Fantasy Basketball Flash Forward: Forecasting John Wall & 2010-11's Rookie Class
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This year’s rookie crop may not contain as many instant stars such as Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, or Tyreke Evans. However, the 2010 class will provide a handful of players who will surely fill up the evening’s box score.
The most impactful rookie this season could be a player not even drafted in the 2010 class. Blake Griffin, the first pick in the 2009 draft, missed all of the ’09-’10 season after suffering a debilitating stress fracture in his left kneecap during a Clipper’s preseason game.
Prior to Griffin’s injury the young power forward seemed to be trending towards a dominant rookie season after posting near double-double averages through seven preseason games.
Griffin was cleared to resume all basketball activities in late May and should prove to be a key cog in the fast paced Clipper’s offense playing alongside one of the league’s most dynamic frontcourts of Eric Gordon and Baron Davis. Additionally Griffin will prove to be L.A.’s number one low post option – commanding touches over his frontcourt mates Chris Kaman and Ryan Gomes.
The first player off the board in this past summer’s draft will immediately become his team’s most instrumental player this winter. Look for John Wall to take advantage of his elite level athleticism and rack up assists feeding a handful of capable scorers like Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, and Al Thornton.
Wall has been unable to shed the Derrick Rose comparison though his numbers will likely be more impressive than the great Bull’s point guard. Look for Wall’s averages to eclipse those posted by Rose in his inaugural season (19.7 points, 6.3 assists, 0.6 steals). Like Rose, Wall’s three point shooting could prove as his Achilles heal – as the young guard shot only 1-8 in the Las Vegas summer league.
Though Wall’s perimeter shooting has been much maligned in his ascent to the professional ranks, he will wear out the free throw stripe. This will ultimately pad his stats since he shot a respectable 75 percent last season at Kentucky.
A majority of his scores will be in transition and through his attack of the basket with reckless abandon. Scouts raved about Wall’s defensive ability amidst the fast tempo and offense oriented summer league. Wall will hound opposing ball handlers and will find himself among the league leaders in steals per game.
Working against Wall will be the presence of Kirk Hinrich, a competent backup that will threaten to edge Wall should the rookie’s turnover totals begin to mount.
Behind Wall, Evan Turner was the second pick in the 2010 draft. He should deliver a well-rounded nightly contribution to the Philadelphia 76ers lineup. The comparisons to a young Grant Hill seem to fit Turner whose 6’7’’ frame will allow him to shoot over opposing shooting guards.
Turner, who shot only 20 three pointers all of last season at Ohio State, will make his living converting mid-range baskets while also running the break with highly touted point guard Jrue Holiday and hyper-athletic forward Andre Iguodala.
Working against Turner will be the crowded 76ers backcourt, which will feature a handful of scorers who will threaten to steal playing time. A strong ’09-’10 season will launch combo guard Lou Williams into the conversation for playing time as well as Willie Green who the Sixers will bring off their bench as a defensive stopper.
Philadelphia hopes for a bounce back season from their frontcourt leader Elton Brand who hasn’t been the same player we saw during his tenure with both the Bulls and Clippers. If Brand struggles again this season look for the Sixers to utilize a smaller lineup that will feature both Turner and Andre Iguodala at the wings.
Ultimately Turner appears to be a keeper candidate capable of occasional triple-double outbursts… much the way triple-threat players like Grant Hill exploded with gaudy stat lines that filled box scores in the mid-90’s.
If NBA potential was measured in girth, Kings’ 6’11, 292 lb. power forward DeMarcus Cousins would top this list.
In just one season at Kentucky, Cousins exhibited skills that have NBA scouts salivating. Behind his former Kentucky teammate John Wall, Cousins’ summer league stats ranked atop the league giving hope that the twenty-year-old can overcome his personality concerns and build on his 16 point and 11 rebound averages.
Emotional issues have labeled the youngster as an enigma and consequently dropped him to fifth in the draft allowing the Kings to pair Cousins with a dynamic group of young players.
Playing alongside guards Tyreke Evans and Bino Udrih will help to take pressure off of Cousins who will find himself in the starting lineup come season tip-off ready to wear down interior defenses.
The New Jersey Nets failed to bring in the high profile free agent this summer they had hoped would accompany newly appointed head coach Avery Johnson and his system.
Instead, the Nets will continue to look towards the future hoping that 19-year-old Derrick Favors will represent a new era for a team that suffered a league worst 12-70 record last year.
Though Favors projects as a franchise player in the distant future, the Nets will be patient with the young big man. Look for New Jersey to platoon Favors with summer acquisition Troy Murphy who should command a great deal of playing time.
With a body type akin to a young Dwight Howard and the tenacity reminiscent to an early Kevin Garnett, Favors will make an impact—just not anytime soon.
Each year the draft is due for a handful of surprises, a la the 2009 draft which presented the league with second round picks who made impacts for their teams. Players like DeJuan Blair, a second round pick to the Spurs or Connecticut’s A.J. Price a 52nd pick for Indiana, both transitioned to their NBA roles well and were highly effective players during their time on the floor.
Speculating as to who has the potential to break through off of someone’s bench isn’t easy but some particular players do look promising for this coming season.
Los Angeles Lakers swingman Devin Ebanks will come off of the bench and provide Phil Jackson will a lengthy athlete who proved his ability to score while at West Virginia (12.0 ppg/8.1 rpg) and has the body to lock up both perimeter and wing players.
Keep an eye on Los Angeles Clippers’ combo guard Willie Warren who spent two seasons at University of Oklahoma proving his ability to slash to the hoop and explode to the basket. Had Warren left school after his freshman season we would have seen the Dallas, Texas product as a lottery pick. But, a disappointing sophomore slump sent Warren spiraling down draft boards before finally landing with the Clips at the 54th pick.
Ebanks and Warren must overcome playing time issues and take advantage of limited opportunities in order to claim a spot within their teams’ rotation.
Written exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com by Conor Gereg. Conor is a lifelong sports fan who can tell you Shawn Kemp's career field goal percentage or even Jeff Blauser's home run total but fails to remember where he left his keys.
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