All previews follow the same format, I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:
Baron Davis (PG)
Helps: Points, Assists, Steals, 3-pointers
Hurts: FG%, FT%, TOs
Normally players that can actually be damaging in three categories are not to be recommended, but Davis is an unusual fantasy option. He sports most of the typical stats for a high-profile point guard except for the terrible FT% (.692 career) and his .414 career FG% is tough to swallow, especially for someone who takes 18 shots per game.
But you can compensate for the percentages with later draft picks because few guards provide the scoring (21.8 points per game last season), assists (7.6 per game), steals (2.3 per game) and 3-pointers (2.1) that Davis can give.
It is difficult to tell how moving away from Don Nelson’s frenetic style will impact Davis’ numbers, though he has always produced when healthy. But health is another key factor. Although he played in all 82 games last season, it was the first time he has played in more than 67 games since 2001-02.
When to take him:In the late first or early second round, depending on how much you fear the percentages.
Marcus Camby (C)
Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, Steals
Hurts: FG%, FT%
Camby is also a curious case because he provide almost nothing on the offensive, yet thoroughly dominates defensively and on the glass. That leads some to draft Camby in the first couple rounds in some drafts, which is a bit too high.
If you draft correctly and with enough balance, you do not need to draft one players who provides only a few categories so early. Rebounds and blocks are spread throught the first six rounds or so, do not go reaching for one guy because you get too desperate, too early.
That said, Camby is a tremendous pick to anchor the middle and a healthy season almost guarantees a near-the-top finish in blocks and rebounds. Also new to the Clippers, Camby’s numbers may affected slightly by playing alongside everyone’s favorite fake German/Hulk Hogan look alike Chris Kaman.
A slight decline in rebounds is likely, though he will remain a blocks machine. Don’t let the sub-par percentages fool you – he doesn’t shoot or get to the line enough for them to be truly damaging. Plus he has finally played in at least 70 games in back-to-back seasons, hopefully shedding the fragile label for good.
When to take him: In the late third or early fourth round.
Chris Kaman (C)
Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%
Kamanhad his best season as a pro in the 2007-08 after Elton Brand was lost to an Achilles injury. Now he once again has to share the paint with a talented big man in Camby and his numbers are bound to be altered.
Because Camby is not much of an offensive weapon, Kaman should produce about the same offensively (15.7 ppg, .480 FG%) but there are only so many blocks and rebounds to go around. Considering Camby’s ability and defensive-minded attitude, expect Kaman’s numbers in those categories to dip.
Kaman will still be the Clippers most effective interior weapon offensively and now has Davis getting him the ball. That in itself has some serious solid value.
When to take him: In the fifth round.
Ricky Davis (SF)
Helps: 3-pointers, Assists, Steals, FT%
Davis has long been an under-appreciated fantasy asset mainly because he is a player no one in their right mind would want him on their NBA team. Let’s face it, the guy is a major bell end. But he always given a nice combination of points, assists, 3-pointers and steals with a good FT%.
Davis’ most valuable seasons came when he was the first or second option on a terrible team, allowing him to do whatever the hell he wants and pile up the stats while his team collects losses. Now he is on a revamped that has playoff aspirations, so where will Ricky go from here?
Expect a considerable improvement from last season, which he averaged just 13.8 points and 3.4 assists. He will either be the Clippers starting small forward or the sixth man and will get major minutes regardless. Davis can run with Davis and Camby on the break and is a good passer, meaning he can also serve as the de facto backup point guard.
Davis is a loose cannon and not to be trusted but this is an almost perfect situation for him to thrive and produce a line similar to 15 points, four assists, 1.5 3’s, 1.5 steals and an .800-plus FT%.
When to take him: In the eighth or ninth round, though he could turn out to be a steal.
Al Thornton (SF)
Helps: Let me get back to you on that.
Thornton was relatively productive as a rookie last season, averaging 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds in 31 starts after injuries boosted his playing time. He will likely open the season as the team’s starting small forward but expect a huge boost in minutes over the 35 per game he played as a starter last season.
With Davis as a solid veteran presence off the bench, this is likely not the year Thornton will be playing 40 minutes per game. In addition, his per minute numbers last season did not reflect a player on the verge of becoming a multi-category stud.
Thornton will not score or rebound enough to be truly valuable in those categories and he had sub-par percentages while averaging less than one 3-pointer, one steal and one block per 36 minutes as a rookie. Some of those numbers may improve, but it’s far from a sure thing to try and predict any player’s sophomore success.
When to take him: In the 10th or 11th rounds.
Cuttino Mobley is no longer the threat he once was and does not even provide enough 3-pointers to be relevant as a fantasy asset. The buzz is high for rookie Eric Gordon, but he is a score-first points guard and, unless Davis goes down, the Clippers already have one of those. Tim Thomas is always a reliable source of 3-pointers who can score in bunches but – of course- he’s fugazi.
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.