Re-ranking the 2017 Rookies (Hoops)
I lost my entire post this morning after attempting to schedule it, so this is the I-have-two-kids-and-a-job (apologies) version. On the plus side, it was good practice spelling NTILIKINA. (Thanks for letting me vent!) You can hear me and Andrew Ressler debate this list on Episode 20 of TDG podcast.
For me there’s a clear tier in the top four and then again after Jackson. It’s been a surprising year for rookies (the number one pick doesn’t know how to shoot?), but this also may be the deepest rookie class I can recall, with future impact players past the top ten. In any regular year, Dennis Smith Jr. would likely be a top three or four asset, for example.
Join the discussion on our Facebook Group.
- Lonzo Ball – reminds me of Jason Kidd. Shooting percentages have really come on since December.
- Jayson Tatum – Already a prototypical role player with mistake-free offense, spacing and defense… at just 19.
- Donovan Mitchell – Lacks the upside of Tatum and Ball, but undeniably impressive volume for a rookie of any age.
- Lauri Markkanen – Pedestrian steals / blocks hold him back, but he’s flashed with top 10 months in spite of that.
- Jonathan Isaac – Makes for an excellent buy low with fantasy upside on par with anyone in the draft class. Unlike Jordan Bell, who also has excellent block and steal rates, Isaac is a wing. That means he’s more likely to earn 30+ minutes per game.
- Markelle Fultz – Shrug.
- John Collins – If you believe he can get to 30 minutes per game, he’s a top 40 player today. However, bigs just don’t get to proper starter minutes these days if they aren’t elite defenders or three point shooters.
- Jordan Bell – If you believe he can get to 30 minutes per game, he can be a top 20 player today. However, I have even less confidence he does.
- Dennis Smith Jr. – Efficiency is lacking (what’s new, he’s a rook?), but really it’s the so-so steals and blocks that have me calm about Dennis Smith. He’s very valuable, this is just an absurdly deep class. Don’t be fooled by the rank.
- Frank Ntilikina – He has the ability to lead the league in steals today. Has vision and poise, just needs a jump shot. That’s a big deal, but he’s only 19 years old.
- De’Aaron Fox – Has come on nicely and, again, in a normal year he’d be the fifth or sixth rookies and we’d all be calm about his growing pains. May take a couple years to put it all together.
- Josh Jackson – Possibly even rawer than advertised, but Jackson has way too much pedigree to rank any lower. This ends a tier after Markkanen that really could be ordered in many different ways.
- O.G. Anunoby – Hasn’t been asked to do much in Toronto, but he has a true shooting percentage near 60% which is exactly what you want from your three and D wing.
- Luke Kennard – High floor shooter should perennially flirt with top 100 value.
- Kyle Kuzma – Last in ESPN’s Defensive RPM among PF’s. I think he’s Mike Beasley (not a compliment).
Honorable Mention: Jarret Allen, Zach Collins, Malik Monk.