So long, Al Jefferson. Welcome back, Darko Milicic. This is the year that Darko breaks out and joins the ranks of his fellow draft-mates: LeBron-Wade-Melo-Bosh. He’s been nothing short of a bust during his first seven seasons in the league. He’s been crabby, angry, and downright “stupid” since leaving Detroit. On the plus, Darko is a quality defender in the paint and a sufficient rebounder. Last season he averaged 1.4 blocks and 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes with the T-Wolves. He also took a career-best 7.8 shots per game, but made just 49.2% of his attempts. This season with the departure of Jefferson, Darko is going to step in and get some serious minutes in the middle. Can he break out? Not likely. But as a category filler (boards and blocks) he’s a deep option. Just don’t expect anyone to pat themselves on the back for drafting Darko. Chad Ford, Darko is still moving in. Sorry.
I have Kevin Love targeted in the 4th round in any and all formats. Why? Because he’s capable of leading the league in rebounds. Seriously. He averaged 11 per game last season in just 28 minutes of action. His per-36 boards average sat at 13.8 per game. His scoring average (14.0 ppg) jumped up to 17.8 points per 36 (look it up!). Without Jefferson in the middle, Love is going to get plenty of opportunities to do his best David Lee impression. He can steal a ball per game, hit over 80% of his free throws, and even nail the occasional 3-pointer. Love to love you, Love.
With Jonny Flynn not scheduled to return to the basketball court until sometime in mid- to late-November, newly acquired Luke Ridnour will be running the point for the Wolves. The thing about Ridnour is that he is always underrated as a fantasy performer. In the last two seasons he’s only missed 10 games, while averaging about 25 minutes per. He can hit a 3-pointer, steal over one ball, shoot near 90% from the line, and dish about 5.0 assists per game. He’s a low turnover guy, which helps those 9-cat players out there, and even improved on his FG% to a respectable 47% last year. He’s a fantastic late-round option, and if you’re worried about what impact Flynn will have on Ridnour once he returns, draft them both! (Editor’s disclosure: Tom and Jeff did that very thing in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, a genius move if you ask Tom and Jeff.)
Rookie Wesley Johnson has looked good off the bench this preseason. In their game against the Nuggets, Johnson shot 5-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The dude can shoot. Problem is, he hasn’t shown much else in his game. Still, I think he’s a great late-round scoring option, even if he is coming off the bench behind Corey Brewer or Michael Beasley. Speaking of Brewer, he has a few flaws in his game, namely his percentages, but remains a nice option for steals and threes. Beasley joined the Wolves this offseason and hopes to turn himself into a productive small forward. Best of luck to you, Mr. Beasley. For him it all comes down to motivation. He has it in him to score 20 points per game, believe it or not, but he’s yet to realize his potential. He also can add a steal, hit about 0.5 threes, pull in over 6 rebounds, and provide solid percentages from the floor and the line. I just have a hard time reaching on him and waiting to find out if this is the year that he plays up to his potential. Martell Webster will be vying for minutes at the small forward and shooting guard position. The category he provides the most help at is with 3-pointers. His poor FG% can be a drain and his defense is simply so-so. The deep sleepers on this team are Wayne Ellington, who is a scoring deep threat, and Nikola Pekovic, who has good size but is still raw.
PG: Luke Ridnour, Jonny Flynn (injured), Sebastian Telfair
SG: Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington
SF: Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson
PF: Kevin Love, Kosta Koufos
C: Dako Milicic, Nikola Pekovic
UP NEXT: New Jersey Nets