Two weeks ago I went over the rookies that were the best fit for their respective organizations and talked about how they might fare in their rookie season. This week I will talk about some draftees that will be fighting for minutes in a rotational role that could see them having occasional daily fantasy value and or spot start value in deeper fantasy basketball leagues. Most of these rookies that I will discuss could still be affected by trades and or late signings in free agency.
Aaron Gordon: Orlando Magic 4th Pick- Aaron Gordon was a bit of a surprise with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Gordon was looked at as a bit of a raw prospect that could go off the board from the 6th to 10th pick of the first round, but instead found himself picked by a young rebuilding Magic team. Many fantasy basketball players were hoping the Magic would finally hand the keys to the power forward spot over to Tobias Harris full-time, but it looks like Harris will once again be a part of a rotation with the athletically gifted Gordon. Gordon was touted for his explosive athleticism in the draft process, but his shaky shooting, including from the free throw line, had him as a bit of an offensive project. He will have to learn how to contribute on the defensive end if he’s going to get big minutes, but his speed and ability to finish in transition could have him carving out a role off the bench fairly early.
Marcus Smart: Boston Celtics 6th Pick- Many basketball fans believe that Marcus Smart cost himself a lot of money by going back to school after his stellar season in 2012 at Oklahoma State. While that may be true as he found himself in the middle of one of the strongest draft classes in recent memory in 2014, he still managed to become a lottery pick with a team that has a history of building winners. Smart brings a ton of fight and leadership when he’s on the floor. He can make his teammates better and should be one of the better defenders in the league right away. He has excellent hands with a strong frame that allows him to body up point guards or shooting guards. Smart should be in the back court rotation right away and could even see some time on the court with Rajon Rondo. He needs to become a better shooter if he wants to really grab big minutes and you should keep an eye on his efficiency.
Nik Stauskas: Sacramento Kings 8th Pick- Stauskas was billed as the best shooter in this draft with a superior competitiveness that should see him become a valuable member of an NBA rotation right away. Stauskas found himself taken by a team that drafted a shooting guard just last year. Stauskas will be in a training camp and preseason fight for shooting guard minutes with Ben McLemore. The two of them may also have some competition from Marshon Brooks who played well with Sacramento’s summer league team. Stauskas has an edge on both shooting guards as he is a better shooter in both catch and shoot situations and when he is forced to handle the basketball.
Noah Vonleh: Charlotte Hornets 9th Pick- Vonleh looked to be the late riser of the 2014 NBA draft as analysts started projecting him as high as the 3rd overall pick in the days leading up to the draft. His enormous wingspan and nice outside touch had scouts and GM’s dreaming about two or three years down the road and the possibility of a super star on the lower blocks. The Charlotte Hornets finally lucked out in a draft as Vonleh fell all the way to the ninth overall pick to a team that had their best season in recent memory. The Hornets lost Josh McRoberts in free agency to the Miami Heat so Vonleh will at least get a portion of those minutes if he can provide energy and defense off of the bench. I believe he will see more early minutes than Cody Zeller saw last season and should be looked at as a late round flier in redraft leagues.
Zach LaVine: Minnesota Timberwolves 13th Pick- LaVine is a 6’6″ combo guard who can jump out of the gym and shoot from deep. He’s skinny and didn’t play a ton last season at UCLA, but could see minutes early in Minny if does indeed trade away Kevin Love. If Love stays then I doubt we see much of LaVine until the latter parts of the season, but if Love is moved I think the Timberwolves may try to get him some run and see what pieces they will want to move forward with. I like LaVine a lot more in dynasty leagues than redraft leagues this year.
T.J. Warren: Phoenix Suns 15th Pick- Warren is slashing scorer from the wing who can contribute right away on the offensive end of the court. He has all the tools to be a solid wing defender, but asking rookies to take on too much responsibility can lead to disaster and the Suns are ready to compete right now. I expect Warren to see run fairly early and would love if the Suns eventually moved either Marcus Morris or P.J. Tucker. Warren has ton of scoring potential for dynasty formats and may be a nice late round flier in deeper redraft leagues.
Mitch McGary: Oklahoma City Thunder 21st Pick- McGary was facing a drug suspension at the University of Michigan so he decided to come out for the draft early. Initially I thought it was a mistake and could be one of those cautionary tales you hear year after year, but McGary proved to be NBA rady in the draft process. McGary is big and can run. He should be able to carve out minutes for himself off of the bench for the Thunder and a few years down the road he could end up being one of their key players. He’s an excellent shooter and plays with a ton of energy. I’m going to keep an eye out to see how they intend to rotate their front court to see if he should be on the redraft radar.
Rodney Hood: Utah Jazz 23rd Pick- The Jazz had an excellent draft in 2014. First they got a potential explosive force in Dante Exum with the 5th pick and then they got Hood with the 23rd pick. If Hood had been drafted in any of the previous two to three drafts he would have been a lottery pick. You just don’t find shooters with his wingspan and height every year. This draft just happened to be chock full of talent. Hood still should have gone a bit earlier than he did, but landing in Utah is not a bad spot for him. The Jazz were a poor shooting team from 3 point range last season and their wings failed to be consistent catch and shoot threats. Hood brings and NBA ready three point shot and his size is perfect for the NBA wing.
Damien Inglis: Milwaukee Bucks 1st Pick 2nd Round- The Bucks are the perfect landing spot for Inglis as they have a very unsettled front court. He has a huge wing span (7’3″) on a 6’8″ body and should be able to play on the defensive end of the court right away. He will give you defensive stats right away, but you shouldn’t count on offensive production right away. A nice stash for dynasty leagues. We’ll see if he can evolve into an offensive player.
Nick Johnson: Houston Rockets 12th Pick 2nd Round- I’m not sure why Nick Johnson fell in the 2014 NBA draft, but it looks like the Rockets got an absolute steal in the 2nd round. Johnson was the best player on a very good Arizona team last season. He can shoot it from outside and from the line. He has unbelievable hops on a 6’3″ frame and is an excellent finisher when he drives to the basket. His height made him more of a combo guard and perhaps the metrics said he wouldn’t be able to defend either position in the NBA. I’m just guessing because this is the type of player any fan should want on their team and he has the potential to be a very valuable fantasy asset down the road. He gets a bump with the Rockets clearing cap space and trading away Jeremy Lin to the Lakers as it opens up some minutes off of the bench.
Gary Harris Jr.: Denver Nuggets
Adreian Payne: Atlanta Hawks
Bruno Caboclo: Toronto Raptor
For my thoughts on the best fits that may play right away go here.