Top 25 Dynasty Basketball Rookie Rankings, #1-10
The 2016 rookie class was declared a two-player draft (Simmons and Ingram) by many experts, but at least for fantasy purposes, that list should be expanded to three by adding Kris Dunn. For reference, you can find our complete #Dynasty200 rankings written by Tom Trudeau, which has Dunn ahead of Ingram. Here I have broken down my Top 10 dynasty prospects into two tiers. Tier 1 contains the aforementioned 3 players. Tier 2 contains players with flaws and lower floors, but also tantalizing upsides. These rankings reflect my philosophy that dynasty owners should look for the greatest potential payout in the future. Don’t be afraid to draft a bust! Playing it safe won’t help you unearth a superstar, such as a Paul George or Kawhi Leonard.
Note: I do not recommend drafting strictly according to this list, because I value some players higher than their “consensus rankings,” and you may be able to acquire them for a bargain. The rankings are derived from my opinions formed by watching college games, reading scouting reports, and watching YouTube videos.
For “prime statistical projections” I’m am identifying where I believe each player will be well above average by using the following per game statistics as a baseline: PTS 18+, REB 8+, AST 6+, BLK 1.5+, STL 1.5+, 3PT 2+. For example, a player tagged with the “REB” designation implies that I think that player is capable of averaging 8 rebounds or more per game.
TIER 1: “Don’t Overthink It”
- SF/PF Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
No need to spend too much time here. Simmons has long been considered the gem of this class and a potential generational talent. He possesses a high basketball IQ, a feel for the game as a passer, and is an exceptional rebounder. His game is very Lebron-esque although he does not quite possess the same freakish athleticism.
There are a few concerns with Simmons. His jump shot needs work and it was slightly alarming that he failed to lead LSU to the NCAA tournament in his only season in college. But in fantasy basketball, wins are not part of the equation. Simmons should be selected #1 overall in every draft despite the injury.
Stat to Know: 19.2 PTS, 11.8 REB, 4.8 AST per game at LSU
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, REB, STL
- PF Brandon Ingram, LA
Simmons is the obvious choice at #1 and Ingram is the clear selection here in my opinion. People have made comparisons to Kevin Durant, but Ingram is not the elite shooter that Durant is, nor is he as adept with the dribble. Ingram may turn out to be more like a rebounding version of Kris Middleton (18 ppg last year).
Stat to Know: Hit 42% of his catch and shoot jumpers at Duke
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, 3PT
- PG Kris Dunn, Minnesota
Dunn landed in a very promising situation on draft night with the young, up and coming Timberwolves. It will be very interesting watching him develop alongside Anthony-Towns, Wiggins, and Lavine. Dunn’s greatest asset is his quick first step and ability to attack the basket and he should thrive whenever he is handed the reigns at PG.
Stat to Know: Averaged 7.6 assists and 3.0 steals per 40 as a senior for Providence
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, AST, STL
TIER 2: “Low floor, High Ceiling”
- PF Marquese Chriss, Phoenix
We now exit the fairly obvious “Top 3” to enter the land of potential, so it’s time to swing for the fences! Drafting Marquese Chriss would be doing just that. “Raw. Unseasoned. Inconsistent. Questionable motor.” All accurate descriptions of Chriss right now, but the athleticism, strength, size, and already above average jumper mean that if you pass on Chriss, you may be passing on an NBA all-star. A safe bet to reach his potential? Not at all. Worth the risk? I say yes.
Stat to Know: Has only been playing competitive basketball for a few years
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, REB, BLK
- SG Jamaal Murray, Denver
Murray does one thing, but he does that one thing well. That one thing is shooting the basketball. Murray’s probably the best pure scorer of all the perimeter players in this draft. His handle is suspect as is his athleticism. But even his ultimate role is the 6th man off the bench, when Murray is on the court, he will put the ball in the bucket.
Stat to Know: Hit the 2nd most 3PT every made by a NCAA freshman (Steph Curry is #1)
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, 3PT
- SF/PF Juancho Hernangomez, Denver
I had never seen Hernangomez play until I watched a few of his summer league games. Although summer league success does not correlate to regular season success, watching Hernangomez’s play made him one of my favorite players in this class. A 6-foot-9 combo forward, Hernangomez has 3PT range combined with the capability of scoring in a variety of ways. Like many rookies, he needs to get stronger, but he plays with toughness inside and has demonstrated a knack rebounding. Considered to be a project, there exists a potential for immediate contributions considering Gallinari’s injury history and Faried’s rumored spot on the trading block.
Stat to Know: Averaged 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per 40 in the highest professional division in Spain
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, REB
- PF Dragan Bender, Phoenix
One thing that scouts praise Bender for is his fluidity. For a 7-footer, Bender has excellent agility. Right now, his offensive game needs refinement and he struggles to create his own shot. Out of all the players in this tier, Bender is the rawest and likely the furthest away from contributing. However, if he is able to incrementally improve his skills each year, he has one of the highest ceilings in this class.
Stat to Know: 2.4 blocks and 1.7 steals (per 40) at age 18 [Israeli Superleague]
Prime Statistical Projection: BLK, STL
- SF/PF Dario Saric, Philadelphia
Right now, Saric’s most NBA-ready skill is his rebounding. Scouting reports and YouTube breakdowns of his game reveal a player that is a decent spot up shooter and someone who does well moving without the basketball. His abilities as a shot creator, a shooter off of the dribble, and as a finisher in the paint, are all adequate at best. Saric’s future might be as rebounder off the bench whose scoring comes from offensive rebounds and being set up by teammates.
Stat to Know: 40% 3PT in Euroleague last year
Prime Statistical Projection: REB
- SF Jaylen Brown, Boston
What Jaylen Brown has on his side is his youth and his athleticism. Brown is a slasher who likes to attack the basket and either get fouled or finish above the rim. If he dedicates himself to it, he has the potential to be an excellent defender as well. The question is: can Brown improve his jumper enough to keep defenses honest?
Stat to Know: 57.4 FT Rate at Cal
Prime Statistical Projection: PTS, STL
- PG Dejounte Murray, San Antonio
This may be the only dynasty rookie ranking with Murray in the top 10. For owners who draft him, patience is paramount. Murray struggles with his outside shot and he struggles with his decision making as a point guard, so why do I rank him 10th? It’s largely because of the organization that selected him. Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland has worked wonders improving the jumpers of Spurs players ranging from Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Kawhi Leonard. And who better than Greg Popovich to groom a young, malleable, 19 year-old guard with elite length and slashing ability into a floor general? Stashing Murray requires a willingness to play the “long game,” but the reward could be worth it in the end.
Stat to Know: 6’9.5” wingspan
Prime Statistical Projection: AST, STL