As I close in on fleshing out the top 10 of my fantasy rookie profiles and after looking at the rookie seasons of last season’s top fantasy stars, I thought another interesting exercise would be to see how the top 10 of each draft panned out in terms of fantasy value over the years.
What I’ll do is present the final, per-game nine-category rankings of all the players selected in the top 10 of each draft, beginning with the super draft of 2003-04.
For such a great draft, with four hall of famers in the first five picks, it was definitely a slightly underwhelming fantasy debut, with five guys finishing the season being relevant in standard leagues. The interesting one there is Hinrich, who finished second behind only LeBron James as the best fantasy rookie of the season. Didn’t pan out that well for the rest of Hinrich’s career, unfortunately.
Only three top 100 players and no-one in the top 50. Even future fantasy stalwarts like Luol Deng were unable to have an impact in their rookie seasons, with Andre Iguodala having the best rookie season. Still four fantasy relevant players in standard leagues, so not a total wipeout, but another example of not expecting too much out the first year players.
Chris Paul was he clear standout here, posting a rare top 20 finish for a rookie. The only other player to crack the top 100 was Charlie Villanueva and the class ended up with five standard league players, including Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams. Yet another example of not to rely on rookies heavily, with the obvious exception being the genius of Paul.
In one word — horrible. Only the tragically retired Brandon Roy finished in the top 150 and was the only fantasy relevant player in his rookie season. Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge would become fantasy stars over the years, and Randy Foye had a good year last season, but otherwise, not a great crop.
Even though the king of fantasy basketball was in the 2007 Draft, another uninspiring class. Only Durant and Horford were of any relevance in standard leagues, despite the great players like Mike Conley and Joakim Noah debuting.
One of the better draft classes in recent times, containing top 10 players in Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, but their rookie seasons were all upstaged by the big man from Stanford, Brook Lopez. Lopez has been a great player, but injuries have really killed his value. Surprisingly, neither Love or Westbrook finished the season as 12 team players.
This class was hampered by Blake Griffin missing the entire season, but Steph Curry’s season was the best rookie season of the past 10 years. Only three guys were fantasy relevant though, Curry, Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans, but a top five stalwart in James Harden started his career slowly.
Yet another disappointing season for the rookies with only Monroe and Wall finishing in the top 150 and the highest ranked fantasy player was second-rounder Landry Fields at 83. And we all know what’s happened to Fields since.
Apart from Kyrie Irving, there was nothing of interest to fantasy owners. Irving has gone on to be a perennial top 30 player, potentially a top 10 guy, but no one else from the top 10 has shown the ability to become an elite option.
A bit of an outlier season, with two top 50 finishes — Damian Lillard and Anthony , and also Bradley Beal finishing in the top 150. Andre Drummond rounds out the quartet of fantasy stars from this top 10.
Only one player in the top 150. One! And that was Victor Oladipo at 137. The best rookie was the rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams, the eleventh pick who was ranked 100th on the season. There were a lot of injuries in the top 10 and that played a big part in their poor seasons, but overall, a poor class.
Well, what can we glean from that. The number one take home message is that rookies rarely have a big impact in fantasy leagues, and that it can be a bit of a crapshoot as to who will give that value. Don’t overpay for rookies as there are just so many factors that go into their NBA production.