Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rookie Revue

It’s been about a month and a half since we checked in on this year’s rookies. There are two developments that will go on in the next few weeks that will have drastic effect on rookies. One is a negative: the vaunted “rookie wall” that threatens to hurt rookie numbers across the board. The actual effect of the rookie wall isn’t too clear, and it’s not definitely going to affect anyone in particular, but it’s something to think about. The other development is a positive: with a half a season under their belt, some rooks are going to start figuring out the game, force their way onto the court, and start putting up fantasy-starter-like numbers (see Raymond Felton as a perfect example). Anyhow, let’s go down the list:

Plug n’ Play

Andrew Bogut – Despite Joe Smith’s return to the court, Bogut is still a dependable second center in almost all formats. He doesn’t do anything particularly well other than shoot from the field (53%), but he does chip in enough points, boards, steals and blocks to be a fixture in your lineup.

Chris Paul – He’s the ROY. He’s getting consideration for the All-Star Game (which he shouldn’t, but that’s another story). Needless to say, he’s a great play and if you drafted him this year, odds are you got a steal. However, he’s also a classic candidate for the “rookie wall” effect, as he’s played major minutes all year, he’s small, and he’s charging all over the court at 100 mph every game.

Channing Frye – He’s in Plug n’ Play, but just barely. Less Antonio Davis means the potential for more minutes for Channing, but he’s just not earning them – his shooting is down since the new year and he’s still struggling to top 20 mpg. If he didn’t qualify at Center, he wouldn’t be here.

Charlie Villanueva – We’ve been hyping him since day one, and he’s starting to show some returns. Since the Rose trade, he’s put up 17/7.8 with 2.8 3’s and 1 block, starting numbers in any format. He’s a possible Donyell Marshall clone – and I mean that in a good way. But we’ll see how Antonio Davis cuts into his PT.

Raymond Felton – Felton is a brand new FBB favorite. He starting getting it together in January, and now in February he’s got 20/6.3/8 with 2 3’s and 2 steals. He’s also playing well alongside Brevin Knight, and while we don’t think he’ll maintain these numbers, he should put up at least 15/4/6 with a steal and a three.

Just Not There – Yet.

Sarunas Jasekivicius – I think it’s safe to leave Sarunas on the waiver wire at this point. We’ve waited all year to see him get starter’s minutes, but for whatever reason, he hasn’t gotten them. When Jamaal Tinsley went down with an injury (or eight), the minutes went to Anthony Johnson – not exactly a ringing endorsement for the ex-Terp. Still, we’ll keep him in this category.

Danny Granger – He’s very close to being a Plug n’ Play. In fact, I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for this. His last five games have been extremely encouraging, but let’s see him keep it up for another week or two.

Marvin Williams – I don’t think he’ll ever justify being drafted ahead of Chris Paul, but I’ve been impressed with Williams of late. He’s quite simply still learning to play the game. But his athleticism is unquestioned, his improvement has been steady, and he’ll be worth a late-round flyer next year. He’s no Darko.

Nate Robinson – If he can’t get minutes under Larry Brown with Stephon Marbury out, I don’t see any reason why he’ll get any sort of reliable minutes over the rest of the year. If he gets traded, though, there’s always a chance.

Nice Try - Maybe Next Year

Ike Diogu – Last month’s hot pickup is this month’s hot drop. He’s got promise, just not for this year.

Jarrett Jack – Listen – if you try and take minutes from our boy Steve Blake, you’re in for a rude awakening. Still, Jack has played very well and could be a nice fantasy player in the future.

Deron Williams Milt Palacio? Really? Still probably worth a roster spot – if you’ve got room on your bench.

Luther Head – Last month’s hot pick … oh wait, I already used that line.

Salim Stoudamire – He’s not gonna get the minutes he needs to be productive, but he’s got Allan Houston-esque potential down the line.

Already Maxed Out

Jose Calderon – He’s a backup point guard on a poor NBA team. I don’t think there’s any reason to think he’ll be more than a complimentary piece this year, or even in later years.


Blogger JM said...

I agree with most of the list.
But I would say that Vilanueva and Granger should be in the same category. Both have shown flashes of brilliance when given playing time, but both will have competition (A.Davis and A.Croshere respectively)

I'd say both Granger and Vilanueva need one more week of playing well to prove they're plug'n'play guys.

I love that they both have the potential to be one of those underrated super-versatile guys. These are the guys who may not necessarily excel in the big 3 (pts,reb,asts), but instead get you at least 1 3pt, 1 stl, 1 blk a game. (They probably deserve their own full article.) According to's player rater averaging one stl is equivalent to 16 pts, one 3pt = 7 rebs, and one blk = 4 asts.

Because they don't handle the ball as much the pts/rebs/asts guys they often get very low TOs. Many of them also help in either FG% of FT%
Thus they often excel in 4-6 categories, depending on what your league counts, and are thus more valuable than someone who gets pts,rebs,asts and nothing else.

Guys I would put in the "super-versatile at underrated stats" category (NEEDS BETTER NAME):

Super stars - Marion, (needs his own category since he gets EVERYTHING - including pts,rebs)

Upper level - Rasheed

Mid-level - Battier

Almost there - Childress, Granger, Vilanueva, T.Prince (needs to be on a team w/out the Wallace's grabbing all the stls/blks), Josh Howard, D.George, L.Odom (he also gets rebs,asts,pts. however his FG%,FT%,TO keep him from being a fantasy superstar)

Did I miss anybody? Who has the potential to do it next year?
Can you think of a better name for this type of player?

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Charlie said...

"According to's player rater averaging one stl is equivalent to 16 pts, one 3pt = 7 rebs, and one blk = 4 asts."

And this is why ESPN's player rater is ridiculous. Name one fantasy league where a steal=16 points of production? I don't play in a roto league, but even if I did, this doesn't come close to making sense. So if a ball gets tipped, and lands into the hands of Joe Shmo, that's equal production to a 16 point night? wow.

1:34 PM  
Blogger bv said...

Charlie, here's one way to look at it. Right now, there are about 80 players in the game averaging over 14 ppg. similarly, there are about 80 players averaging over one steal.

an exceptionally valuable player in points will average over 30 ppg - just over double that 14 ppg mark. There are three players with this average right now.

similarly, an exceptionally valuable plsyer in steals will average over 2.2 spg - just over double that 1.0 mark. There are three players with this average right now.

So, in this sense, particularly from a roto point of view, a steal is worth about 14 points (just under the 16 that ESPN says).

Granted, a ball falls into Joe Schmo's hands and he's got a steal. But over the long run, players will end up getting seperating themselves in terms of value.

1:48 PM  
Blogger JM said...

You're forgetting that pts is only one category. just because 16 pts may help more in real life, doesn't mean that it's more valuable than a steal in fantasy leagues. (assuming all categories get equal weight)

The value of the 16 pts in a roto league would depend on how efficiently they were scored. i.e. If a person got 16 pts, by shooting better than 50%FG or better than 80% FT, than it would be more valuable than a steal, since it'd be helping you in more categories than just points.

random steals happen every so often during the course of a game. But no one averages a stl/game by getting lucky bounces every night.

people who score 19 pts/game, but do it on 39% shooting (i.e. Baron davis) hurt both their fantasy teams and their real life team. See Bill Simmon's recent quote about Davis/The Warriors from today's article:

"If one more media person claims that Baron Davis is a "tough omission" from the 2006 All-Star team, I'm going to throw up all over my Zarko Cabarkapa. Watch G-State some time -- they have some nice pieces (Murphy, Biedrins, Richardson, Fisher, Pietrus, Diogu), but there's Baron dribbling the ball for 20 seconds, hoisting bad 3s and single-handedly killing them in close games. It's like somebody shrunk Antoine Walker and gave him his own team. If you're wondering why the Warriors went 8-19 before winning their last two games, look no further. I'd rather have Speedy Claxton for one-fourth the price."

1:57 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

Delonte West.

Although he's slumped a bit since the trade, he's a PG who can give you rebounds and blocks along with the traditional PG cats of threes/steals/assists.

With a bit more seasoning, his scoring and consistency should improve. When it does, he'll deserve to be ranked in the upper tier of these kind of Swiss Army knife players.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Nice article. As an owner of Frye I would definitely drop him out of the Plug 'n' Play category, though. Frye is incredibly frustrating to own right now; he is not seeing an increase in minutes even with the departure of Antonio Davis, and even when he's in there he cannot find his shot. I would probably drop him if he weren't eligible at C (I'm considering dropping him anyway for Perkins, Pachulia, or Foster - someone who is at least getting minutes).

I also own Granger and he's a much bigger asset to my team right now although I agree that he's not quite plug 'n' play at this point.

3:46 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

To Andy - dude, drop Frye. I had both him and Zaza on my roster and Pachulia is kicking ass right now. Grab him before he becomes a hot commodity.

The Hawks have no one else in the front court except for foul-prone young guys. Pachulia has occasional foul problems, but not enough to make him worth less than Frye. Channing has hit the rookie wall so cut the cord now while you still have other options. His percentages have cratered since mid-January and it is forcing Larry Brown to cut his minutes. Also, he fouls and turns over the ball a lot.

On the other hand, Zaza has his FG% and FT% moving upward. He is averaging close to 2 assists/game and over a steal a game. Not to mention contributing averages of nearly 12 points, 8 boards, and a half-block. Imagine if he could hit 3s . . .

5:40 PM  
Anonymous bublitchki said...

I agree, Zaza is a very solid center already and a possible stud in the making.

People tend to overlook the fact that dude is only 21 years old and that this year is the first time he's gotten major minutes. He's clearly learning on the job and has hit some rough spots along the way. But he's definitely one to watch in the next year or so as he has all the makings of becoming another Brad Miller type.

Also, one name conspicuously absent from your above list of do-it-all types was Kirilenko. He's starting to hit some threes this year. If that becomes a regular part of his arsenal, he would belong on the same tier as Marion. And, with today's news out of Utah that the Jazz are planning on playing AK at guard for a while, his value could conceivably go up much further. Should AK ever earn guard eligibility, he would arguably become more valubale than even Marion.

6:12 PM  
Blogger JM said...

kirilenko's stats are rising, but it will take him a couple seasons to shake off the "injury prone" label.

Even if Kirilenko started to hit 3's and get guard eligiblity, I still don't think he'd be as valuable as Marion unless he were to also improve his FT%,FG%,TO and durability.

I'd say he's a definite "high-risk high-reward" pick for next year's drafts.

personally, I wouldn't pick him higher than 25th, but I could imagine someone else taking him in the first round due to his upside.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

I was all set to drop Frye. Of course, last night Mo Taylor gets hurt so Frye gets plenty of minutes and has a very nice game with 17 and 5. Like I said, so frustrating...

11:57 AM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

Andy - go look at Zaza's line from his last game. Awesome . . . 16/9/4/1 with outstanding percentages.

RE: AK47 - his FG% and FT% were very low to start this season, true. But since they moved to a more experienced rotation at PG his numbers are moving back to where they belong. As for TOs, I'll take a few TOs out of a PF who averages better than 4 assists/game. That's better than Jason Terry this season!!!!! Once he gets the blocks back up in the 3+ range (Here's to hoping Boozer can start again very soon - weak side defense is AK47's specialty), that's an 8-cat guy who is irreplaceable.

Not quite Shawn Marion but clearly top 5 in the league. but it will be much closer when Amare returns to take back some of those boards, points, and blocks.

2:17 PM  
Blogger JM said...

I agree that Kirilenko has been outstanding lately. For the season he's at #23 on for 9-cat league. But he's at #8 if you just look at his last 22 games (Dec 26th to present. just after his 2nd stint of missed games). Over that span he's getting:
18.6 pts, 0.8 3's, 9.0 reb, 4.4 ast, 2.1 stls, 2.4 blks, 3.5 TO,47.8%FG, 76.3%FT.

Awesome numbers indeed. Over that period he trails only Marion, Kobe, Brand, G.Wallace, Wade, Garnett, R.Allen

And he'd move up to #6, if your league doesn't count TO.

One question I have of him is whether his reckless style of play makes him injury prone (similar to the other stls/blks beast - Gerald Wallace)

2:58 PM  

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