NBA Rookie Projections

A combination of college and international basketball prospects made up the 60 players that have found out where the next chapter of their lives will begin. Given the underwhelming draft that it was and the consensus idea that this draft lacked a superstar, there are a handful of players that bring a lot to their respective teams and could bring that same game to your fantasy team.

As a whole, this draft could be one of the worst talent crops seen in the last few years and it showed when Cleveland surprised the NBA with their selection of UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Bennett, who didn’t workout with a single team because of a shoulder injury, doesn’t even make the list of rookies to target come draft time. Bennett could be a very good player to come out of this draft but I don’t expect him to show No. 1 value ten years down the line. There are a few names called early that I expect to make an immediate impact at the next level paired with a few guys called later in the draft that people should keep their eye on.

If it wasn’t for an injury this past season to Nerlens Noel, the Cavaliers would have picked him with the No. 1 pick, without question. If he can prove this injury wrong and come back like Adrian Peterson instead of Derrick Rose, the 76ers have a future star in Philadelphia. If he can’t, they may have a guy like Kwame Brown (before he added weight). I’m an advocate for the former and not the latter, but no draft pick is a sure thing in the NBA. He averaged 10 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks in his freshman season prior to the ACL injury. If Noel can mimic anything close to that in the NBA, Philadelphia just traded for something they won’t plan on trading anytime soon.

NBA Comparison (ceiling/floor): Anthony Davis/Greg Oden

Victor Oladipo was taken by Orlando with the second overall pick. Oladipo brings a solid set of NBA-ready skills that should have been considered as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate. Oladipo will be the top player in Orlando and should be able to average 15 points, 5 rebounds a couple assists per game. The strength that he offers at his size allows him to get to the hoop and grab an above average amount of boards for a guard. He’s a sure a thing there was in the draft and should have one of the better careers of those taken in the top five.

NBA Comparison : Dwayne Wade/Tony Allen

Ben McLemore was the player expected to go to Orlando and many even considered McLemore to be the top player in this draft. The fact that he slid so far was the second biggest surprise in the draft and Sacramento, who admitted that they had him as their No. 1 guy on their draft board, was pleasantly surprised to know they could draft him without having to move up in the draft. McLemore has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen as a shooter but he still has a lot to prove before he warrants that comparison. With the new coach at the helm in Michael Malone, it’s hard to say whether he’ll start immediately or come off the bench. We do know that he will receive a good share of playing time and if all things go well he should be able to fill the stat sheet and average 13-14 points per game.

NBA Comparison: JR Smith/Gerald Green

Utah was able to add the best point guard in the draft. If the Rookie of the Year were to repeat at a position it will most likely find it’s way back to Trey Burke. Burke is a floor general who improved greatly in his two years at Michigan. He brings an ability to score, lead and pass in a way that should turn the Jazz around just how Deron Williams did it early on in his career. Burke will slide right into a starting job and should average 10-11 points per game and 6-7 assists per game. Utah needs a lot of help but Burke is there point guard of the future and that’s a great start.

NBA Comparison: Kemba Walker/Jarret Jack

C.J. McCollum was one of my favorite players in this draft and like many, I was surprised to see Portland draft him with Lillard already manning the point. Yes, McCollum is bit of a tweener at 6-foot-3 but he can score. At a smaller school in Lehigh, McCollum averaged more points per game than any player in the draft (23.9) and was able to play facilitator when asked. I think McCollum is in a bit of a box given that he won’t be starting over Lillard, but I think the two of them in the same backcourt will be fun to watch and McCollum will be able to learn from him. I’d expect McCollum to average close to 10 PPG this upcoming season and make a run in the Rookie of the Year race. Those four years of college will go a long way for him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s considered the better point guard after his first season.

NBA Comparison: Stephen Curry/Randy Foye

Other guys that I expect to do well in the future but not in their first year:

  • Otto Porter, SF, Washington Wizards
  • Shane Larkin, PG, Dallas Mavericks
  • Tony Snell, SF, Chicago Bulls
  • Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks
  • Giannis Adetokoubo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks

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