Earl Monroe. Terry Cummings. Steve Francis. Blake Griffin.
What do those four have in common? Well, for starters, look at their rookie stats and prepare to hold your jaw in place.
“The Pearl” is a 24-5-5 guy, Cummings averaged 24 and 11, “Franchise” posted the second-best Effective FG% in a season, and Griffin, how does 22 points and 10 rebounds sound like?
The point is, seasons in and seasons, there are going to be first-year studs and fingers crossed, we aim to find the hidden gems two months before the actual tipoff.
Fantasy Projections For Rookies In The 2015-16 Season:
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected Average Draft Round: Late 7th round)
Let’s start with the No. 1 overall pick, will we?
Playing in a team full of future NBA rotation guys is difficult for a freshman like Towns, but once his numbers are extrapolated to per-40 minutes, there’s no doubt the guy is a future fantasy stud. Whether that happens this year remains the only valid question.
The 6-foot-11 forward/center averaged 19.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks while the attention he got in recent Summer League play allows him to show off his passing skills. Shooting 57% overall and 81% from the stripe means he won’t hurt your fantasy squad in any way.
It wouldn’t make sense for the Wolves to hold out Towns so if the gambler in you likes to play, nab him in the 5th to 6th rounds and he will make you look like a genius.
D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (Projected ADP: 10th-11th round)
Russell has the makings of a superstar but it’s hard for a ball-dominating guard to actually “dominate” on a team that has Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, and Lou Williams. Again, the Lakers could make lineup changes between now and October but all signs point to Russell finding his way on a clogged backcourt with little wiggle room.
But let’s say Byron Scott decides to give the green light to the young Buckeye, what should we expect?
Elite scoring (22.7 points per 40 minutes) with above average rebounding (6.7 per 40) and passing (5.9 per 40) while giving you outside shooting (41.1% from 3-pt territory) and decent steals (1.6) is definitely not out of the picture.
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers (Projected ADR: 8th-9th round)
Because the center position is one of the most difficult slots to fill, Jahlil Okafor might see himself going earlier than the projected average draft round. But when it comes to the Duke big man, you will have to know what you would get and what you wouldn’t.
Okafor could step in right now and average 15-17 a game easy (23 points per 40 minutes) but traditional “big man” numbers might be hard to come by. Jah is flat-footed so he’s not projected to be an elite rim protector (even though he did 1.4 BPG in college), not much of a rebounder on the next level (although he did average 11.4 RBG per 40 minutes) and he’ll kill you with some of the most atrocious free throws you will ever see (51% on 194 attempts).
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks (Projected ADR: 12th round or Undrafted)
At 7-foot-1 and a very skinny 230 pounds, it’s not of New York or KP’s best interest to handle a heavy workload right away. Having said that, Porzingis might provide 3-point shooting (1.4 3PM per 36), scoring (18.5 per 36), and shotblocking (1.7 per 36), on 20 minutes per night. That won’t give him a roster spot in standard 12-team leagues but that definitely makes him a flier in one of those deeper outfits.
At least he speaks good English.
Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic (Projected ADR: 12th to undrafted)
Like fellow Euro, Hezonja is a high upside player that has a chance to be a star. But unlike Porzingis who might find himself cracking the starting lineup as soon as he proves he can handle the physicality night in and night out, Super Mario is playing behind Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, not to mention Tobias Harris.
Conclusion? Temper your expectations.
The rest of lottery:
Stanley Johnson (Detroit) — If Stan Van Gundy decides not to hold out the inevitable, he is something to watch out for.
Frank Kaminsky (Charlotte) — Only have to get ahead of Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams on the depth chart and neither are fantasy game-changers by any means.
Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver) — Could be a steal in the later rounds.
Myles Turner (Indiana) — Trusting heavy minutes to a first-year center is not most NBA coaches would do, but it’s not impossible either.
Jerian Grant (New York) — Phil Jackson likes the kid so much and given New York’s lack of options at any position, Grant can step right in and contribute.
Delon Wright (Utah Jazz)— Utah will be missing Dante Exum possibly for the whole season which may allow Wright to get more run in Quin Snyder’s offense.
Jordan Mickey (Boston Celtics) — Nobody in that Celtics roster can be labeled a shotblocker except Mickey, so Brad Stevens could decide to use more of the LSU big man on certain matchups.
Norman Powell (Toronto Raptors) — The tough, high-flying guard out of UCLA will be buried in a guard-heavy Toronto Raptors rotation but no live body in there brings the defensive tenacity he possesses. Word is, Dwayne Casey looks to get a ore defensive-minded club and that alone could merit Powell minutes.