With all the hype around rookies like OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose, I decided to take a look at a rookie who may be overlooked by many, but could end up turning out to be a fantasy gem in the upcoming years.
Marreese Speights isn't turning any heads with his fantasy numbers in his rookie season:
2008-09 stats (through 16 games): 14 minutes per game, 6.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.6 BPG
Here are David West's stats in his second season, the year before he broke out:
2004-05 stats: 18 minutes per game, 6.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 0.5 BPG
I like to compare the lesser-valued frontcourt rookies to David West, because he had a unique situation in his early years as it took him a few years to get his break in the NBA.
David West wasn't awarded big minutes as a rookie or even in his second season, but he finally broke out as a fantasy star in his third NBA season and has kept his reputation as an elite fantasy player ever since. I can see a similar situation arising with Marreese Speights in the future.
Speights is putting up very similar numbers in his rookie season to David West's second season in the NBA. Also, keep in mind, David West had a lot more experience in the NBA at this point and was even getting more minutes than Speights, yet Speights' stats per game are almost a mirror image of David West's second season.
Just by looking at the numbers, it seems as if Marreese Speights may be a bit more ahead of the learning curve than David West was earlier in his career. Marreese Speights has only played in 16 career NBA games thus far, so his game should continue to develop.
Marreese Speights' stats per 48 minutes in 2008-09 are: 22.4 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, and 2.0 BPG.
Now take a look at an elite power forward/center like Elton Brand. His stats per 48 minutes in 2008-09 are: 21.7 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 2.0 BPG.
It’s pretty amazing that Speights' stats are better per minute than Elton Brand’s and Speights is still in his rookie season. The scary part is, Speights' per minute averages should only continue to get a bit better over time as he gets more and more comfortable in the NBA.
Marreese Speights may not be a viable fantasy option this season or even next season, but sometime in the near future he may deliver big things. All he needs is his own “big break.”