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:
Deron Williams (PG)
Helps: Points, Assists, FG%, FT%, Steals, 3-pointers
Williams developed into a clear-cut star in his third season in the NBA, averaging 18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and one 3-pointer per game along with Nash-like percentages (.507 FG%/.803FT%). He will no longer be overlooked.
The Jazz now run their entire offense through Williams, who improved his production in every capacity. The only negative in his game is his 3.4 turnovers per game last season, which is still easy to live with considering everything else he bring to the table.
It’s no guarantee his percentages will stay so high after such a considerable jump, but you can’t assume they will drop and let him pass you by. There is a very good chance he may turn out to be the best fantasy point guard not names Chris Paul.
When to take him: In the second round.
Carlos Boozer (PF)
Helps: Rebounds, FG%, Steals
Usually a double-double machine, Boozer is one of the most consistent rebounders in the NBA, averaging 11 per game over the last two seasons. He scored a career-high 21.1 points per game in 2007-08 and with an option to leave Utah after this season, expect another strong performance.
Since he is constantly in the paint, Boozer is always among the league leaders in FG% (.547 last season, .541 career). But the key component missing from his game that would make him a traditionally sought-after big man is his lack of blocks.
Boozer only had 41 blocks last season and has never averaged better than 0.7 per game. He collects more steals than most power forwards (1.2 per game last season), but not nearly enough to make up the difference.
Ideally, you want to draft Boozer after already getting a rebounder-shot blocker in the first round to sure up your rebounding. Otherwise, you better get some blocks later in the draft.
When to take him: In the late second or early third round.
Mehmet Okur (C/PF)
Helps: Points, Rebounds, 3-pointers, FT%
For some reason or another, Okur was sleepwalking his way through the early part of the season before finally realizing the season had started. While his final line is below his career norms, he averaged 16.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in the final 34 games last season.
Considering his late-season numbers were in line with his career stats, it’s fair to assume he will play that way the entire season. He’ll average better than 16 points and nine rebounds per game while competing with Rasheed Wallace for the most 3-pointer by a center this season.
Because he shoots so much from the outside, Okur’s FG% will be low for a frontcourt player (.456 career), but he is a career 79 percent free-throw shooter. He doesn’t block shots like you would like a center to, but you won’t be drafting him high enough where you’ll need him to, either.
When to take him: In the late fifth or early sixth round.
Andrei Kirilenko (SF/PF)
Helps: Blocks, Steals
Hurts: Your faith in mankind.
Doesn’t just reading his name give you a headache?
If you’ve played fantasy basketball for the last few seasons, you have likely been burned … and then rewarded … and then burned again by Kirilenko. After three stellar seasons from 2003-06, he has spent the last two years shuffling in and out of coach Jerry Sloan’s dog house and in a general funk.
Kirilenko was absolutely awful in 2006-07 and bounced back somewhat last season, but his final line can be deceiving. After a torrid start that seemed to a indicate a return to prominence, he averaged single digits in scoring and barely over a steal and a block per game in the final 30 games. He will probably start the season coming off the bench but that’s not necessarily a negative thing for his fantasy value.
Kirilenko’s ability to help your team in blocks (2.4 per game in his career) and steals (1.2 per game) is hard to ignore. He did average four assists per game last season and shot .506 from the floor, but that is well over his career mark so expect him to regress in that category.
But the fact that you can never really know when Kirilenko is going to perform or not is just as bad as having an injury-prone player. Oh yeah, he’s missed at least 10 games in four straight seasons as well.
Besides, any guy that has permission form his wife to sleep with other women and doesn’t take advantage is a bit suspect.
When to take him: In the sixth round.
Ronnie Brewer (SG/SF)
Helps: FG%, Steals
Brewer became a huge part of Utah’s rotation last season and did not disappoint, averaging 12.0 points on .558 shooting and 1.7 steals per game. He led all NBA guards in shooting percentage because he has more dunks that LeBron James last season (no really, he did).
But the fact that he keeps his jumpers to a minimum means it’s unlikely he’ll ever provide a descent amount of scoring punch.
Brewer will probably get 30 minutes per game this season but won;’t contribute anywhere other than an excellent amount of steals and a high FG%. His is a poor free-throw shooter, but improving (.759 last season after .675 his rookie year).
When to take him: In the eighth round.
C.J. Miles appears to be on his way to replacing Kirilenko in the starting lineup, but word is that he is basically sleepwalking his way through the preseason and Sloan is not happy about it. He’s too risky to be drafted at this point.
A favoprite of mine, Paul Millsap has tremendous per minute numbers (13.8 points, 10 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes) but is constantly in foul trouble and stuck behind Boozer and Okur. Still worth a late-round flier in case one of those guys gets hurt.
Kyle Korver is the typical white 3-point bomber who is also a great free-throw shooter but won’t provide much elsewhere,
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility.