There hasn’t been a more heralded rookie class than the class of 2014 in recent years. The fact that we’d heard about guys like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker for years really cemented the excitement in all of our minds and as fantasy owners, surely influenced how we valued these rookies in our drafts.
Rookies, in general, tend to be overdrafted, and this year, it appears to have been no exception. With Nerlens Noel, Parker and Wiggins routinely taken in the top 100, with Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, Dante Exum, K.J. McDaniels, and Julius Randle being drafted in nearly all leagues, the early returns have not been encouraging.
In these rookie report articles, I’ll be looking at the head to head values of the current class of first-year players over the past two weeks of the season.
1. K.J. McDaniels — Sixers
9.0 ppg, 1.1 3pm, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.7 bpg, 45 FG%, 64 FT%
McDaniels made a cameo one game starting appearance Thursday, but was back to the bench Friday, but he has still been the best rookie over the last couple of weeks in the NBA. He is a Triple One candidate and gives you elite blocks from the two-guard spot. The return of Michael Carter-Williams may impact his minutes further, so he isn’t a must-own to me in 10 or 12 team leagues.
2. Nerlens Noel — Sixers
6.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 spg, 1.0 bpg, 46 FG%, 33 FT%
Now that he’s back from the sprained ankle, his production should go up, but coach Brett Brown has played Noel off the bench in his two games since returning. Once he regains the starting job, he’ll have his name atop this list more often than not this season and as you can see the blocks and steals could be elite this season. Now maybe a good buy-low opportunity for Noel.
3. Kostas Papanikolaou — Rockets
4.3 ppg, 1.1 3pm, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 24 FG%, 67 FT%
Papanikolaou continues to underwhelm with his scoring and shooting, but is providing solid value in the other categories. With Terrence Jones sitting due to a leg bruise/nerve issue, he and Donatas Motiejunas have split the start roles. He’s only a deep league player at the moment, but his peripheral numbers are intriguing, particularly if he can get 30 minutes a game routinely.
4. Bojan Bogdanovic — Nets
10.9 ppg, 1.4 3pm, 3.0 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 47 FG%, 100 FT%
Like Papanikolaou and Noel, Bogdanovic is not a member of the 2014 draft class, but is still a rookie in the NBA sense. Over the last week, he/s really settled into his role, achieving his career high of 22 points Sunday. He’s also hit a three-pointer in six straight games and is getting consistent minutes as the Nets’ starting small forward. In 12 team leagues, Bogdanovic needs to be considered.
5. Zach LaVine — Timberwolves
7.5 ppg, 0.3 3pm, 3.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 36 FG%, 100 FT%
Surprisingly, Flip Saunders installed LaVine as the starting point guard in Minnesota when Ricky Rubio went down and the results have been encouraging. While Rubio is out, LaVine is a solid add for some assists, having nine against the Rockets during the week, but don’t expect anywhere near Rubio-level production. Once Rubio returns, I don’t envisage LaVine having any value outside of dynasty formats, though.
Rest of the top 10
Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast here or in iTunes here, and you can also listen now on Stitcher radio. I’d really appreciate it you could rate and review the podcast in iTunes, it helps a lot with the show’s rankings and I’d be eternally grateful.
Please leave me any feedback about the show below in the comments, on Twitter or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I’ve started a Tumblr page and an Instagram account, so if you could follow those, it would be grand.