The 2013 NBA regular season is rapidly approaching, and fantasy owners are running out of time to build their teams.
As drafts take place and the rankings are revealed, however, numerous owners have been left asking one question: Who are the high-risk, high-reward selections, and how should you approach them?
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Position: Shooting Guard
Experience: 18th Season
2012-13 Season Averages: 23.10 PER, 27.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG
In case you haven't heard, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is recovering from surgery on his torn Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, Bryant is 35, which suggests he may never fully recover.
As easy as it is to believe in Kobe, there's an undeniable reason to be skeptical.
In 2012-13, Bryant proved he's still the best shooting guard in the NBA by averaging 27.3 points, 6.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He topped all players at his position in the first three categories and fought off the rise of James Harden to remain on top at the 2.
It's impossible to know what Bryant will do in 2013-14.
A 35-year-old player is already at risk to hit a decline. Add a severe leg injury, and it's all but certain that said athlete will face an uphill battle. Due to Bryant's reputation, however, many are inclined to take the gamble.
Be conservative when you think about selecting the Black Mamba.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Position: Power Forward
Experience: 6th Season
2012-13 Season Averages: 18 GP; 17.97 PER, 18.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 35.2% FG
When it comes to fantasy basketball, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves is one of the top five players. With career averages of 17.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 35.2 percent shooting from three-point range, it's not hard to see why.
Unfortunately, Love has battled a string of injuries since 2009-10, and those injuries have hindered his availability and production.
Love averaged 26.0 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 41.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc during his monstrous 2011-12. It was his official leap to the ranks of the fantasy basketball elite, but he missed 11 games during that season and 64 in 2012-13.
Love also missed 22 games in 2009-10.
That's the reason Love isn't a sure-thing selection, as the T-Wolves star simply isn't trustworthy from a health perspective. Much like the other stars returning from injuries, that prevents him from being a lock for the top 10.
Don't write him off entirely, but Love is a risky pick.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Experience: 6th Season
2012-13 Season Averages: N/A
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls made his return to NBA action during the 2013 preseason. In the process, the 2011 MVP flashed signs of re-emerging as one of the league's best point guards.
Unfortunately, the Associated Press (via USA Today) reports that Rose is sitting out due to knee soreness.
Fans and fantasy basketball owners shouldn't be too concerned with this development, but that doesn't make it any less real. Rose missed an entire season due to a torn ACL, and any time there's even the slightest pain, there's reason to be concerned.
Keep in mind that Rose is a player whose game is heavily dependent upon his ability to slash and make hard cuts.
Rose is unlikely to drop out of the top 10 in the average fantasy basketball draft, and rightfully so. He's elite until proven otherwise, and he plays for a team that has three other All-Stars in the starting lineup.
Don't take him with the top pick—please, don't be that owner—but don't hesitate to take him if he starts to slip. It's just too soon to tell what type of contributor he'll be.