While projecting the fantasy values of rookies is always more of a crapshoot than a science, it doesn’t hurt to at least begin assessing their circumstances and potential to be valuable pieces that can bolster your fantasy squad.
With about 10 days’ worth of NBA Summer League games in the books, along with other offseason tidbits, it’s time to update our rookie rankings. Also, let us know which of these young players will be the top fantasy rookie by voting in the poll below.
Here is a list of the top 10 fantasy rookies this season (yeah, that means Blake Griffin is included), ranked by their projected draft positions (PDP).
- John Wall (drafted No. 1 overall): He’s got star quality written all over him, but in a backcourt that includes Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich (for the time being), Wall will probably struggle to fit in as comfortably as he would’ve on a team with a thinner stable of guards. Maybe this is too pessimistic, but it’s hard to see Arenas accepting his new role as a shooting guard all that well, which spells some trouble for Wall. His lack of three-point range also hurts his potential, much like it does Derrick Rose‘s. Still, 21.0 points, 9.0 assists and 3.5 steals (along with 8.0 turnovers, mind you) in two Summer League outings is tough to dismiss, even with a few pinches of salt. The rave reviews of his play so far make it even harder to deny his appeal. It’s a mixed bag with Wall, who should be a fantasy roller coaster in 2010-11. [PDP: 64-70]
- DeMarcus Cousins (drafted No. 5 overall): Potential behavioral issues aside, Cousins is ready to put up numbers for the Kings. He’ll have no problem meshing with Samuel Dalembert, who doesn’t pose the biggest threat on the offensive end and can help cover up the rookie’s mistakes on the defensive end. Jason Thompson and Carl Landry pose threats to Cousins’ minutes, but the talented rookie should hold his own. He’s notched three straight double-dips so far in the Summer League and is averaging 18.3/11.3/3/2/1. [PDP: 72-78]
- Blake Griffin (drafted No. 1 overall in 2009): He’s absent from the Summer League, so we don’t have much to go on besides hope and optimism, but with his talent he’ll probably fare better than most of this year’s rookies. Just don’t be surprised if the Clippers treat him with kid gloves. [PDP: 75-80]
- Evan Turner (drafted No. 2 overall): Yes, he’s being inserted into a team that already has Andre Iguodala manning the SG and SF spots, but Turner’s more than versatile and ready enough to contribute in multiple categories on any given night. His production could depend heavily on whether or not Iguodala is on or off, but the Sixers are thin enough to offer Turner plenty of minutes. His 9.4/5.6/2.8 in five Summer League games is cool, but that’s without AI in the lineup. [PDP: 78-84]
- Derrick Favors (drafted No. 3 overall): The kid’s got serious tools to work with and with the deal sending Yi Jianlian to Washington, there’s even more room in the Nets’ frontcourt for a talented big man to play alongside Brook Lopez. Add the fact that the Nets have failed, so far, to catch themselves a big man in the waters of 2010 free agency and it seems that Favors should have plenty of opportunities to show us what he’s got. Expect inconsistency, with flashes of big-time talent. If, however, the Nets net themselves a viable big man before the summer’s up, be wary. [PDP: 90-98]
- Greg Monroe (drafted No. 7 overall): Jonas Jerebko proved last season that the unimpressive Pistons can be a pretty friendly place for rookies. Monroe isn’t the most assertive of players, which is fine — he’ll get enough opportunities playing alongside Jerebko and jostling for minutes with Jason Maxiell, Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva. His versatility means that he could be another Tayshaun Prince in the making. [PDP: 110-120]
- Cole Aldrich (drafted No. 11 overall): Serge Ibaka was on and off of waiver wires throughout last season, thanks to his shot-blocking ability. Aldrich, with his strong rebounding and blocking skills, could very well follow suit. He gives the Thunder more size up front, which they desperately need, so Aldrich could make for a very savvy pick in the later rounds of drafts in medium-sized leagues. [PDP: 112-120]
- Patrick Patterson (drafted No. 14 overall): He’s a big man in the line of Carl Landry, and we all know how well Landry played for the Rockets last season. Patterson has almost no shot at starting for the Rockets unless Luis Scola is lost to free agency and Yao Ming misses significant time working himself back into the lineup (or with a brand new injury), so that limits his value right there. But if you’re looking for a decent, late-round source of big-man stats, Patterson could be worth considering. [PDP: 120+]
- Eric Bledsoe (drafted No. 18 overall): When (not if) Baron Davis sits out clusters of games with injuries, Bledsoe will serve as a very capable fill-in. That said, this will be a learning year for Bledsoe, so keep your expectations in check. [PDP: 120+]
- Hassan Whiteside (drafted No. 33 overall): He’ll only get the scraps left behind by Cousins and Dalembert, but he’s capable of blocking a ton of shots this year. That alone almost guarantees that he’ll be a popular waiver-wire pick throughout the season, especially in deeper leagues. [PDP: 120+]
Don’t forget about:
- Andy Rautins (shooter who could thrive, hit some threes for a depleted Knicks squad)
- Landry Fields (showing lots of promise and maturity during the Summer League)
- Xavier Henry (scorer who can thrive if he can grab enough minutes in Memphis)
- James Anderson (he’s a rookie and he’s a Spur — that usually works)
- Ed Davis (raw, but should get plenty of chances now that Chris Bosh has left Toronto)
- Paul George (stuck in a crowded SF spot in Indiana, but if Danny Granger gets hurt, watch out)
- Wesley Johnson (has skills, but will likely split time with Martell Webster and Michael Beasley)
What do you think? Who did I miss? What did I get wrong? What (if anything) did I get right?