Most fantasy basketball players will want to stay out of the 9 – 12 range this year because it is such a subjective part of the draft this year. However, fantasy basketball changes dramatically from year to year, so do not view this area as a no man’s land. You are guaranteed another great player in the second round. I hated picking #11 last year, but I came away with the best team of my life. Stay positive and focused no matter where you land on draft night.
9. Al Horford – I vow my love for Al Horford this year in Digging for Fantasy Basketball Gold. The Hawks’ bench is thin, and the new offensive system will fit Horford perfectly. He will be the Tim Duncan-like player under the Hawks’ new head coach and former Spur assistant, Mike Budenholzer. In addition, the leech, Josh Smith, moved his selfish act to Detroit. Smith’s replacement is the selfless Paul Millsap. With Jeff Teague’s overall improvement, Korver’s deadly accuracy from the outside, and DeMarre Carroll’s intangibles, Horford should be a beast this year. As illustrated in A Great Draft Begins NOW!, shooting guards, small forwards, and centers need to be your focus this year. Elite centers are very hard to come by. Don’t let this one pass you by. According to Basketball Monster’s Player Rater (a site I love), Horford finished #6 overall in the last 3 months of the season. Like Vern Gosdin asked, do you believe me now?
10. Carmelo Anthony – If you have owned Carmelo in the past, you know that he is a roller coaster ride. He is streaky and scores in bunches. He can absolutely kill or carry you. If you pick him, I’d suggest selling him high when he goes through a very hot stretch. I drafted him #14 overall last year. I traded him, and then, I traded to get him back later on in the year because the Knicks’ playoff schedule was so good in our league. J.R. Smith is out for the first 5 games of the season, so Carmelo will be shooting 30 times a game during that stretch. Carmelo catapulted himself in the first round because he doubled his 3 point output from his previous year. In addition, he is a big name that people are willing to consider when trading with you throughout the season.
11. LaMarcus Aldridge – Aldridge is a total rock. He has finished the last 3 seasons in the fantasy basketball top 12. He is durable, reliable, and predictable. He won’t explode for 40 points, grab 25 rebounds, or block 6 shots in a night, but he consistently produces his averages. Derrick Rose or Serge Ibaka would make a sexier pick at this stage. You could also feasibly believe that Al Jefferson might offer a little more upside in Charlotte. However, if you want to play it safe, Aldridge is your man. The only glimmer of potential sex appeal comes in the form of Aldridge publicly mentioning that he has added a 3 point shot. I would not count on this proclamation. Lillard, Matthews, and Batum will be heaving it from the outside, so this seems like typical preseason talk. You know…Every guy has worked on a particular aspect of their game. They have gained or lost 15-20 pounds depending on their need. They suddenly had numerous epiphanies about their perspectives on life. Anyway, Aldridge was my #11 pick last year, and I had no complaints except for a rather slow start.
12. Derrick Rose – Derrick looks terrific right now. Has there ever been as much hype about a preseason game? Rose will be under a microscope this year, but one thing is for certain, he is confident and ready. The Bulls lack significant depth, so Rose will have to produce in a big way to keep this team in contention. In the 2012-2013 season, the offense flowed through Noah. You can drop him a few spots because those days are over. Derrick is going to dominate the ball by pushing the pace, driving, and kicking it out. Someone in your league might try to be real bold and pick Rose in the 5 – 8 range. You can’t fault that individual because Rose has that type of capability. He says that his 3 point shot and vertical leap are much improved. A boost in 3’s, steals, rebounds, and blocks would send Rose into the Top 5. He has that kind of potential, but his previous injury might keep you up at night.
Other players that I’d approve of in this range include: Anthony Davis, Nicholas Batum, Serge Ibaka, and Al Jefferson. It is still a little early to insert Kobe in this list because we do not have a timeline at this point in time. Some Cavalier fans might be critical of the exclusion of Kyrie Irving, but his injury history, point guard status, and deep Cavalier team have me worried. I’m definitely willing to snatch him in the second round, but the concerns mentioned above have me picking elsewhere in the first round. What do you think?