Figuring out ways to improve your dynasty or keeper league team can be challenging. Trades, free agent signings, and player development all make developing your roster a challenge. Rookies are not often looked at as a credible source to help your team. FG% and turnovers seem to make owners pass on players that have yet to see NBA competition. This year will be different.
The 2007 draft is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. To put it in perspective, Philadelphia was content to trade Allan Iverson for two late first round picks, Andre Miller, and cap room (Joe Smith’s expiring contract). Knowing the probability that they will get an everyday player after pick number 25, is very good. Alando Tucker and Tyler Hansbrough are both players with NBA ready skills that could be available and start right away for the 76ers with Denver’s picks. Lottery picks offer the ultimate prize, except this year, two teams will get to go home with a sure fire player (Greg Oden and Kevin Durant). Leaving other teams with loads of players with Hall of Fame potential. So without further ado, let’s find out who my top 10 fantasy rookies are right now.
1. Greg Oden – C, 7’0”, 255 lbs. (Fr. Ohio State)
The rarest talent in one of the deepest drafts in years. There are comparisons to David Robinson, because he will do anything to help his team win. I am not a fan to that comparison, at this age David Robinson was 6’6”, had eight years ahead of him at Navy, and was a guard. Bill Russell is probably more fitting. He entered San Francisco as a freshman with similar defensive skills and a developing offensive game. In their respective eras, Russell and Oden compare similarly. An NBA scout was asked by Chad Ford of ESPN’s Daily Dish to say who he would pick if Lebron James and Greg Oden were available in the same draft, and the scout said Lebron, but hesitated in doing so. Reasoning? “Quality bigs are so rare. Someone like Lebron is rare as well, but when both players are slam dunk picks like this, you could very easily take the big man to anchor the middle. The fact that I hesitate speaks volumes to Oden’s talent.”
Fantasy: Get Oden and keep him as a number two or three center next year. His free throw percentage is not great, but he can make up for that in other areas. He should get significant minutes wherever he goes, and eventually be a number one center for your team in Dynasty and Keeper formats.
2. Kevin Durant – SF, 6’10”, 220 lbs. (Fr. Texas)
Durant is the second sure thing in this draft, and most years he is the number one pick hands down. He is not as strong as you would like to see right now, but he is such a crafty scorer that he is able to compensate for that. I like the Tracy McGrady comparisons that are circulating. The leading scorer for Texas seems to have no weaknesses that are not improving every game.
Fantasy: Pencil in 12-17 points per game the first year, possibly over 20 the second, and the rest of the stats will be there eventually as well. Could end up being a Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion type player.
3. Joakim Noah – PF, 6’11”, 230 lbs. (Jr. Florida)
I would take Noah third overall in most rookie fantasy drafts because of his ability to contribute to your fantasy team now. Brandan Wright, with Chris Bosh comparisons, is a guy who might go at number three in the real “NBA Draft,” but Noah will help you right now in fantasy. Scouts wonder if he has a true position in the NBA, but his ability to score in the high post for Florida has eased some doubts about his power forward skills. Defensively there is no question he will block shots and get steals.
Fantasy: In deep fantasy leagues (16+ teams) I would be tempted to start Noah as my power forward, and draft other areas early. He is that skilled.
4. Al Horford – PF, 6’9”, 245 lbs. (Jr. Florida)
Going with substance over style again. Horford could contribute to your fantasy team the same way Shelden Williams has since being inserted into the Hawks’ starting lineup this year (10 ppg, 10 rpg). Horford is much more athletic than Williams is, making him a good pick at number four.
Fantasy: I think Horford could be the player that surprises a lot of people his rookie year in the NBA. His game seems to mirror other rookie post players who have surprised experts. 17 points isn’t out of reach in the right situation.
5. Yi Jianlian – PF, 7’0”, 230 lbs. (China)
As basketball explodes in Chinese culture (and Yao Ming’s Rockets win the All-Star voting), we see more players come out of the Chinese system. Watching Yi Jianlian play the US team in the World Basketball Championships, I was very impressed. He was able to score and create for his teammates very easily, letting the game come to him. In 24 minutes against the United States, he scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and had 2 blocked shots. He is extremely skilled, and has a knack for blocking shots. Always being in good offensive position, I was pleasantly surprised by how agile he was working out of the high post offensively.
Fantasy: A risk? Absolutely. However, he will have the biggest payoff in Dynasty formats when managers want to take a risk. There are very few fantasy forwards that will shoot the ball from the free throw line as well as this guy, which makes him worth a long-term risk.
6. Daequan Cook – SG, 6’5”, 185 lbs. (Ohio State)
Daequan Cook is an explosive scorer, who is bulking up his already solid frame every single day at Ohio State. A former Ohio Mr. Basketball, I have seen him play multiple times, and what impresses me the most is his mid-range game, which is a lost art in the NBA. His ability to drive and stop on a dime for a pull-up that rivals Sam Cassell’s, except executed with much more speed and explosiveness, is amazing. I can see him being a very good bench player next year for some NBA team, and he is in that role right now at Ohio State. It shouldn’t take too much of an adjustment for him to produce at the next level.
Fantasy: Should be good for at least 10 to 20 points next year off the bench. If I had to compare him to someone, I would say Vince Carter with a Shawn Marion/Sam Cassell pull-up.
7. Marco Belinelli – SG, 6’6”, 200 lbs. (Italy)
I was fortunate enough to see Belinelli play live in Italy earlier this year, and again able to see him play against the US team on TV in the World Championships. What Daequan Cook has in athletic ability, Belinelli has in offensive skill. He is not terribly fleet of foot, but a lightning quick shot release allows him to score with only a few inches of space from a defender. He was a very skilled ball handler when I saw him, and was a suitable passer out of a full-court press. He did not really get into the lane and create for others, but the 25 points on 50% shooting against the United States defense featuring Dwayne Wade, shows how effective he can be from long range. In that game, he shot 44% (4 of 11) from behind the arc.
Fantasy: Belinelli can score, however, he does little else right now. In time, maybe he will develop a Larry Bird ability to play defense with less than average lateral quickness for a guard. He only had one rebound against the United States, with zero blocks, and zero steals. His ability to shoot the ball makes him a cross between Adam Morrison and Ray Allan.
8. Tyler Hansbrough – PF, 6’8”, 245 lbs. (UNC)
What? Tyler Hansbrough the eighth best player in this draft! No way. Before you die of shock, remember this is a fantasy ranking, and Hansbrough, North Carolina’s star, is a polished offensive player noted for his leadership and work ethic. Although he isn’t a superior athlete, what NBA coach will not see his potential and want to play him? Especially if he goes in the 10-20 range of the draft, where playing time is a little easier to earn. Besides being a coach’s pet, Hansbrough has very good post moves around the basket, and his hustle allows him to rebound fairly well. He is noted for his excellent body position on rebounds, a skill that is rare in young post players.
Fantasy: This late in a rookie draft, I am probably going to drop the player for someone on the waiver wire anyway. Experts compare Hansbrough to Udonis Haslem. I am willing to take a risk on that type of player, and hope he earns playing time in camp. Right now, he is projected in the mid to late first round, and could end up being trapped at the end of Dallas or Chicago’s bench.
9. Alando Tucker – G/F, 6’5”, 210 lbs. (Wisconsin)
Going with substance again, picking Alando Tucker is a no brainer when you have a pick this late in a rookie draft. He provides what every team needs: defense, coupled with a polished offensive game. Tucker’s skills, solid in every aspect, will play in the NBA eventually no matter where he ends up, but just how much?
Fantasy: I can see him coming through and putting up 12 points and 5 rebounds in his first year. Personally, I compare him to Morris Peterson.
10. Justin Gray – C, 7’1”, 270 lbs. (Pittsburgh)
My teams always seem to be short on centers, and taking a risk at the tenth pick in a rookie draft will help me if one of my centers underachieve in training camp. Gray has a very polished offensive game and can pass exceptionally well from the post.
Fantasy: The experts may be right, he could be another Matt Geiger; but Brad Miller had a similar scouting report.
Robbie is a basketball enthusiast who has written for websites in the past. He is always more than willing to help with anything, just ask for assistance! You can find him posting under the name of Big_Man.
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