Before we get to the REAL analysis from the Roto Analysis guys, I need to tell you a story about Pat Gallen, the GM of The Verticoli, the first place team in our league.
Pat seems like a real nice dude, but don’t let his appearance fool you. The guy is a snake and a hustler. He called me once when we were doing our podcast and he was like “yo man let’s make up a fantasy basketball league it would be fun for everyone!” When really, what he wanted to do was start a fantasy league so he could beat everyone.
So he thinks he’s hustling, but really he’s the one who is going to get hustled. Because this whole time I’ve been using his ESPN league info to log in to his bank account, and I’ve been transferring his money to a Swiss bank account. Everyone else from the league (aside from Rick Penguino), will be leaving the country to live off of our new found riches.
In other news, my team, Free Boosie, has moved from 14th to 12th. Just wait till Z-Bo gets back.
Now on to the real stuff.
Rookie and Sophomore Fantasy Rankings
The genesis for this article idea was the fact that the NBA, being the innovative league that it is, decided that instead of the typical Rookies vs Sophomores game this year, we’re going to have Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley do a live television draft of rookies and sophomores and then coach the teams against each other. Is this a terrible idea? Maybe. Is this the best idea the NBA has had since the introduction of the 3-point line? That’s also a possibility, we really can’t tell. At first, we tried to do this as a draft, but with the position eligibility requirements, it just didn’t make sense. So, instead, Matt and Moe decided to create a fan favorite and just make it a top 25. Enjoy.
1a. Blake Griffin
Blake and Monroe are relatively interchangeable at this spot, Moe liking Blake slightly better and Cott liking Monroe slightly better. The pro-Blake argument is essentially the idea of how you build your team could counteract what he’s bad at. If Blake’s FT% is ignored and a team just gives up that category each week, Blake becomes an immensely more valuable player than Monroe, but on a balanced-category front Monroe might be as lightly better player.
1b. Greg Monroe
Cott’s pick as the top overall player was Monroe, who has developed into a top five player at his position. While he doesn’t offer the flash of the Blake show, he is a very efficient player who will fill up the stat sheet for any team.
3. Ricky Rubio
Rubio has exceeded anybody’s expectations with 9.1 assists/game to start his NBA career. However, he has provided even more fantasy value with his way above average rebound and steal contributions, and being studly in a few categories is usually more valuable than being solid across the board.
4. Paul George
George literally grew into a top performer at the shallowest position in fantasy this season: shooting guard. He can buoy any team with his threes, while also giving his owners solid contributions across the board from steals and blocks to his strong shooting percentages. Although, he might regress with his shooting, Paul is still an asset to any team, and he’s only going to get better.
5. Kyrie Irving
So far this season, Irving has been better than the two Kentucky sophomores fighting for this spot, and he’s doing that as a true 19-year-old rookie (he turns 20 in March). Irving is only going to get better in this league as he ages, and already looks like a polished product for years to come, which is the exact opposite of what can be said about Cousins and Wall, two extremely raw products. In this case, Irving’s safety outweighs the upside of Wall and Cousins.
6. DeMarcus Cousins
The vast majority of Fantasy hoops owners would have Cousins rated way behind John Wall, but those owners are living in the preseason and underrating how much Cousins has improved so far. He has quite literally increased his entire stat-line across the board (besides in the assists category due to the recent legislation passed in Sacramento making any assist punishable by up to 8 years in federal prison), while also shooting higher percentages from the field and line while also getting up to averaging a double double. Yeah, he’s got “Knuckle Head” issues, but Cousins is way further along on his journey to becoming a fantasy stud than John Wall is.
7. John Wall
The last of the “top tier” of the young guns, Wall is wrecked in any league counting turnovers. Nonetheless, he has the upside of anybody on the list and maybe more with his freakish athleticism. Until he makes a three, shoots higher % from the floor, and turns the ball over less, though, he will be a very limiting fantasy option.
8. Landry Fields
Number 8 marks the end of the elite, and the start of the territory where almost any player down to 15 or so could fit in this slot. We decided on Landry here due to his near-guaranteed playing time, as well as his domination in steals so far this season. Landry’s shooting numbers are down in all 3 percentage-based categories, but over time those should regress upwardly especially as Baron Davis comes back and the team gets healthier.
9. Marshon Brooks
This shooter is returning from his broken toe and is looking to start back up from where he started, with good thees and points at the positiong where you need it most, SG. He won’t hurt you in any category, and has the upside to expand his game with Deron Williams running the point alongside him.
10. Gordon Hayward
When Butler improbably made their first NCAA Tournament Championship Game run (the fact that Butler needs to quantify that statement with “first” is mystifying in its own right) one of the results was Gordon Hayward being drafted as a top 10 pick in what was admittedly a very weak draft. It seems that pick was actually a good one as he’s emerged in fantasy as an across the board performer, not sticking out really in one category but helping in steals, blocks, assists, and even points. With the Rookie and Sophomore classes this shallow, that has a ton of value.
11. Markieff Morris
A solid all-around player, Morris won’t provide many points to stand out. In his (limited) minutes, though, he has been very efficient from three-point land and in the paint rebounding. His blocks and steals are serviceable, making him a solid bench play in any league and somebody to hold the fort down with the upside to explode if given more minutes.
12. Evan Turner
Turner is like a worse version of Gordon Hayward; he doesn’t hurt you in any category but is elite in none. Turner has also emerged as a solid rebounder, and one of his major positives is his near-guaranteed playing time in that offense. Solely having assured playing time gives Turner value in deeper leagues, and he still does have the tools to hopefully break out at any moment.
13. Brandon Knight
One of the rawest players in the league, Knight has had his lumps taken early in his NBA career. The more experience he gets, however, the better his numbers will get. His turnovers are decreasing of late, and he will shoot plenty of threes, making him a decent guard option.
14. Kemba Walker
Playing time, playing time, and playing time. Kemba is the opposite of efficient, hurting your team even worse than Brandon Knight with his field goal percentage, but appears this highly because of his “totals” stats rising near the tops among rookies and sophomores due to the lack of talent on the Bobcats’ roster. As long as he has a job, there’s a floor for Kemba Walker, but until he figures out how to put the ball in the hoop more efficiently, there’s also a pretty low cap on how high he can rise.
15. Ed Davis
An uber-talent coming out of college, Davis still holds that same potential. He rebounds at a fantastic rate, and with approximately a block and a steal a game, Davis offers some high upside as a fantasy big man.
16. Jon Leuer
Looking at the Bucks’ current roster, the amount of playing time Jon Leuer gets is shockingly low given how well he’s played offensively in the short time in the league. That is, until you remember that Jon Leuer is a 6’10” 228 pound kid who can’t play any defense and Scott Skiles is one of the few NBA coaches left who puts significantly more value in defense than offense. If given playing time, Leuer is just one of those players who is better for fantasy than real life, but unless he figures out something on defense, that playing time is going to be hard to come by.
17. Iman Shumpert
As Knicks fans, we’re probably a little biased on these next two players. Shumpert is an enigma in his ability to do certain things on the basketball court phenomenally well, and others phenomenally poorly. He hits 84% of his free throws but is sitting at 36% from the floor, and averages almost as many steals as turnovers.
18. Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has played in 3 NBA games as a starter, which is why he’s this low. In his 3 games as a starter, Jeremy Lin has averaged over 25 points, over 8 assists, 1.66 steals, and has shot 58% from the field while being the focal point of the Knicks’ offense as Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire miss time. Is this a gigantic fluke? Probably. Is Baron Davis joining the team soon? Absolutely. Is there a possibility, however minute it may be, that Jeremy Lin is legit and puts up double-digit points, 5+ assists and great steals numbers the rest of the season? There’s no doubt in our minds.
19. Grevis Vasquez
While Jarrett Jack has missed time, Grevis Vasquez has capitalized, having a stretch of 6 straight games with double-digit points and averaging 7.8 assists. The Hornets are nearly devoid of talent (although Moe is extremely partial to Gustavo Ayon), and they won’t hesitate to thrust a young player into a starting role if it gives them some chance to win. This is likely a Lin-type fluke, but in deeper leagues while he’s hot, riding the Vasquez train isn’t the worst idea in the world.
20. Derrick Williams
Coming out of college, many considered D-Will the top talent in the draft. Simply months later, it is still way too early to give up on him, despite his lack of playing time and performance. The upside is there to shoot from the field at a high clip while rebounding, scoring, and limiting turnovers like he did so well at Arizona last season.
21. Derrick Favors
Switching jerseys so early in one’s career is always difficult, but Favors has managed it nicely in 2011-2012. While he has been turning over the ball at a clip too high for a power forward, he should continue to develop as a rebounder and scorer as he gains more experience.
22. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is a better real-life player than fantasy player, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still have some value. Surprisingly, the Spurs are once again a relatively dominant force in the West. If their success continues, it could mean even more playing time for Leonard as the team looks to limit Duncan’s minutes. As it is, Kawhi is solid in rebounding and steals, while shooting for a fine percentage and scoring enough points. He’s not elite in any category, but Leonard is known as an extremely studious player who is only going to get better the more time he spends with Coach Poppovich.
23. Klay Thompson
Thompson can flat-out shoot. So far this season, Thompson is hitting 45.9% of his attempts from beyond the arc, which logically in itself should make him a much better ranked rookie than this. However, his playing time has been limited so severely that across the board he hurts fantasy owners in almost every other category. As long as Thompson continues to shoot nearly this well, he should gain playing time and quickly shoot up this list, but until that time it’s just too risky to start a guy who’s playing 16.5 minutes per game so far this season.
24. Patrick Patterson
It’s hard to get exactly why, but Cott has always loved Patterson. On a per-minute basis, he has been a great player, and despite the lack of playing time, Patterson can help out with his points and rebounds, and has picked up his performance in recent weeks.
25. Jordan Crawford
Another guy who will hurt you in several categories, Crawford will suffer in fg% and turnovers but is a great option for his threes, points, and LeBron poster-izations.
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