Mar 1 2013 8:44AM

Fantasy Friday: The Rookie Wall


Cameron Browne/NBAE/Getty Images

First things first: There is no such thing as the rookie wall.

At least not in fantasy basketball.

In NBA folklore, the rookie wall referred to some imaginary obstacle all rookies hit in the latter months of the long season.

As the story goes, college players only played in 30-plus games during their NCAA seasons. So when these collegians became NBA rookies, they then faced an arduous 82-game season.

So somewhere in the season's second half, these youngsters' bodies supposedly would break down, causing their play to suffer in the last couple months.

Except this legend simply is not true, statistically speaking.

If anything, rookies actually get better as the fantasy basketball season moves along, if for nothing else, the rooks get more playing time and they produce better numbers in March and April.

That is statistically true.

For our metric of proof, we'll use BARPS, which is an acronym for Blocks, Assists, Rebounds, Points and Steals.

We'll take the top five rookies in BARPS from the past three NBA seasons--players who were likely good enough to play on your fantasy teams--and see how their numbers substantially improved in March and April.

Our study shows these 15 players had a 7 percent increase in playing time in March and April, along with a 12 percent increase in BARPS performance in those same months.

2009-10 THRU 2011-12 TOP 5 ROOKIE SPLIT AVERAGES IN BARPS

PRE-MARCH AVERAGES: 30.5 minutes, 24.3 BARPS

MARCH/APRIL AVERAGES: 32.5 minutes, 27.1 BARPS

It's quite natural to see rookies play more minutes with increased productivity as the season goes along, right?

After all, the top rookies are normally playing on bad teams who aren't going to be making the playoffs.

So naturally, their coaches will increase their playing time in the season's latter months when winning games aren't as important as they were earlier in the season when these teams were in playoff contention.

And performance-wise, these rookies are getting the hang of the NBA. Their play improves and that's why you also see a BARPS improvement (12 percent) even greater than the playing-time increase (7 percent) that these rooks receive.

That said, you probably can expect a similar rise from these five 2012-13 NBA rookies based on this recent history.


Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
THE 2012-13 TOP 5 ROOKIES IN BARPS

Damian Lillard: 57 games, 38.5 minutes per game, 29.3 BARPS per game

Dion Waiters: 50 games, 29.7 minutes per game, 21.7 BARPS per game

Anthony Davis: 45 games, 27.8 minutes per game, 23.8 BARPS per game

Bradley Beal: 49 games, 21.4 minutes per game, 21.4 BARPS per game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 54 games, 25.6 minutes per game, 17.9 BARPS per game

When you look at the previous three seasons as an example, 12 of the 15 top rookies saw a BARPS increase in March and April, with the most notable improvements coming from Klay Thompson (a 13.8 BARPS average increase), Greg Monroe (+9.8), Stephen Curry (+9.8) and Darren Collison (+12.3).

Take a look at each players' pre and post numbers and you'll surely agree there is no such thing as a rookie wall, at least in how it relates to fantasy basketball.


David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images
THE 2011-12 TOP 5 ROOKIES IN BARPS

Kyrie Irving: PRE-MARCH: 30 games, 31.0 minutes per game, 28.4 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 21 games, 30.0 minutes per game, 30.0 BARPS per game

Kemba Walker: PRE-MARCH: 33 games, 28.9 minutes per game, 19.1 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 33 games, 25.4 minutes per game, 23.4 BARPS per game

Brandon Knight: PRE-MARCH: 37 games, 31.8 minutes per game, 20.6 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 29 games, 32.8 minutes per game, 21.0 BARPS per game

Isaiah Thomas: PRE-MARCH: 33 games, 20.2 minutes per game, 15.0 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 32 games, 31.0 minutes per game, 23.4 BARPS per game

Klay Thompson: PRE-MARCH: 32 games, 16.7 minutes per game, 10.9 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 34 games, 31.6 minutes per game, 24.7 BARPS per game


Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images
THE 2010-11 TOP 5 ROOKIES IN BARPS

Blake Griffin: PRE-MARCH: 61 games, 37.9 minutes per game, 38.4 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 21 games, 38.0 minutes per game, 38.5 BARPS per game

DeMarcus Cousins: PRE-MARCH: 57 games, 27.2 minutes per game, 25.7 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 24 games, 31.7 minutes per game, 31.0 BARPS per game

John Wall: PRE-MARCH: 47 games, 37.1 minutes per game, 30.9 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 22 games, 39.3 minutes per game, 33.5 BARPS per game

Greg Monroe: PRE-MARCH: 59 games, 26.0 minutes per game, 17.4 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 21 games, 32.9 minutes per game, 27.2 BARPS per game

Landry Fields: PRE-MARCH: 57 games, 32.6 minutes per game, 20.2 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 25 games, 27.3 minutes per game, 16.6 BARPS per game


Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
THE 2009-10 TOP 5 ROOKIES IN BARPS

Stephen Curry: PRE-MARCH: 58 games, 35.4 minutes per game, 27.3 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 22 games, 38.2 minutes per game, 37.1 BARPS per game

Tyreke Evans: PRE-MARCH: 54 games, 37.1 minutes per game, 32.6 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 18 games, 37.5 minutes per game, 34.4 BARPS per game

Brandon Jennings: PRE-MARCH: 59 games, 33.2 minutes per game, 27.1 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 23 games, 30.9 minutes per game, 23.8 BARPS per game

Jonny Flynn: PRE-MARCH: 61 games, 29.0 minutes per game, 21.6 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 20 games, 28.6 minutes per game, 20.4 BARPS per game

Darren Collison: PRE-MARCH: 54 games, 23.2 minutes per game, 18.2 BARPS per game; MARCH/APRIL: 22 games, 38.9 minutes per game, 30.5 BARPS per game