Welcome to picks 11-20. If you’re looking for the guys who are still standing on the edge of the cliff looking over, picks 1-10 are over here. But there are a few situations in the second third of the first round (wow, I just wrote that) that are worth looking at, because one or two transactions could turn a rookie into a rookie with fantasy value.
11. Portland – Meyers Leonard (C)
After picking up Damian Lillard with their first pick, Portland went in the opposite direction and picked up the next incarnation of Joel Przybilla. Leonard should challenge for the starting Center position, and while he probably won’t get it, he should end up with enough minutes to make a decent fantasy contribution to rebounds and blocks. Leonard is a good hustle player, and athletic enough to grab rebounds and block shots in the NBA.
He is also a decent free throw shooter for a big man, which will be good if he can continue getting position for offensive rebounds and drawing easy fouls. Of course, for non-fantasy purposes, that’s all he really needs to do, since Portland has LaMarcus Aldridge up front already. If he works on his offensive game, Leonard could be a very good Center in the NBA, but in his rookie season, those skills probably won’t be developed enough to make him more than a boards and blocks guy for fantasy purposes.
12. Houston – Jeremy Lamb (SG)
We’ll call this one an incomplete as the Rockets are clearly not done wheeling and dealing, possibly for a certain center who wants a change of scenery. If Lamb does stay with the Rockets, he could become a Kevin Martin replacement sooner rather than later (Martin has one year left on his contract and has yet to make cute with Coach Kevin McHale) as an athletic swingman and talented shooter. He’ll need to work on his three point game (33.6% from three his sophomore year) before he becomes a legitimate fantasy threat, but for now keep your eyes on the Rockets next move and the situation that Lamb ends up in.
13. Phoenix – Kendall Marshall (PG)
Obviously if Steve Nash goes to another team, then Marshall becomes a huge fantasy prospect. And you kind of have to think that the Suns took him on the expectation that Nash would sign somewhere else. The only problem for Marshall and his potential fantasy owners is that he still needs some offensive options to get big assist numbers. Nash is excellent at creating his own shot, but Marshall does not have the same ability (at least not yet), so all of his fantasy value will come from assists and steals. Marshall seems very much in the mold of Andre Miller: a gifted passer with tremendous court vision, but short on athleticism. At 6′ 4″, he’s at least a step up from the Suns’ other PG, Sebastian Telfair. Telfair also struggles with creating shots, but at least Marshall has the extra height to help himself out. With Nash out, I’d say Marshall is draftable for a small ball team that wants to ensure domination of assists and steals, or a rotisserie league team that needs an extra boost in those categories.
14. Milwaukee – John Henson (PF)
The Bucks traded down in the draft to pick up Samuel Dalembert and then drafted 6-10 shot blocking extraordinaire John Henson, who averaged nearly 10 rebounds and 3 blocks a game with UNC this year. His game is actually similar to that of current Bucks Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, so GM John Hammond must have a hard-on for skinny shot blocking big men with dubious offensive ability. On a different team Henson might have had some fantasy value this year as a rebounder/shot blocking type (I mean, think about all the attention Bismack Biyombo got from fantasy owners last year), but he’s going to find minutes hard to come by on a Bucks team that is suddenly full of big men (Dalembert, Drew Gooden, Udoh, Sanders, possibly Ersan Ilyasova). He’s a stay away in fantasy leagues unless the team is decimated by injuries again.
15. Philadelphia – Moe Harkless (SF)
Seems like it was probably just BPA at this point for Philly, since they already have two guys with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner who are pretty similar to Harkless. Sure, Harkless played a big in college, but at 6′ 8″, 210, he’ll have to be a SF in the NBA. Of course, he’s not really ready for the NBA anyway, so he’ll probably just see a lot of time backing up Iguodala and Turner. I could go on about how the 76ers seem to like to draft undersized guys with good wingspans (regardless of position), but since I’m just going to follow that up with the advice to stay away from Harkless, I’ll just leave the punditry to the pundits.
16. Houston – Royce White (SF/PF)
White is one of the highest risk/reward guys in the draft, as evidenced by the fact that NBA Draft.net lists one of his top NBA comps as Boris Diaw. Yikes. He also has an anxiety disorder, a fear of flying and potential conditioning issues. But other than that, he’s perfect. Seriously though, White has the tools of a lottery selection – he’s a 6-8 PF who is strong, fast, has a PG-like ball handling ability, good court vision and very good passing skills. He led Iowa State with 13.4 points on 53% shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game; but shot only 50% from the line. With the Rockets clearing Chase Budinger from their roster recently, it’s possible they slide White into the SF position and play with a big lineup, but we’ll have to wait and see what additional moves they make this offseason before we can predict how much fantasy value White will have.
17. Cleveland – Tyler Zeller (PF)
Zeller goes from Kendall Marshall running the point for his team at North Carolina to Kyrie Irving in the pros. Not bad. After the question mark pick at #4, Cleveland comes back with a solid low-risk low-reward pick here. Zeller gives them a legit 7-footer to put out there with Anderson Varejao or Tristan Thompson (sorry Semih Erden). If Varejao is healthy (and doesn’t get traded), he should be the starting Center, but the odds of that are not something I’d want to put money on. Zeller should be a serviceable NBA Center, but he certainly won’t set the fantasy world on fire. He is a good free throw shooter (80%) which could help him get a few extra points in addition to what should be solid rebound and block numbers. But unless Varejao gets shipped out or hurt before the season starts, I’d stay away from Zeller in fantasy drafts.
18. Houston – Terrence Jones (PF)
Houston’s third first round pick in this draft was the 6-9 PF from Kentucky. Given the current makeup of their roster with Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, and now Royce White, this was clearly not a pick for need, but rather the Rockets stockpiling assets for operation Dwight Howard. Jones is a versatile player (read: tweener) and his stats suggest he could end up an intriguing fantasy player: he averaged 7.2 boards, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks in 29 minutes a game with the Wildcats. Still, he’s not going to reach his ceiling as the fourth PF off the bench for Houston, so something will have to happen with the team’s roster for him to have any fantasy value this year.
19. Orlando – Andrew Nicholson (PF)
It’s amusing that DraftExpress compares him to Ryan Anderson since he was drafted by Orlando. But perhaps the Magic will send Dwight Howard out and go with an all-jump shooting PF front line (Glen Davis rounds out the trio perfectly). Trademark joking aside, a lot of what will be expected of Nicholson depends on whether the Magic still have Dwight Howard or if not, who they get back for him. He’s got some good moves and a nice shot, though he might have to learn to put some jump in his jump shot in the NBA. My initial impression is that he’s kind of like Rashard Lewis in that he can post of pretty well and hit a variety of shots, but it might be hard for him to find a role in the NBA. I’m not sure why the Magic went with two big men in the draft when they seem to have bigger needs at the guard positions, but of course that doesn’t have any bearing on what Nicholson will do for fantasy owners. Of course, unless he blows up like Ryan Anderson, there’s not a lot that Nicholson will do for fantasy owners.
20. Denver – Evan Fournier (SG)
A 19-year old prospect from France, Fournier has good height for his position (he’s 6-7) and already has the Paul Pierce-patented crafty moves that allow him to create his own shot despite not being a great athlete. This pick is more of a long-play for Denver as Fournier has the potential to become a solid scoring threat in the NBA, but still needs work in a bunch of areas – especially his three point shot – before he’ll fulfill his potential. If Fournier decides to leave France and come over to the NBA this season, it’s likely that he’ll backup Aaron Afflalo at SG and provide the team with some more depth at the wing.