Thursday, January 17, 2008

2007 NBA Draft - Checking In On The Top 10

Now that we are three months into the season, let's take a look at how the top 10 picks from the 2007 NBA draft are faring. We will analyze their numbers, fantasy standing and value going forward.

#1 Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers

Key Stats: None, Out for the season (knee)

We are off to a fast start! Oden hasn't (and won't) log a single minute of playing time this season and yet the Trail Blazers still sit atop the NBA's Northwest division. Expect Oden to get significant playing time right off the bat next year (granted he is healthy and fully recovered from microfracture surgery) and for the Trail Blazers to become perennial contenders for an NBA title sooner rather than later. Next season, Oden should replace Joel Przybilla, a serviceable NBA center, who can reboard and block a shot, but offers little in the way of an offensive game. Oden will be able to score more, and add athleticism to an already deep, young team. Additionally, Oden is an excellent defensive player and should average around 2 blocks a game. Even coming off injury, in what will be his first season of play, Oden has the potential to be a top 5 fantasy center next season at a position that has been lacking in recent years.

#2 Kevin Durant, Seattle SuperSonics

Key Stats: 19.8 points 4.3 rebounds 1.14 blocks.

While the Sonics have flopped and (at the time of this writing) are an abysmal 20 games under .500, Durant has showed to be something special amongst the sea of mediocrity in Seattle. Durant's biggest criticism coming out of college was that he was too lanky, and needed to put on more weight. While this might effect his rebounding ability, his long arms and freakish wingspan have made him difficult to guard on the offense end and have allowed him to block more than a shot a game. Already averaging nearly 20 points a night as a rookie, expect his game to really flourish in the next 2-3 seasons. Remember he is only 19, as his game and body develop, we are looking at a guy who will eventually be averaging 25+ points, 6-7 rebounds and 1.5-2 blocks a night.

#3 Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks

Key Stats: 8.9 points 9.7 rebounds 1.12blocks.

Al Horford has had a fine fantasy rookie season, already playing big minutes and contributing nearly a double- double a night. He has helped a once desolate Hawks franchise reach the .500 mark and offers great hope at the center/power forward position moving forward. Expect him to average around 13 points with 10+ rebounds next season as his confidence grows and minutes continue to increase.

#4 Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Key Stats: 8.8 points 4.6 assists in 24.8 minutes.

At first glance, Conley's numbers don't look all that great. Don't let the numbers thus far fool you, the kid is just starting to make his impact. Conley has only played in 14 games this season, starting 8, all of which have come in the month of January. Since the beginning of the month Conley's averaging 11.1points and 5.4assists in 31.6minutes. Granted that is nothing spectacular, but we are seeing the young point guard improve and start to come into his own. As the season wears on, we expect Conley's numbers to continue improving as he gets acclimated to playing along side scorers like Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. Both are averaging over 20 points a game during the month of January, since Conley has become the starter which should bode well for the rookie PG's value going forward.

#5 Jeff Green, Seattle SuperSonics

Key Stats: 9 points 4.9 rebounds.

Green hasn't done anything to get overly excited about from a fantasy perspective just yet. His stats so far are less than spectacular, and even on the nights when he does see more playing time the numbers aren't all that different from his season averages. The only way we could see Green's numbers making a significant increase this season would be if Seattle trades a veteran like perhaps a Kurt Thomas, giving Green more consistent playing time, offensive touches and rebounding opportunities. Looking ahead Green's future looks pretty bright as he does play alongside Kevin Durant, and we might see these young forwards together for years to come.

#6 Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks

Key Stats: 10.3 points 6 rebounds .806 ft%.

After a strong December, where he averaged 13 and 7, Yi's numbers have dipped a bit and look more like those he was registering at the start of the season. Jianlian, has the potential to become a strong NBA player down the road, but this season he has been pretty inconsistent, and a mediocre fantasy option at best. Yi has shown some flashes of being a legitimate scorer and rebounder while displaying a good understanding for the game. Added experience playing in the US and some moves by the Bucks to clear the log jam they have at the forward position will help the young Chinese star going forward.

# 7 Corey Brewer, Minnesota

Key Stats: 5.4 points 3.9 rebounds.

Given his playing time, Brewer has contributed the least of any guy in this group thus far. His minutes and numbers have been steadily declining as the season has progressed, unlike many of the other rookies in this class. Brewer has become more of a defensive stopper in Minnesota and gotten lost in the shuffle of the team's numerous guard/SF options. Right now he has little fantasy value.

#8 Brandon Wright, Golden State Warriors

Key Stats: 2.9 points 2.4 rebounds.

Brandon Wright, who was dealt to Golden State in the draft day trade that sent Jason Richardson to Charlotte, is a good fit for the Nelly's high energy high energy, fast-paced system. However, Wright has not cracked the rotation and has spent most his time on the bench. Right now, he has no fantasy value and I dont see him being a fantasy contributor anytime in the near future.

#9 Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Key Stats: 4.4 points 3.6 rebounds PER (Player Efficiency Rating) 18.05.

Coming out of college Noah was never really thought of as a perennial all star but more for being a Shane Battier type - good teammate who provides the intangibles on offense and defense with a desire to win at all costs. He probably should not have been drafted this high by Chicago, and hopefully was not drafted at all by you. Noah's career has already gotten off to a rocky start in Chicago, however, despite his limited minutes, Noah leads all rookies in efficiency. It's looking more and more like Ben Wallace's tenure in Chicago is coming to a close and if he is dealt Noah's value would immediately increase. However, there are a few too many ifs and what ifs involved to take owning him seriously. Check back on him in 1-2 years OR whenever the corpse formerly known as Big Ben is shipped out of town.

#10 Spencer Hawes, Sacramento Kings

Key Stats: 2.6 points 2 rebounds.

Chris Dudley + Felton Spencer = Spencer Hawes

Like we pondered in an earlier post regarding Hawes - How many drafts has the phrase "you can't teach size" killed?

Remember, these are only initial reports a few months into the season. Some of these players have proven they belong while other are still trying to find their niche in the NBA and show they can play with the big boys.

Stay tuned at the end of the season when we can reevaluate all these players to see if their outlook has changed.

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