Fantasy Basketball: Three NBA First Round Picks Flourished This Year

Kim Klement – USA Today Sports

Three first-round picks stepped up their games this season to the benefit of their fantasy basketball managers.

Nikola Vucevic was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2011 draft. During his first year, his primary playing time came during injuries to Spencer Hawes. At times, he looked overwhelmed playing against experienced bigs.  In the off-season, he was part of a four-team deal involving Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala. Vucevic ended up with the Orlando Magic. With the exception of the 76ers, who got no playing time out of Bynum, you could argue that the teams involved in the deal benefitted. Vucevic performed quite well for the Magic. The seven-footer averaged better than a double-double with 12.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. In addition, his .516 shooting from the field and 77 blocks were a great to help to fantasy managers this season. Vucevic set a team record with 29 rebounds in a game against the Miami Heat in December.

Larry Sanders was a first round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010. This year, in his third season with the team, he has averaged just under a double-double with 9.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Last season, he did not start any games. However, by December of this season, he became a starter for the Bucks.

Kemba Walker was a first round draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2011. In his second year with the team, he averaged 17.4 points per game. In his rookie season, Walker started 25 games, whereas this year he has started the first 78 games already.

The wise (or lucky) fantasy managers who were able to foresee the maturing of these young players and drafted them certainly reaped the benefit. Unfortunately for me, I was not one of them.

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