). Still, there are big guys who are worse in both that won't give you the all-around game Duncan provides. Overlook him at your peril.
Bottom Line: Duncan might drop to the second round because of questions about his free-throw shooting and age. If he does, scoop him up and enjoy another spectacular season from the big man.
Why do we like Bosh? It's not the slender physique, the agility on the court or his well-managed head of hair; it's those sweet, sweet percentages. Bosh is a 50/80 percentage guy who shoots a high volume. This is crucial. Bosh made 543 field goals last season and shot 49.6 percent from the field. Only five power forwards had both more makes and a better percentage last season. He was even more dominant in free throws: Only Dirk Nowitzki beat him simultaneously in made free throws (498 to 463) and percentage (90.3 to 78.4). This means Bosh was among the elite at his position in positively affecting fantasy percentages. Throw in 10.7 boards and 1.3 blocks per game and you have a stud power forward. Bosh does have one question mark, though. He withdrew from Team USA with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and the same injury limited him in training camp and practices last season.
Bottom Line: Bosh is a great asset at power forward, and at 23 years of age, he should continue to improve. He was able to play through his plantar fasciitis last season, but owners should be aware that this injury does tend to linger, and it limited even Tim Duncan two years ago.
The breakout candidate finally broke out. Last season, Jefferson did what many fantasy analysts had been expecting for years: He dominated. In 41 games as a starting power forward, Jefferson averaged 17.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals. Great stuff -- and then he was traded. This season he will be the No. 1 option for the Wolves. Some have questioned whether he is ready for such a role, but don't you doubt it. Jefferson excelled while Paul Pierce was out, scoring despite frequent double-teams. Big Al's biggest question is his health. He has never topped 71 games played in a season, and that was his rookie season. If he is to join the elite, he will need to remain on the floor.
Bottom Line: The sleeper is wide awake. You won't get him cheap anymore -- many expert drafts have him going in the second round -- but if he can maintain the blocks to go with his 20 and 10, he will be worth it.
Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
Age: 29 Ht: 6'11" Wt: 260 School: Years in League: 11 Role: Starting PF
This ranking is no slight to Jermaine. He remains an elite power forward, but injury concerns over the past three years force us to drop him a few spots. O'Neal is still in his prime at age 28, so if he can return to health, he could be a steal for owners in leagues that have injury-shy owners. He provides a lethal combination of scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. Last season, O'Neal averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.6 blocks in 69 games. These are elite numbers. What drops Jermaine down a peg or two is the shooting. He has a tendency to settle for the jump shot, which dragged his percentage down to 43.7 percent from the field last season. The Pacers haven't added any great scorers, and Jermaine is likely to force jumpers again this season.
Bottom Line: The biggest question with Jermaine is where he will play, as trade rumors have swirled around him all summer. He could be rejuvenated in a new setting, but even if he remains in Indy, he will provide excellent scoring, rebounding and blocks.
If you are looking for a lunchpail power forward, Carlos Boozer is your man. He won't be as cheap as he was last season, when owners still worried about his health. But who can complain when you are getting better than 20 points and 11 rebounds every night? Boozer has shown that there is more to his game than just banging on the block. For one, he is a strong post passer. He achieved a career high with 3.0 assists last season, and another year with the Jazz could boost the assists into Duncan/Gasol territory. Essentially, Boozer does everything you want from a power forward except block shots. We wish he would make defense a priority since that would catapult his value, but that doesn't appear in the offing for Boozer.
Bottom Line: A full season of Boozer's numbers will make any owner happy. Just be sure to shore up on blocked shots from other players if you select him.
Often maligned as an underachiever, Odom provides excellent fantasy numbers at a good price. The public perception of Odom -- often hurt, doesn't try hard -- depresses his value and can work to your advantage. The numbers don't lie. No, Odom doesn't score as much as he could (15.9 points per game last season), but he does everything else so well, his owners shouldn't sweat that. After all, points are easily found in fantasy, while finding a player eligible at both forward spots who can average both 10 rebounds and five assists per game is not. Odom is also solid on the defensive end, averaging a block per game. Odom also showed toughness last season --playing with a torn labrum that required surgery in May -- that his naysayers ignore. Provided he is fully recovered from the surgery, Odom should be a solid contributor again.
Bottom Line: Play up his reputation as an underachiever and let your league mates pass on Odom. Then swoop in and steal him in the fourth or fifth round. Be smart and back him up with a quality power forward -- Luis Scola, perhaps? -- as his injuries are a cause for concern.
Often overlooked and almost always taken later in drafts than he should be, Jamison has changed his 'tweener label over the past two seasons. He logs his minutes at power forward and has thrived. On a team that stresses offense like the Wizards do under coach Eddie Jordan, there is no reason to think Jamison will slack off much. If Arenas is the clear No. 1, Jamison has firmly established himself as the second option on offense. Whether he's spotting up for 3-pointers or using his ultraquick hops to score inside, he is a handful for opposing power forwards. Jamison will never be a good source of blocks (just 0.5 per game last season), but he will grab a steal per game for his owners. Jamison's best fantasy asset is his range. When you can get two 3-pointers a game from your power forward without sacrificing rebounds, you give yourself a very good chance at winning that category.
Bottom Line: Jamison is a great option for his points, rebounds and 3-pointers. That he is also eligible at small forward makes him even more valuable. Consider him a solid fourth-round fantasy pick in medium-sized leagues.
Randolph put up very strong numbers last season, with 23.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, just 2½ years removed from microfracture surgery. He should do so again playing in Madison Square Garden. There has been much press about how two skilled low-post scorers like Randolph and Eddy Curry could coexist. Expect it to go something like this: Curry will score most of his points within 10 feet of the bucket, while Randolph will drift outside more and shoot mid-range jumpers. Randolph is by far the stronger rebounder, and his numbers will not decline there. Neither Curry nor Randolph will poach steals or blocks from one another since they both are allergic to the letter D.
Bottom Line: Randolph will again be a 20-10 player with great free-throw shooting and a field-goal percentage around 45 percent. He will not block shots for you, but if you need scoring and rebounding, Z-Bo is your man.
With a smooth mid-range jumper, the ability to drive left or right and an excellent free-throw stroke, West is a solid scorer. His post-up game still needs refinement, and he can stand some improvement as a rebounder, but he still brings a lot to the fantasy table. After being dinged up and underplayed his first two seasons, West has flourished with the up-and-down style the Hornets employed with Chris Paul at the point. He averaged a team-high 18.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and 82.4 percent from the stripe. West remains a vital part of the Hornets' offense and will build upon these numbers this season.
Bottom Line: West is a solid choice at power forward. He is a consistent scorer, scoring in single digits only five times in 52 games last season. His percentages are top notch, and he even helps a little on defense. His rebounding is improving, but don't expect much more than eight boards per game from West with Chandler inhaling most of the boards.
Rasheed is hardly a consolation prize at power forward. Yes, he rebounds poorly for his size (just 7.2 per game last season), but his combination of 3-point shooting and shot-blocking prowess is special at power forward. Among power forward-eligible players last season, only Shawn Marion joined 'Sheed to average more than one block and one 3-pointer per game, and 'Sheed blocked only four fewer shots than Marion (118 to 122) and hit 24 more 3-pointers (104 to 80). He will continue to stroke it from behind the arc in Flip Saunders' offense, opening up the lane for Billups and Flip Murray. Wallace's defense is a constant in his game, averaging a steal a game to go with his blocks. He might slide to center as the Pistons try to get their talented youngsters, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, more minutes at the 4 position. This would only add to his value.
Bottom Line: Draft Wallace for his points, blocks and 3-pointers. You'll need to take care of rebounding and field-goal percentage elsewhere if you select him, but his unique skill set is a valuable one for fantasy owners.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Age: 21 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 250 School: None Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF/SF
It took a while, but by the end of last season, "Il Mago" was looking every bit like a No. 1 draft pick. In March, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 boards, 1.0 blocks and -- are you ready? -- 2.5 3-pointers per game. Bargnani has a skill set quite similar to Rasheed Wallace's. That is, he can shoot over the top of most defenders with range past the 3-point line, and he is an effective shot-blocker on the defensive end. Unfortunately, also like 'Sheed, Bargnani is not the greatest rebounder at the power forward position. With thirty-plus minutes per game, he should pull down just under seven boards per game. Draft him for the 3-pointers, blocks and scoring. Because he shoots from deep, his field-goal percentage will be below-average for a power forward, but this is mitigated by his touch at the line, where he shot 82.4 percent last season.
Bottom Line: Bargnani will get more minutes this season, and his numbers are on the rise. Keeper-league owners want this kid, as he and Bosh will form a dominant frontcourt tandem in Toronto for years to come. But if you select him, you'll need to get rebounds elsewhere.
Harrington proved a good fit in Don Nelson's small-ball system with his mobility and rare 3-point accuracy for a power forward. Harrington ranked fourth in made 3-pointers (with 127 on 43.3 percent shooting) among power forwards, and that was with half a season spent away from Golden State's free-shooting style of play. Because he can both post up and hit the deep shot, Harrington is a threat to score 20 or more every night. His overall numbers should look something like this: 18 points, 6.5 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1.5 3-pointers per game. His turnovers, rebounds (for a power forward) and free-throw shooting (69.4 last season) are weaknesses. His overall production is positive, although at times his owners will wish for more peripherals outside of his steady scoring.
Bottom Line: Harrington is a solid fantasy forward. He is an excellent scorer who hits a ton of 3-pointers for a power forward. His 3-pointers should continue to rise, and if he can cut down on his turnovers and help a bit more in rebounding, Harrington will prove a draft-day value.
Villanueva had a rough second season, missing more than half the season with an assortment of maladies. When he did play, he did not show the same promise he did in his rookie season. Let's forget his potential (he put up 48 points on March 26, 2006, as a rookie) and stick with what we know: He is a versatile scorer with 3-point range (he hit six 3-pointers versus the Lakers in March) to complement solid post moves and a good first step. Villanueva is not a great rebounder but is capable of pulling in eight-plus rebounds per game with consistent minutes. He needs to work on his defense, but with his length and mobility, he could develop into a solid shot-blocker.
Bottom Line: Villanueva creates matchup problems for opposing defenses with his length and range. To take the next step in fantasy ball, he will need to work on his defensive numbers, especially his blocks. The big question for Charlie is how many minutes he will lose to Yi Jianlian. If he plays 30-plus minutes, he will be a quality fantasy player.
Darko failed to deliver on the hype after winning the starting job in Orlando last season. No doubt there is far less hype this season as he suits up for the Memphis Grizzlies. This could be a very good thing for fantasy owners as Darko is joining a team with an up-tempo style and superior team passing (the Magic finished next-to-last in assists last season), and that should benefit Darko. Pau Gasol seems a better complement to Darko than Dwight Howard, as he is a far better passer and will draw double-teams further from the basket. Remember, Darko is still just 22 years old despite this being his fifth season in the NBA, and he's still talented enough to be a fantasy force.
Bottom Line: Don't leap in early for Darko, but be ready to snag him in the later rounds. He should score in double-digits and block close to two shots per game. He will be a solid power forward and could play some center and earn eligibility there, improving his value.
David Lee, New York Knicks
Age: 24 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 240 School: Florida Years in League: 2 Role: Backup PF
David Lee is a rebounding fool. His quickness, athleticism and Rodman-esque sense of where to position himself led to a ton of double-digit rebounding nights. Lee is more than just another Jeff Foster or Reggie Evans, though; he can do more than clean the glass. His percentages are top-notch -- he hit 60 percent from the field and 81.5 percent from the line -- though he doesn't shoot enough to make a huge contribution there. Lee would have been higher on our list but for one thing: the addition of Zach Randolph to the Knicks. Last season, Lee was the only competent rebounder on the team. Randolph changes that. Zach is always in good position for defensive boards, and that will cut into Lee's productivity when they share the floor.
Bottom Line: Lee will again get his share of double-doubles -- he had 29 last season -- but his rebounding is likely to slip to fewer than 10 rebounds per game with Randolph in the low post. In other words, he is still a good asset, but don't overreach expecting better than last season's totals.
At this point in his career, we think we have a handle on who Wilcox is as an NBA player. He is a great athlete who can outrun and outjump most power forwards in the league. However, he is not a great basketball player. Despite his physical attributes, he will never be a dominant force at the 4. This does not mean he is without fantasy value. He will be part of the frontcourt rotation along with Nick Collison, Kurt Thomas and Robert Swift. The time-share will depress his value somewhat, but owners can look forward to pretty good numbers: 13 points, seven boards and close to a steal per game to accompany solid percentages from the field and line.
Bottom Line: He didn't bust out last season as some had hoped, and as a result, Wilcox should be available later in drafts. His numbers aren't eye-popping, but if you are in need of a backup big man, Wilcox fits the bill.
Luis Scola, Houston Rockets
Age: 27 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 250 School: None Years in League: R Role: Starting PF
This guy will end up being one of the best draft-day bargains of the season. Scola is a two-time MVP of the Spanish League, and he also won the FIBA Americas Tournament MVP award this summer. He is a tough, versatile scorer and a good post passer. He also has little competition for the starting power forward job in Houston. Rick Adelman made great use of skilled big men in Sacramento. In Yao and Scola, he has two good ones to work with. Expect Scola to be the beneficiary when either T-Mac or Yao find themselves double-teamed. He has an excellent mid-range jumper and will get many such shots with the Rockets. Look for season averages along these lines: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, plus a steal per game. He won't block shots, and he has hovered just below 70 percent on free throws during his European career.
Bottom Line: Scola isn't really a sleeper because there is little doubt he will be a valuable fantasy commodity this season. He will contribute well in points, rebounds, field-goal percentage, assists and steals for a big man.
Frye is going to be playing a lot more minutes than planned now that Greg Oden has been declared out for the season following microfracture surgery. Originally slated to back up LaMarcus Aldridge and provide some scoring off the bench, Frye will now be the primary backup to both frontcourt positions. On some days, when Portland chooses to go small, he will start at power forward. The Blazers reported that Frye looked fantastic in training sessions this summer. We know he has the ability to score after averaging 15.6 points per game while starting 14 games as a rookie. However, a bothersome trend has developed the past two seasons: Frye comes out of the gate fast and peaks in December, but by February, his shooting and scoring begin to head south.
Bottom Line: Frye shoots for excellent percentages overall and is a quality scorer from mid-range. However, his rebounding is weak for a man of his stature, and his tendency to fade as the season goes on suggests owners should trade him in the first two months when his value is highest.
Inconsistency, thy name is Drew Gooden, whose stats yo-yo from excellent to inconsequential from game to game. He was in a four-man frontcourt rotation with Donyell Marshall, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all season, which kept him from getting starter's minutes regularly. Still, Gooden managed to have fantasy relevance. His averages were solid: 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 71.4 percent from the line in 28 minutes per game. If Gooden were to get his minutes into the low-to-mid-30s, he would be a double-double threat every night. He has the skills. He just needs to stop being kidnapped from the box score every other game. However, in the end, it's all about the minutes. The situation in Cleveland is unchanged, so don't expect a sudden change in Gooden's production.
Bottom Line: Gooden is more valuable in a rotisserie league than in a head-to-head format. His up-and-down play can cost teams their head-to-head matchups, whereas his averages will come out in the wash for roto teams.
Nenê, Denver Nuggets
Age: 24 Ht: 6' 11" Wt: 268 School: None Years in League: 5 Role: Starting PF
After years of speculation, fans finally got to see what a healthy Nenê can do. His numbers after the All-Star break should grab your attention: 13.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks, with an insane 62.4 field-goal percentage and respectable 72.7 percent from the line (at least for a big man). Of course, just when we were starting to get stoked about his prospects this season, Nenê had to go out and get hurt. He was wheeled off the court during the FIBA Americas semifinals with a strained right calf. There is no timetable for his return, but the latest reports out of Denver are that the injury is not as serious as initially reported. Watch for reports during training camp, but be aware he has missed 133 of a possible 410 games during his five-year career.
Bottom Line: If he can stay healthy this season, Nenê will produce for fantasy owners, thanks to his field-goal percentage and ability to nab steals from a spot (power forward) that usually doesn't produce them. He'll have even more value if Marcus Camby goes down with an injury. Nene should be drafted in the later rounds simply because of his upside.
Troy Murphy, Indiana Pacers
Age: 27 Ht: 6'11" Wt: 245 School: Notre Dame Years in League: 6 Role: Starting PF/C
Murphy is a proven rebounder who gives you 3-point range from the power forward position. This season, he will toggle between the power forward and center spots, depending on how coach Jim O'Brien plays the matchups. With the trade from Golden State behind him, we expect Murphy to return to his previous productivity, scoring about 14 points per game to go with 10 rebounds and a little less than one 3-pointer per game. Fine numbers, so what's the catch? Well, he doesn't provide much defensively and has a career 43.5 field-goal percentage. That'll happen when you have no post game and rely on jumpers. To be fair, Murphy also has a deceptively quick first step and is solid from the stripe after being fouled. And it isn't every day you can draft a double-digit rebounder who can hit 3-pointers like he can.
Bottom Line: Murphy will help your team get near the top in rebounding. Just be prepared for the occasional 1-for-14 night from the field. They are part of the package.
Elton Brand's devastating Achilles injury is creating some opportunities for other players. With Brand sidelined for at least three months of the season -- and possibly all of it -- someone needs to step into the starting job at power forward. The two most likely candidates are veterans Tim Thomas and rookie Al Thornton, with Thomas the favorite to win the gig initially. With his ability to play both the small and power forward positions, Thomas is destined to play more than the 27 minutes he logged last season. Despite being 6-10, Thomas is not a typical power forward. He prefers to drift to the 3-point line on offense and is a mediocre rebounder, at best.
Bottom Line: Take him late. Thomas will be a solid source for 3-pointers and points as long as he starts. He needs to get more rebounds to have a big-time fantasy impact, but even the additional minutes are unlikely to make this happen. Thomas is a good guy to have as a fantasy fill-in.
Nick Collison, Seattle SuperSonics
Age: 27 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 255 School: Kansas Years in League: 3 Role: Starting/Backup PF/C
Collison is another piece in the puzzle that is the Seattle frontcourt. He will see time at both the 4 and 5 positions this season. Expect to see more of him at center early in the season, depending upon how quickly Robert Swift is ready to log bigger minutes in the middle. Collison will be bumped to power forward when Swift is ready, since the latter has the size and defense inside that head coach P.J. Carlesimo covets. Collison's ability to play both power forward and center will earn him solid minutes despite the cluster of players. He will play 28 or so minutes per game and average just under a double-double, with good percentages in that time.
Bottom Line: Collison is a solid backup big man who won't hurt you anywhere. He isn't a great shot-blocker, but he is a consistently good rebounder and will get his points when he is on the floor. Watch how Carlesimo manages the frontcourt, but expect Collison to have a substantial role.
Based on talent, Thomas should be the starting power forward for the Bulls this season. However, experience and discipline can trump talent when Scott Skiles is the coach. This might mean Joe Smith gets the nod. Even if he does, we are confident Thomas will see more minutes. His hops are ridiculous, and the Chicago Tribune reports that Thomas added ten pounds of badly needed muscle this offseason. If he can add to his offensive game -- say, a mid-range jumper -- Thomas will become very scary. This is likely to be a development year for Thomas. He will put up better numbers than his rookie season, but likely not enough to make him more than a third or fourth forward in 12-team and larger fantasy leagues. Look for something close to 10 points, seven boards and a block and steal per game.
Bottom Line: He is a raw talent who will block shots. He needs to add some weight and develop an offensive game, but he could be special in a few years.
Hakim Warrick, Memphis Grizzles
Age: 25 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 220 School: Syracuse Years in League: 2 Role: Backup PF
Warrick is a player that owners should keep an eye on during training camp. We know he is a phenomenal dunker who flourishes in the open court. Now we need to see if he can establish a mid-range game to complement it. Warrick had some strong stretches last season and showed what he could do with steady minutes. As a starter, he averaged 15.3 points and 6.5 boards with excellent percentages in 43 games. Despite the fact that he appears locked out of a starting job with Pau Gasol and Darko Milicic manning the center and power forward spots, Warrick will see plenty of playing time. New coach Marc Iavaroni, a Suns assistant last season, plans to have an up-tempo offense, which suits Warrick's strengths to a tee.
Bottom Line: Warrick could have some serious fantasy value this season if the Grizzlies adapt well to Iavaroni's up-tempo scheme. Milicic and Gasol are blocking him from a starting job, but it isn't a stretch to imagine Warrick outplaying Milicic and claiming the power forward job at some point during the season.
Horford is one of a handful of rookies who will have a fantasy impact this season. He brings a combination of toughness and skill that Atlanta lacks in its crowded frontcourt. Horford has the body, skills and mentality to become a highly successful power forward in the NBA, and he has great hands, decent footwork and the ability to hit 12- to 15-foot jumpers. Beyond this, his range is more suspect. Horford is an excellent defender who uses his strength and mobility to block many shots, especially from the weak side, although he showed in college that he is capable of making on-the-ball blocks on occasion. Horford might struggle a bit out of the gate and is unlikely to see big minutes with talented Marvin Williams in front of him. Like many rookies on struggling teams, Horford's star is more likely to shine in the second half after he has adjusted to the speed of the game and plays bigger minutes. If Williams and he both play well, Horford could shift to center at some point.
Bottom Line: Horford might go late or undrafted in mid-sized leagues, but owners should be ready to plug him in when his playing time increases in January. Depending on how the minutes shake out in Atlanta, Horford could end up playing center as season goes on.
Haslem is consistently one of the more underrated fantasy players in the game, having averaged close to a double-double, with great percentages, in the past three seasons. Haslem has little competition for minutes at power forward and will again play more than 30 minutes per contest. Haslem averaged 10.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and an uncharacteristically-low 68.0 percent from the line. Very solid. He won't block shots, but if you are getting near the end of your draft and need rebounding, Haslem is your man.
Bottom Line: He is a younger version of P.J. Brown, which is a good thing. Expect a steady diet of double-doubles and for his free-throw shooting to return to his career average of 75.7 percent. If Shaq goes down with an injury, Haslem will increase his scoring and rebounding. OK, so when Shaq goes down …
Shareef used to be a fixture in top-10 power forward lists. No longer. Injuries and reduced playing time have made him a fantasy backup. Abdur-Rahim did not play well in Eric Musselman's system and was bothered by a sore right knee. New coach Reggie Theus is looking to go more up-tempo and Reef is far more gifted offensively than his main competitors for power forward minutes, Kenny Thomas and Mikki Moore. Indeed, Thomas skipped voluntary workouts this summer and is struggling at camp. SAR's right knee is still not fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery and he looks likely to lose minutes early in the season
Bottom Line: With starter's minutes, Abdur-Rahim will be a good value in fantasy leagues this season. Without them, not so much. Watch closely for news on the knee.
Antonio McDyess, Detroit Pistons
Age: 33 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 245 School: Alabama Years in League: 11 Role: Backup PF
McDyess has evolved into a solid backup power forward for the Pistons. Last season, he averaged just 21 minutes per game and his fantasy value was limited. However, in the second half of the season his minutes jumped to 24 per game and McDyess put up some solid numbers, averaging 11.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steals after the All-Star break. This is significant because he will play the same minutes this season. The Pistons will use McDyess as the starting power forward in most games and he will share time at the position with Rasheed Wallace as well as Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson.
Bottom Line: . McDyess will begin the season as the starter at power forward, but he could be overtaken by young bucks Maxiell and Johnson later in the season.
Elton Brand, Los Angeles Clippers
Age: 28 Ht: 6'8" Wt: 272 School: Duke Years in League: 8 Role: Starting PF
Brand is out with a ruptured left Achilles tendon and the earliest he could return is February. Even that would be a stretch. Brand is a workhorse, and we have no doubt he will do everything he can to make it back soon. Owners in head-to-head leagues should make a late-round play for Brand, since he could pay huge dividends if he makes it back by March. Our guess, though, is that if he won't be ready until mid-March, the Clips might go ahead and have him sit out the whole season if there's nothing to play for by then. After all, there's no reason to risk anything.
Bottom Line: Brand is a good late-round gamble for head-to-head players. There is no telling how he will play when he returns, but Elton was nothing short of a stud before the Achilles injury.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Age: 22 Ht: 6'8" Wt: 260 School: Louisiana Tech Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF/SF
Millsap accomplished what was once thought impossible; last season, he earned playing time from coach Jerry Sloan despite being a rookie. Millsap was a defensive force off the bench when Andrei Kirilenko went down, blocking shots, rebounding and stealing everything in site. He will have a similar role this season as a defensive stopper and energy guy off the bench. Look for a little more than 20 minutes per game and about eight points and six rebounds, plus a steal and a block per game. If there are any injuries to the Utah frontcourt, these numbers could take a big leap.
Bottom Line: Millsap is an asset chiefly for his blocks, steals and rebounds. In mid-sized leagues, he can probably go undrafted, but be ready to snag him off the wire if he gets more minutes than expected in Salt Lake.
Jason Maxiell, Detroit Pistons
Age: 30 Ht: 6' 7" Wt: 245 School: Cincinnati Years in League: 8 Role: Backup PF
Now that Antonio McDyess is moving to the starting power forward slot, Jason Maxiell is likely to take McDyess' role as the sixth man.That should mean more minutes for this high-energy player. Maxiell excels in two areas: offensive rebounds and blocked shots. Almost half of his rebounds last year were on the offensive glass, and he blocked 0.9 shots in a scant 14 minutes per game. This season, with minutes in the upper 20s and even low 30s, Maxiell could average 12.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game. His free-throw shooting is abysmal (career 48 percent), and with his ability to draw fouls, this could hurt teams if he doesn't improve.
Bottom Line: This jumping jack of a forward will be a nice end-of-draft acquisition for his rebounds and blocks. He has extra value for leagues that count offensive rebounds as a category.
Jorge Garbajosa, Toronto Raptors
Age: 29 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 245 School: None Years in League: 1 Role: Starting PF/SF
Before a nasty collision with Al Jefferson last season, Garbajosa was providing decent production from a number of positions for the Raptors. He lined up at all three frontcourt positions and will likely do so again this year. Garbaj was as is nickname suggests, a do-it-all forward who filled in wherever he was needed. He averaged 8.5 points, 1.0 3-pointers, 4.9 boards and 1.2 steals in 67 games last season. He did not have surgery as advised by the Raptors docs, but played well for Spain this summer. He has some value, but is a risk as the team did not feel his left fibula had healed properly by June.
Bottom Line: Lots of risk and low upside. We recommend letting someone else take their chances with Garbaj this season.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
Age: 25 Ht: 6' 10" Wt: 240 School: None Years in League: 3 Role: Backup PF/C
Varejao's game is all about effort; he gives 100 percent all the time. This translates to rebounds and putbacks. He runs the floor well and is a good leaper, which helped him earn more minutes as last season wore on. In doing so, he showed he has fantasy potential. As with all NBA players, his value is contingent on minutes. In six games as a starter last season, Varejao averaged 12 points, 11.3 rebounds, one steal and nearly a block per game. He won't see starter's minutes regularly, but if an injury befalls Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Drew Gooden, Varejao stands to benefit the most.
Bottom Line: Varejao is safe to leave undrafted in most leagues, but he could be worth a pickup if the Cavs give him 25-plus minutes per game. Of course, the Cavs need to re-sign him first.
Ryan Gomes, Minnesota Timberwolves
Age: 25 Ht: 6' 7" Wt: 250 School: Providence Years in League: 2 Role: Backup SF/PF
Though he has the height of a small forward, Ryan Gomes has the heft of a power forward. He is in the mix for minutes at both positions this season, though with Al Jefferson at the 4, he is more likely to come off the bench to play small forward. Gomes has a great nose for the ball and has a polished game both in the paint and from mid-range. He should see minutes in the low- to mid-20s with the second unit. We like him for about 10 points and six rebounds per game.
Bottom Line: Gomes is a solid addition to teams in deeper leagues. He may get overlooked because of the logjam at small forward, but we like him to earn steady minutes.
Craig Smith, Minnesota Timberwolves
Age: 23 Ht: 6'7" Wt: 250 School: Boston College Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF
Craig Smith was dominant in summer league play, averaging 21.8 points and 6.0 rebounds on 62.9 percent shooting from the field. He will see time in the post, backing up Al Jefferson. He could even play alongside Jefferson when Blount goes to the bench and the Wolves seek more rebounding and toughness inside. We like Smith as a sleeper this season. If his summer was for real, he could be a nice add for field-goal shooting, scoring and rebounding off the wire or at the end of your draft. Yes, it's crowded in Minnesota, but this kid has as good a chance as anyone to break out from the pack.
Bottom Line: He should see solid minutes backing up Jefferson at power forward. Jefferson's ability to slide to center will only help Smith's playing time, scoring and rebounding.
Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks
Age: 19 Ht: 7'0" Wt: 245 School: None Years in League: R Role: Backup PF
After a summer of all the wrong kind of press -- he didn't want to play in Milwaukee;he may be older than the 19 years he claimed to be; he reported only after being guaranteed minutes -- Yi is finally ready to just play basketball. Regarding the last story, don't believe it. Yi, like everyone else on the team, will have to earn his minutes. Charlie Villanueva offers many of the same skills -- range on his jumper, good court sense, great mobility -- so it will be interesting to see how the minutes shake out. We expect Charlie to start and for Yi to back him up.
Bottom Line: Yi is end-of-the-draft material only. He can score, rebound and block a few shots, but he is a rookie, and we won't see the full measure of his talents until his second or third season.
Reggie Evans, Philadelphia 76ers
Age: 27 Ht: 6' 8" Wt: 245 School: Iowa Years in League: 5 Role: Starting PF
What Jeff Foster is to the center position, Reggie Evans is to power forward. He is a monster rebounder with limited offensive skills. He will get about 25 minutes per game because of his rebounding, but his offensive ineptitude will keep him from getting much more, even with the Sixers' lack of depth at power forward. Expect about nine rebounds per game to go with five points in limited minutes. His shot-blocking is nonexistent, and he is deadly (to you) from the line at 53.5 percent for his career. If Foster is gone and you need rebounding late in your draft, Evans might be the answer.
Bottom Line: Add Evans to your squad only if you are desperate for rebounds. He will not help in any other category but is capable of big nights on the glass.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Age: 22 Ht: 6'11" Wt: 235 School: Florida Years in League: R Role: Backup PF
If energy and enthusiasm were fantasy categories, Noah would be far higher on our list. As it is, he remains an intriguing player. Noah's defensive abilities should translate well in the NBA. He will be a magnet for steals and blocks as his superior speed and timing will allow him disrupt the opposition. The biggest obstacle for Noah will be playing time. We have little doubt that Scott Skiles will love Noah's effort. The question is where the minutes will come from with Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas already in the fold. He may be waiting for an injury to get serious minutes his rookie season.
Bottom Line: Noah may not get fantasy-worthy playing time until later in the season, once he gets into the mid-20s he will average better than a block and steal per contest. In medium- and smaller-sized leagues owners can pass on Noah, but they should be ready to pounce if he plays himself into minutes as the season progresses.
Joe Smith, Chicago Bulls
Age: 30 Ht: 6' 10" Wt: 245 School: Maryland Years in League: 12 Role: Staring/Backup PF
Scott Skiles is still sorting out who will be the starting power forward in Chicago, but count on Smith to get minutes. We see him playing a similar role as P.J. Brown played for the Bulls last season. He will be the steady veteran and the only power forward on the roster with consistent post moves. Smith probably will get about 20-25 minutes per game, depending on matchups. He won't wow you, but he will provide around nine points and five boards per game.
Bottom Line: Deep-leaguers looking for some depth at the end of their bench could do worse than Smith. He is excellent from the line (career 79.4 percent) and is good for the occasional block and steal.
Kenny Thomas, Sacramento Kings
Age: 30 Ht: 6' 8" Wt: 225 School: New Mexico Years in League: 8 Role: Backup PF
Thomas split time last season with Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and there is even more company in the Sacramento frontcourt this year. Mikki Moore also figures to get some minutes at power forward, so Kenny's value once again looks to be contingent on a teammate's injury. Unfortunately, it is Thomas who is coming up lame early, currently battling some tendinitis in his hip during training camp. Look for minutes in the high teens to low-20s with Thomas averaging about 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and a good field-goal percentage.
Bottom Line: Since he'll get only 20 minutes or so per game, Thomas warrants no more than a late-round fantasy selection, if that.
Chris Webber, Free Agent
Age: 34 Ht: 6'10" Wt: 245 School: Michigan Years in League: 14 Role: Backup PF/C
Still unsigned, Webber is looking to rejoin the Pistons this season. The Pistons, however, don't have room for him on their roster or under their salary cap. If he does join the team, it probably won't be until a few months into the season, and it will be interesting to see where he plays even then. The issue is that the Pistons are trying to promote some of their young guys, like Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, and have promised the starting job to Antonio McDyess. The best guess for now is that Webber will again log minutes at center (for Detroit or some other team), with some time spent at power forward.
Bottom Line: Leave Webber undrafted until his status becomes more clear. He can still score a little and is good for assists and rebounds as a power forward or center.
Ike Diogu, Indiana Pacers
Age: 23 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 250 School: Arizona State Years in League: 2 Role: Backup PF/C
Diogu is a quality scorer on the inside. He has good post moves and will hit his free throws after being fouled. But we wonder where he will see his minutes. Troy Murphy and Jermaine O'Neal are ahead of him, and unless O'Neal is moved or gets hurt, we don't see Diogu getting the 30-plus minutes he needs to put up serious fantasy numbers. This year, look for about 15-20 minutes per game, seven points and four rebounds.
Bottom Line: His offensive potential and toughness on the glass make him a decent gamble, but you can leave him undrafted until he is assured of regular minutes.
Glen Davis, Boston Celtics
Age: 21 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 290 School: LSU Years in League: R Role: Backup PF/C
Big Baby is a skilled big man who scored inside with ease during his college career because of his size, excellent footwork and extremely soft hands. He doesn't have much lift, though, and will have to rely on his strength and agility (yes, he can move) to be effective inside in the pros. We think his minutes will be limited to start, but he should see more playing time later in the season. Boston's bench just isn't that deep.
Bottom Line: He has the skills to make it in the NBA; we just want to see if he can deal with the overall speed of the game. He could be a nice second-half bench player.
Kwame Brown, Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 25 Ht: 6'11" Wt: 250 School: Glynn Academy (HS) Years in League: 6 Role: Backup PF/C
The much-maligned Brown actually did a few positive things on the court before falling to injury last season. He showed some passing interest in defense for the first time, averaging 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in his 41 games. Still, he could not capitalize on the opportunities afforded him in L.A. (or Washington, for that matter). Let's make no mistake, Brown is back-of-the-draft material even in deep leagues and he will never live up to his potential, but that doesn't mean he can't be of help for stretches during the season. Much will depend on how Andrew Bynum and Chris Mihm play in camp. They could push Brown to the far end of the bench.
Bottom Line: Keep an eye on Kwame as an injury fill or bench player in deeper leagues. Speaking of injuries, Brown is coming back from major ankle surgery on May 27 and could miss time to start the season.
Brandan Wright, Golden State Warriors
Age: 20 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 205 School: North Carolina Years in League: R Role: Backup PF/C
Interestingly, it will be Marco Belinelli, not the lottery pick, Wright, who will make the bigger fantasy splash for the Warriors this season. It's not that Wright lacks ability, it's just that he lacks the size and experience to be a big contributor right away. With his foot speed -- the kid can fly -- and his wingspan, this albatross of a player will be a force in years to come. He will be a nice finisher on the break and an excellent shot-blocker from the weakside. He's just not ready for prime time yet.
Bottom Line: Wright will play, but we don't think he is ready to bang inside at just 205 pounds. As a result, his minutes will be limited.
Kenyon Martin, Denver Nuggets
Age: 29 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 240 School: Cincinnati Years in League: 7 Role: Backup PF
The original K-Mart is coming back from microfracture surgery this season, and it remains to be seen if he can return to his high-flying style of play again. Even so, it's going to take time. George Karl has gone on record saying that Martin will be eased back into the rotation. If he is responding well after three months, he will see an increase in minutes. Until then, fantasy owners would be wise to let him linger on the waiver wire.
Bottom Line: Martin used to be good for a block and a steal per game. That won't happen this season, but if he can get minutes in the second half, he again could be valuable on defense.
Ronny Turiaf, Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 24 Ht: 6' 10" Wt: 250 School: Gonzaga Years in League: 2 Role: Starting/Backup PF
The latest out of Lakerland is that Turiaf may get the starting nod at power forward with Lamar Odom starting at small forward. Despite being a starter, Turiaf isn't likely to see much more than 20 minutes per contest, though. Look for something like seven points, five boards and a little more than a block per game from the big man. He is a nice shot-blocker as well (1.1 per game in 14 minutes per game last season) and could help teams in deep leagues there.
Bottom Line: Turiaf is relentless around the basket and will rebound and block shots when he's on the floor.
Justin Williams, Sacramento Kings
Age: 24 Ht: 6' 10" Wt: 230 School: Wyoming Years in League: 2 Role: Starting/Backup PF
This guy is a nice sleeper. Williams is coming into his second season after a mostly eventless rookie campaign. We say mostly because his April (9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in just 22 minutes per game) was impressive. He also shot 66 percent from the field. The kid can really jump and has come into camp looking much stronger than last season. Power forward is deep this year for the Kings, but Williams could surprise and play big minutes.
Bottom Line: We love his ability to rebound and block shots. He just needs to play his way into the rotation.
Andray Blatche, Washington Wizards
Age: 21 Ht: 6' 11" Wt: 250 School: South Kent Prep (CT) Years in League: 2 Role: Backup PF/C
If his off-court contretemps prove an anomaly, Blatche could blossom as a sleeper this season. He will need to show more maturity and mental toughness, but we know he has the physical ability. He is a great leaper, and much like Justin Williams of the Kings, Blatche has the ability to rebound and block shots. Unlike Williams, though, he has a clearer path to minutes. If Etan Thomas misses significant time with his heart condition, Blatche will play a lot more minutes in the middle.
Bottom Line: Look for blocks and rebounds from this high flier. He will have an opportunity; he just needs to seize it.
Amir Johnson, Detroit Pistons
Age: 20 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 210 School: Westchester H.S. (CA) Years in League: 2 Role: Backup PF
While he is thin on NBA experience, he is thick with NBA hype, which went into overdrive on the blogosphere this summer after Amir was signed to a three-year, $11-million extension. All this after appearing in just 11 games in two seasons. Johnson has crazy ability. He can absolutely fly, has 3-point range and is a tremendous shot-blocker. Yeah, there's a lot to like. We think he will earn minutes, but probably won't be worth a roster spot except in the deepest of leagues.
Bottom Line: Keeper-league owners might consider drafting him in the late rounds to stash away. If he sees playing time, he can help in blocks, field-goal percentage and rebounding.
Steven Hunter, Denver Nuggets
Age: 26 Ht: 7'0" Wt: 240 School: DePaul Years in League: 6 Role: Backup PF/C
When you play backup to Marcus Camby, you are going to make our list. Camby has never played more than 72 games in a season and he is unlikely to repeat last season's "good health." Hunter has shown that he has fantasy relevance when given a chance to play. For his career, he has averaged 7.2 points, 5.0 boards and 1.5 blocks as a starter. Owners in deeper leagues who need blocks should keep an eye on Camby. When he goes down with his inevitable injury, grab Hunter and enjoy his blocks.
Bottom Line: Hunter shoots a great percentage -- it helps when most of your attempts are dunks -- and is a decent shot-blocker. He is good waiver material when Marcus goes down and if you are in need of blocks.
One of the best shot-blockers in this year's draft -- Warriors rookie Stephane Lasme is also tremendous -- Williams could contribute to the hard-to-fill blocked shots category. He blocked 75 shots in just 15 games before being booted from Boston College for smoking marijuana. Williams figures to get some playing time as a defensive stopper off the bench this season. That could turn into more minutes if he proves at all effective on offense.
Bottom Line: Keep an eye on him during preseason games. If he shows any offensive aptitude, he could be in line for bigger minutes because the Nets sorely need help inside.
Jason Smith, Philadelphia 76ers
Age: 21 Ht: 7'0" Wt: 240 School: Colorado State Years in League: R Role: Backup PF/C
Blessed with a nice jump shot and good mobility for a 7-footer, Smith is a guy who should stick around for a number of years in the NBA. He will begin his career by backing up Reggie Evans. When Maurice Cheeks needs offense, we like Smith to get some looks off the bench. How effective he is on the glass and on defense will determine how many looks he gets.
Bottom Line: Smith is a good offensive player, averaging 16.8 points per game last season in college. He should be a good "percentages" player, but we think his minutes will be limited by his defense this season.
Kurt Thomas, Seattle SuperSonics
Age: 35 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 235 School: TCU Years in League: 12 Role: Backup C/PF
Thomas should see decent minutes this season despite the fact that he will be part of a deep big-man rotation in Seattle. P.J. Carlesimo will emphasize defense up front, and Thomas is the most proven defender he has. He will slide between the center and power forward positions, just as he has his entire career. If Robert Swift develops like many of us expect, Thomas will lose minutes since the Sonics need to get offense from the power forward spot, and Wilcox and Collison are better equipped to deliver that than Thomas. In other words, his value is likely to be at its highest early in the season as Swift warms to more playing time. Be aware of this as you work the trade circuit.
Bottom Line: Thomas is solid, but he's far from spectacular. With minutes in the mid-20s, he will average about eight points and eight boards, with a block per game plus good percentages from the field and line. If he drops below 20 minutes per game, he will not be worth owning in most league setups.
Donyell Marshall, Cleveland Cavaliers
Age: 34 Ht: 6' 9" Wt: 230 School: Connecticut Years in League: 13 Role: Backup PF/SF
Despite losing a ton of playing time over the past two seasons, Donyell retains marginal value because he can help teams in 3-pointers and rebounding. It has been four long seasons since he last averaged more than a block per game, so don't expect that from Marshall. Instead, hope he somehow gets more minutes and that he can straighten out his shooting (just 42.4 percent from the field last season). If Varejao holds out, Marshall could see his minutes come back.
Bottom Line: Watch the Varejao situation closely. Marshall's potential to hit threes, rebound and block shots remain tantalizing, and he could have value with increased minutes.
Hilton Armstrong, New Orleans Hornets
Age: 22 Ht: 6'11" Wt: 235 School: Connecticut Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF/C
Hilton is an athletic young big man with excellent quickness and shot-blocking instincts. He has very long arms, quick feet, and great timing, especially on the weak side of the basket. The opposition will not get a much of break on blocked shots when he comes in to spell Tyson Chandler. Surprisingly, Armstrong has decent range (16-18 feet) on his jumper. His low-post moves and overall strength need development, but there is reason to believe he could have a nice offensive game in a few years.
Bottom Line: Armstrong has a lot of upside. He's quick, long and has the raw tools to become a solid center in the NBA. He will be pushed for the backup center job by Melvin Ely, but we like him to win out.
Vladimir Radmanovic, Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 26 Ht: 6' 10" Wt: 227 School: None Years in League: 6 Role: Backup PF/SF
Whether he is lined up at small or power forward, Radmanovic is good for one thing: 3-point shooting. Last season, he wasn't even that good at that, draining just 0.7 3-pointers in 18 minutes per game. He is a weak rebounder for a power forward and won't be asked to crash the boards in the Staples Center. Grab him off the wire if he gets his minutes back after playing his way into Phil Jackson's doghouse last season.
Bottom Line: One-trick ponies can have value in fantasy if they hit that trick often enough. If his minutes increase, Radmanovic will be worthy in deep leagues.
Darius Songaila, Washington Wizards
Age: 29 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 250 School: Wake Forest Years in League: 4 Role: Backup PF/C
A career backup, Songaila doesn't offer much upside for fantasy owners. He is what he is: a steady bench player who provides solid scoring (7.6 points per game) and good percentages (52.4/85.2). After missing the first three months of last season because of a back injury, Songaila took his time getting into the Wizards' rotation. He will not have that issue this season and should be good for close to 10 points per game and his solid percentages.
Bottom Line: He's healthy, but you probably still don't want him since his best categories are also the easiest to fill. Keep an eye on the Etan Thomas heart situation closely, as Songaila could see an increase in minutes of Thomas is out for an extended time.
Eduardo Najera, Denver Nuggets
Age: 31 Ht: 6'8" Wt: 235 School: Oklahoma Years in League: 7 Role: Backup PF
Najera's dogged defense and mistake-free play on offense won't show up in the box score, but they will keep Najera employed, backing up Nene. His best fantasy attribute is his ability to grab steals as a power forward; he averaged a steal in just 22 minutes per game last season. Unfortunately, if Kenyon Martin is able to return effectively from knee surgery, Najera's limited value will be further reduced.
Bottom Line: Pass. He could help a bit in steals early, and if Nene goes down in the first few months, he will see minutes. Otherwise, we don't see much hope for Najera's value this year.
Shelden Williams, Atlanta Hawks
Age: 24 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 250 School: Duke Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF
Power forward is pretty crowded this season in Atlanta. Marvin Williams and Al Horford, the third overall pick in this year's draft, will get their minutes, and we don't see a lot left over for Shelden. He could play a little center, but his lack of height hurts him there. He has been hampered by a hamstring pull in training camp, and Solomon Jones is threatening to pass him on the depth chart.
Bottom Line: Williams is a determined rebounder, but his upside is limited. If the Hawks go more up-tempo as their training camp suggests, Shelden might be on the outside looking in.
Leon Powe, Boston Celtics
Age: 23 Ht: 6'8" Wt: 240 School: California Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF
Powe will battle for backup power forward minutes with Glen Davis. We like Davis to win out eventually because of his more-advanced offensive game, but Powe likely will have the early edge in terms of playing time. Power forward in the NBA is about toughness, and that is a quality Powe has in spades. His best category is rebounding, although he is capable of scoring inside, averaging 9.0 points and 5.9 boards in just 21 minutes per game in April.
Bottom Line: Powe needs to improve his field-goal percentage to be worthy even in deep leagues, but his toughness will translate into steady minutes, rebounds and points early.
P.J. Brown, Free Agent
Age: 38 Ht: 6' 11" Wt: 239 School: Louisiana Tech Years in League: 14 Role: Backup PF
Brown is unsigned at the moment, but we expect him to be picked up during the season at some point. Teams are always in need of tough, defensive-minded players willing to mix it up on the block. While one used to be able to pencil in Brown for a double-double with good percentages, his trademark efficiency fell off last season.
Bottom Line: Brown should come back at some point this season. He probably won't be worth grabbing, but he has shown, when given minutes, that he can be of modest value in the right scenario.
Solomon Jones, Atlanta Hawks
Age: 23 Ht: 6'10" Wt: 230 School: South Florida Years in League: 1 Role: Backup PF/C
You are looking at a nice deep sleeper in Jones. He is fast, a great leaper and has excellent timing on blocked shots. Jones had three separate games with five blocked shots last season as a rookie. There could be more of that in line this season if the team decides to run more. Zaza Pachulia is far more polished offensively, but he cannot run with Jones.
Bottom Line: Jones is a solid sleeper for blocks and rebounds and you probably won't need to draft him to get him. Just pay attention and snag him off the wire if he gets minutes.
Stromile Swift, Memphis Grizzlies
Age: 27 Ht: 6'9" Wt: 225 School: LSU Years in League: 7 Role: Backup PF/C
Every year Swift's name appears on sleeper lists and owners fall for the promise of his athleticism. Let us put an end to this silliness. We know what Swift is at this point. He will block shots and score in the open court, but struggle to find his role in half-court sets. While he is a capable shot-blocker from the weak side, he struggles to stop his own man in the post. Keep perspective on Swift; Stromile has disappointed far more fantasy owners than he has pleasantly surprised.
Bottom Line: Stromile is athletic as they come, but he has never developed solid skills and his stats this season will once again reflect this.