Blake Griffin, F, LAC – Aside from an atrocious showing at the charity stripe (46 percent), Griffin is having a stellar preseason. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick is averaging 15.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. The Clippers are looking to build around him, so look for Griffin to be heavily involved in the offense all season.
DeJuan Blair, F/C, SAN – After coming off the bench in 52 of his 82 appearances last season, Blair has started the first three preseason games for the Spurs. Tiago Splitter and Antonio McDyess might have something to say about that somewhere down the line, but Blair appears to be the favorite to start alongside Tim Duncan in the Spurs’ frontcourt on Opening Night. Given his per-36 averages of 15.4 points and 12.7 rebounds last season, Blair could be a double-double machine with the expanded role.
DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, SAC – Cousins was mentioned here last week, but he gets another nod after news broke that Samuel Dalembert (left abductor strain) will miss 4-to-6 weeks. That opens up the door for Cousins to start the season as the Kings’ starting center, and he should have plenty of time to solidify himself in that role before Dalembert returns. Don’t plan on landing Cousins cheaply come draft night.
Dorell Wright, G/F, GS – Wright is slotted in to start at small forward for the Warriors on Opening Night. He showed glimpses of potential with the Heat over the past few seasons, but any fantasy value he held was temporary. That should change now with a regular role in a fast-paced offense. Don’t expect Wright’s numbers to jump out of the box score, but he should provide enough value with his long-range shooting and defensive stats to warrant a roster spot in most formats.
Timofey Mozgov, C, NY – Mozgov has impressed the Knicks’ coaching staff in camp; enough so to earn the starting nod at center in Wednesday’s preseason game against the Celtics. At 7-1, 270, Mozgov has the size to be a force on the block, and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has already dubbed him the team’s most athletic center. There is no reason to get overly excited yet, but those in deeper leagues should continue taking a late-round flyer on Mozgov.
Greg Monroe, F/C, DET – In the wake of Jonas Jerebko’s Achilles injury, Pistons coach John Kuester said Monroe will receive "a lot of playing time" this season. Monroe is still struggling to grasp things on the defensive end of the court, but Kuester is impressed enough by his offensive skills and basketball IQ to give the rookie significant playing time right off the bat. The Georgetown product still might not get enough playing time to be useful in shallow leagues, but he will definitely be worth a look in deeper formats.
Jordan Crawford, G, ATL – Through three preseason games, Crawford is averaging 21 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.7 threes. He was an electric scorer coming out of Xavier, but he dropped to Atlanta with the 27th overall pick of the 2010 draft due to concerns about his defensive skills and his inability to play off the ball. So far, so good for the rookie, but he will have to leapfrog plenty of veterans to make a fantasy impact this year. In all likelihood, Crawford will follow in the footsteps of Jeff Teague and have a limited role in his rookie season, but those in keeper leagues should be taking notice.
LeBron James, F, MIA – James left Tuesday’s exhibition game against CSKA Moscow in the third quarter with leg cramps. The exhaustive coverage (which we’re adding to here) would make you think the injury is serious, but James admitted after the game he would have been able to continue playing if it was not an exhibition. He sat out Wednesday’s tilt against the Hornets, but that was a scheduled day off for King James anyhow. Not much to worry about here.
Dwyane Wade, G, MIA – Wade is another one of the Heat’s Big Three that is dealing with an injury. He has missed all but three minutes of the Heat’s preseason schedule after suffering a right hamstring strain. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has already dubbed his superstar guard “virtually pain-free,” so he should be at tip-top shape once the regular season starts.
Maurice Williams, G, CLE – Williams (groin) was able to participate in his first full practice since the start of training camp Wednesday. He is not ready to return to game action just yet but remains on the right track to be 100 percent by Opening Night.
David West, F, NOR – West has sat out back-to-back preseason games with a wrist injury. The injury isn’t considered serious, and the Hornets are probably being extra cautious since it’s the preseason, but it’s worth keeping an eye on an early-to-mid round investment like West.
Spencer Hawes, C, PHI – Hawes has sat out three consecutive preseason games with a lower back strain. The Sixers are calling the injury minor, but back ailments can be tricky. The seven-footer is expected to start at center for the Sixers this season, so keep a close eye on his recovery.
Tyler Hansbrough, F, IND – After dealing with vertigo issues since last season, Hansbrough was finally given a clean bill of health by doctors this week. He is in a battle with Josh McRoberts for the Pacers’ starting power forward gig, with the winner getting a solid boost in fantasy value.
Andrew Bogut, C, MIL – Bogut continues to operate at less than full strength as he tries to return from last season’s gruesome arm, hand, and wrist injuries. He hasn’t been able to appear in a preseason tilt yet and admitted that he will not be at 100 percent this season. Bogut still holds plenty of value at 85 or 90 percent, but make sure to slide him down your cheatsheets some due to the injury risk.
Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC – Dalembert is set to miss 4-to-6 weeks with a left abductor strain. He will still return relatively early in the season, but Dalembert’s absence could very well give DaMarcus Cousins enough of time to cement his place in the starting five. Add that to the fact that Dalembert’s contract is expiring at the end of the season and his first (and likely only) year with the Kings will wind up as a disappointment.
Jason Thompson, F/C, SAC – With Samuel Dalembert (left abductor strain) set to miss 4-to-6 weeks, Thompson has been named Cousins’ backup at center. While Dalembert’s absence should open up some minutes for Thompson in the Kings’ crowded frontcourt, he still receives a slight downgrade due to his role as a reserve. Thompson’s ADP currently sits at 107, which isn’t too steep of a price, but draftees would be better served targeting starters who are going later, like Emeka Okafor (114) or Roy Hibbert (131).
Rodrigue Beaubois, G, DAL – Beaubois suffered a setback in his rehab from offseason foot surgery this week and had to be placed back in a walking boot. There was originally some hope he would return for a couple preseason contests, but now he might not even be ready once the regular season tips off. The speedy French guard still has some upside for later in the season, but his questionable Opening Night status means there are probably better options to take a stab at in the late rounds.
David Lee, F/C, GS – Sure it might just be the preseason, but Lee’s averages (15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.0 blocks) through his first three games with the Warriors sure don’t warrant a first-round pick. Concerns with Keith Smart taking over the head coaching duties from Don Nelson have been overstated – we are not too worried about the team slowing down much on the offensive end – but the fact Lee is going from alpha dog in New York to No. 3 option in Golden State should raise some doubts about him maintaining that 20.2 ppg average from last season. Lee will still be among the league leaders in double-doubles, but he will likely finish closer to ‘08-09 numbers than his stat-stuffing campaign of last season.