Each year, millions of children await a new arrival of toys on Christmas day. They outplayed their old ones, and are ready for a new breed to use.
I’m a little kid on Christmas, and the new crop of rookies are my toys.
We’re talking about fantasy hoops here, but to put into perspective how excited I am about rookie talent, I already can’t wait to write about the upcoming rookie class in the NFL. However, I am still thrilled with the young talent in the basketball world today, and after almost two months of action, we have a pretty firm idea of how these rookies are fairing in the big leagues. Of course, if you are anything like me, you stock up on rookies toward the end of your fantasy drafts, and if you selected the right guys, your team is probably shaping out very well.
Let’s take a look at some of the more impressive rookies this season.
My favorite rookie by far (Syracuse fan), Carter-Williams has come out of the gate strong in year one. He made his debut in thrilling and historical fashion, sporting a slash line of 22/12/17/9. That’s right, folks. Almost a quadruple double against the Heat. We knew his assist and steals totals would be strong, but MCW has added a scoring touch as well. On the season, the Syracuse product is averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game through 10 contests. He did, however, miss a few games with a bruised foot, but is back in action now. There’s a lot to like with Carter-Williams the rest of the way. A young player on a weaker team, with no competition at his position, he should log all the minutes he can handle this year. The 76ers are content with him running the offense, as the rookie is seeing 86.3 offensive touches per game, the sixth-most in basketball. Combined that with his impressive 36.1 minutes per game, and there is some intriguing fantasy volume here. He is also seeing a healthy 13.4 assist opportunities per game.
A top-15 fantasy finish at the point guard position is very, very possible for MCW.
Oladipo has had some struggles this season, especially when it comes to taking care of the basketball. Despite coming off of the bench, logging just under 27 minutes per game, Oladipo is averaging a discouraging 4.4 turnovers per game. Considering he isn’t nearly handling the ball as much as these other guards, that’s an alarming number. Still, I think Oladipo is the most talented player in this year’s draft class, and while he currently isn’t playing as much as other rookies, that time will have to come soon. At 31-years old, Nelson is aging, and doesn’t appear to be in the Magic’s long-term plans, so a trade could be in play. If that happens, Oladipo’s fantasy value with skyrocket, especially playing with two talented bigs in Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. Oladipo is an elite defender, averaging 1.8 steals per game. He’s also just recently started to play the point, which could explain his turnovers. A guy comparable to Dwyane Wade, Oladipo can attack the rim with the best of them, as well as step outside and drain a three. He even started on Wednesday night, so if that continues, he’ll be awesome. Be patient.
The pure shooter out of Kansas has yet to make an immediate fantasy impact, so there really isn’t much to say. Averaging just 8.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, McLemore isn’t doing enough to be considered a must-own. However, this is a guy who can light it up at any time from three, which makes him an intriguing long-term option, especially if he can play more than 22 minutes per contest. Consistency has been his biggest flaw in year one, but the season is still young, and once he finds his stride, McLemore can put up numbers in a hurry, which will warrant tons of fantasy attention.
While Kelly Olynyk soaked up the attention, it’s been fellow rookie Faverani who has made the bigger splash in fantasy. Coming in and out of the Boston starting five has been a bit annoying, but when he’s been out there for over 20 minutes, he’s been very effective. In fact, in the games where he’s logged at least 20 minutes, Faverani is averaging a solid 11.2 points, 10 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Faverani currently leads all rookies in rebounds per game, and with Olynyk dealing with an ankle sprain, perhaps Faverani sees some extended time in the starting lineup. A strong contributor in blocks and rebounds, this Brazilian should be owned in more leagues. He’s been outplaying the Celtics first round big man.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.