Fratello’s Fantasy Picks

As NBA teams prepare for the 2013-14 season to tip off on Tuesday, October 29, fantasy leagues are holding their annual drafts. Regardless of the scoring format, fantasy GMs who do the most effective job of projecting and analyzing player production and value will come out on top at the end of 82. Everyone knows that superstars like LeBron, Durant and Chris Paul will put up monster fantasy numbers almost every night, but rounding out fantasy rosters takes skill. Here are five lower-profile players who should provide high returns at each spot on the court.

PG – Mike Conley

Mike Conley is entering his 7th NBA season with Memphis. Although a dynamic 1-guard on a playoff team, Conley is often ranked behind other PGs. Last season Conley played in 80 games and averaged 14.6 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.8 rpg and 2.2 spg. He shot 83% from the line and hit 1.3 3-bombs per game. Conley posted season-highs of 26 points, 15 dimes, 7 boards (2X) and 6 steals. And he rarely lost the rock, averaging just 2.4 turnovers per contest. Conley’s a consistent producer who can fill up a stat sheet.

Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies

SG – Evan Turner

6’7″ swingman Evan Turner played in all 82 games last season for Philly, averaging 35.3 minutes per game. He put up solid numbers on a shaky squad, loading the stat sheet with 13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.3 apg and .9 spg in his 2012-13 campaign. Turner posted season-highs of 27 points, 13 boards (2X), 9 dimes (3X) and 4 steals. In his fourth year Turner will be asked to lead Philadelphia’s exceptionally young roster, so he’ll get a lot of opportunities to step up and produce as the Sixers rebuild.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers-NBA Global Games

SF – Maurice Harkless

20-year-old Moe Harkless enters his sophomore season after working hard all summer on the deficiencies in his game. The native New Yorker’s pro career set sail on Orlando’s sinking ship. Although at times Harkless looked a step behind on the court, the rookie’s numbers and minutes increased month by month, and his scoring peaked in April. For the year he averaged 8.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.2 spg in 26 mpg. He posted season-highs of 28 points, 14 boards and 6 steals. Harkless has a huge upside and will slowly but surely raise his game and averages.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic

PF – Derrick Favors

The solidly built 6’10” Derrick Favors was selected 3rd overall in the 2010 Draft after one season at Georgia Tech. With the departures of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in the offseason, Favors will get more run than the 23.2 mpg he averaged in Utah last year. In 77 games he averaged career-bests of 9.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg and 0.9 spg. He posted season-highs of 23 points, 15 boards (2X) and 6 blocks (2X). Favors won’t be a sleeper for long so scoop him up in the draft before he fully unleashes on the league.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

C – Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas is another big man who won’t stay under the radar for long. He’s only 21, but started playing pro ball in Europe in 2008. The 7-foot Lithuanian was drafted 5th overall in 2011, but didn’t make his NBA debut until last season. He averaged 8.9 ppg, 6 rpg and 1.3 bog for the Raptors and shot 79% from the charity stripe and 56% from the field. Valanciunas came on at the end of the season averaging 14.9 points and 2.4 blocks in seven April games. He is poised and possesses a solid skill set. As long as Valanciunas stays healthy he’ll start owning the paint and will become a primary scoring option for Toronto.

Toronto Raptors v Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason

Fratello’s Fantasy Draft Part 2

The following four players should give your fantasy team’s bench a boost and add value to your roster throughout the 2012-2013 basketball season.


Minnesota’s 6’11”, 295-pound big man surprised much of the NBA last season with his superior rebounding and defense. But Pekovic’s success was no shock to his former teammates in Europe, where the steady performer established himself as an elite center. Pekovic played in only 47 games last year due to an ankle injury, but averaged 13.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg while shooting 56% from the field and 74% from the line. The tenacious 26-year-old had season highs of 30 points and 16 boards. Now in his third year, the big-motor Pekovic should improve his production due to increased floor time if he starts. Look to draft Pekovic in the 80 to 95 range.


In 61 games last year the 6’9”, 290-pound Big Baby averaged 9.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg in 23.4 mpg. However, when inserted into the first five, Davis’ averages all improved by 40%. With Dwight Howard gone, Davis is slated to start this season, so look for his numbers pop as he is considered a ‘confidence’ player and generally performs much better when he gets the run he thinks he deserves. Though Davis is undersized, he has quick feet and moves his body well so he’s effective on the glass. And he is a very good mid-range jump shooter. Davis will be a good late-round addition to your roster, and he will add value throughout the season.


In his rookie year, Knight played in all 66 of Detroit’s games. The University of Kentucky product averaged 12.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.2 rpg and shot 38% from the arc in 32.3 mpg. He had season highs of 28 points and 11 dimes in 2011-12. Knight possesses the athleticism, skills and toughness to be an outstanding player. Detroit will look for him to take a major step up from last year’s performance and will count on him to be a critical cog for many years to come. Known for his work ethic and drive, the 6’3” PG should step up his production after the departure of Ben Gordon. Look to draft Knight in the 90 to 105 range.


The 3rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Favors came alive at the end of the season last year. In the Spurs 4-game sweep of Utah, 6’10” Favors averaged 11.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg and 1.3 spg in 29 mpg, up from his season averages of 8.8 points and 6.5 boards in 21.3 minutes per game. A durable banger, Favors played in 65 of 66 contests last year. Favors has tremendous talent and intangibles. And due to his physicality he has the potential to become a big-time shot blocker and rebounder. Though Utah has a plethora of quality forwards, Favors should continue earning more court time and round out your fantasy roster nicely.

Czar’s 2010-11 Season Preview: Rookie of the Year

It’s always exciting to watch the new kids on the court seize their opportunities to shine while shaping up into future stars. The top five 2010 NBA draft picks John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Wesley Johnson and DeMarcus Cousins are all tremendously talented athletes who possess the potential to achieve greatness at the pro level.

And the upcoming season is bound to bring other rookies to the fore just as we saw so many young leaders emerge and far exceed our expectations last year. Who will top the Freshman heap once the dust settles?

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