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.
1. Nerlens Noel — Sixers
7.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.8 bpg, 45 FG%, 33 FT%
Noel was likely the first rookie off the board in the draft (or had the most spent on him n auctions), and is unsurprisingly, the most productive rookie so far this season. As we have to remember with all first year players, their percentages will be bad initially, but will improve and that will be the case with Noel. What is extremely valuable is the huge steal and block numbers, with the steals being especially valuable for a centre. He needs to be held onto as his numbers will only increase.
2. Kyle Anderson — Spurs
4.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 13 FG%, 67 FT%
Anderson has played just one game this season, so his ranking is skewed by that. That one game was the game where coach Gregg Popovich rested Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, so we can’t expect him to get 31 minutes regularly. But, when the Spurs are short handed, Anderson looks like a nice streaming option for his Nicolas Batum-like lines. In a few years, I can see Anderson being a great fantasy option for across the board production, but for this season, he’s not worth an add, bar from the deepest of leagues.
3. Kostas Papanikolaou — Rockets
5.0 ppg, 1.3 3pm, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 33 FG%
Whilst a rookie in the NBA sense, Papanikolaou has been playing professionally in Europe for a number of seasons, so has somewhat of an advantage over the other youngsters in this class. He has been key distributor for the Rockets’ second-unit and would see a significant rise in value if anything were to happen to Trevor Ariza, the Rockets’ starting small forward. For now, he is a guy who should be looked at in 16 team leagues, mainly for his ability to get out of position assists.
4. Elfrid Payton — Magic
9.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 36 FG%, 50 FT%
A real percentage killer, Payton has a lot more value in head-to-head leagues than rotisserie formats, but even in head-to-head, he’s a three-category guy only. THe assists, boards and steals are very nice, but aside from the percentages, the lack of three-pointers hurts as a point guard. Still, he’s likely to have more season long value than both Papanikolaou and Anderson and could easily challenge for the number one fantasy rookie. Just be prepared to deal with his shortcomings.
5. Marcus Smart — Celtics
6.8 ppg, 1.2 3pm, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 31 FG%, 100 FT%
After going down with a sprained ankle Friday, Smart’s value takes a tumble, but with the news that he will miss just two to three weeks, it’s not all bad news. He’s hard to roster in anything shallower than a 14 team league at the moment, but when he gets a starter’s role, he’ll be a top 100 fantasy player. The steals could be elite and he has hit three-pointers at a better than expected clip. For now, if someone dropped him, I’d hold off on acquiring him
Rest of the top 10
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