Initial Impression of Fantasy Basketball's Rookie Class
From top to bottom, the class of 2008 had a major impact over the 2008-09 fantasy basketball season.
Many of last years steals, like O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, and Brook Lopez will be reached on in the early rounds of fantasy drafts in the fall of 2009.
While fantasy owners are fighting to draft last year's rookies, you could be getting a great value in some of this year's rookies.
They might not be quite as good as the class of 2008, one of the deepest classes in a while, but there are still some potential stars on the horizon.
The Big Three
The top three picks of the 2009 NBA Draft are all entering good, but not great situations from a fantasy perspective.
In LA, Blake Griffin will be the face of the franchise, but the Clippers need to make some room for him with Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman all on the roster.
If one or two of the bigs is moved, Griffin should be the front-runner for Rookie of the Year.
Hasheem Thabeet will never be an elite fantasy option unless he doubles his offensive potential, but he can be a very good fantasy player in the shallow center position.
I don't see Thabeet having a problem blocking shots in the NBA, a stat that’s always desired, and (with enough playing time) he will gather rebounds and could even post a double-digit scoring average.
The roster is starting to get a little thicker in Oklahoma City, which means James Harden may not be as potent a fantasy player as he could. Harden will share shots with the other young Thunder players, and he will share playing time with the other wings on the roster.
That being said, Harden is worth a draft pick in the late rounds if starting.
Point Guards Galore
If you were looking for a PG (or two in Minnesota’s case), the 2009 NBA Draft was a great time to have a pick.
The first point guard-type player off the board was Tyreke Evans, going to the Sacramento Kings where he looks to enter the starting role immediately. Evans will get plenty of shot attempts, resulting in nice scoring numbers, but I expect those points to come with poor percentages and high turnover numbers.
The point guard duo of Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio is getting mixed reviews in Minnesota. There is the chance that Rubio will be moved before the season starts, which would work out well for Flynn's fantasy value.
If both players are still T-Wolves when the season starts, I see them fighting for assists. Flynn could be a mid-teens scorer, but there are no promises.
The rookie PG with the best fantasy potential is Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Don Nelson runs the style of offense that produces huge fantasy numbers, and Curry is the team's best outside shooter.
I expect his assists in the four-six range as a rookie, but the points and threes will be worth a pick.
The most intriguing fantasy PG of the rookie class is Brandon Jennings. Jennings will be an attractive prospect because has the potential to accumulate good points, assists, threes, and steals numbers.
Keep an eye on the Ramon Sessions situation.
If he bolts, Jennings will get the opportunities he needs.
Another free-agency story to follow is Andre Miller in Philadelphia. If Miller leaves the Sixers, rookie Jrue Holiday could be the starting PG by default. He isn't a scoring machine, but, with 30+ minutes per game, he will be fantasy relevant.
Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, and Darren Collison will all be fighting for quality playing time, and, if an injury comes around, they could all be nice pickups.
The Best of the Rest
DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Williams are two super-athletic wings who were actually under-hyped coming into the NBA because of all the point guards. Both have a very good chance of earning starting roles and both can fill-up the stat sheet.
With Vince Carter leaving New Jersey and Shawn Marion looking to leave Toronto, both players are looking to be draft worthy.
In New York, Jordan Hill may not be the best rookie, but he can be a good one. The Knicks create more possessions than almost any team in the NBA, giving Hill more opportunities for points, rebounds, and blocks.
If David Lee is not a Knick at the start of the season, put a premium on Hill.
Hill isn't the only rookie in New York.
If the team doesn't bring Nate Robinson back, Toney Douglas will be called upon to do many of the things Nate did.
There was a lot of debate over the Pacers picking Tyler Handbrough with the 13th pick. Currently, his fantasy value is up in the air.
If he's a starter, then he will really surprise people.
If the Pacers go big and put Troy Murphy at PF, then Hansbrough will be fighting for a roster spot in most fantasy basketball leagues.
Another storyline to watch is Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix.
If the Suns decide to part ways with STAT, then rookie Earl Clark's value will shoot through the roof.
If Stoudemire sticks, Clark is only worth a look.
While Rubio and Flynn fight over who gets to bring the ball up, Wayne Ellington will be waiting on the wing to shoot the three. Right now, Ellington is a more NBA ready player than either PG because of his ability to score the basketball.
And, of all Minnasota's rookies, I like Ellington's fantasy value the best.
In the second round, Houston acquired rookies Jermaine Taylor and Chase Budinger. Both are leapers who can score from inside and out.
If I had to put money down, I would call Taylor my super sleeper of the rookie class.
Other second round rookies to watch are DaJuan Summers, Sam Young, Jodie Meeks, Derrick Brown, Marcus Thornton, and A.J. Price.
None of these guys are really worth drafting, but, if you keep a close eye on them as the season kicks off, they might be waiver wire steals.
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