Here’s our final look around the Association before the regular season tips off.
Arron Afflalo, G, DEN – Guess who has the fourth-highest scoring average in the league this preseason? Through six preseason games, Afflalo has averaged 20.8 points while knocking down 2.8 threes per contest. He has started all six games at shooting guard and will get the nod at that spot once the regular season tips off. While his role in the Nuggets’ offense will be scaled back some in the regular season, it’s clear that he will still have a bigger role than originally expected. Don’t hesitate to take a chance on Afflalo late in drafts if you need a three-point specialist.
Marco Belinelli, G, NOR – Here’s another three-point specialist who’s lighting it up in the preseason. Belinelli is averaging 14.7 points while hitting 2.6 treys per game. He’s locked in as the Hornets’ starting shooting guard to start the regular season, receiving the nod over Marcus Thornton. Both Belinelli and Afflalo are reminders that you don’t need to overpay for three-point shooters in the early-to-mid rounds of your draft.
Lamar Odom, F, LAL – With Andrew Bynum (knee) expected to miss at least the first month of the season, Odom will see a spike in playing time early on. As Odom has shown this preseason with averages of 10.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, he is one of the more versatile players in the league. His numbers have been down the past two seasons, but he always puts up better lines when Bynum is out. Take advantage of the increased production from Odom early in the season, but don’t be shy about shopping him around before Bynum returns.
J.J. Hickson, F/C, CLE – Hickson has been mentioned here before, but with it looking more and more likely he’ll be the Cavs’ starting power forward to start the season, he deserves another mention. Hickson has averaged 14.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per 36 minutes through his first two seasons. While he probably will not see big minutes this season, he should still be a lock for anywhere from 28-32 minutes per night. Feel free to reach a round or two earlier than his ADP of 105 to snag him.
Roy Hibbert, C, IND – Hibbert is another Barometer favorite. The Pacers big man has averaged 17.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks this preseason. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has stated numerous times that Hibbert will be a bigger part of the offense this season, so look for his preseason success to carry over to the regular season. If you’re looking for a breakout player at the pivot, Hibbert is one you will want to target.
Linas Kleiza, F, TOR – Kleiza is finishing the preseason strong, averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 treys over his past three games. He has started all three games at small forward and will get the starting nod at that spot to start the season. The Raptors don’t have any other legit options to play small forward, so Kleiza should be able to hold on to the gig all season. Kleiza has held some value in deep leagues in past seasons, but now that he has a starting spot secured his value should extend to shallower formats.
Austin Daye, F, DET – Daye is in the running to win the Pistons’ starting power forward gig. The position battle with Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe won’t be settled until after the final preseason game, but win or lose, Daye has established a larger role than originally expected thanks to his solid play this fall. He has the ability to average more than one three, steal, and block per game, which would be fantasy gold coming from a power forward. Daye is already worth a speculative grab in deeper formats, but shallower leagues shouldn’t hesitate to start taking notice of the sophomore, too.
Troy Murphy, F, NJ – Murphy (back) has already been ruled out of the Nets’ final two preseason games, but he has made “considerable progress” in his rehab. His availability for the Oct. 27 season opener is still up in the air, but we should have more details after Murphy returns to practice this weekend.
Spencer Hawes, C, PHI – Hawes has been hampered by a back injury for most of the preseason. He’s projected to return in time for the start of the regular season, but Philadelphia coach Doug Collins could opt to ease his young big man back into the rotation. Consider other options for the first handful of regular season games.
Al Harrington, F, DEN – Harrington is dealing with a torn plantar fascia that will sideline him for the Nuggets’ final two preseason games. He expects to be ready for Opening Night, but he won’t be at full strength. Nuggets coach George Karl has already stated his plans to limit Harrington’s minutes for the first couple weeks of the regular season, so don’t hesitate to bench him in favor of a healthier option.
Corey Maggette, G/F, MIL – Maggette admitted earlier this week to being less than 80 percent recovered from offseason ankle surgery, and his chances of being on the court for the start of the regular season are not great. This all but locks Carlos Delfino into the starting small forward spot, meaning Maggette will likely be coming off the bench once return.
Mike Miller, G, MIA – Miller suffered a “serious” thumb injury during Thursday’s practice. Not many details have surfaced yet, but we do know the injury is t1o his shooting hand. This could sideline Miller at the start of the regular season, so keep a close eye on the situation.
Kobe Bryant, G, LAL – It’s always foolish to get carried away by a proven player’s performance in the preseason, but Bryant’s lackluster play this fall has to at least raise an eyebrow or two. The five-time NBA champ is averaging just 11.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists through six exhibition games. Bryant is just 32, but with 14 seasons and over 1,200 career regular season and playoff games under his belt, Bryant has a lot of wear and tear on his legs. We’re not saying he won’t be an All-Star again this year, but one of these seasons, Bryant will stop offering first-round fantasy value. This could be that season.
Antawn Jamison, F, CLE – Jamison appears to be set for a bench role this season with the Cavaliers. The last time Jamison came off the bench was with the Mavericks in 2003-04. That season was the second worst campaign of his career (the worst was his rookie season). The 34-year-old vet will still see ample playing time in a reserve role, but his career averages of 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds as a reserve certainly hint at a looming drop in production.
Thaddeus Young, F, PHI – Like Jamison, Young appears destined to start off the regular season as a reserve. Young’s production held pretty steady last season whether he was starting or coming off the bench, but he still deserves a slight drop because the move to a reserve role will severely dampen his chances of a breakout season. At this point, we should probably accept Young as the middling fantasy option he has been the past two seasons.
Corey Brewer, G/F, MIN – Trying to decipher Minnesota general manager David Kahn’s grand plan as he builds his roster is impossible, but after offseason additions of Wes Johnson and Martell Webster, it’s pretty clear Brewer doesn’t figure into them prominently. Brewer has started four games at shooting guard during the preseason, but after averaging just 4.1 points in seven outings, his hold on the gig is anything but tight. The Timberwolves are desperate for shooters who can stretch the floor, which is a skill both Johnson and Webster excel at. Don’t be surprised if Brewer is exiled to a reserve role sooner rather than later.
Josh Childress, G/F, PHO – Childress suffered a broken right index finger in Tuesday’s preseason win over the Warriors. He will sit out the next week before being re-evaluated. This might not sideline Childress long, but it’s never good for a player trying to carve out a role on a new squad to miss time early in the season.
Kenyon Martin, F, DEN – Nuggets coach George Karl doesn’t expect Martin (knee) to be ready until January. That gives teammate Al Harrington plenty of time to establish himself as the team’s starting power forward for the entire season. Unless you’re in a deep league with extra bench spots, there’s not much reason to own Martin for the first couple months of the season.
Marcus Thornton, G, NOR – As mentioned above, Thornton has been relegated to a reserve role to start the regular season. Thornton currently has an ADP of 74 on MockDraftCentral.com, but given his status as a reserve and struggles this preseason (4.8 ppg), he shouldn’t be drafted in most shallow formats. Like his rookie season, Thornton could turn things on later in the season, but that’s what the waiver wire is for.