Fantasy Basketball Awards: 2013-14 Rookie Of The Year

Michael Carter-Williams Victor Oladipo
2013-14 NBA regular season is now in the rear-view mirror. And that means that fantasy leagues, with the exception of daily leagues and NBA.com’s Drive to the Finals, are done and dusted.

Now’s the time to look back on what transpired over the last five and a half months and reminisce on all the great performances from a fantasy basketball perspective.

Over the coming days, I will present my thoughts and awards for the 2013-14 NBA season. Most of my awards will be based on standard nine category leagues and will be based on total production.

Without further ado, I present to you, the Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Awards Spectacular.

2013-14 Rookie Of The Year

And the nominees are:

Overall, it wasn’t the strongest of rookie classes, but that was something we prepared for in the offseason as the 2013 NBA Draft was widely lambasted as the weakest in quite a while. It played out that way, with no players finishing in the top 100, like Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving in years past. Hopes are high for the 2014 NBA Draft, from both a real life perspective as well as a fantasy viewpoint and we could easily see Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart all drafted within the top 100 picks.

Fifth place — Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets

7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, 65.9 FG%, 62.6 FT%, 1.1 turnovers in 70 games.

To say that Plumlee’s numbers are underwhelming is an understatement, but that shows exactly what we were dealing with, with this rookie class.

In Plumlee’s defense, he played a lot better over the season’s closing weeks, ranking as the 116th player over the season’s last two weeks. Averages of 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in his last eight games is a lot more impressive and it looks like the Nets have unearthed a legitimate back-up centre to Brook Lopez.

Plumlee could easily have a very big postseason, as Kevin Garnett is not going to be able to play a huge amount of minutes. If he does stamp himself on the postseason, but read too much into it for next season, as he will be clearly relegated to the back up role behind Brook Lopez and Garnett, if the latter returns for another season.

Although the PER stat does favour big men slightly, the fact that Plumlee was able to post a PER of 19.0 along with a Win Share of 4.7 is impressive.

Congratulations Mason, a job well done.

Fourth place — Trey Burke, PG, Utah Jazz

12.8 points, 1.6 three-pointers, 3.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 38.0 FG%, 90.3 FT%, 1.9 turnovers in 70 games.

Burke had a delayed start to his season, missing the first four weeks of his rookie campaign due to a broken finger he suffered in the preseason. That really hampered his season, but he was still good enough to wind up in the mix for the fantasy rookie of the year award.

Much like Mason Plumlee, Burke started ramping up his production as the season progressed, being the 71st ranked player in the last two weeks. In those last seven games, Burke averaged 15.6 points and 9.0 assists and set a career high with 32 points in the season finale against the Timberwolves. He also added seven rebounds and nine assists in that game and tantalised us for next season.

Looking at Burke’s advanced numbers, things aren’t quite so rosy. His PER of 12.6 and Win Shares of only 0.9 aren’t ideal, but there is a lot of room to grow and he should be able to improve markedly in his second season in Utah.

Third place — Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, New York Knicks

10.2 points, 1.6 three-pointers, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.1 blocks, 42.8 FG%, 82.8 FT%, 0.6 turnovers in 81 games.

Hardaway does one thing and one thing only in the New York Knicks’ offense — bomb away. His 4.4 three-point attempts per game was second only to Trey Burke’s 4.8 for the season amongst rookies.

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair. Hardaway was also a solid free throw shooter and didn’t turn the ball over at all, although his assist-to-turnover ratio was barely positive due to his miniscule assist rate.

Does Hardaway have a future in the NBA? Yes, but I don’t know if he will ever develop into a must-own, must-draft type of player for fantasy. He needs to add more strings to his bow than just long-range shooting, and should aim to be a Kyle Korver-type contributor.

Looking at THJ’s advanced metrics, he had a PER of 12.7, which is below the league average of 15.0, but his Win Shares sits at a nice 3.1. Also encouraging, is the fact that he has a True Shooting Percentage of 55.4 percent.

Unlike Plumlee and Burke, Hardaway didn’t improve over the season’s final weeks and months. His form peaked around the All-Star break and has tailed off since. In my mind, even though he out produced Burke this season, I’d rather have the Michigan man on my team next season.

Given New York doesn’t have a first-round draft pick, it’s unlikely Hardaway gets usurped from his bench scoring role, so he could be able to return similar value next season. The problem with that is that for standard leagues, you can safely leave him on the waiver-wire.

And now, with only two player remaining — can I get a drum roll please?

Second-place — Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Orlando Magic

13.8 points, 0.9 three-pointers, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, 41.9 FG%, 78.0 FT%, 3.2 turnovers in 80 games.

Winner — Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

16.7 points, 0.8 three-pointers, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.6 blocks, 40.5 FG%, 70.3 FT%, 3.5 turnovers in 70 games.

It was actually closer than you think, mostly due to the fact the Oladipo played an extra 10 games compared with MCW. But overall, you had to give it to Carter-Williams, and if he had played the whole season, would’ve snuck into the top 100.

Firstly, Oladipo.

Oladipo teased us so much with his all-round potential and physical nature of his play. He looks like a player who is going to give us Dwyane Wade type numbers at some stage in his career. He grabs boards, dishes dimes, steals the ball and blocks shots. He won’t shoot the ball as well as Wade, but the type of player matches up nicely.

Part of the problem with Oladipo’s production this season was the presence of Jameer Nelson as the Magic’s starting point guard.

Oladipo started 44 out of his 80 games played and definitely was a better prospect in the games where he started on the court. The Magic experimented with lineups with Nelson and Oladipo in the backcourt together and Arron Afflalo at small forward and they also went with Oladipo as the sixth man. That sort of fluctuation in minutes definitely put a dampener on his fantasy output, but the important thing is the foundation is there.

The odds of Nelson donning a Magic uniform again appear slim and hopefully coach Jacques Vaughn gives VO the keys to the offense early in the preseason.

Now, things could change if the Magic go point guard in the upcoming draft. With a likely top five pick, they could grab someone like Dante Exum or Marcus Smart, but that seems a little unlikely and word out of Orlando is that they want Oladipo to be a point guard, and pint guard only.

From a metric standpoint, Oladipo doesn’t blow you away. His PER of 13.6 and Win Shares of 1.3 are underwhelming and his True Shooting Percentage of 51.4 percent could use some work. But just from watching him, you can see the ability for him to improve his game over the summer.

Is Oladipo someone I’ll be targeting next season? It’s a little early to tell for sure, but I definitely love his ability to contribute in multiple categories and he seems a lock to exceed his production from this season. I think Oladipo will end up in the top 100 by the end of his second NBA season.

And now for the winner.

From his first NBA game, Michael Carter-Williams seemed like a lock to win both the Fantasy Rookie of the Year, as well as the NBA Rookie of the Year. In the upset of the defending champion Heat, Carter-Williams went bonkers. He scored 22 points with four triples, grabbed seven boards, dished 12 assists and ended up with an insane nine steals!

The kid almost quadruple doubled in his first game.

Of course, that sort of production is and was unsustainable. The problems we heard about in the pre-draft process and throughout his career at Syracuse began to surface. He was a brutal shooter, both from the field and from the line and if you owned MCW, you percentages would’ve taken a pounding every week. He also is a turnover machine.

He ended up seventh in the NBA in turnovers per game, definitely not one for the resume.

On the flip side, Carter-Williams was also seventh in the NBA in steals, just coming in below two steals a game. Only three guys got above that benchmark — Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio and Thaddeus Young.

He was also the NBA’s 17th leading assist-man and he led all rookies in scoring and assists. Amazingly, he also led all rookies in rebounding and was eighth in blocks.

Can he get any better? That’s debatable. He needs to improve his shooting and curb his turnovers and if he can do that his value rises precipitously. He will be very hard pressed to find himself in a more fantasy-friendly situation than what he found himself in in Philadelphia this season, meaning a regression could be on the cards. I wouldn’t count him out though.

Just quickly, I’ll list the top five rookies based on per-36 numbers. These rankings are something to take into account, particularly if these guys get an increased opportunity next season, when looking at draft info for next season or who to keep in keeper or dynasty leagues.

Top Five Rookies (Per-36 Value)

  1. Ryan Kelly, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers
  2. Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets
  3. Kelly Olynyk, C, Boston Celtics
  4. Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, New York Knicks
  5. Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

The guy to watch on this list is Kelly Olynyk for me. The list also highlights just how good MCW was in comparison to other rookies considering he played 34.5 minutes a game and still made it onto a per-36 ranking list.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the awards over the coming days and weeks and enjoy the playoffs!