In the past, NBA rookies were something that we at fantasysmacktalk would advise owners to steer clear of when drafting their team or at least waiting until the later rounds. After the past two season this is not the case anymore. High draft picks have been getting quality minutes and therefore produce fantasy viable statistics. Below is a list of our top ten rookies coming into the 2010-2011 season.
Top 10 NBA Rookies
1. John Wall
Wall has a ton of hype coming into this season not only because he was the number one overall pick but he is also fresh off of winning the NBA’s summer league MVP. We believe he will live up to every bit of the hype. Wall is slated to start at point guard and we believe he is more than NBA ready with his amazing athleticism, great vision, and his CP3 like quickness. This attributes and the fact he will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time will lead to a ton of assists and good amount of points. The one category Wall could really help your team out in, is steals. At Kentucky Wall averaged 1.8 steals and we see no reason why that would not translate into his NBA game. As a point guard he will be asked to distribute the ball and the Wizards (soon to be Bullets!) have a great surrounding cast for his up-tempo style. McGee, maybe the most athletic 7 footer the NBA has seen in a long time, played in the summer league with Wall and had a great chemistry with him. We foresee Wall to breakdown the D and throw it up to McGee or cross court to Gilbert Arenas for an open three, as Gilbert will now play the two guard. Remember Wall is a rookie point guard so his turnovers will be high and FG% not the best but a small price to pay for this coming seasons rookie of the year (yeah making that call)
2. DeMarcus Cousins
Before the NBA draft most general managers said that Cousins could be the steal of the draft, yet he slipped to the 5th overall pick. The Kings did not pass on Cousins even if they already had Landry (who they traded for last year), Thompson (a young player that they really like), and Dalembert (great shot blocker) so this means they love his upside but it also means that Cousins is not coming into the best of situations. He did get good news earlier this week since Dalembert will miss four to six weeks which makes Cousins the starter and also moves him up our ranks to our number two rookie. DeMarcus has been playing amazing in the pre-season averaging close to 18 points and 10 boards. Cousins is a agile big man with a 7’4’’ wing span, so he has the tools to be a force in the NBA. He might not look back as a starter and could produce a good amount of points, boards, and blocks while shooting over 50% from the field.
3. Blake Griffin
Griffin was hurt all of last season so he is still eligible for rookie of the year honors which means we feel that he can certainly be included in our article. A season ago Griffin would have been drafted maybe a little bit early based on all the hype he received during the NCAA tournament. This year he might be a steal for you, it looks as if he has fully recovered from his knee injury and he has been making highlight reels this pre-season. The knock on Griffin is that he is too small to play Power Forward and not a good enough shooter to play the Small Forward. We say it doesn’t matter, talent is talent and Griffin will start, play quality minutes, and produce for the Clippers. Everyone knows he can score but he also has a nose for rebounding the basketball. We expect Griffin to be close to a double double guy this season.
4. Wesley Johnson
Johnson has been widely touted as the most NBA ready rookie and for good reason. He has a good frame for the NBA and the range to hit NBA three pointers. If you need one more reason to like him, he is on the Timberwolves where he will be asked to score. Minnesota will look to Beasley, Love, and Johnson to do the majority of the scoring which is a nice situation for the rookie. If you are looking for threes in your draft with some scoring upside you could do a lot worse than Johnson.
5. Greg Monroe
The Pistons acquired two scorers last season in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva so entering into the draft they were looking for help on the defense side of the ball. Monroe was the no brainer selection for them. A true center, Monroe can play great help side defense, blocking shots and collecting boards. Coming into the year he only has to beat out an aging Ben Wallace and very undersized Jason Maxiell. We like those chances and compare him to Roy Hibbert last year in regards to fantasy value. If he can stay out of foul trouble he will produce and really excel in defense categories. If you draft Monroe expect help with your blocks, boards, and FG% but also expect a very inconsistent stat line night to night out of him.
6. Evan Turner
This might be a little bit lower than expected but the 76ers have such a crowed backcourt we believe taking Turner where you have to in drafts is a huge risk. By all accounts he probably will be the second rookie drafted after John Wall this fantasy season and we say don’t be that guy. Turner was a flat our scorer in college but he did not have a good summer league and head coach Doug Collins is planning on bringing him off the bench as a back-up point guard. If you do draft Turner it should not be for points but for all the other “stuff” he can get you. Turner is an underrated defender and should provide a nice all around stat line if you can get him at the appropriate spot in your draft.
7. Tiago Splitter
The Spanish League MVP is finally going to get his chance in the NBA. A few years back the Spurs selected Splitter with the knowledge that they would have to wait on him to get to the NBA. This season we will see if he was worth the wait. Splitter is a big man with great foot work who loves to play with his back to the basket. He is also a great passer with a good turnover to assist ratio. Even with this nice skill set he is battling old man Antonio McDyess for the starting job since the one knock on him is rebounding which is never a good sign for a center.
8. Derrick Favors
Favors was drafted third overall due to his upside not current talent. He just turned 19 this year, yeah he is 19 years old. Favors is going to have the hardest time adjusting to the NBA but when he does figure it out, look out, because he has all the tools any NBA executive could want with a player. Based on his current situation on a bad Nets team he will provide value because he will get a ton of minutes but if he is traded to the Denver in some sort of Melo deal his value will certainly decrease as they will not feel the same need to showcase him.
9. Cole Aldrich
Some believe that Aldrich is the final piece in the masterpiece that General Manager Sam Presti is putting together for the Thunder. Through the draft the Thunder has turned into the best young NBA team out there and if this team stays together there could be a bright future ahead. With all that being said Aldrich will not have a ton of value this year other than a role player on your team. We believe he will start at center at some point during the season giving him value as a rebounder and shot blocker but that is as far as his value will go this year.
10. Ed Davis
There will be some Carolina fan in your draft that is going to draft Davis and state “steal of the draft”. Many people think Davis was drafted to replace Chris Bosh and will magically become Bosh this season. Not going to happen, Davis is not even going to start, that goes to Amir Johnson (who we really like as a sleeper) Davis makes this list because Toronto is in rebuilding mode and if there season goes into the tank then Davis might see a bump in minutes.
Will be a role player that will hit some threes this season however, we do not think the minutes will be there to be very fantasy relevant.
Out until January, but this lottery selection was the surprise of the draft which only means Golden State liked him for a reason. Due to this high selection one would think when he is healthy they will try to throw him into the rotation.
Long Shot Rookie
This French kid has old man strength and can jump through the roof but it might take him the entire season to adjust to the NBA style of play. If he catches on quicker than expected we would kick ourselves for not bringing up his name so don’t draft him but keep an eye on his progress.