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The NBA draft has come and gone. It's time to identify the fantasy winners and losers.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards (No. 1 overall)
We've pretty much known that Wall was going to be the first pick in the draft for about six months now. He's a dynamic talent with the skills to be an instant impact point guard as a rookie. With that said, I would still proceed with caution when drafting Wall. Most rookies take time to develop. Think LeBron James. Remember when he was a rookie; James was being taken in the 4th or 5th round of most drafts, if not later. Now, as we know, he's the top fantasy baller in the game.
Wall is going to get his minutes and post nice numbers, but he's still just 19-years old, so his game hasn't fully developed. He needs to work on his jumper and will likely have to adjust a bit on defense. Trust me, he didn't face anyone like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, or Steve Nash in his freshman season at Kentucky. Still, I can see Wall going in the middle rounds. He'll have the opportunity to play right away, which makes him that much more attractive. Expect him to struggle a bit in his adjustment, though. If, however, you are in a keeper or dynasty league and if, by chance, the Wizards find a taker for Gilbert Arenas, I would move him up a round or two.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings (No. 5)
I love this pick for the Kings. He is in a position where he can step in and play right away. I would take Wall 100 times out of 100 if I were building a team for the future, but I do believe that Cousins could have a bigger impact than his former Kentucky teammate in his rookie season.
Cousins could easily step in and average 10-12 rebounds per game. Great stat: Cousins averaged 9.8 rebounds per game as a freshman while playing just 23.5 minutes. That's about one rebound every 2.3 minutes. Nice. Cousins also averaged 1.8 blocks per game and provided a nice touch in the paint. I can easily see him averaging close to a double-double and being the most productive rookie fantasy baller this year.
Wesley Johnson, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 4)
Johnson can step in and start right away at the small forward position for the T'wolves. Obviously, that makes him a winner as far as fantasy owners are concerned. He can shoot the ball, rebound well, and even play a little defense. He'll be one of those rookies who has a quiet, yet effective fantasy season.
Evan Turner, SG, Philadelphia 76ers (No. 2)
I'm not in love with Turner as a fantasy option this season, since the 76ers are loaded at the wing positions, but I still think he'll have nice value. He's a great rebounder for a two guard (9.2 per game last season) and can certainly put the ball in the bucket (20.4 points). Again, I just don't see where he fits right now unless the 76ers make another move. That doesn't mean he won't have any fantasy value, but it does mean he's not a better option than Wall and Cousins.
Greg Monroe, PF/C, Detroit Pistons (No. 7)
Monroe is another rookie who will get burn early. He's going to a Detroit team that lacks depth and size. He runs the floor well for his size and has the skills to play a complete game -- scores, rebounds, and dishes the ball well. I would take a flier on Monroe in the later rounds of the draft.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Los Angeles Clippers (No. 8)
When you combine the fact that Aminu is not only a rising talent but he's also an instant need for the Clippers, you have a guy who can step in and provide nice rebounding and scoring numbers as a rookie. I still think he has a lot of growing to do, so he'll likely get off to a slow start. Also, we don't know what the Clips look like with Blake Griffin on the court. I can see Aminu being a post-All-Star break talent.
Cole Aldrich, C, Oklahoma City (No. 11)
Aldrich doesn't have the upside that many of the other lottery players do, but he's in a position in OKC where he is desperately needed to rebound and block shots in the paint. Aldrich is going to be one of those draft-for-need fantasy players. If you're short on rebounds (9.8) and blocks (3.5), you can take a flier on him in the last couple of rounds. Aside from that, he doesn't have great appeal as a fantasy baller. But as we know, a guy who can contribute in a few categories can still add nice value.
Xavier Henry, SG, Memphis Grizzlies (No. 12)
We heard throughout the draft that Henry was taken as a back-up plan should the Grizzlies lose Rudy Gay. I think that's the only way he does have value as a rookie. So while his status as a fantasy option is contingent on the re-signing of Gay, I would still say that he's worth keeping an eye on. Should the Grizzlies lose Gay, Henry could step in right away and get some serious minutes and provide a nice scoring punch. If they keep Gay, we might have to put the rook on the back burner.
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Lost Angeles Clippers (No. 18)
Bledsoe is another player whose value is contingent upon the status of the veteran ahead of him on the depth charts. With Baron Davis getting up there in age and always a threat to miss time with an injury or two, Bledsoe might have a chance to step in and provide instant value. He's a true point guard who can dish, score, and steal. He can also hit the long ball (38.3 percent from beyond the arc), which is a nice added bonus from a point guard. I could see Bledsoe being the fantasy equivalent of Darren Collison this season.
James Anderson, SG, San Antonio Spurs (No. 20)
Once again the Spurs got what seems to be the steal of the draft. They are so good at selecting talent in the draft, aren't they? Anderson is an NBA-ready scorer who can shoot the rock. He's going to an aging San Antonio team that will want him to provide an immediate impact from the moment he signs his rookie contract. I think he'll be one of the sleepers of the fantasy draft as well. I wouldn't get too itchy and select him in the 10th or 11th round, but he's a nice late-round option who should become a sneaky value guy.
Jordan Crawford, SG, Atlanta (No. 27)
Should Joe Johnson sign elsewhere this summer, Crawford could see a huge bump in his fantasy value. Crawford is an excellent scorer with good range. He needs to improve his defense, but he can easily be one of the top offensive rookies if he's playing on a Joe Johnson-less Hawks team.
Derrick Favors, PF, New Jersey Nets (No. 3)
I love Favors. I think he could be a superstar in this league. I'm just not sure that he'll have a great impact this season. He'll naturally have some value, but not superstar value -- effective big man value. My main concern is that the Nets are pushing big time to sign Amar'e Stoudemire to play the power forward position. That means Favors likely gets moved or winds up on the bench, right? If they don't sign a big time free agent at the power forward position I still think Favors will need some time to develop. He's still only 18 years old. I just don't see him as an instant gratification type of fantasy draft pick. In time, yes. Next season, not likely.
Ekpe Udoh, PF, Golden State Warriors (No. 6)
I'm not sure what the Warriors were thinking. Udoh was a bit of a reach at No. 6. He has talent, but I'm not sure if anyone told the Warriors that they have Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph on their team; two guys who also play Udoh's position. There's a bit of a logjam at the power forward position. I think we're going to have to see how the rotation shakes out before we go and draft Udoh.
Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers (No. 10)
Unless the Pacers move Danny Granger, I don't think we'll see much of George this season. He can be a nice player, but how he fits in Indiana as of right now I'm not sure. There's also that Mike Dunleavy fella who plays both wing positions. A pick for the future, but not one worth exploring in fantasy drafts next season.
Elliot Williams, G, Portland Trail Blazers (No. 22)
Williams was a bit of a question mark heading into the draft. His range seemed to be pretty wide. He's an athletic scorer and terrific defender, but the problem with Williams is that he's a combo guard on a team that is pretty stacked with guards right now. Unless the Blazers find a way to move Rudy Fernandez and/or Jerryd Bayless, Williams is gong to be riding the pine for most of the season.
Daniel Orton, C, Orlando Magic (No. 29)
Once thought to be a lottery pick, Orton nearly dropped out of the first round of the draft. The good news is he got guaranteed money as a first rounder. The bad news is he has to play behind the best center in the game, Dwight Howard, and is currently behind one of the top backup centers in the game in Marcin Gortat. I don't see him getting any playing time at all this season. Had he been selected by a team like Oklahoma City or Toronto, he would have gotten some decent playing time. In Orlando, not so much.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Sacramento Kings (No. 33)
Not only did Whiteside drop out of the first round, but he ended up going to the Kings, a team who just drafted the top rookie center (Cousins), traded for a veteran big man (Samuel Dalembert) and has two highly effective power forwards (Carl Landry and Jason Thompson). Maybe in two years for Whiteside. This year he's not draftable.
Landry Fields, SF, New York Knicks (No. 39)
I should put him in the "winners" section since no one thought he would get drafted at all, let alone this high. The major problem for Fields is that the Knicks already have a franchise small forward (Danilo Gallinari) and they are in the market for the best small forward in the game (LeBron James). Kudos to Fields for getting drafted, but I think it's going to be a long season on the bench for him.
Of course with free agency still a week away we may see some changes that will impact these rookies. We'll address those as they happen.
Tom was named a finalist for the FSWA Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year. How about that? If you have any questions for Tom you can email him at Lorenzo@RotoExperts.com. Or you can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rotolorenzo