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The Rookie Report - An Early Look At This Year's Class (Part 1)


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.

This week I will look at the early picks who are already getting big minutes, before following up with the later picks who are carving out rotational roles in their rookie years.

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Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

Ayton's ADP shot up in the last few weeks leading up to the beginning of the season and he has been pretty close to meeting those expectations early in this young system. Some have harped on Ayton being a long-term defensive liability in the NBA but the Suns defensive struggles have been more a team-wide problem - they are 3.4 points per 100 possessions better with Ayton on the court than off, although that is the difference between atrocious and slightly less atrocious.

Offensively, he's been everything we expected so far - an efficient double-double machine with some decent passing thrown into the mix as well. Most of his value is coming from his FG% so far, which is being driven by an insane 78% conversion rate at the rim, which is in the 96th percentile as a 20-year-old rookie. I don't think he can keep that up for the whole season, which makes his current ranking a bit inflated by the 61% shooting, as his steal and block numbers have been very underwhelming so far in his young career. While he does have room to grow in that regard, it doesn't look like he will be a stud in either defensive category.

Ayton is also a complete zero in 3s. This limits his value as well and the combination of that and the lack of defense really restricts where he fits in, but the overall package still works out to a top-40 type guy. He has a place as an efficient big, an archetype we are severely lacking in the player pool this season.

Player Comparison: LaMarcus Aldridge 

Aldridge's efficiency (FG% this season not withstanding) and scoring have made him an excellent pivot for FT% and points in punt 3s and punt assists builds, and that's where DeAndre Ayton naturally fits as well. Aldridge has been a cornerstone of punt 3s builds for years and Ayton will look to be a highly coveted fit in that strategy as well.

Punt assists will also appreciate the points and FT%, and both these strategies will be set up to make up Ayton's deficiencies in blocks as well with their natural big-heavy tendencies.

Ceiling: Top 50 this year, Top 40 long term

DeAndre Ayton looks to be more of a strategy specific player rather than a cornerstone in fantasy terms. He won't fit in all teams, but will be a very important piece for the teams that do want what he brings to the table. The lack of defensive stats and 3s are going to be what keeps him out of the top 30 this year and in the future, but Ayton looks like he will be able to carve out a spot in the top 40 as a niche, high-floor option.

 

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Triple J has been an absolute monster already this season, and is easily my favorite dynasty pick out of this season's rookie crop. Jackson Jr. has cemented himself in the Grizzlies starting lineup, and is a big part of their early season success.

He has an extremely fantasy-friendly game that can fit into almost any team, and there's still room to grow once he takes on more offensive responsibility once the Grizzlies' veteran core eventually moves on or declines.

Player Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis

3s, scoring ability and sky-high block numbers have Jackson Jr. looking an awful lot like everyone's favorite Latvian Unicorn did during his rookie campaign. The two skill-sets are very comparable, with Jackson giving up some FT% and 3s in exchange for FG% and steals.

That slight difference actually makes Jackson easier to fit into most builds, as Porzingis' low FG% at the center position makes him fit a lot better in punt FG% while making him a tougher fit in some other guard heavy builds that can't afford that hit to that category. Jackson will be an awesome pivot in punt 3s or punt assists with his out of position steals numbers, as well as an amazing punt rebounds and punt FG% guy due to his insane blocks, similar to how Porzingis has been a lynchpin of those builds the last couple years.

Ceiling: Top 30 this year, top 10 long term

This may be a bit aggressive, but I could not believe in this skill-set more long term. Porzingis was already pushing second round value in drafts before his unfortunate injury, and Jackson provides a similar, but more versatile skill-set than Big Latvia does. If the scoring goes up without a corresponding drop in efficiency over the next few years, I can easily see Jackson Jr. going in the first round.

 

Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls

The Block Panther has also played his way into a solidified starting role, as injuries gave him a chance to see extended run early and he has made the most of that opportunity. Carter Jr. has not yet flashed his 3-point range much this season, but the ability is there for him to add more of that to his game and his skill-set already is immensely valuable.

He's also already shown himself to be an excellent free throw shooter, and that skill will make him extremely coveted in a number of builds coming from a center-eligible player.

Player Comparison: Marc Gasol

Gasol shoots a bit more 3s and blocks a bit less shots now, but prior to his more permanent move out to the perimeter, his skill-set pretty closely resembled what Carter Jr. does now. Gasol has been the quintessential punt FG% pivot for a few years now, and Carter Jr. is a perfect fit in that build with utility in other builds as well. Out of position assists have been one of Gasol's calling cards over the years and while Carter Jr. isn't quite there yet in that category, he is already showing a decent rate as a rookie and looks to only improve as he gains more experience in the NBA.

His skill-set works great in punt 3s and punt assists as well with the out of position FT% and decent steal rate shining brightly in those strategies. With 3 excellent high-efficiency big men entering the player pool this season, it looks like the lack of those types of players will not be an issue in the years going forward, and all 3 of these guys will be integral picks in guard heavy builds moving forward.

Ceiling: Top 50 this year, top 20 long-term

Gasol maxed out as a top 30ish player, but I see Carter Jr. having a higher ceiling than the big Spaniard as he projects to have a higher block rate than Gasol ever did. It remains to be seen how drastic the increase in 3s will be and how that will affect his FG%, but overall I can see the whole package settling in around a top 20 valuation.

 

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Doncic is probably the front-runner for rookie of the year, but his fantasy game is not as friendly as the 3 bigs we have already covered. PG is a stacked position and while Doncic has definitely been good, he's still a significant step below the top tier at the position for now whilst Ayton, Carter Jr., and Jackson Jr. are already close to, if not in that tier for the niches they fill.

Still, Doncic has already played up to the extremely high expectations set for him as he entered the league with a EuroLeague MVP under his belt, and it will be exciting to see how he grows and adds to his game as he gains more experience stateside.

Player Comparison: Victor Oladipo

The only thing not comparable is the steal rate, as the rest of the kit falls pretty closely in line. Both provide solid but not elite numbers in rebounds and assists along with middling efficiency numbers and a good helping of 3s. Both also look to provide decent block numbers from a PG eligible player, which adds a bit of value for them in guard heavy builds such as punt FG% and punt rebounds.

I think both of them fit very well in either punt % strategy as well as something like punt assists and punt rebounds - Oladipo has always had an incredibly unique fantasy spread that has made him a top-40 ish player even before his breakout last year, and it is really cool to have a rookie with a similar type of kit enter the league.

Ceiling: Top 60 this year, Top 20 long term

The top 20 call will end up coming down to whether or not Doncic can increase his steal numbers over the years, something that is not guaranteed. The scoring increasing is almost a surefire guarantee, and I expect him to settle in close to Oladipo's 23-25 PPG mark going forward in a couple of years. If he can get his steals up to 1.5 and blocks up to something like 0.7, then we will have a surefire top 20 level player, and I don't think that's a stretch to see at all.

 

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young has pretty much been who we expected him to be, a high usage guard with a ton of assists and a ton of bricks. The weirdest thing about Young so far has been a baffling 24.1% 3 point rate, which is due for some positive regression as he couldn't possibly be the worst volume 3-point shooter in the league given his skill-set and what we know about him coming out of college.

A bit of regression there would move his points and 3s made up to what we expected from him this season, but the volume shooting and subpar percentage makes him almost exclusively a punt FG% player right now, and the lack of steals so far this season has been a bit of a surprise. Still, he does have a ton of room to grow and a normalized 3-point rate with that monster 28% usage rate will make his line look a lot better sooner rather than later.

Player Comparison: Damian Lillard

Massive volume, high points, and assists, huge usage rate coupled with a prohibitively low FG% and a distinct lack of defense, Young is almost a dead ringer for a less developed version of Damian Lillard. Lillard's entire package works out to borderline first-round to second-round value, but he's not as versatile as the true elite first-round guards and his lack of steals is what is keeping him out of solid first-round consideration.

Lillard has been almost exclusively a punt FG% option, as it's pretty hard to recover from his FG% on that kind of volume, and Young looks to fill a similar niche going forward. Both look to be the kind of player that ends up being seriously mis-drafted, oftentimes showing up on teams they don't particularly fit well in.

Ceiling: Top 80 this year, Top 30 long term

Young is already a top-40 to top-50 type guy on punt FG% teams but the hit to that category is pretty significant in any other build. Lillard is a top-15 talent because his scoring is at a top-tier rate and Young will need to get up there to reach that kind of ceiling. If he settles in as just great in that category (25 PPG) rather than exceptional, he will settle in as a niche top-30 play, and that's where I expect him to end up in a few years.

 

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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