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:
Dwyane Wade (PG/SG)
Helps: Points, Assists, Steals
After a shaky and injury riddled 2007-08 season, Wade has everyone excited that he is ready to return to form after a super-athletic performance during the Olympics. It wasn’t that he just played well, it was that he looked so healthy, moving quickly and absorbing contact in way he did not during the NBA season.
At his best, Wade is a prolific scorer and passer who will be among the league leaders in steals. If he is truly healthy, his percentages should return to their 2005-07 levels (.490 FG%; .790 FT%), which makes his value increase further. Wade has also averaged more than a block per game twice in his career.
Wade doesn’t contribute is as many categories as other elite options because he does not have 3-point range (only 85 made in his career) and is not a great rebounder. But the Heat offense will run completely through his hands, a luxury few players aside from Lebron James have.
Wade’s biggest drawback is his enormous amount of turnovers. He has averaged 3.9 per game in his career and more than four per game in each of the last two seasons. It’s a damaging number that keeps him out of the Lebron/Kobe/Amare discussion, but he’ll be off the board soon after that group.
When to take him: In the first round, as high as five if your league does not penalize turnovers.
Shawn Marion (SF/PF)
Helps: Points, Rebounds, Blocks, Steals, 3-pointers, FG%, FT%?
Marion sulked his way out of Phoenix and was traded to a Miami team that is likely not a contender. How will he handle the switch?
He played poorly down the stretch last season as the Heat played out the string, averaging just 14.3 points and posting terrible percentages in 16 games with Miami. Those numbers combined with a shaky supporting cast adds doubt to Marion’s prospects as a fantasy asset.
But based on preseason reports, Marion is happy to be playing with Wade and thinks the team’s roster has talent. His biggest beef in Phoenix was that he was never a focal point of the team, which revolved around the Nash/Stoudemire duo.
Now Marion is part of a team’s core duo and he is their primary inside threat. It’s no guarantee, but it could turn out this is his best season since 2005-06, when he averaged 22 points, 12 rebounds and was among the league leaders in steals and blocks while posting crazy percentages (.535 FG%; .809 FT%).
A lot with Marion depends on his elusive feeling of happiness. While that is impossible to predict, the return of Wade, the lack of another big man and the wide-open status of the Eastern Conference playoff race should keep him content enough to mark a significant resurgence.
When to take him: In the first round, possibly even higher than Wade in a turnover league.
Michael Beasley (SF/PF)
Helps: Rebounds, FT%
Miami’s lack of depth creates a great situation for Beasley, who will share plenty of minutes alongside Wade and Marion. It’s always best to be wary of rookies, but it’s fair to assume Beasley will post about 12 to 14 points and 7 to 9 rebounds per game. He is a solid FT% and has 3-point range, but most of his value will lie as a solid secondary rebounder.
When to take him: In the ninth round.
Udonis Haslem (PF)
Haslem provides solid value when he gets enough minutes, but it’s hard to figure out how the forward positions will play out with Marion, Beasley and the returning Dorell Wright in the mix. He has been playing at center in the preseason and main gain eligibility there, which is a bonus.
Expect Haslem’s production to be along the lines of when Shaq was healthy with the Heat: about nine points and eight rebounds per game with a FG% hovering around .500.
When to take him: I have him pegged outside a 12-round draft, but he’s a not a bad choice if you need rebounds late.
Rookie Mario Chalmers or Marcus Banks will likely be the team’s starting point guard. Chalmers played great in the summer league and is becoming something of a sleeper, although he’s not recommended in a 12-round draft just yet. Banks has explosiveness and can shoot the three (he’s a chucker) and can collect some assists, but is awful with the ball and his turnover rate will likely keep him from major minutes. Plus, Wade will do most of the ballhandling anyway. Look for him at the tail end of most drafts.
Dorell Wright should be coming back from knee surgery in the first couple of months of the season and is a do-a-little-of-everything guy as Marion’s backup. James Jones is a sniper that could get minutes based on Miami’s lack of a perimeter game. Both Wright and Jones should stay undrafted in 12-team leagues.
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.