NBA Fantasy Basketball: Projecting This Year's Rookies

By Lorenzo Tanos

I was supposed to continue the fantasy basketball talk by looking at 2011-12’s biggest surprises, but where’s the fun in that? We all know Jeremy Lin shot upwards from 0% owned to somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-85% in just a week’s time, thus rendering moot any debate about the biggest fantasy NBA surprise of last season. Besides, wasn’t 2011-12 the year of the fantasy flop? Blame it on the shortened season. Anyway, we’ll certainly have more tips and listings for fantasy basketball in the coming months, including this one – assessing the 2012-13 rookies and finding out whether it’s safe to draft them or not this coming fantasy NBA season. We’re going to start with picks 1 to 10 of the 2012 NBA Draft.

1. Anthony Davis (New Orleans – F/C) – With Robin Lopez and Jason Smith the only competition at center, opposing teams will have every reason to Fear the Brow. He’s a lock to start immediately; he’ll be one of the safest rookies to draft, perhaps as early as the fourth round in leagues of 12 teams or more. PROJECTED STATS – 16 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 bpg (~35 mpg)

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte – F) – Does he really have anybody to compete with at SF? MKG looks like the Bobcats’ third or fourth option in the starting lineup, as Charlotte has high-scoring guards at both positions. Draft him in the eighth round onwards. PROJECTED STATS – 13.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2 apg (~33 mpg)

3. Bradley Beal (Washington – G) – He’ll probably start out as Jordan Crawford’s backup at SG, but he’s got the game and the athleticism to take over somewhere in the middle of the season, or develop into a high-scoring 6th man. Tenth round and onwards. PROJECTED STATS – 13 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 3pg (~28 mpg)

4. Dion Waiters (Cleveland – G) – His bust potential is scarier than ever as he’s reportedly been stinking up the summer leagues. At the rate he’s going, C.J. Miles looks most likely to start for the Cavs at SG. Draft at your own risk. PROJECTED STATS – 8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2 apg (~20 mpg)

5. Thomas Robinson (Sacramento – F) – He’ll be stepping into a crowded situation with Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes at the four. He’s also had a rough going in summer league play, which makes him another risky pick. PROJECTED STATS – 10 ppg, 6.5 rpg (~24 mpg)

Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson
Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson (0) and Baylor Bears guard Deuce Bello (14) battle for position during the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship.

6. Damian Lillard (Portland – G) – I’ve been high on this guy’s pro prospects since his days at Weber State, and with Ray Felton now with the Knicks, he’s a shoo-in to start as a scoring PG. Oh, and did I mention he’s been great in the summer leagues? I’d say draft him in the fifth or sixth as your second PG. PROJECTED STATS – 15.5 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.5 apg (~31 mpg)

7. Harrison Barnes (Golden State – SF) – He only has a past-his-prime Richard Jefferson to deal with at SF. Probably Carl Landry as well, who’s a decent backup at either spot. But R-Jeff is still handy with the 3-bomb, so Barnes may or may not start. Best not to draft him, but do pick him up as soon as you notice production improving. PROJECTED STATS – 11 ppg, 4.5 rpg (~26 mpg)

8. Terrence Ross (Toronto – F/G) – He’ll probably be learning off the bench as a rookie, as Landry Fields has proven himself a capable starter with the Knicks. Only draft him if you need outside shooting badly, and only do so in the last round or two. PROJECTED STATS – 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.2 3pg (~20 mpg)

9. Andre Drummond (Detroit – C/F) – Like in Waiters’ case, I wasn’t a fan of his decision to turn pro so early. He’s very raw despite the undeniable talent, a classic boom-or-bust pick. He could be this year’s Bismack Biyombo, albeit with better offense. He could make a good pick at the tail-end of your draft. PROJECTED STATS – 8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2 bpg (~26 mpg)

10. Austin Rivers (New Orleans – G) – He’s being groomed for a starting PG spot, despite mostly playing the two at Duke. We may be seeing a lot of Greivis Vasquez early on, as he did play quite well during the times Jarrett Jack was out. That said, Doc Rivers’ son isn’t the PG you want on your fantasy team, unless he learns the ropes quickly and proves capable of being an NBA point. PROJECTED STATS – 8 ppg, 2 rpg, 3 apg (~20 minutes)

Here's our NBA Fantasy Basketball: Projecting This Year's Fantasy Rookies (Part: 2).

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