Early Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings
The 2014 NBA Draft was one of the more intriguing drafts heading in, not only for the pure talent at the top, but for the story lines outside of the rookie class. Where will LeBron James take his talents this time? Will he team up with Carmelo Anthony? Or will he simply stay in Miami? The Dallas Mavericks made a splash hours before the draft when they acquired Tyson Chandler from the New York Knicks. Chandler was a big part of the Mavs’ 2010-11 championship squad. He was let before he got his ring, in order for Marc Cuban and company to make a run at big free agents such as Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Dallas of course landed neither, and ironically enough, Chandler has been brought back so that the Mavs can make a pitch at another star player, such as LeBron or Melo.
Of course, none of these decisions were made on draft night as we will have to wait at least another week or so, but teams are making room. Not far away from Dallas, the Houston Rockets freed up a few dollars by sending Omer Asik to the Pelicans and they apparently have a deal lined up that would send Jeremy Lin packing. They are believed to be interested in both superstars.
One thing is for sure, the Heat have made it clear they will do just about anything to please LBJ and why wouldn’t they!?
My favorite player in the draft! #Napier
Minutes after, Napier Shabazz was dealt to Miami. It’s important to notice that some of the rankings below will change as free agency takes it’s course in July. I wouldn’t go reaching for Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Both of these players have potential to be superstars themselves one day, but in redraft leagues, they are just rookies. It’s been a long time since a rookie become a Fantasy Basketball stud right away. Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo finished inside the Top 100 Fantasy Basketball Rankings last season. They both played on crap teams, giving them all the minutes they could handle with plenty of opportunities to put up numbers. This may be the first year since 2003 where there are a few exciting rookies to choose from come draft day.
Fellow Locker Room writer Chris Burt and I share a few thoughts from the NBA Draft from a Fantasy Basketball perspective, followed by our early Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings. Below you will find Fantasy Basketball Keeper/Dynasty Rankings.
Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Cleveland Cavaliers – No.1 overall (Kansas) 2013-14 Stats: 32.8 MPG | 17.1 PPG | 5.9 RPG | 1.5 APG | 1.2 SPG | 1.0 BPG | .448 FG% | 1.2 3PG
Meaney: Wiggins has dynasty written all over him. Don’t let the poor performance in his last game of the 2014 NCAA tournament fool you. The 6’8 guard seems to shy away at times, but has an explosiveness to him. As he matures he will become one of the better players in the association. No doubt about it. Wiggins will join fellow Canadians Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson who Wiggins says he already has chemistry with from playing with both already. It will take time for him to find a groove with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Wiggins was selected first overall so he will be reached on in drafts. Let people reach, I don’t think he finishes as the top Fantasy Basketball Rookie anyway.
Burt: While Wiggins may not be a star immediately, he will see plenty of floor time because the Cavs stink and he will be one of their top (or only) defenders. Because of that, he will accumulate enough threes, steals and blocks to make a borderline fantasy starter from his first game.
Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks – No. 2 overall (Duke) 2013-14 Stats: 30.7 MPG | 19.1 PPG | 8.7 RPG | 1.2 APG | 1.1 SPG | 1.2 BPG | .473 FG% | 1.1 3PG
Meaney: Unlike Wiggins, Parker has very little in terms of talent around him. Which means he will have plenty of opportunities to score points and do all the other little things us potential owners love. His field goal percentage was solid in his first and only year in college, but it will likely take a hit in his first season in the NBA. Parker was one of three freshmen in the last 15 seasons with at least 19 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 35-percent from beyond the arc. Parker is the most ready-now NBA prospect which is why I have him atop my Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings. The odds-makers have him as Rookie of the Year favorites to back me up. Start thinking about Parker in the fifth and sixth rounds of standard drafts.
Burt: Parker will be projected to score with Milwaukee, and he will. He will also kill your field goal percentage, and if you are in a league counting turnovers, that will bring down his stock as well. Parker will not rack up defensive stats or assists, and as an NBA rookie he will not rebound the way he did at Duke.
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers – No. 3 overall (Kansas)
2013-14 Stats: 23.1 MPG | 11.2 PPG | 8.1 RPG | 1.4 APG | 0.9 SPG | 2.6 BPG | .626 FG%
Meaney: Turns out the 76ers rolled the dice at the draft yet again and took a big man who may not even play in his first season. Embiid is expected to need 5-8 months of recovery time after undergoing foot surgery last week. Last year’s first round pick Nerlens Noel fell in the draft too and ended up missing the entire season with his injury. The 76ers are building something special, the pieces are forming and the stars are in align for yet another top pick in 2015. Hard to even consider drafting Embiid unless you are in keeper/dynasty leagues. If Embiid was healthy, he’d be my number one Fantasy Basketball pick and he might have been the Cavs number 1 pick as well. Boards, points, blocks and a wicked FG% is what we will see from Embiid when he’s healthy.
Burt: You may have heard; Embiid is injured. He will likely miss the season.
Aaron Gordon, PF, Orlando Magic – No. 4 overall (Arizona)
2013-14 Stats: 31.2 MPG | 12.4 PPG | 8.0 RPG | 2.0 APG | 0.9 SPG | 1.0 BPG | .495 FG%
Meaney: Gordon was last year’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He is a terrific defender and the Magic are one of those teams who don’t have a lot of talent. With that said, their front court seems packed at the moment with Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson standing in the way. Gordon will be able to contribute boards and steals to your fantasy squad, but he’ll have to work on his mid-range jump shot. He has more value in dynasty leagues as opposed to a redraft leagues.
Dante Exum, PG/SG, Utah Jazz – No. 5 overall (Australia)
2013-14 Stats (U19 World Champs) 18.2 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 3.8 APG | 1.7 SPG | 1.9 3PG
Meaney: I’m as excited as anybody to see what Exum is all about. Jazz fans should be excited as well. Exum and Trey Burke could make up a nice backcourt for years to come. Exum spent last year playing Down Under and it’s anybody’s guess how he will do against men. One thing is for sure, he will be fun and exciting to watch. Exum may have the most upside playing on a weak Utah team with an even weaker bench. I watched the tape and Exum is aggressive, he gets to the rim!
Burt: Exum is high risk, high reward, unless you’re getting him with your last pick or for $1. He has never played against even NCAA Div. 1 talent for any sustained period. He is quick and fun too watch however.
Marcus Smart, PG, Boston Celtics – No. 6 overall (Oklahoma St.)
2013-14 Stats: 32.7 MPG | 18.0 PPG | 5.9 RPG | 4.8 APG | 2.9 SPG | .422 FG% | 1.6 3PG
Meaney: Wicked Smart should have been every headline in Boston Friday morning. Smart’s value will depend on what the Celtics do with Rajon Rondo. I think Rondo could help Smart, give him a few easy buckets from time-to-time, but it’s likely that Smart becomes a better option if Rondo gets shipped out of Boston. Smart can do a bit of everything, and we should see a few games with double digit points to go along with a few boards and assists, while draining the occasional three. Of course, the assists will go up if Rondo goes away. His field goal percentage was weak in college and he’ll need to work on that.
Burt: Smart is a little older and more developed than the freshmen prospects, and he will get major minutes with the ball in his hands. I expect a lot of steals and a bit of everything else. In his rookie year he may be between Mario Chalmers and this past season’s rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, statistically.
Julius Randle, SF, Los Angeles Lakers – No. 7 overall (Kentucky)
2013-14 Stats: 30.8 MPG | 15 PPG | 10.4 RPG | 1.4 APG | 0.8 BPG | .501 FG%
Meaney: My love for Randle grew during March Madness. The big man has the potential for double-doubles in his first season and should provide a solid field goal percentage as well. If he can manage to fill the stat sheet with a couple blocks here are there his stock will rise even more. I like him as the second rookie taken off the board, right around the eighth round.
Burt: Remember when a different player put up numbers every night for the Lakers? Next year with Kobe back, Randle will be getting all the extra touches that Ryan Kelly, Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks benefited from. Ranfle will contribute in boards and a few points without hurting your percentages the way most rookies do.
Nik Stauskas, SG, Sacramento Kings – No. 8 overall (Michigan)
2013-14 Stats: 35.6 MPG | 17.5 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 3.3 APG | .470 FG% | 2.6 3PG | .443 3P%
Meaney: If you watched Stauskas these past two years, you know he’s a snipe shooter. Maybe even the best in the draft with respect to Doug McDermott. The Kings selected him a bit earlier than I thought he would go, considering he is mostly a spot-up shooter, but he can really shoot. Stauskas will be a great source for threes.
Noah Vonleh, PF, Charlotte Hornets – No. 9 overall (Indiana)
2013-14 Stats: 26.5 MPG | 11.3 PPG | 9.0 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 1.4 BPG | .523 FG%
Meaney: I see a lot of Serge Ibaka in Vonleh. He will have to step up the blocks per game to come near Ibaka, but he has the frame and potential to do just that. Double-double potential as well. Might not see it from him in his first year, but over time he should turn into a nice big man with a solid field goal percentage.
Elfrid Payton, PG, Orlando Magic – No. 10 overall – (Louisiana)
2013-14 Stats: 35.9 MPG | 19.2 PPG | 6.0 RPG | 5.9 APG | 2.3 SPG | .509 FG%
Meaney: Not sure how much longer the Magic can or want to keep Jameer Nelson with Payton waiting in the wings. It will take some time for Payton offensively as a point guard, but he can defend now in the NBA and will fill up a stat sheet. Turnovers will be a problem in his first year, much like any other rookie point guard.
Doug McDermott – Chicago Bulls – No.11 overall – (Creighton)
2013-14 Stats: 33.7 MPH | 26.7 PPG | 7.0 RPG | 1.6 APG | .526 FG% | 2.7 3PG | .449 3P%
Meaney: McDermott is a great fit in Chicago! With all the attention Derrick Rose will get (assuming he’s healthy) and Joakim Noah down low, it allows the Bulls to stretch out the floor for plenty of three opportunities for Buckets. He is an excellent three point shooter as well and as well all know by now, scored at will in College. He can be a great mid-to-late round pick if your lacking three point shooters.
Burt: After showing surprising athleticism at the combine, McBuckets answered some critical questions about what position he would be able to manage in the NBA. Joining the Bulls weak offense, he will provide enough points, and threes to be semi-useful as a rookie.
K.J. McDaniels, SG/PF, Philadelphia 76ers – No. 32 overall (Clemson)
2013-14 Stats: 33.7 MPG | 17.1 PPG | 7.1 RPG | 1.6 APG | 1.1 SPG | 2.8 BPG | .459 FG% | 1.2 3PG
McDaniels could find some time in the 76ers lineup right away as a small forward because of the lack of depth at that position. Look at his stat line above. What doesn’t McDaniels do? A great late round pick in deep leagues and because everybody is either hurt or real bad in Philly, McDaniels should see plenty of floor time.
Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings
1. Jabari Parker
2. Andrew Wiggins
3. Nerlens Noel
4. Julius Randle
5. Marcus Smart
6. Dante Exum
7. Doug McDermott
8. Nik Stauskas
9. Elfrid Payton
10. Aaron Gordon
1. Marcus Smart
2. Andrew Wiggins
3. Julius Randle
4. Jabari Parker
5. Doug McDermott
6. Dante Exum
7. Nik Stauskas
8. Elfrid Payton
9. Gary Harris
10. Adreian Payne
Fantasy Basketball Keeper/Dynasty Rookie Rankings
1. Andrew Wiggins
2. Jabari Parker
3. Joel Embiid
4. Nerlens Noel
5. Dante Exum
6. Julius Randle
7. Marcus Smart
8. Noah Vonleh
9. Aaron Gordon
10. Elfird Payton
11. K.J. McDaniels
12. Doug McDermott
13. Nik Stauskas
14. Dario Saric
15. Rodney Hood