Fantasy basketball: Is Jabari Parker the top rookie?
Young players are a huge part of the tanking movement currently going on in the NBA. Not only do teams give their prized (yet raw) assets experience, but they also lose games and acquire future high draft picks in the process.
It leads to rookies getting more playing time than they often deserve. We saw it last year as Michael Carter-Williams rode the Sixers’ up-tempo style and lack of surrounding talent to Rookie of the Year honors.
These players drafted last week will have instant impacts on fantasy leagues.
Always this class’ most NBA-ready player offensively, Jabari Parker also lands in one of the most fantasy-friendly situations. The Bucks are desperate for a “face of the franchise” type, allowing guys like Brandon Knight, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo to be role players. At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds with a smooth mid-range jumper and rugged ability to finish near the rim, Parker is a near lock to lead all rookies in scoring. Expect a season like Carmelo Anthony’s rookie campaign: 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 3-pointers per game.
Santa’s little Elf
We can see what the Magic are doing very clearly. They traded away Arron Afflalo and then waived Jameer Nelson, paving the way for their backcourt of the future: Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo. Both players will have tons of breakout appeal, but Payton figures to come at a fraction of the price because he’s such an unknown. We do know that at Louisiana-Lafayette, Payton averaged 21.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.3 steals last season. The competition he faced in the Sun Belt was better than what Damian Lillard saw while playing in the Big Sky.
We’re still not sure if the Lakers will re-sign Pau Gasol, or somehow lure Carmelo Anthony to join Kobe Bryant for one last run. But no matter what, they’re going to need Julius Randle to start and do a lot of dirty work after Mike D’Antoni crippled the roster of competent big men. The Zach Randolph-esque Kentucky product can do just that, as evidenced by his 3.5 offensive rebounds per game last season. There’s 12-point, 10-rebound appeal here.
MLB pickups …
1. Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners — He is a 21-year-old future No. 2 behind Felix Hernandez with 18 Ks in 21 MLB innings.
2. Jesse Hahn, SP, Padres — The former high school teammate of Matt Harvey is now 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 36 strikeouts in five starts. Petco works wonders for pitchers.
3. Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants — Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt will share closing duties while Sergio Romo licks his wounds.
NFL OTA risers …
With training camp now on the horizon, these guys are buzzing:
1. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals – The star of Arizona’s offseason is ready to pass Larry Fitzgerald as the go-to guy down the field in Bruce Arians’ offense.
2. Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns – He is entering a contract year as the No. 1 target in a Josh Gordon-less passing game. Cameron was reportedly impossible to cover during OTAs.
3. Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers – He’s a pass-catching third-round rookie who is running ahead of Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick. Aaron Rodgers gives him upside.
Follow Metro fantasy sports writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.