Fantasy Basketball: 7 NBA sleepers to consider

Spencer Hawes-C-76ers- With the stunning addition of ex-Laker Andrew Bynum in the off-season, Hawes will move over to Power Foward full-time. His nice mid-range shooting makes him a perfect fit in this front court. Playing just around 25 minutes a game last season, the 7 footer garnered 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a game; numbers which are sure to improve into the 12.5/8.5/1.75 range as the starting PF.

Nicholas Batum-F/G-Trail Blazers- This talented 23 year old has improved every year since coming into the league after playing in France in the ’07-’08 season. Expected to take on a larger role this year, Batum, who can fill the majority of a stat sheet in almost every category, is destined to have a breakout ’12-’13 season. We project him to finish with around 17 points, 5 boards, 2 threes, 1 steal and 1 block per game. He should be picked up in the 2nd -3rd round.

Ersan Ilyasova- F-Bucks- Now entering his fourth year with the Bucks, the 6′ 9″ forward takes over the starting role and should see his numbers, which skyrocketed after the All-Star break last season, ascend nicely from last year. Somewhat of a poor man’s David Lee with 15/9-15/10 a night. Plus he will put up an occasional three and his very good FG and  FT percentages make him a solid mid-round pick.

Jeff Teague-G-Hawks- Even with the addition of Devin Harris, the loss of Joe Johnson to Brooklyn will turn Teague into a more traditional PG and his numbers should surge. He is another candidate for a breakout year; something like 17 points, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1 three per game would not be that out of line for the 24 year old in his fourth year with Atlanta. Danny Ferry, Hawks GM is really high on this kid and  with Smith and Horford as the only other true scorers on the team, we look to Teague for boosts in points & assists. He’ll make for a solid 3rd round pick.

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Greg Oden disappointed Portland fans on, off the court

Greg Oden

Greg Oden’s game never lived up to the expectations he encountered in Portland, but his play on the court isn’t what most fans should be disappointed with as the team moves past the Greg Oden era of Trail Blazers basketball.

In 2007, when the Blazers selected Oden with the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, they had officially left the Jail Blazers behind them, and the fans only wish was to bring in someone who was a great player with even better character.

As it turned out, Oden was not that guy.

Don’t get me wrong; Oden is no Jail Blazer. He was expected, though, to come in and be not just a great player, but a great person for whom you couldn’t help but cheer.

ESPN commercials, an appearance at the ESPY Awards and even a Backstreet Boys karaoke performance all gave fans reason to be excited—if he was anywhere as good on the court as he appeared to be in the community, things were going to get very good very fast.

But when injury after injury took the player away from the court, the person who gave fans such optimism toward the future began to disappear from the city that had welcomed him with a pep rally in 2007.

Grantland’s Mark Titus conducted an interview with the former No. 1 pick this week, and while the injury troubles were blatant, what stood out the most was just how separated he has been from the game of basketball and from the city of Portland the past few years.

If you want a recap of all the things that went wrong during Oden’s time in Portland, you can read Titus’ interview because this isn’t about Oden as a ball player.

The hatred that exists in cyberspace, on the airwaves and in the minds of many Blazermaniacs today shouldn’t be about the injuries. Oden’s injury troubles are unprecedented, but when it comes down to it, that’s part of the game.

However, the animosity toward Oden should have everything to do with the disappearing act that the he miraculously pulled off during his time in Rip City.

Seemingly never a part of the team that drafted him, Oden was absent from games and invisible in the media during a large part of his stint with the Blazers.

How many times did Oden reassure the fans that Portland is where he wanted to be moving forward? How many times did he address the media after his most recent setbacks this season?

Bad things have happened to Oden, and for that, he deserves respect as he gets his health and his life back in order.

His personality, however, is on him, and if he had managed to remain a part of the team that drafted him and involved in the community that once embraced him, he just might have a few more fans following him wherever he lands in the second chapter of his ever-intriguing NBA story.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Oregon Sports News.

Top 5 Portland Trail Blazers of all-time

The Portland Trail Blazers have been around since 1970 when they became an expansion team.  Since then some of the NBA’s greatest talents have called Rip City home and donned the Blazer Uniform.  Here are the top 5 Portland Trail Blazers of all-time.

5. Brandon Roy (The Natural)-  Even though he only played for five seasons Brandon was the most productive Blazer for the last decade. He helped get the Jail Blazer era to finally come to an end and led the Rose Garden to become one of the most exciting venues in the league. Rip City fans drooled at the chance of having Lamarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and Roy on the court. The question wasn’t if we were going to win a championship, it was how many championships we would win. Brandon was one of the three Blazers to ever win Rookie of the Year. He also ended the Blazers drought without a player being represented in the All-Star game. He is the most clutch player to ever play in Portland and was a part of the greatest game in franchise history. Game 4 NBA Playoffs against the Dallas Maverics was the best Blazer game of all time. Roy took charge of that game on tarnished knees and may have the best four point play in franchise history. Overall Brandon Roy will be the most known Blazer in this era and for that he deserves to be on this list.

4. Maurice Lucas (The Enforcer)- Lucas was drafted from the ABA in the 1976-1977 season. During that season Lucas led the team in almost everything, points, offensive rebounds, free throws, and field goal percentage. He lead the Blazers team, along with Bill Walton to Portland’s first and only NBA championship. Lucas showed his enforcer qualities during the NBA finals against the 76ers when he gave Darryl Dawkins an elbow to the back of the head. That fight shifted the momentum on the series and Philadelphia did not win another game. His career averages for the Blazers were 29.7 minutes, 15.6 ppg, and 8.7 rebounds. Bill Schonely, the most memorable voice of Rip City, says “The Enforcer . You never wanted to mess with him. Powerful, and could do it all. I miss him to this day.” Lucas died on October 31, 2010. His number 20 jersey will forever be in the Rose Garden rafters and despite his numerous individual achievements, him helping lead the team to the 1977 finals and bringing a banner home will be remembered most.

3. Terry Porter- Terry spent 10 of his 17 years in portland and during those years he was known for his defense, hustle, and shooting. He led the Blazers to the NBA finals twice, in the 1990 finals he broke the NBA record for most free throws made without missing, 15. Terry was overall a good person and most importantly a skilled floor general. Terry was the perfect sidekick to Clyde Drexler over the years, too bad they ran into a pretty good two-man combo against Chicago in the 1992 finals. Terry was not known for his stunning averages but being a good teammate , his 7,160 assists ranks 13th all time. Terry was the perfect point man to run this team and will go down forever as the greatest point guard in Trail Blazer history.

2. Bill Walton (Big Red Head)- Drafted by the team in 1974, Bill Walton will go done as the best big man that Portland will ever have. His first season that he was healthy he was able to help lead Portland to an unexpected title run that included a four game sweep over the Los Angeles Lakers and him winning Finals MVP. The next season, even though being hampered with injuries, he won MVP. Bill Walton will forever have a legacy in Portland as being the best post player the Blazers have ever had, and leading them to an improbable championship. Bill will also may go down in Blazer history for best hair as well.

1. Clyde Drexler (The Glide) – It doesn’t matter it you called him Clyde, The Glide or Phi Slama Jama, Drexler is the top Blazer of all time. He was the face of the franchise during the most successful seasons. He is a part of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, and in the Hall of Fame. Clyde is one of the greatest dunkers of all time as well. Every time he would get on the court he would play so smooth and fluid, then he would throw down one of the coolest dunks you could ever see. In the 1990-1991 season he led Portland to the best record in the NBA and beat the Bulls twice that year, unfortunately they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Michael Jordan said “Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see Clyde Drexler.” That right there says it all for The Glide, who still leads Portland in scoring, rebounds, and steals. No one will ever be able to emulate what he brought to this team or his style of play.

Morgan Grimmett is an NBA writer for The Sports Blitz.  He can be contacted at MGrimmett@TheSportsBlitz.com.