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The Rookie Report - An Early Look At This Year's Class (Part 2)


I took a look at last year's rookie class, analyzing their fantasy games and throwing out some comparables based on their stat spread and figured that now is a good time to take a look at this year's class with a similar lens. We're through only around a fifth of the season so the sample size isn't massive by any means, but it's been long enough for some rookies to have already left a first impression. I plan to revisit the entire class at the end of the year with a full season under its' belt, as it will definitely be fun to see where I was right or wrong.

Remember that the player comparisons are based off of expected fantasy skill sets, and are not a comparison of their actual games! With the way fantasy basketball category formats play, one of the most exciting things is seeing how the landscape of certain punt strategies change with a new class of rookies being added to the player pool, and it's a good idea to see how these new players slot in with regards to all the different builds.

Continuing from last week's piece on the early pick rookies who have already seen consistent playing time, this week we will finish up with the later picks who have seen time, as well as the only top 5 pick who hasn't carved out a consistent starting role yet.

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Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

Bags has been the only top 5 pick to have not been handed a consistent starting role, partly due to the Kings' surprisingly strong start so far this season. Bagley has not been very good so far, but it's more because he's actually looked like a rookie, rather than spoiling us as instant NBA ready star-caliber production like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Luka Doncic are doing.

Due to the Kings' looking like an actual competent fun team stemming from breakouts from their young core, combined with their thirst for wins that is understandable due to the franchise's recent ("recent" is a pretty long time here) struggles, Bagley has only averaged 24 minutes this season. The good thing is that the minutes have been solidly up in the last few games, and will surely increase as the Kings begin to inevitably fall behind in the bloodbath that is the Western Conference, and Bagley should average closer to the 30 minute mark from this point on.

The only issue is Bagley hasn't fit that well into the run and gun, quick strike type of offense that their young studs De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have been running, and it will be interesting to watch how he will be integrated further into the team's long-term plans as the season progresses.

Player Comparison: Montrezl Harrell

With a mid 60s free throw percentage and enough volume to hurt you, make no mistake that Bagley is a punt FT% guy. It's pretty hard to find actual comparisons for his skillset, and the closest I can think of is this year's Montrezl Harrell, a points and rebounds contributor that also pitches in with defensive stats but not to the level of someone like a Rudy Gobert or Clint Capela.

Bagley's block numbers so far have been a little surprising as he wasn't a great shot blocker in college, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep up this 1.8 blocks per 36 pace over a longer period of time. My guess is he will settle in at around 1-1.2 blocks a game, and he will definitely be an interesting points pivot for punt FT% builds.

Ceiling: Top 100 this year, Top 60 long term

The one thing Bagley does that Harrell doesn't is shoot 3s, and if he can get his 3s up close to 1 per game, he could be a pretty important points AND 3s pivot for punt FT% builds, a very unique skill-set in today's game. Unless he can get his FT% up past the 70 mark, he will pretty much be draftable only by punt FT% teams, as he projects to get to line quite a lot, and will be a big enough drain on that category that most builds won't be able to stomach.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Los Angeles Clippers

SGA has been the most surprising rookie so far in terms of performance compared to expectations, and he is a part of the reason why the Clipper have jumped out of the gate to the NBA's best record a quarter of the way through the season.

The Clippers rookie has shown poise and maturity on both ends of the floor, and has already established himself as a full time starter for a playoff contending team. As a fantasy player, his skill-set does lack a couple things so far that look to keep him out of the elite point guard conversation down the road if they don't improve - mainly, a depressed 3 and steal rate that are the calling cards of top-20 level guards in the game.

Player Comparison: Jeff Teague

Jeff Teague has been a consistent top 40-50 option over the last few years but similar issues with a lower volume of 3s and a good but not great steals per game mark are what has kept him in that tier rather than up in the top 30. Teague sits at around a 20 usage rate which is reasonable to project onto SGA as he gains more experience, and that should bring his points and 3s in line with what Teague has done in the past.

The one thing that Shai has done better than Teague, and most other point guards for that matter, is block shots, and the 0.8 out of position blocks is something very interesting and could make SGA a truly unique fantasy player if he is able to up his 3 and steal rates.

Ceiling: Top 100 this year, top 30 long term

With a 40% 3-point conversion rate in college and a 36% mark in the pros, he should be able to get his 3s up at least to Teague's level with more experience and usage, and that will open up his game and get him into the top 50 for sure. He is a pretty strong FG% guy at the 1 as well, and combining that with his out of position blocks make him a very interesting piece of punt rebound teams. It will be exciting to see how this guy develops, but I am pretty high on his long term prospects.

 

Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns

While Mikal Bridges' fantasy season so far can pretty accurately be summed up by the Gattuso "sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe shit" meme, he's been a pretty strong real life player with the Suns being over 15 points better per 100 possessions with him on the court than off. That has earned him minutes, and should see him solidify himself as a 30+ min a night guy for a dumpster fire of a tanking squad.

Bridges won't get the usage to contribute too much in points and 3s this season but he has a very fantasy friendly skill-set and his game will blossom once the expected bump in usage comes in the next few years as he gains more experience in the pros.

Player Comparison: Gary Harris

This is a pretty aggressive comp, and certainly won't be true this year, but this is the type of ceiling I see for Bridges long term. Harris is a net rating darling that is severely underrated due to his relatively low scoring but he does so much to help his team win games.

Bridges has a similar type of skill-set to Harris, a true 3-and-D wing, but also with higher blocks upside coming from his 7-foot wingspan and athleticism that gives him another dimension of projectable ceiling on top of what Harris does.

Ceiling: Top 100 this year, top 30 long-term

Again, the usage won't be there this year due to Devin Booker and T.J. Warren eating up most of the Suns' possessions but I expect Bridges to carve out enough of a role and contribute enough in 3s and steals to solidify himself as a top 100 option. Long term, I like his upside and see his ceiling as Gary Harris with blocks, which is comfortably a top-30 player.

 

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Probably the most intriguing rookie in the class so far, Mitchell Robinson's season has been about as unpredictable as it gets. From coach David Fizzdale's early season statements about Robinson needing time in the G-league, to a short little stint where Robinson was starting and slated for 30 minute nights, which didn't quite materialize due to Robinson's consistent foul trouble, to finally settling in so far as a high teens minute bench role, saying Mitch Rob has been all over the map is an understatement.

A Ringer piece described him as "Sashimi Raw", which is pretty accurate (and actually a pretty funny way to put it), as Robinson has not been able to stay out of foul trouble at all which is putting a severe hamper on what he can do in fantasy. The most amazing part about all this is he's posted 2.0 blocks per game in just 17 minutes, which translates to an absolutely insane 4.1 blocks per 36. For comparison's sake, Rudy Gobert posted a 3.4 blocks per 36 mark in his rookie season in limited time, which goes to show Mitchell Robinson's tantalizing fantasy upside.

Player Comparison: Nerlens Noel

With a small boost in minutes as he gains experience and mitigates his foul trouble a bit, Robinson looks to play like an inverted Nerlens Noel of sorts - the same kind of profile as  Noel except with lower steals and higher blocks.

This kind of profile fits very nicely in a bunch of different builds, with the obvious standouts being punt points, punt assists and punt 3s. Robinson also pivots quite nicely in a punt rebounds build with his FG% and blocks contributions if your team is strong enough to make up for his huge deficiencies in guard stats and can be an absolute week winner in certain matchups.

Ceiling: Top 120 this year, Top 40 long term

Mitchell Robinson is the type of player I absolutely love having on my bench as a matchup base play, and the skill-set can completely swing a week if deployed correctly. He isn't the type of player who can be picked up and used effectively by anyone - you need to have a thorough understanding of matchup specific punts week to week in order to use him effectively. In stronger leagues, he is already an excellent high risk high reward guy to have around, and long term my top-40 projection might seem low if he reaches anything close to his potential.

 

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Padawan will get all the minutes he can handle in the Shrug Emoji of a team that is the 2018-2019 Cleveland Cavaliers, but that doesn't make him a lock to be a productive fantasy player. Sexton's fantasy skill-set is pretty bare bones, and he doesn't project to do much other than get buckets inefficiently.

The jury is still out on his long term prospects given more time in the league, but I definitely don't see fantasy upside here, and I think he will be the type of player that gets overrated heavily by weaker fantasy players in the vein of Andrew Wiggins or Harrison Barnes.

Player Comparison: Rodney Hood

You need to look no further than a few lockers down to find a good comparison, and Sexton's teammate, Rocket Rodney Hood is a good example of what I can see Sexton doing in a couple years. Even in Hood's best season, he was a borderline top 100 guy, which is rosterable, but nothing too exciting and certainly not a fit for every team. The lack of defense and inefficient shooting will make him a low end punt FG% guy at best

Sexton does have more scoring upside, and can eventually settle in around the 20 mark with a higher assist rate, but even then he still would play something like Andrew Wiggins, who is probably the most overrated player in both real life and fantasy.

Ceiling: Top 120 this year, Top 100 long term

I'm pretty low on Sexton as a fantasy player, and don't see him being anything close to a top-100 option. Already this season I see a lot of people calling him a must roster guy due to his clear path to minutes on a tanking team, but even then, I see a ton of bare bones lines from him and would not consider him a must roster for leagues shallower than 16 teams.

 

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Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More