As the 2012 NBA Season fast approaches and drafts are beginning to start, I take a look at 5 players who I like from mid-rounds and on.  All 5 are starters for their respective team but go unnoticed because they had a down year, changed teams, didn’t get much playing time or are just rising and their name isn’t known, yet.  Well I’m here to tell you that you should know their names and be on the lookout for them come draft day as they’ll prove to be draft steals at end of season. 

  1. DERRICK FAVORS, PF/C, UTAH JAZZ: Favors will be in a training camp battle with Paul Milsap for the starting PF position in Utah.  Granted Milsap may deserve to be the starting PF, he doesn’t have the upside of Favors.  It was once said that Favors ceiling is Kevin Garnett, I believe that as he showcased what he can do on the court when he stays out of foul trouble.  Favors averaged 29 minutes per game against the Spurs in the NBA Playoffs last season, he turned that into 16ppgs 11rpg 2bpg and 2spg, that is solid production alongside Al Jefferson.  Imagine as soon as Favors gets 35 minutes per game, the numbers will sky-rocket and you’ll be glad you drafted him somewhere around round 10+.  He’s a great dynasty PF/C to target as well because he’s just scratching the surface, and I advise to get him before his trade value increases as well. 
  2. DARREN COLLISON, PG, DALLAS MAVERICKS: The Mavericks quietly improved their old aging veteran team with youth this off-season that is going too unnoticed.  Acquiring Collison was a big move for Dallas after they lost Jason Kidd to the Knicks.  Delonte West will cut into Collison’s minutes but he’s not as talented as Darren.  He’s just 2 years removed from a very impressive rookie campaign when he was in New Orleans and Chris Paul went down for the season.  Darren started 37 games and averaged 19ppg 9apg 1.5spg shot 49% from the field while playing 40 minutes per game, now he obviously didn’t carry that on into Indiana but the fit wasn’t there.  He now has Dirk, Carter and Marion alongside and solid veteran leadership and a great coach in Carlisle, he’s going to turn heads this season and should average 15-points and 8 to 9 assists per.
  3. OJ MAYO, SG, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Mayo finally gets a chance to start and you can bet he’ll shine.  Coming off the bench in Memphis he was their scorer, getting 22-25 minutes per game.  The Mavs lacked a 2nd scoring option behind Dirk, needed some youth and energy into their starting line-up, enter OJ Mayo, who is a solid 3-point shooter and brings defense.  Carlisle should give him around 32-37 minutes per game and that can show results somewhere near 23ppg 2spg 4apg 5rpg and that is Mayo’s ceiling.  Not too many people know who Mayo is, or maybe you do but not for basketball reasons, he has yet to reach his ceiling and showcase his abilities and now he has the chance in Dallas.  Be confident in drafting him even if he’s your #1 SG on your roster.
  4. BISMACK BIYOMBO, C, CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: Many of you may not even name one player from the Bobcats outside of Kemba Walker, now I’m here to tell you who else you need to put on your radar and draft with confidence.  Bimack is your modern day Ben Wallace with a tad better offensive game, but that won’t be asked of him.  He didn’t get much playing time early in the season but as injuries happened and opportunity knocked, Biyombo took advantage and showcased what he’s got which earned him the starting Center position late last season and entering the 2012 season.  Last year as a starter he average 6.4ppg 7.3rpg 2.1bpg while playing 28 minutes per.  Bismack needs to work on his FT% which will or will not come (Ben Wallace was terrible too but hit some big FT’s when it mattered) and you put Bismack’s production per 48 minutes you’ll have a stat line something like 12ppg 12rpg 4bpg, those 12 boards and 4 blocks is definitely Ibaka-like and you can get Biyombo cheaper than Serge.  If you’ve targeted and drafted offensive minded players in the beginning of your draft and in need of boards and blocks, then Biyombo is your man and wouldn’t be surprised if he lasts until the last couple rounds, people do not know who this guy is but you should and he definitely needs to be on your cheat sheet.
  5. NIKOLA PEKOVIC, C, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Darko’s gone (thankfully) and Kevin Love has emerged as the best PF in the game today which only helps Pekovic’s game and value.  The T’Wolves has them a starting caliber center in the league, and is vastly underrated.  Pekovic entered training camp in great shape and ready to take charge.  Having talent around him definitely helps because Pekovic is still developing and won’t be asked to do much, yet.  He started 35 games last year and produced 15ppg 9rpg 1bpg 55%FG at 30 minutes per.  He’s definitely a nice 2nd starting Center to have for your team that has great upside, so definitely worth a grab in dynasty leagues too.

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