NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Harrison Barnes

The Golden State Warriors selected SF Harrison Barnes with the seventh pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Barnes’ career stats at North Carolina:

75 Games, 16.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, .9 steals, .4 blocks, 43.0 FG%, 73.5 FT%

Fantasy Advice:   The Warriors already have Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson at small forward, but the lure of Harrison Barnes was just too much for Golden State to pass up at number seven.   There’s a good chance the Warriors will  probably trade Dorell Wright soon, so Barnes could luck into some decent minutes.

Barnes is a pure scorer with an excellent spot up perimeter shooting game.  I’ve seen people comparing his game to the type of games that Danny Granger and Rudy Gay play.   He took 5.3 threes a game in his freshman season, hitting 34.4 % of them and then followed that up with 3.6 attempts per game as a sophomore, converting 35.8% of them.  He’s not great driving to the basket, but he can do it.  With North Carolina’s huge frontcourt, he wasn’t asked to do much rebounding, so it remains to be seen how he’ll fare rebounding in the NBA.

He should provide solid defense from the small forward spot and grab a least a steal per game for fantasy owners.  His biggest fantasy benefit should be his scoring and three point ability.  However, the risk for Barnes is that his name is way more valuable to fantasy drafters than his actual game.  Barnes has been a star since high school and a name that most college basketball fans instantly recognize.  When determining his draft round, just be sure that you are drafting the actual player, not the name.

NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers selected Damian Lillard with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Lillard’s career stats at Weber State:

104 Games, 18.6 points, 3.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 44.5 FG%, 86.6 FT%

Fantasy Advice:  Lillard was a four year player at Weber State and he’ll be 22 in a couple of weeks, so he’s got some experience and he’ll need it since Portland will likely ask him to be a starter this season.  Raymond Felton probably isn’t going to be in Portland this year, so Lillard will get his shot.

Lillard is an extremely quick PG with a solid jumpshot.  My first thought when I watched his tapes was ‘man, that really looks like a skinny Chris Paul’.  I’m not saying he’s that good, but his game and mechanics look a little like Paul’s.  He was the second leading scorer in the nation last year with 24.5 points per game, but it was admittedly for a second tier Weber State squad in the Big Sky Conference.  It remains to be seen how he’ll do when the competion picks up.

Two stats jump out for Lillard:

He attempted 7.2 threes per game last season – and he hit 40.9% of them.
He attempted 8.0 free throws per game, hitting 88.7% of them.

Basically, what we are looking at is a scorer who can do it from beyond the arc and at the rim effectively.   He’s the type of fantasy point guard that helps you in just about every category and can make his own offense without depending on his teammates.  He’ll have some turnover problems early in his career, but the bonus he gives you with the threes and scoring will more  than make up for that.  He’s a great gamble in mid to late rounds and a probably a solid middle rounder in keeper leagues.


NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Thomas Robinson

The Sacramento Kings selected Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Robinson’s career stats at Kansas:

105 Games, 9.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, .7 blocks, .6 steals, 52.4 FG%, 60.5 FT%

Fantasy Advice:  The Kings needed some size to pair with DeMarcus Cousins and they got just that in the 6’9 power forward from Kansas.  Robinson is a very high character  guy and will hopefully pair well with Cousins.  The only fear here is that Cousins’ questionable attitude will rub off on Robinson or at least frustrate him somewhat.  Hopefully, the coaching staff keeps an eye on the situation.

Robinson is also great human story, even outside the world  of basketball.  ESPN had an emotional feature on him that you can read HERE.  If you watched the draft, you saw his little sister with him and you know the back story.  If you don’t know the story, then definitely check out the article.

Robinson’s biggest fantasy contribution this season will be with his rebounding.  The Kings were 29th in the league last season in defensive rebounding and Robinson should get an immediate shot at starting and improving that team rebounding figure.  He’s not a great FT% shooter with a career 60.5 FT% in college, so he’ll have to work on that.

If you are looking for a late round keeper league power forward to pad the rebound category, Robinson is probably your guy.  Just don’t expect much more than a one category boost in his first season as he won’t be asked to contribute much on the offensive end with guys like Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton surrounding him.

NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Dion Waiters

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Dion Waiters with the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Waiters’ career stats at Syracuse:

71 Games, 9.7 points, 2.0 assists, 1.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals,  45.3 FG%, 75.3 FT%

Fantasy Advice:  The Cavs were looking for a scorer to pair with Kyrie Irving in the backcourt and they most definitely wanted Bradley Beal, however Beal was long gone and Cleveland decided to take a gamble and go with Waiters over Harrison Barnes.

All I’ve seen from Cleveland fans is that ‘Waiters never started a game at Syracuse’.  Whatever.   The guy has a pretty broad skillset and can probably thrive in whatever role is chosen for him.  He can drive to the basket or hit the three.  He’s also pretty good with the ball in his hands as a playmaker and could easily end up in a Tyreke Evans type of role.

With Waiters,  it’s difficult to guage his offensive contributions due to the fact that he only played 24.1 minutes per game, but if you convert his stats to a per/40 minute basis, the picture gets much clearer:

FG attempts per 40: Waiters = 16.03 / Beal = 12.41 / Ross = 17.28 / Rivers = 14.24 / Lamb = 14.34

Points per 40: Waiters = 20.97 / Beal = 17.24 / Ross = 21. 10 / Rivers = 18.67 / Lamb = 19.05

If you break some of the top offensive players of the draft down into a per/40 basis, Waiters can hold his own with the best of them.  Cleveland probably isn’t going to do much this year and they have the luxury of putting Waiters into the starting lineup to build future chemistry with Irving.  Combine this with the fact that the Cavs desperately need scoring and it looks like Waiters could possibly be a fantasy steal and may come at a cheaper draft price than Bradley Beal.

NBA Rookie Draft Ranking and Fantasy Outlook: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s career stats at Kentucky:

40 Games, 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, .9 blocks, 1.0 steals, 49.1 FG%, 74.5% FT%

Fantasy Advice:   I was a little surprised when Kidd-Gilchrist was called at number two, but looking back it was probably telegraphed earlier in the week when the Bobcats traded Corey Maggette to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Ben Gordon.   With MKG coming in, Maggette was no longer needed and with Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson manning the guard spots, Bradley Beal wasn’t the right fit for Charlotte.   I actually expected to see Thomas Robinson go here and it probably would have been a better pick.

The best that can be said about MKG right now is that he’s a high character guy and an intensely skilled defender, which isn’t what most fantasy owners are looking for from a number 2 draft pick type player.   His offensive game is probably going to be very average early in his NBA career and probably won’t do much to help fantasy owners in his first season.  He is extremely young though and many have said that he’s got one of the higher ceilings to be found in this year’s rookie class, so there is hope that his offensive game will develop in time.

My immediate reaction is that fantasy drafters are going to overpay for Kidd-Gilchrist simply because he was the number two NBA draft pick, but unless he shows some real offensive development and a decent role in the offense in training camp, I’d let someone else take the gamble on him.