Tuesday, July 6, 2010

5 Rookies Most Likely to Make an Impact Next Season

Last season, we saw a lot of rookies make an impact in the NBA and in fantasy that no one expected. Guys like Wesley Matthews, Marcus Thornton, Jonas Jerebko, and Jrue Holiday produced some solid numbers when people weren't expecting much out of them. Still, guys that we expected to produce like Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans did their thing. The only major disappointment last season was #1 pick Blake Griffin, though that was only because he didn't suit up for a single game.

Let's take a look at the rookies that are most likely to be fantasy relevant next season. Although Blake Griffin is technically a rookie this year, I won't include him in the discussion. Please note that while I think that these rookies have potential for next season, there's no way you should overreach for them in your draft unless it's a keeper league. Rookies are the biggest gamble in all of fantasy sports. They can either give you big numbers or be huge busts. Just remember for every Tyreke Evans there's a Hasheem Thabeet. Take a look at my top 150 rankings to see around what position you should be targeting these players.

  1. John Wall - PG: Right off the bat, he's going to be the starting PG for the Wizards. Next year is a rebuilding year, so he's going to get plenty of opportunities to play. He'll give you solid numbers in points, assists, and steals from the get go. He should be an above average rebounder for a PG, but don't expect significant contributions in that category. Young guards usually have terrible FG%, so don't be surprised if his shooting ends up in the low 40%. Also, be aware he's not much of a 3 point shooter. People compare his game to Derrick Rose and it is a fair comparison, but I think Wall will have a better rookie year than Rose did in terms of fantasy because he can help you out a lot more in steals than Rose will.
  2. DeMarcus Cousins - C: He's one of the most NBA ready players in the draft. With the offseason acquisition of Samuel Dalembert, Cousins will most likely start off the year on the bench but he'll certainly get his minutes and I expect he'll take over the starting role in the 2nd half of the season if the Kings struggle. Cousins biggest contribution will be his rebounding. This is a stat that carries over very well from college to the pros and Cousins averaged nearly 10 rebounds a game for Kentucky. Cousins also has the ability to score with a high FG%. Additionally, he should be a good source of blocks. The only real negative is his poor free throw shooting and high turnover ratio. Additionally, there are concerns about his attitude and work ethic but I feel he'll do his best this year to shut up all the haters. He is worth taking a risk on in the later part of the draft. In a keeper league, I would try to take him much earlier as it's hard to find great big men in this league. Cousins is a risk worth taking as players with his size and potential don't come along often. Consider that last year not a single decent center came from that draft class and you'll see what I mean.
  3. Evan Turner - SG: Turner appears to be the safest bet among this year's rookies. He's had three years to prove himself in college. While Turner is the most likely to produce, there's a lot less upside to him compared to Wall and Cousins. Those two could have breakout years, but I'd expect something like 10 ppg, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds from Turner. Those are very solid numbers and he should have great FG% and a slightly above average FT%. Additionally, he should be a solid source of steals and has potential to average 0.5 blocks, which is a nice bonus from a guard. Still, I see him as the Jonny Flynn of this draft. I think you'll get what you expect from Turner while Wall and Cousins have the potential to have the type of years that Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans had last season.
  4. Greg Monroe - PF: The Pistons badly need size, so I wouldn't be shocked if Monroe is starting the first game of the season. At the very least, he will get good minutes off the bench. Like Cousins, he averaged nearly 10 boards a game in college and we should expect those numbers to translate to the NBA. I don't expect Monroe to be a big scorer, but he's a great passing big man. If you can get 3-4 assists from your big man, it's a nice bonus. Additionally, he could provide a block per game and nice steal numbers for a player his size. He also has 3 point range, so he could give you a decent boost in 3s, another bonus from a big man. I see Monroe as being a jack of all trades type of player. He won't dominate a single category, but he'll give you a little of everything.
  5. Wesley Johnson - SF: Much like Turner, I expect Johnson to contribute right off the bat but he's not going to be spectacular. He could be a solid source of rebounds for a wing and a decent source of scoring and 3s, but it's a bit up in the air how many minutes he'll get. He's intriguing because he's a great athlete who could be a nice source of blocks and steals, but his skill set is redundant on the Wolves squad. He'll have to compete with Martell Webster and Corey Brewer for playing time, whereas the players above him on this list have more clearly defined roles on their teams.

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