As is the case every new NBA season, we are gifted a newly-wrapped present for our fantasy basketball needs. These presents come in all shapes and sizes, and the best and exciting thing about these presents is we know they will be shiny new as soon as we rip the wrapping off. The hardest part of this process though is the anticipation of not knowing what exactly this present will be once we unwrap it. And once this gift is exposed will it be something of use and need? That is what we contend with each and every fantasy basketball draft.
If we shake these boxes or hold them up to the light, will we be able to see or figure out what is underneath this tape and paper? Not really, but that’s why I’m here. Allow me to be your X-ray machine and make it transparent for you to see who will be that present that you can actually use and enjoy from October to April.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
I might be in the minority here, which is nothing new, but I am confident and feel pretty good about putting MKG at the top of my rookie rankings. The player that comes to mind when comparing this athletic baller from the University of Kentucky is Scottie Pippen. Not the greatest of outside shooter with an awkward descending release of his shot, but have no fear as it is something MKG is planning on working on. A jumper is something that can be worked on and improved. The reports have been that he is indeed working on it, but the athleticism this kid possesses cannot be taught.
As was the case with the recently anointed Hall of Fame player Pippen, MKG has long arms and a willingness to play tough on the defensive end, which has us really excited. I also like the situation MKG has been put in. The Bobcats are searching for a premier player to represent the franchise and there is no doubt they will allow him to freelance and be counted on to amass terrific statistics to include steals and blocks, which is invaluable in fantasy. Sure there will be a learning process to consist of ups and downs, but I feel the ups will outweigh the downs.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
The number one overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft is terrific. If I am going to keep with comparisons, Davis reminds me most of Marcus Camby. I have heard comparisons to Tim Duncan, but I do not think he is as polished on the offensive end as is TD. Anthony Davis is a gifted shot blocker, but actually, saying gifted could be slighting him. He could very well lead the league in swats! A season consisting of averages close to a double-double with 2.5 blocks is certainly achievable.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
I love this player. I love the fact Lillard is the clear-cut starter at point guard for Portland. I love the fact he has a big man in LaMarcus Aldridge who hits the mid-range jump shot as good as anyone to work with on pick-and-rolls. I love the fact he has range that extends to three point territory. I love point guards that can score. Did I mention I love this guy? You want to be the one who “reaches” for Lillard. As NBA-ready right now as any rookie this year. Could easily win NBA Rookie of the Year.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
The number seven pick overall out of UNC is a smooth operator. Barnes does not possess the grit to make a defensive difference on that end, but certainly the Golden State Warriors are not too concerned with that. They want this terrific scorer to fill it up and do it often. The style the Warriors play is conducive to high-scoring games and that should amount to a nice scoring average for Barnes. Just don’t expect anything more and you won’t be disappointed when unwrapping this gift.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
19-years-old and a possible starting role in the NBA. Life is good for Beal. This sharp shooting kid will be given every opportunity to start and contribute. While his future shines bright I’m not totally convinced his game is fantasy-friendly. Other than points and the occasional three, Beal’s other peripherals may be lacking. When I see this player I see Hersey Hawkins. Let it be known though if he can create for others there is a chance he could be a pleasant surprise due to the fact that John Wall is sidelined for eight weeks.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
This is a player who can climb this list and climb it in a hurry. There is no questioning Drummond’s presence on the defensive end. Pairing him with Detroit big man Greg Monroe seems to be a pretty good match. While Drummond may not score much, his shot blocking could turn into a real asset. Beware of his ineptness at the charity stripe, although he probably won’t get to the line that much to make a great impact.
Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
The fourth pick overall is a tough and physical player. Waiters was drafted to play alongside Kyrie Irving and the Cavs are hoping this will be their backcourt for the foreseeable future. Right now there is a logjam for playing time, so keep an eye out on how this situation shakes out and be sure to pounce if Waiters gets a starting spot.
Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
Leonard is a true center with athleticism. There are rumblings he may start and that could be very intriguing, but regardless, he should carry value as a number two center.
Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
An amazing specimen and athlete who excels on the defensive end. Could possibly find time at either small forward or power forward as a backup. I am just not sure how Robinson fits in with what Sacramento is trying to do because what Sacramento is trying to do is the bigger question.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets
I have seen recent success from ex-player’s children in the form of Klay (Mychal) Thompson and Kobe (Joe) Bryant. The son of Celtics coach, Doc Rivers, one cannot question this kid’s basketball IQ. Austin has good range on his shot and I believe is more of a shooting guard, but the Hornets seem intent on seeing the kid run the point. The team’s expectation might not equate to success to begin the season.
Royce White, Houston Rockets
This kid can play. White has a terrific combination of scoring and passing for a big man that teams drool over. After watching him play the comparison that I came away with is Antoine Walker. The well-known problem is that he has issues with flying and with the rigors and back-to-backs of an NBA schedule, I am not sure how that will play out. I am crossing my fingers White can at least cope with the grind. If he does, I am confident he will be quite productive.
Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets
Lamb is another intriguing prospect that was drafted by the Houston Rockets, who fits the mold of a quality NBA shooting guard. He has the size and athleticism to excel. Lamb was drafted after his sophomore season out of the University of Connecticut and has nice upside, but does have some obstacles to overcome – most notably Kevin Martin and his hard-to-figure-out head coach Kevin McHale.
Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic
A quality big who contributed a solid four seasons at St. Bonaventure., Nicholson can score from inside or out and has that fantasy gold appeal of a player who rebounds, blocks, and can hit a three-pointer. The Magic are not good and we can certainly see Andrew getting some nice burn. Keep a close eye.
So as the case should be with every arriving holiday season, temper your expectations when unwrapping the paper from those beautifully crafted boxes. In comparison, when assessing NBA rookies, keep in check those same anticipations. With high expectancy, the possibility of many letdowns could occur.
While I usually stick to hoops quotes I think this quote from the great Carl Yastrzemski is suitable due to the nature of this column. Quote of the Week: I remember I was a scared rookie hitting .220 after the first three months of my baseball season, and doubting my ability.”