There are those who are overrated, those who are underrated and those who are rated appropriately. Jim Carrey as the Riddler in 1995? Overrated. DeVito as the Penguin in 1992? Underrated. Christopher Walken, too! Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman in 1992? Appropriately rated. Fantasy winners and losers (speaking of Michelle Pfieffer in 1992!) are almost always the ones who avoid them that are overrated, grab the appropriately rated players when it is appropriate to do so and hold off just long enough on the underrated players to still earn value from their draft position. The latter are who we are looking at today: the DeVitos … that’s a direct callback from three sentences ago, not my impression of a Romanian’s favorite corn chip (Cool Ranch DeVitos!). We’re looking at a handful of players that deserve to go a couple rounds sooner than they probably will. And you’re looking to take advantage of that fact.
Anyway, here are some players to target for 2011 fantasy basketball:
John Wall – This makes me feel bad for John Wall that I have to put John Wall on this list. Had Griffin not ruptured his tendon two preseasons ago and missed all of ’09, John Wall would be ranked a round higher than he is after the rookie year he had. But, nope. Griffin blew the doors off the universe and all John Wall got was a name that you have to say as a complete thing. When John Wall learns how to play within a team and take a few smarter shots, John Wall will be a bigger name than ever (JOHN WALL!)
Jrue Holiday – Dude never lags, never slows, never dogs it. He never takes days off, which is ironic considering he’s a Holiday. (Hat tip to Shecky Greene)
Tony Parker – I get it. He’s French and you don’t trust the French. I better not see you slipping Batum into your draft queue then.
Rodrigue Beaubois – He played poorly in the quarter of a season he was healthy and has since gone completely unnoticed this offseason. My guess is, he won’t even be drafted in most leagues. Fine. Cool. Dandy. Pick him up with your last pick and stash him if you can. Terry and Kidd ain’t getting any younger.
Jared Dudley – I’m convinced Dudley and Jordan Crawford won two of my fantasy basketball leagues last year. I’ll be surprised if one or both of these guys aren’t on my roster this year. I’m loyal like that. I had a crush on my 7th grade gym class square dance partner seven years after we left junior high. Wouldn’t even look at another girl. The only reason I changed was because restraining orders ain’t no joke.
DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan’s straight outta Compton, fits well (or Fitzwell, if you’re an Irish shoemaker) in Canada and no one is drafting him until around the 80th pick. I have him going about a dozen spots before that. Why? Who else is gonna produce on this team? Ed Davis?
Ed Davis – … Yeah, actually, Alternate Me. I do think Ed Davis will produce. Why do you have to be so ornery? He had a 16 PER in his rookie season and averaged a per36 double-double. If he can earn 32 points per game this season, he’ll likely average a double-double. But you probably haven’t considered that because no one gives a hoot about the Raptors.
Iman Shumpert – Everyone’s looking at Chris Paul and forgetting that Landry Fields collapsed at the finish line to last season and Toney Douglas is going to play a lot of minutes backing up Chauncey Billups’ bag of bones. Swoop in to the starting two-guard spot, Shumpert! Swoop! Swoompert!
Evan Turner – He was the No.2 pick in last year’s draft and Jodie Meeks is the only thing standing in his way for minutes. Does Jodie Meeks seem like the type of player that’s going to stand in anyone’s way? His last name suggests he won’t be difficult to lift and set in a cupboard somewhere.
Marcus Thornton – Rookie year: benched until last half of season then went off. Second year: benched until last half of season, traded, then went off. Third year: locked out, took up broadcasting, will call Sacramento’s first 33 games, will return to the roster, then go off. (I’m, like, into predicting stuff these days.)
Gordon Hayward – Averaged 36 mpg/16/3/3 in the final seven games of the season. It’s a small sample size, but like all small things, I’m making do with it as best I can.
Serge Ibaka – I specifically remember watching last year’s playoffs thinking, “I need to rank this guy higher than his season ttotal stats dictate I should.” Then my cat jumped on my lap and scared me to death. So now I equate my pee-stained couch to the irrational need to draft Ibaka a round earlier than some others.
Joakim Noah – If he stays healthy, he’s one of the few players in the league I wouldn’t scoff at knocking Dwight off his Defensive Player of the Year throne. This is at least partially due to me not knowing exactly how to scoff.
J.J. Hickson –Apparently, my team is gonna be jam-packed with Raptors, Kings and Sixers. Apparently, I’m taking a break from fantasy basketball this year.