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:
Elton Brand (C/PF)
Helps: Points, Rebounds, Blocks, FG%
The prototypical frontcourt beast, Brand has moved to Philly, where he should be even better at feasting on the undersized front lines of the Eastern Conference.
After losing most of last season due to a torn Achilles heel, Brand proved he was healthy in the final weeks of the season and is looking to reclaim his status as one of the league’s premier power forwards. Prior to the injury, he averaged at least 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in four consecutive seasons.
Now Brand will play with an excellent point guard (Andre Miller) getting him the ball, wing players (Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Willie Green) that can open the floor and a strong inside presence at center (Sam Dalembert).
All of this points to Brand being the focal point of one of the strongest units in the conference, facing double teams less often and having plenty of talent to help boost his numbers. He is a near lock to average 21 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and shoot better than .500 from the floor. How many players can you really say that about?
When to take him: In the late first or early second round.
Andre Iguodala (SG/SF)
Helps: Points, Steals, Assists, 3-pointers
Although he had a fine 2007-08 season, Iguodala did not take the giant step forward many expected. Aside from his scoring and 3-pointers, nearly all of his per minute numbers held steady or declined.
Now with Brand on board, Iguodala will not longer be the top offensive option, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His shot selection will likely improve, meaning an increase in last season’s .456 FG% (He shot close to .500 playing with Allen Iverson so maybe being the second option agrees with him).
Iguodala’s scoring average of 19.9 per game may come down a little, but he’ll still be a monster for steals and will provide some 3-pointers. If his erratic FT% (.820 in 2006-07, .721 last season) bounces back, he could be a strong pick. But the feeling is that he’ll be a little overvalued.
When to take him: In the fourth round.
Andre Miller (PG)
Helps: Assists, Steals, FG%, FT%
Miller turned in perhaps his best season in eight years in 2007-08, scoring a career-high 17.0 points per game along with 6.9 assists, 1.3 steals and solid percentages, including a career-best .492 mark from the floor.
With the addition of Brand, Miller’s scoring will likely plummet to between 13 and 14 per game, but it;s easy to expect his assists to increase to around eight per game. His FG% should stay solid since he will not have to shoot much and he is a career .799 free-throw shooter.
Not a flashy player, Miller has a chance of being overlooked by some who expect their point guards to shoot a lot of 3-pointers and overvalued by other who think he will average 17 points per game again.
When to take him: In the sixth round.
Sam Dalembert (C)
Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, FG%
Dalembert really came into his own last season, grabbing a career-high 10.2 rebounds per game and blocking a career-best 192 shots. He also played a full 82 games for the second consecutive season, shaking away any doubts about his ability to stay healthy.
Dalembert has said in preseason interviews that he expects big things from himself this year and wants to be an All-Star. Brand will be drawing opposing teams’ best low-post defenders, which could help Dalembert have an easier time scoring underneath and grabbing boards in traffic.
But Brand will also be getting a lot of rebounds himself and dominating the paint offensively for the 76ers.
Either way, don’t expect Dalembert’s numbers to change all that much. It’s a safe bet he’ll post a nearly identical line to last season.
When to take him: In the seventh round.
The starting small forward slot is apparently Thaddeus Young‘s to lose and his potential for points, rebounds, steals and FG% make him a nice late-round option as a bench-player after your starting lineup is filled out.
Louis Williams is an emerging player in the Sixers backcourt and will be the first guard off the bench. If he gets 30 minutes per game, he will be a surprisingly strong source of steals, 3-pointers and assists and is worth a look in the final rounds of all leagues for his potential. Here is how ESPN’s John Hollinger put it:
“… the guy to watch is Williams. A rising star who is one of the league’s top sixth men, he hit 35.9 percent from downtown last season and has improved his numbers every year. If he can establish himself as a true long-range weapon, he’ll likely be finishing a lot of games at the 2 instead of Young, with Iguodala moving up to the 3.”
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility.