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Fantasy Potential for the 2005-06 NBA Rookies
July 9, 2005

In the process of doing statistical projections for the 2005-06 NBA Rookies I did a study of the past five NBA rookie crops. I used the past five drafts only since it has been during this period the style of drafting has changed from previous seasons in terms of the drafting of high school players. I looked at the average minutes played by draft position.  For example, for the number #1 draft position, it was the average minutes played for Kenyon Martin, Kwame Brown, Yao Ming, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard in their rookie season. 

I was looking for any historical trends that I could use in the 2005 rookie projections.  One would expect a gradual downward trend from the most minutes played by the #1 pick   I used the following drafts:

The 2004 draft.
The 2003 draft
The 2002 draft
The 2001 draft
The 2000 draft

The results are shown in the following table. 

Draft Position

AVG Rookie
MPG

1

30

2

19

3

28

4

25

5

24

6

28

7

27

8

15

9

18

10

22

11

11

12

13

13

17

14

14

15

11

The results do not really show a gradual downward trend as expected.  The #2 draft position was thrown out-of-whack by Darko Milicic not getting minutes in his rookie year.  Players such as Jay Williams and Nick Collison who did not play their rookie year were not considered in the averages. 

What can be surmised in very general terms is that the top fifteen picks appear to be grouped in two tiers.  The top tier consists of picks #1 through #7.  The average playing time of these picks is 26 minutes per game. After these top seven picks there is a general drop off in playing time.  The average playing time of picks #8 through #15 is about 15 minutes per game, which typically is not enough to have fantasy value. The fantasy manager should be aware that chances are when picking a player #8 or lower he will not have fantasy value in his rookie season. 

The lesson to be learned from this study for picks #1 through #7, is that other than #1 most likely getting the most playing time, there is a decent change that pick #7 will get just as much playing time as pick #2.  Obviously given the lack of a nice linear trend in draft position vs. playing time, other factors such as the experience of the player (physical maturity – i.e. High School players not being quite ready) and the opportunity provided by the needs of the team that drafted the player.  For example, if the team needs a long range shooter and the rookie drafted is the only one of the roster with that skill set the chances are enhanced that he will get playing time.

With all of these factors in mind, I have put together a list of players that as of the date of this article (before much of the NBA free agent activity and way before preseason) have the greatest potential for fantasy value in their rookie season.

Fantasy
Rank

Draft
Position


Team


Player (position)


Age

NCAA
Exp -yrs

1

1

Mil

Andrew Bogut  (C)

20

2

2

4

NO

Chris Paul (PG)

20

2

3

8

NY

Channing Frye  (C)

22

4

4

2

Atl

Marvin Williams  (SF)

19

1

5

3

Uta

Deron Williams  (PG)

21

3

6

9

GS

Ike Diogu   (PF)

21

3

7

5

Cha

Raymond Felton  (PG)

20

3

8

17

Ind

Danny Granger  (SF)

22

4

9

6

Por

Martell Webster (SG)

18

0

10

13

Cha

Sean May   (PF)

21

3

11

7

Tor

Charlie Villanueva (PF)

20

2

12

18

Bos

Gerald Green (SG)

19

0

13

16

Tor

Joey Graham  (SF)

23

3

14

14

Min

Rashad McCants (SG)

20

3

Andrew Bogut as the #1 overall pick stands the chance of getting the most playing time and thereby having the most fantasy value  The Bucks can plug him in the lineup immediately and he should enjoy how Michael Redd and Bobby Simmons spread out the floor. A potential downside for him is a lack of consistent top level collegiate competition.

Chris Paul was the 4th player taken overall and the second point guard, but in my opinion should be able to make an impact in his rookie season going to a team in New Orleans that can given him lots of playing time and by his ability to contribute assists.  In summer league already he is showing his passing skills. Note the negative impact this will have on Dan Dickau's fantasy value.

Marvin Williams was the #2 draft pick but he only has one year of college experience and the Hawks have players such as Josh Childress and Al Harrington that play his position.  Even Josh Smith could conceivably play his position and Marvin is the type to not complain about being developed slowly. For that reason he was ranked #4 in terms of fantasy potential.  Given his athletic abilities, his preseason performance could elevate his ranking.

Channing Frye has four years of college experience, good shot blocking skills, and the opportunity to be the Knicks starting center after the departure of Kurt Thomas.  A bonus for him is the 80%+ free shooting he showed his last year at Arizona.

Deron Williams has good strength and looks to inherit John Stockton’s point guard position with the Utah Jazz.  The Jazz picked him over Chris Paul and certainly must think he can contribute right away.

Ike Diogu is the player other than Channing Frye not taken in the top seven in the NBA draft that I predict has the potential to be a top tier rookie player.  Although Troy Murphy plays his position, the Warriors have only Adonal Foyle at center.  In three years in college, Diogu stuffed the stat sheet in points, rebounds, and blocks.

The quick Raymond Felton is ranked seventh but this could drop if Brevin Knight plays with Charlotte again next season.  Some felt that Charlotte reach a bit for their point guard here.

Danny Granger could have ranked higher had he not slipped to the Pacers that already have some decent players in Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson.  He has four years of college experience (however not at a powerhouse) and an all-around game.

Gerald Green also slipped in the NBA draft.  Although coming from high school, he was considered to be a top five pick.  He ends up in Boston where he may need to scrap for minutes with the likes of Tony Allen, Delonte West, and Ricky Davis.  Oh and by the way, Paul Pierce plays his position too.

Martell Webster comes straight from High School but with an NBA body and an outside shot.  He has the potential to quickly grow as the starting shooting guard for Portland.  I kind of like the opportunity he will have to pleasantly surprise his fantasy owner.

Charlie Villanueva is a wild card who depending on his work ethic could play heavy minutes productively for the Raptors or could end up on the bench if he can not fit in with Chris Bosh playing the PF minutes.  Charlie's upside is that Toronto has no strong candidates to play the center position.

Joey Graham are Rashad McCants are long shots for fantasy value but it could work out for them if their teams end up having no other options at their positions.

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