2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Top Rookies
Justin Fensterman takes a look at some of NBA's top rookies to seek out in your fantasy basketball drafts.
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- Deandre Ayton-C-Phoenix Suns: Ayton was everything as advertised in Summer League. He drove effectively, used his length efficiently and was able to average a double-double. He joins a Suns team that has had bad luck finding productive big-men. Tyson Chandler is a good defensive option but lacks that offensive ability that the Suns need. Devin Booker has a second option and Ayton won’t have much competition for playing time. Ryan Anderson doesn’t really play in the paint and they’ll use the aging Chandler sparingly. The Suns got Richaun Holmes , but his minutes will be limited. Ayton is way more skilled than any other big man on this team. He’ll be a force inside on defense. Expect a lot of blocks from Ayton. He should easily play 30-plus minutes per game from the start.
- Collin Sexton-G-Cleveland Cavaliers: Sexton is in a great spot and should start as Point Guard from the get-go. He has speed and he’s very acrobatic in the air. He can switch his body mid-air to avoid defenders. He’ll keep the Cavs offense moving at a very quick pace. Sexton will contribute a ton of assists because of all of the spot-up shooters the Cavs have. He’ll make more of an offensive impact in the paint than Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. Sexton is also good at sticking to his man. His agility will help him fight through screens. Expect him to average 12-15 points per game and 6-8 assists per game. After Kevin Love , the Cavs have a bunch of one-dimensional offensive players and that will benefit Sexton even more.
- Luka Doncic -G-Dallas Mavericks: The landscape in Dallas is about to change. The hype behind Doncic is massive. Doncic is a 6’7 listed Point Guard (talk about a match up problem). He’s an excellent ball-handler and he can hit deep three-pointers. He’ll fire away from four feet behind the arc. The Mavericks are going to have a few decisions to make. They have to get Doncic in that starting lineup. It may come down to moving Dennis Smith Jr. either to the shooting guard spot or even making him the team’s sixth man. Another solution could be to put Doncic in at the SG spot. Smith is a solid driver, but his shooting is erratic and that’s where Doncic can take advantage and subsequently the ball out of Smith’s hands. Doncic is just as effective of a lane-driver and his arrival in Dallas could decrease Smith’s role overall. Expect a ton of scoring, especially from long distance and a lot of assists as well.
- Jaren Jackson Jr.-F-Memphis Grizzlies: Jackson Jr. is quick, agile, has good shooting range and most importantly pedigree, as his Dad was also in the NBA. The Grizzlies JaMychal Green experiment needs to be sent to the bench. They need to start Jackson. He’s an excellent complimentary weapon to Marc Gasol . Jackson’s shooting range allows Gasol to play more inside. When Jackson has the ball looking to drive inside, expect Gasol to pop out and get high-percentage shots. Jackson has more skills to his game than Green. With the Grizzlies dealing with a couple of injuries from last season, Jackson (whether he starts or comes off the bench) should have a scoring role early on.
- Marvin Bagley III-F/C-Sacramento Kings: It may take a Month to figure out the situation with the Kings Forwards and how the minutes will be distributed, but Bagley should be able to see a full 20-plus minute commitment from the Kings. Bagley is explosive and it’ll be hard stopping him from getting to the hoop. He uses his size effectively in the pain on both sides of the ball. He’ll benefit most when the offensive pace is quick and will take advantage of slower transition defenses. He’ll drive down the middle and draw a lot of contact. He’s more of an inside banger who will also contribute with blocks.
- Trae Young -G-Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks will regret not keeping Luka Doncic . Young is a very streaky shooter, but the opportunities will be there for him. He tries too hard to be Stephen Curry and it’s irritating because he forces up low-percentage shots. He’ll keep shooting and shooting and shooting. He will have some competition for the starting spot against Jeremy Lin but Lin has proven that he can’t stay healthy and that should automatically give Young a good chunk of minutes per game even if he comes of the bench. Young won’t have too much competition for shots. He’ll be very helpful in dishing assists and he has tremendous quickness. He should take the Lonzo Ball approach and focus more on his driving until the shot improves.
- Kevin Knox -F-New York Knicks: Believe it or not, it won’t take long for Knox to become a top three or even top two scoring option for the Knicks. With Kristaps Porzingis status for the season up in the air, Knox should see heavy minutes early. He has very little competition for a starting role and with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter as the other two main scoring options, Knox could see a lot of shots and time with the ball early. The Knicks want Knox to attack the rim more at first rather than rely on his shot. His driving ability reminds me of Jayson Tatum ’s and he’ll play aggressive inside to give the Knicks second-chance scoring opportunities. Expect a good amount of steals, as Knox is a very disciplined defender.
- Wendell Carter Jr.-C-Chicago Bulls: Carter was an all-around producer in summer league and with Robin Lopez getting taken out of games last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Carter grab the starting Center spot early on in the season, even if it’s not right from game one. He’ll grab steals and block shots inside and it’s very difficult because of his build to box him out of the game. Carter has tremendous reach. He towers over people and will grab boards even when out of position. He’ll produce mainly on the low-block and he’ll see heavy minutes early. The Bulls have been missing an enforcer-like option to pair with Lauri Markkanen . Carter is a good complimentary piece.
- Michael Porter Jr.-F-Denver Nuggets: Expect Porter to break out towards the middle of the season. The Nuggets getting rid of Wilson Chandler is the best thing that could have happened for Porter. Porter had Back surgery and while it is not locked in that he starts the season active, he should see playing time with the second unit. Expect his minutes to be limited in October and a good amount of November. A lot of analysts thing because of his skill-set, Porter is one of the most complete athletes from this draft class and could be the steal of the draft. If he stays on course and back issues don’t flare up, he could become the Nuggets seventh man. He can shoot and has solid ball-handling abilities. Porter is also good at following up his own shots and fantasy owners will be rewarded with rebounds and steals.
- Miles Bridges-F-Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets forwards are completely out-dated and they haven’t been able to get consistent production at either spot. Bridges has been getting credit for his shooting and defense and that could lead to a consistent role coming off the bench. Bridges will score effectively from mid-range and grab steals. He’s an aggressive defender who doesn’t go for many fakes and he’ll fight for loose balls and boards. If the Hornets decide to start Nicolas Batum at SG, the chances of Bridges starting could increase. Expect him to produce coming off the bench, as he’ll take advantage of the opposition’s second unit. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting on opening night for the Hornets.
- Aaron Holiday-G-Indiana Pacers: When the Pacers look to turn up the tempo on offense, they will rely on the quickness of Holiday. Holiday has tremendous court-vision and he’ll provide assists, steals and he’ll be an excellent driver on the ball when given opportunities. Expect Holiday to come off the bench behind Darren Collison . His main competition for minutes will be Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans . Luckily for Holiday, the Pacers aren’t too deep at the SF spot and Evans can rotate to that spot opening up the rotation a little bit. The speedy Holiday has no fears when he’s driving and he always hustles on both sides of the ball. By the second half of the season, he should be able to get a full commitment of 20 minutes from the Pacers.
- Mitchell Robinson-C-New York Knicks: Robinson makes this list because of athleticism. He can run quickly for a Center and he jumps very high. Kristaps Porzingis being out indefinitely benefits Robinson just like it does Kevin Knox . The Knicks are looking to buyout Joakim Noah and Luke Kornet will rotate to the PF spot. Robinson should be the primary back up behind Enes Kanter and first big man off the bench. Expect a ton of blocks and boards inside. He’ll score off of put-backs and use his lengthy arms to grab steals off of loose balls inside. He should see close to 20 minutes per game early on. The Knicks lack of frontcourt depth should immediately but Robinson in the rotation.
- Harry Giles-F/C-Sacramento Kings: Giles sat out all of last season injured and even though the Kings have a good amount of depth at Forward, Giles hustle and intensity in the game could give him a huge role off the bench early. If he shines in the first part of pre-season, he could steal minutes from rookie teammate Marvin Bagley III. With Willie Cauley-Stein taking the Center spot and Skal Labissiere too inconsistent, Giles could be one of the surprises of the season. Zach Randolph is still there and that will hurt Giles minutes early, but as the season continues, Giles will steadily pick up minutes. He’s aggressive inside and can shoot from the outside. Expect him to get open shots early and he’ll also help out with boards and even assists. He’s good at anticipating the cutter and feeding them as the player cuts inside. His teammates rave about his intensity and he does have experience studying the game at a pro-level while he sat out last season.
- Mo Bamba-C-Orlando Magic: The current situation isn’t great in Orlando for Bamba as he will have to fight for minutes early. He could end up becoming the best defender statistically of anyone in this draft class, but playing behind Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic will hurt his chances of getting a full roster commitment early on. The Magic do have Timofey Mozgov as well, but let’s be real, it’s Timofey Mozgov ! The Magic may give Mozgov the upper hand at the start of the season for back up big-man minutes, but then they’ll soon realize how much of a force Bamba is and he’ll grab a ton of boards and blocks and score from the low block. It’ll be hard boxing him out of the lane. Bamba could blossom more next year if Vucevic doesn’t re-sign, but once he gets consistent minutes, he’ll be able to stick in the rotation. He should become the primary back up Center but it’s not locked in.
Player AlarmsView All
C. LeVert - SG
Coach Kenny Atkinson said the team will evaluate LeVert on Tuesday afternoon, Greg Logan of Newsday reports.
The hope is that LeVert isn't dealing with any residual effects of the ankle injury that cost him nearly three months, but given that he played in only three games before the break, the Nets will be extra cautious with the prized young guard. LeVert made his return on Feb. 8 against Chicago, playing 15 minutes and finishing with 11 points, four assists and five steals. He followed up with 23 minutes in a loss to Toronto three days later before returning to the starting lineup and seeing 30 minutes in the Nets' final game before the break. In that win over Cleveland, LeVert had 12 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Added 2:53 pm (EST)
M. Beasley - SF
Beasley is expected to finalize a contract Tuesday with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.
It will mark Beasley's third stint in the CBA after he previously suited up for the Shanghai Sharks in the 2014-15 season and the Shangdong Golden Stars in 2015-16. Beasley averaged north of 28 points in both trials in the CBA and would likely become one of the top players on the circuit upon returning to China, so it's unsurprising that his contract is believed to include "significant cash," per Wojnarowski. Beasley's commitment to Guangdong is only expected to run through the end of the CBA campaign -- likely at some point in March or April, depending on the duration of the team's playoff run -- so it's possible he could still resurface at the NBA level before the regular season concludes in April.
Added 10:37 am (EST)
C. Brewer - SF
Brewer signed a 10-day contract with the Kings on Monday.
Brewer didn't appear in a game during his first 10-day stint with the Kings, so he doesn't figure to play a large role in his second go-around. Once his upcoming 10-day contract expires, Sacramento will need to either sign Brewer for the remainder of the season or cut him loose.
Added Yesterday 5:35 pm (EST)
C. Parsons - SF
Parsons (not injury related) is expected to report to the Grizzlies this week when the team reconvenes after the All-Star break, but isn't certain to capture a rotation spot in the team's first few games of the second half, Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic reports. "I think it'll be good that we're coming out of the break and we'll have a few days to practice just to get [Parsons] on the court, get him back with the group, see where he is," coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "It's been a while since he's played as well. So it'll be good to have him on the floor, get up and down a little bit, see where he is physically and mentally and then we'll go from there."
Parsons hasn't suited up in a game for the Grizzlies since Oct. 24, but he was medically cleared to play just under two months later after making a full recovery from his recurring knee soreness. Shortly after gaining clearance, the Grizzlies announced that Parsons would remain away from the team indefinitely, but after Memphis wasn't able to find a taker for him prior to the Feb. 7 trade deadline, he'll now return to the fold. Due to his long layoff from competitive action, Parsons will probably require a few practices before Bickerstaff is comfortable turning to him for minutes. The oft-injured forward doesn't look to be a part of the Grizzlies' future plans, so even if he re-enters the rotation at some point, it's unlikely he'll be handed significant playing time.
Added Yesterday 3:26 pm (EST)
S. Curry - PG
Curry was the runner-up in Saturday night's Three-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
Curry got off to a relatively slow start, by his standards, in Round 1, but he finished by making his final 10 shots, including his entire moneyball rack. That gave the two-time MVP a contest-high 27 points in the initial round, sending him into the Finals against Joe Harris and Buddy Hield. Despite hitting his first nine attempts, Curry was unable to top Harris' score of 26 in the Finals. Curry finished the contest making 37 of 50 attempts, but Harris made 15 of his 18 moneyballs.
Added Yesterday 12:16 pm (EST)
J. Dudley - SF
Dudley (hamstring) revealed Sunday via his personal Twitter account that he expects to be available for the Nets' first game out of the All-Star break Thursday in Brooklyn versus the Trail Blazers.
Dudley will likely practice with the Nets when the team reconvenes this week, after which his availability for Thursday's game should be confirmed. Prior to sustaining the hamstring injury in early January, Dudley had started five straight games at power forward. It's unclear if he'll recapture those duties or even be included in the rotation, as the Nets are now healthier in the frontcourt than they had been at the time Dudley got hurt.
Added Yesterday 10:24 am (EST)
K. Walker - PG
Walker totaled four points (2-8 FG, 0-5 3Pt), eight assists, one rebound and one steal over 20 minutes in Team Giannis' loss to Team LeBron in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Walker was invisible, failing to hit any of his threes and coming away with no highlight plays. Although he scored only four points in this one, Walker heads into the All-Star break averaging a career high in points this season at 24.9 per game.
Added Yesterday 12:29 am (EST)
K. Leonard - SF
Leonard finished with 19 points (7-14 FG, 5-11 3Pt), five rebounds, two assists and a block across 19 minutes in Team LeBron's win over Team Giannis on Sunday.
Leonard was efficient and aggressive, hitting five threes while still shooting nearly 50.0 percent from the floor. He's had a strong first half in his first season in Toronto (27.0 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game), and he'll look to build on that following the All-Star break
Added Yesterday 12:24 am (EST)