We had an interesting 2013-14 with respect to rookies despite how it was one of the least-talented classes in recent memory. Surprisingly, no rookie cracked the top 100 for total fantasy value in standard leagues because Michael Carter-Williams had some injuries, Victor Oladipo turned the ball over too much, and Trey Burke had a horrifying field goal percentage.
Last year was a bit of an anomaly with respect to rookies not having an impact. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard were both top-50 guys in 2012-13 and five rookies had top-100 value in 2011-12. This year, we have one of the best draft classes in quite some time and there should be a lot more fantasy value to be had. Especially considering more and more teams are embracing the tank mentality, which allows younger players to step in while veterans are traded for draft picks.
It’s always fun to know what Las Vegas thinks since they have been a half-point off on a spread more times than I care to count. Here are the odds on the favorites for Rookie of the Year:
Jabari Parker 5:2
Andrew Wiggins 8:1
Julius Randle 8:1
Dante Exum 10:1
Doug McDermott 15:1
Aaron Gordon 15:1
Marcus Smart 15:1
Shabazz Napier 18:1
Nerlens Noel 18:1
It’s hard to argue considering the situations of those guys. Winning Rookie of the Year isn’t going to directly result in being a fantasy stud, but it obviously helps. We’re going to take a look at how the entire draft class ranks from top to bottom for Dynasty leagues in standard nine-category formats.
Of course, things are going to change extremely fast for every rookie after free agency (a particular reason why I went with Dynasty over re-draft value here), but we’ll be coming back to this subject in our award-winning Draft Guide.
I’ll also be at Las Vegas Summer League to check out most of these guys. If you’re really into rookies, I’ll be tweeting plenty of info on their play on Twitter @MikeSGallagher.
One last thing: I tend to value upside on these ranks. Who cares about the guy at the end of your bench? If a guy could breakout and be a cornerstone for your team, give me him all day even if it’s just a small chance that happens. I did not include rookies like Nerlens Noel and Pierre Jackson and just went with the players in the draft to limit gray area.
1. Jabari Parker (F, MIL) - One look at his stats from Duke and it’s easy to rank him as number one for fantasy hoops. Parker averaged 19.1 points, 8.7 boards, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 triples on 47.3 percent from the field. He’s in a wonderful spot with the Bucks and they look like they’re going to play Parker next to Giannis Antetokounmpo at the forward spots. He’ll be the face of the franchise and is the favorite to have the most value this season in re-drafts, as well.
2. Andrew Wiggins (G/F, CLE) - While I do think Wiggins is the best talent from a pure basketball standpoint, he’s not really in the most ideal situation for fantasy purposes. His stat line looks a lot like Jabari’s, averaging 17.1 points, 5.9 boards, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 triples on 44.8 percent from the field and 77.5 percent from the line in his one year at Kansas. His usage rate is probably going to start out a bit slow because of Kyrie Irving handling the ball. Although, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant ranked first and second in usage rate last year, so it’s definitely possible for two shot-happy guys to co-exist. No, I’m not comparing Wiggins to Durant.
3. Dante Exum (G, UTA) - All upside here, folks. We know very little about Dante Exum, but we know he’s fast, we know he’s long, and we know he can handle the rock. Plus, he had a game at the FIBA Under-19 with three 3-pointers. The 18-year-old Aussie has also shown he’s able to get to the rim at will, but of course that’s not going to happen in the NBA. I still like it, though. He could be a Russell Westbrook-esque guy in no time and it wouldn’t surprise me that he becomes the top asset out of this class for fantasy leagues. In other words, stay far from timid. Only make moves when your heart's in it, and live the phrase sky's the limit.
4. Joel Embiid (C, PHI) - Love to roll the dice? Embiid would be your No. 1 player to draft for Dynasty. He’s an at-the-rim monster and even has some 5-10 feet to his game, so he’s going to be an absolute stud in field goal percentage. Embiid shot a somewhat respectable 68.5 percent at the line and his 1.4 dimes per game is nothing to shake a stick at either. Of course, his 2.6 blocks and 8.1 boards in just 23.1 minutes are the crown jewels of his fantasy upside.
We all know about his downside. He had a stress fracture to the lumbar region to his back and he just had surgery to repair a fracture to his navicular bone in his foot. Not good. If your Dynasty team is hurting, it might be worth it to swing for the fences.
5. Julius Randle (F, LAL) - If you’re speaking from a pure re-draft standpoint, Randle could be the No. 2 guy. Although, there is a lot of risk with his foot injury. In case you missed it, he needed a screw placed in his foot back in high school and now there are rumors of him possibly having surgery. Now that he has been drafted, he hasn’t been quite as boisterous about not needing surgery, which means it may be more likely than not. For what it’s worth, he didn’t miss any games with the Kentucky Wildcats last year was logging serious minutes as the year went on.
His game is pretty solid from a fantasy angle. Rebounding is of paramount importance to Randle, which has its pros and cons. The pro is obviously his rebounding rate is fantastic and he’s going to be a legit double-double threat as soon as he puts on a uniform. The down side is that he won’t have as many blocks. If he’s focusing on boxing out and hitting the boards, he’s not going to be too aggressive on weak-side help. It’s just the way it is.
Still, he’s an efficient scorer and a solid free throw shooter despite how he couldn’t make jumpers at UK. I really hope he plays at summer league.
6. Marcus Smart (G, BOS) - His fantasy value hinges on Rajon Rondo. If the Celtics do deal Rondo, the runway is clear for Smart to be a very effective point guard. He’s adept at using his size to get good shots, but he will have to work on his jumper. If Rondo doesn’t get dealt, Smart hitting jumpers will be extremely important for spacing because Rondo doesn’t have much of a jumper himself.
Recently, some reports have the Celtics keeping they’re going to let Rondo get some of his value back after a letdown in 2013-14. That makes sense since he wasn’t a full go due to his ACL reconstruction.
As for Smart’s fantasy appeal, it’s pretty solid. His career averages at Oklahoma State were 16.6 points, 5.9 boards, 4.5 assists, 2.9 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.4 triples on 41.3 percent from the field and 75.1 percent from the line. If the minutes are there at PG, his game should translate nicely.
7. Noah Vonleh (PF, CHA) - He potentially could be a fantasy superstar a la Serge Ibaka. His 1.4 blocks per game at Indiana are kind of boring, but he could be a very capable shot blocker once he gets his timing down on when to bring the help. Vonleh has a standing reach of 9’0” and a 37-inch max vertical, so you can do the math there. His other averages were solid at 11.3 points, 9.0 boards, 0.9 steals and 0.5 triples on 52.3 percent from the field and 71.6 percent from the line. It might take a bit for him to get going and his value would see a nice uptick if the Hornets do not bring back Josh McRoberts.
8. Aaron Gordon (F, ORL) - By now you’ve probably heard about Gordon’s 42 percent from the line at U of A last year. Sources tell me that Gordon was actually very good at hitting free throws in practice, so that means it’s in his head. Sorry, I always wanted to say “sources tell me.” But I digress.
That’s really the only concern on Gordon. He’s potentially a fantasy factory for bringing defense and is ahead of the curve as a scorer at just 18 years old. If he’s able to get that free throw shooting up to 65 percent — I think he can — he could be a Crash-in-his-prime guy. Crash is Gerald Wallace for those new to fantasy.
9. Elfrid Payton (F, ORL) - Teams may be looking to acquire Jameer Nelson because only two of his $8 million is guaranteed. This could really help open up some teams looking to save cap space. Even still, he has an expiring contract and could be out of town by the trade deadline, which would then allow Payton to get big burn at PG. We all know how poorly the Victor Oladipo experiment turned out.
Payton isn’t going to be the type of guy who will rack up the stats on offense, making just 25.9 percent from 3-point range. On the other hand, you have to love his 54.1 percent on twos and the 2.5 steals per game last season. He also handed out 6.6 dimes per game, but the 4.0 turnovers are a concern. I’d actually draft Payton over Smart for a re-draft league and just hope the Magic don’t give him a green light on treys yet.
10. Nik Stauskas (G, SAC) - So your team needs 3-pointers, eh? Stauskas may be your guy because the Kings certainly like him a lot. Despite a need at power forward next to Demarcus Cousins, they passed on Doug McDermott with the eighth pick in the draft. Heck, Noah Vonleh would have made more sense considering picking up Stauskas really puts a damper on Ben McLemore.
In both of his seasons at Michigan, he shot 50 percent on twos and 44 percent on 3-pointers, so he’s potentially a very efficient scorer. He also upped his assists to 3.7 in 2013-14 while also getting to the line 5.2 times. McLemore is reportedly on the block and now we know why.
11. K.J. McDaniels (G, PHI) - This is probably one of my favorite picks right here. He’s a near-perfect fit in Philly because he thrives in the open floor and is just a riverboat gambla like Ron Rivera (NFL references work in here, right?). His stat line is headlined by 2.8 blocks to go with 17.1 points, 7.1 boards, 1.1 steals and 1.2 triples on 45.9 percent from the field. If he comes out hot over the summer, he may very well be the 76ers’ starting shooting guard on opening night. Of course, we’ll see how Jason Richardson's knee holds up.
12. Doug McDermott (F, CHI) The Bulls are not a great landing spot for fantasy. They run a slow pace, Derrick Rose is a usage monster and they run a lot of stuff through Joakim Noah. That’s a big reason why Dougie McBuckets is outside of the top 10 here. Plus, Taj Gibson has really made a claim that that he should have a monopoly on that PF property with four hotels on it. McDermott did lead the NCAA in scoring and did so in efficient fashion. He did only block seven shots in the last two years.
13. Rodney Hood (F, UTA) - The Jazz probably won’t bring back Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams. Hood was one of the steals of the draft, too. He’ll need to improve his defense — just like every other Jazz player.
14. Shabazz Napier (G, MIA) - So this is the move that set everything in motion for the Heat, eh? He’s small, so I’d be a little worried about the Trey Burke factor. If he’s successful, it’ll be due to the 3-pointers.
15. T.J. Warren (G/F, PHX) - He led Division I in FGAs and FGMs. Warren could be a second-unit stud if the Suns don’t bring back P.J. Tucker and/or Eric Bledsoe. I love this pick for the Suns.
16. Zach LaVine (G, MIN) - Don’t let the boring stats fool you. LaVine can score and he has potential to be a stud.
17. Damien Inglis (F, MIL) - Apparently, he’s coming over and will play for the Bucks. The Bucks are bad.
18. P.J. Hairston (G/F, CHA) - His time in the D-League should cut down on his adjustment period. He’ll either move up or down depending on what the Hornets do in free agency.
19. Adreian Payne (F, ATL) - Potentially a very strong fantasy guy with good percentages. Bad landing spot, though.
20. Jerami Grant (F, PHI) - 76ers tank rolls on.
21. Jordan Adams (G/F, MEM) - The Grizzlies seem to like him and they could slot him into Mike Miller’s minutes in his rookie year. A sweet fantasy skill set with a 49/36/84 shooting line, 2.6 steals and 1.4 treys last year could also go a long way.
22. Jusuf Nurkic (C, DEN) - This is a long-term project here. I don’t expect him to do much in the early going.
23. Kyle Anderson (G/F, SA) - He’s a good FT shooter and you know he’ll have a great FG% with the Spurs. Potentially a Nicolas Batum kinda guy for filling up stat sheets.
24. Spencer Dinwiddie (G, DET) - He could be out for the year from his ACL surgery back in January. I really think the Pistons give him run when they let him loose. A nice stash.
25. Tyler Ennis (G, PHX) - He’s another small guy and not being able to shoot the ball well is discouraging. I don’t see his game translating to fantasy very well.
26. Gary Harris (G, DEN) - The Arron Afflalo trade doesn’t help him and don’t forget about Randy Foye. Denver is suddenly very deep.
27. James Young (G, BOS) - I’ll admit I’m probably lower on him than just about anyone. His 41 percent from the field is really worrisome and he’ll have to score the ball more efficiently.
28. Bruno Caboclo (F, TOR) - He could stay with the Raptors right off the bat, which would be fun/crazy. Masai Ujiri LOVES him.
29. Jordan McRae (G/F, PHI) - Because Sixers.
30. Mitch McGary (C, OKC) - The Thunder reached on him and Kendrick Perkins is gonna be gone soon. Could you imagine if Presti re-signs him?
31. Bogdan Bogdanovic (G, PHX) - He’s not Bojan.
32. Cleanthony Early (F, NYK)
33. Glenn Robinson III (F, MIN)
34. DeAndre Daniels (F, TOR)
35. Clint Capela (F, HOU)
36. Thanasis Antetokounmpo (F, NYK)
37. Jordan Clarkson (F, LAL)
38.Johnny O'Bryant (F, MIL)
39. C.J. Wilcox (G, LAC)
40. Devyn Marble (G, ORL)
41. Jarnell Stokes (F, MEM)
42. Dario Saric (F, PHI)
43. Alec Brown (C, PHX)
44. Nick Johnson (G, HOU)
45. Semaj Christon (G, OKC)
46. Alessandro Gentile (F, HOU)
47. Josh Huestis (F, OKC)
48. Walter Tavares (C, ATL)
49. Cory Jefferson (F, BK)
50. Markel Brown (G, BK)
51. Dwight Powell (F, CLE)
52. Louis Labeyrie (F, NYK)
53. Russ Smith (G, NO)
54. Xavier Thames (G, BK)
55. Cameron Bairstow (F, CHI)
56. Lamar Patterson (G, ATL)
57. Joe Harris (G, CLE)
58. Vasilije Micic (G, PHI)
59. Nikola Jokic (C, DEN)
60. Nemanja Dangubic (F, SA)