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:
Rashard Lewis (SF/PF)
Helps: Points, 3-pointers, FT%, Steals
It’s true that the value of Orlando’s top three players varies depending on the scoring system, but since I base these preview on a standard 12-team, nine-category league, Lewis the best overall choice.
Lewis’ scoring (18.2 points per game) and rebounding (5.4 per game) both dropped in his first season with the Magic, but he made up for it in other ways. He excelled as the team’s leading marksman, burying 2.8 3-pointers per game, shot 84 percent from the floor and collected 1.2 steals per game.
In other words, he was a versatile player who is eligible at both forward positions and, most important, is very consistent. You know what you’re getting when drafting Lewis. He’s a safe choice, although probably not the choice with the highest potential reward.
Other than a slightly subpar FG%, there are no drawbacks to drafting Lewis. However, if you feel being a little more risky, move on to…..
When to take him: In the late third or early fourth round.
Dwight Howard (C)
Helps: Rebounds, Points, Blocks, FG%
Hurts: FT%… a lot
Plenty of fantasy owners have learned the lesson over the last few seasons: Howard’s rebounds, blocks and tremendous FG% come at a steep price. He has made less than 60 percent of his free throws in the past three season’s while being among the league-leaders in attempts.
It’s true that Shaquille O’Neal was once a valuable fantasy commodity with a terrible FG%, but he was far superior offensive player and shot blocks, making it much more forgivable.
Howard is coming off career highs in points per game (20.7) and blocks per game (2.1) but only a dramatic jump in those numbers will be enough to offset a crushing FT%. Basically, if you draft, you have to build the rest of your team with excellent free-throw shooters to make up for the difference, and that can tie your hands as far as your choices in later rounds.
Howard is a better play in head-to-head leagues if your plan is to dominate blocks, rebounds and FG% but even then he shouldn’t be your first rounder.
When to take him: In the fourth round but his value really depends on the league rules.
Hedo Turkoglu (SF)
Helps: Points, 3-pointers, Assists, FT%
Turkoglu’s value is in the eye of the beholder. Basically, do you think last season was a fluke or a coming out party? Considering that his per minute number jumper so dramatically in his eighth NBA season it is hard to have much confidence he will duplicate those numbers.
However, Turkoglu is able to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, so a big year will lead to big money if he can top himself.
Last season, Turkoglu notched career highs in points per game (19.5), 3-pointers per game (2.0), rebounds per game (5.7) and assists per game (5.0). He also shot .829 from the line and .456 from the floor – well above his career number.
Duplicating those numbers would make him the most valuable fantasy player on the Magic but the unpredictability of his performance makes him a riskier pick than Lewis or Howard …. but barely.
When to take him: In the fourth round.
Jameer Nelson (PG)
Helps: Assists, FT%
Nelson had a bizarre 2008-09 season, posting a career high 5.6 assists per game while sporting declining numbers in nearly every other category. He played just 28.4 minutes per game – his lowest since his rookie season.
The good news is that Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling, both of whom stole time from Nelson at the point last season, are gone and the Magic have already said the job of starting point guard is his to lose.
But Turkoglu will still be handling the ball quite a bit and the Magic will not need Nelson to return to his 2005-07 ways because they have added so much more talent these days. Expect Nelson to post around 13 points, six assists and one steal and one 3-pointer per game.
Nelson is also an excellent free-throw shooter and posted a solid .467 FG% last season. If he can put last season’s inconsistencies behind him, he could provide value beyond where he is drafted.
When to take him: In the ninth round.
Although it doesn’t seem that Magic exactly know how to use him, Mickael Pietrus‘ career numbers indicate he could provide better than one steal, one block and one 3-pointer per game. He has bad percentages and his role is still undefined, but keep an eye on the situation.
Keith Bogans was a monster source of 3-pointers last season but that’s about all he’s good for fantasy-wise. J.J. Reddick is white, in case you’re in a league that uses only white players.
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility.