With the new year approaching, I thought I'd focus on rebirth.
Or, rather, birth.
It was supposed to be one of the deepest draft classes in NBA history. While that may still prove true long term, it's looking more like Isiah Thomas' GM track record: overrated, overhyped and way more flash than substance. The 2014/15 rookies have disappointed. There's no other way to say it.
The injuries obviously don't help. I don't remember another year where so many rookies were besieged with injuries.
You could literally put together an All-NBA rookie team with these names.
Embiid, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle looked to be clear 1st team All-NBA rookies. The loss of that trifecta is a devastating blow to Fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and fans of the NBA in general. Make sure you add those 3 names to the top of your 15/16 sleeper list. All could break out a la Blake Griffin next season...
Nikola Mirotic, CHI, PF/C
While Andrew Wiggins is certainly considered the frontrunner for ROY right now, Mirotic has arguably been the better performer.
Mirotic has been ranked #62 overall the last 14 days in Yahoo's database, while playing under 20 minutes a game recently. Pretty impressive that he's putting up these numbers while playing in one of the best rotations in the NBA. I always track monthly splits for NBA rooks, and Nikola's are moving in the right direction. Check out these patterns (indicated from Oct/Nov/Dec): PPG (2.5/7.1/10.8), 3PM (0.5/0.9/1.5), REB (3.5/5.0/5.9), etc etc. The minutes are increasing, and so are the counting stats...
The biggest concern obviously is playing time. While he's a trusted part of the rotation, it's hard to see him climbing higher than he is right now. In a dynasty league, he's a MUST OWN. In a 1-year league, he's Watch List material. But I am officially impressed by this kid...
Dante Exum, UTA, PG
Taken 5th overall in the 2014 NBA draft, Exum was widely considered to compete for the starting PG job in the post-Stockton era. Trey Burke has not impressed, yet Exum's nowhere close to stealing his job.
Applying our little monthly splits exercise, here are Exum's (November/December): MPG (18:53, 17:31), AST (2.6, 1.4), PPG (5.0, 4.9). These stats are clearly not going in the right direction. While Exum is only 19 years old, it may take awhile for Dante to figure out the NBA game.
I considered Exum a lock in dynasty leagues going into the season. I no longer consider this to be true. He's certainly a hold (definitely not a drop), but dangling Exum as a trade chip might not be a horrible idea...
Marcus Smart, BOS, PG
While Marcus Smart has not exactly taken full advantage of the Rondo trade yet, the upside here is immense. Even this season.
Boston is clearly trying to slot Marcus Smart into Rondo's vacated slot in the lineup as their starting PG, but his inconsistency is certainly slowing his development curve. Check out Smart's last 2 games: 30 minutes, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 TOS, 4 steals, 5 points (Brooklyn); 14 minutes, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 TOs, 0 steals, 3 points (Washington).
He's the quintessential elevator player, but he'll figure it out - at some point. This season? Perhaps.
He's worth adding in deep leagues/dynasties/keepers, but only a Watch List candidate for 1-year leagues.
Tarik Black, LAL, PF/C
In case you missed it, the Houston Rockets were forced to waive intriguing rookie Tarik Black - to make room for the J-Smoove acquisition. His offensive rebounding % of 16.7 would lead the entire NBA (if he qualified). Dude's getting 5 rebounds/game playing 15 MPG. Real value here...
There is opportunity in La La Land, so Black is worth a grab in deep leagues...
Yahoo Friends and Family update:
Speaking of rookies, I'm holding my own in my first year in the Yahoo Friends and Family league. I've dropped down to 3rd place (after 3 weeks of holding first place), but in a league of such talented owners, it's been difficult to stay that high. Almost midway through the season, I'm hoping to hold down a playoff spot. But in a league this competitive, it won't be easy...
In summation, the life of an NBA rookie is all about adjustments.
If you're gonna own a rookie in a 1-year league, be prepared for inconsistency. If you're in a dynasty league, you're simply gonna have to live with it.
As the new year approaches, it's a time to consider all the lessons of the past 12 months - and resolve to make change for the year ahead.
That may mean purging a few unspectacular NBA rookies from your Fantasy Basketball roster, or picking up a couple intriguing rookies as the last couple spots on your bench...
Whatever you do, just remember how volatile these first-year assets are.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
I can always refer back to this document later after I publish.
Stop putting words in my mouth.