The Rookie Report
DON’T GET TOO EXCITED.
When gauging next year's fantasy impact from a crop of incoming rookies, the first thing to remember is that they really won't have much of a fantasy impact. I know that's not much of a grabber, but it's the truth.
Every fantasy league has that guy who’s hung up on rookies, over-inflates their stock and ruins the fun for everybody else. In my league, his name is Mike. Look, I understand it to a point – they’re shiny, new, well-tailored, their whole lives and careers in front of them…expectations will never be higher than right now.
But as we all learned by our mid-20’s, at a certain point most people need to temper those expectations.
Out of the 30 first-rounders selected this year, you'll be lucky to see three of them become immediate fantasy contributors. Another five might become factors by the end of the year, but we're talking waiver wire contributors, not eighth round contributors. Let's list the rookies last year that became surefire roto starters by, say, Thanksgiving and stayed that way until April:
1. Chris Paul.
And… that's it. Yes, you could make a case for Andrew Bogut, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva and Deron Williams, but all four had their fair share of peaks and valleys during the course of the season. It's not their fault. They're rookies. If you took Bogut in the fifth round, rap yourself on the knuckles with the fact that you could have gotten the same production out of P.J. Brown in the tenth. Anyway, those other guys will all be solid choices for your imaginary squads – this year.
So, instead of going through this process pick by pick, while trying to tell you how by the year 2012, Saer Sene will average 2.8 blocks per game per 48 minutes, I'm just going to give you my top ten in terms of fantasy impact for the opening of the 2006-2007 season. In actuality, there's only three players I'd spend a mid-draft pick on at this point...
1. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
I have a rough formula when determining roto rookie fantasy impact:
Strength of Team - Dick Vitale's Approval (if he’s a Guard) / Players at Same Position
By (eventually) going to the Blazers, Roy immediately placed highest on this list, with Portland's JV-type swagger garnering my draft approval. With the ample PT he'll garner (now that Portland has entered the post-Steve Blake/Sebastian Telfair era…sigh) and Zach Randolph to feed, Roy is the immediate favorite for fantasy and reality's Rookie of the Year.
2. Adam Morrison, Charlotte Bobcats
If Emeka Okafor comes back healthy and Brevin Knight gets dealt, Charlotte will feature a very young but very effective fantasy lineup. The nice thing about Morrison is that Charlotte doesn't have any scorers of great note, and low expectations. You’re looking at 15-17 points per game, with a three-point percentage and some boards to boot.
He could eventually vault past Roy on this list, but when in doubt, I always go with a point guard. Oh, and here’s someone that could leapfrog both of them...
TIE for 2. Randy Foye, Minnesota Timberwolves
One wonders how Foye will fit in with Ricky Davis demanding his usual amount of touches, but he could easily challenge Roy and Morrison for Rookie of the Roto Year. The Dwyane Wade comparisons seem a bit overblown, but Foye comes NBA-ready and will play with Kevin Garnett, who's sure to help boost his fantasy prospects.
Foye is the real wild card of this draft. He could go absolutely ballistic from the get-go. If he’s capable of even half of the production of D-Wade this year, he’ll be worth a mid-round pick. Follow his progress closely in training camp.
4. Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Did you know that "Andrea Bargnani" is Italian for "Kwame Brown"? Sorry, that was uncalled for, even if I am a life-long Wizards fan. Colangelo knows what he’s doing, and Bargnani will eventually form a nice inside-outside threat with Chris Bosh. It just won’t happen right away, not with the force to warrant a high pick.
Keep in mind that going #1 and his somewhat boffo performance in the Summer League has already artificially inflated his roto stock…However, if he’s hanging around late, I’d probably go for him and the upside (50 percent from three-point range in Europe last year) rather than say, P.J. Brown or something.
The Villanueva trade has at least given Bargnani the opportunity to make a fantasy impact sooner than later.
5. Shelden Williams, Atlanta Hawks
Was there ever a more narcoleptic top-five pick?
On the other hand, the nice thing about Shelden Williams is how nicely he's going to slot in with the other 14 forwards on the Hawks’ roster. With Al Harrington in Indiana, Williams will get the opportunity to start at PF, hopefully providing some stability in a constantly evolving lineup. Indeed, I think what Billy Knight has constructed provides as powerful an argument for natural selection as the world has ever seen. Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim should make a documentary about him.
So, if Harrington bolts this summer and you’re feeling bored in round nine or so, I might recommend taking a shot. The mediocrity of the Hawks will give a couple of these 14 forwards the chance to become fantasy contributors, and Williams is as solid a bet as any of them. Williams had a miserable Summer League, but he’ll be in line to crack the rotation immediately, giving him more immediate potential than other players with more upside.
6. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
How in tarnation does Jerry West do it? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Shane Battier is a nice sixth or seventh guy. For fantasy purposes I hope he gets 35 MPG in Houston because Battier could give you vintage Doug Christie numbers if given the chance. Oh wait, that’s right. He’s playing for Van Gundy. Battier just fell off the face of the fantasy earth.
With Pau Gasol developing into a true NBA star, Gay has the potential to become a roto stud. Don’t underestimate that he’ll be playing for the Former Czar of the Telestrator, who has a marvelous capacity for teaching young players. It may not come right away for Gay, but he could very well be the highest rated player of this group by next fall.
7. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers
I originally had Aldridge two spots higher on this list until the Jamaal Magloire trade went down. For all of the flagellation the Blazers brass took from the ESPN panel, you have to admit, they got two really nice players on draft night and a serviceable NBA center for a bag of magic beans.
Aldridge can block shots, hit a jumper and will probably qualify at center. Of all the big men in this year's draft, Aldridge would have gotten the most playing time right out the gate…pre-trade. Oh, did I mention the Blazers resigned Joel Przybilla? Throw in Zach Randolph, and you’re talking about 3 big men that will probably start the season ahead of Aldridge in the rotation. Now, he’ll probably come off the bench until the trade deadline (by when you’d think Magloire will be dealt again). Let’s just hope he works as hard as his buddy Bosh to disassociate himself from that “soft” label.
8. J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic
I feel your pain, buddy. Herniated discs caused me to slip from round one to round two and right into fantasy basketball. And there’s nothing like a nice libation to soothe a strained vertebra – I just make sure The Current Mrs. Cregan is available to pick me up at the end of the night.
Redick figures to start and figures to hit a lot of threes. He may be strictly a two-trick pony (points and three-pointers), but with Dwight Howard attracting more and more attention, and no real competition at his position, Redick probably figures for 10-13 points per game. He should also be good for your percentages, provided he gets to the line with any frequency.
9. Tyrus Thomas, Chicago Bulls
He's got the length, the hops, the wildly alliterative first name...isn't this all seeming a little Stromile-Swift-esque? That's a little unfair, but Chicago is loaded at forward and it'll probably take a few months for Thomas to have any real fantasy impact. I'm also considering the fact that he'll be playing for Scott Skiles, the Fantasy Vortex of Neverending Doom™, the Bulls’ acquisition of Ben Wallace and P.J. Brown and the fact that under Thomas' "Must Improve" column, ESPN listed "learn how to actually play basketball."
I think he’s gonna be real good – next year.
10. Ronnie Brewer, Utah Jazz
As a Wizards fan, I really wanted to put Pecherov on this list. But since he’ll probably be playing in France until 2014, reality dictates that I put Brewer in here instead. Let me also add here that I’ve always loved watching Brewer play, so I might be a bit biased. But if Brewer gets off on the right foot with the lovebly cantankerous Jerry Sloan, he’ll contribute immediately. The Jazz have a real need at the 2, and Brewer fits the bill with flair.
The views expressed by TalentedMrRoto.com represent only the views of the writers; they do not represent the views of the NBA or any NBA team.