NBA Preseason Notes

Robin Lopez: Starting Center In Big Easy? -- Lopez continued his strong preseason Monday, tallying 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes while starting at center. Most of the attention given to the New Orleans' frontcourt has been directed towards Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, but Lopez appears to have a chance to carve out a sizable role this season. He's expected get the nod at center, lining up alongside Davis, who will play power forward. Lopez has never been a big scorer or shot blocker, but he's a decent rebounder who posts efficient percentages. He's being largely ignored in most mid-sized drafts, so feel free to target him as one of your last selections if you're looking for extra depth up front.

Elton Brand: Dirk's replacement? -- With Dirk Nowitzki (knee) slated to miss anywhere from three to six weeks, the Mavericks will be looking for a new power forward. Assuming center Chris Kaman is healthy for the start of the regular season, I expect Brand to get the nod at the four with Shawn Marion playing small forward. Brand's move from Philly to Dallas this past offseason lowered his overall value, but the 33-year-old veteran proved he still has plenty left in the tank last year. Don't be surprised if Brand matches his 2011-12 production while Nowitzki is on the shelf.

Lavoy Allen: Possible Early-Season Option -- Allen is the primary candidate to start at center for the Sixers if Andrew Bynum (knee) isn't ready for the start of the regular season. Bynum is set to begin practicing with his teammates on Wednesday, so this could all be a moot point, but Allen still warrants some endgame consideration until Bynum's status for game action is known. Allen's preseason averages of 7.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 27 minutes per game won't knock your socks off, but that type of production can still hold plenty of value in many mid-sized leagues.

Mike Dunleavy: Super Sub -- The Bucks deployed an array of wings last season, mixing and matching players like Dunleavy, Carlos Delfino and Stephen Jackson. Of those three players, Dunleavy is the only one still on the roster. Dunleavy showcased his skills in Monday's preseason loss, finishing with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three treys in 30 minutes off the bench. Tobias Harris appears to have the starting three spot locked up for opening night, but Dunleavy will see ample time at the position while also being able to slide to the shooting guard spot at times. While Dunleavy isn't the most attractive name to target on draft day, he still provides solid value in the later rounds of the draft and should be able to easily outperform his top-120 ranking of a year ago.

Thomas Robinson: The Forgotten Rookie? -- Multiple rookies have garnered attention this fantasy draft season, but Robinson seems to have been lost in the shuffle, which is odd for the fifth-overall pick and someone who had a legit argument for being named the NCAA player of the year over Anthony Davis. Robinson had a solid night off the Kings' bench Monday, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Monday's effort was easily Robinson's best of the preseason, as he's averaging just 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, so view this single performance as a reminder of his upside more than where he currently stands. All signs point to Robinson starting the season in a reserve role for the Kings, but anyone who has seen Jason Thompson play basketball over the past handful of seasons should know that the starting gig is attainable for the rookie. While he won't be a dominating offensive presence in the post like he was in college, Robinson still possess the strength and tenacity to be a good rebounder in the pros. His opportunity might not come until the second-half of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Robinson become fantasy relevant in shallower formats later this year.

DeAndre Jordan: Breakout Looming? -- Jordan has legit size (6-11, 265) and he can jump out of the gym, but he's never been able to put everything together for a true breakout season. At 24, that breakout could be coming this season. Through six preseason games, Jordan is averaging 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 26 minutes per contest. He has established himself as a solid source of rebounds, blocks and field-goal efficiency over the past couple of seasons, but Jordan appears on the verge of emerging as a nightly double-double threat. His free-throw percentage will still hover around 50-percent, but his low volume of attempts will soften any damage in that category. Other big men who are being targeted in the same 8th - 10th round range as Jordan are Luis Scola, Anderson Varejao, Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand. While those names hold plenty of value, I'd argue none offer the type of upside that's present in Jordan. Go with the upside on draft day.


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