Earlier this week, Mr. Hooper outlined his redemption attempt from a lackluster RazzJam performance with a mid-season 12-team roto league draft (which starts counting stats Dec. 26) that I managed to snag a spot in as well. 

How’s my RazzJam team doing? Oh, well, thanks for asking. Pretty dang well! I’ve been the pace car most the season in my league, currently with a healthy lead over second place Guiseppe Racco. I was in the Top 10 overall for a bit, but have dropped back to 16th in the last few days. Still a long way to go, so definitely not doing any early celebrating. 

But I digress. I thought it would be fun to compare rookie draft ranking in the current draft, making the turn into round 21 of 25 as I write this, to preseason ADP to gauge the market for rookie performances so far this season. I’m using NFBKC for the pre-season ADP and Monster Basketball for current rankings.

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Did you know about 75% of hops grown in America come from the Yakima Valley? Of course you didn’t. Unless you’re reading from the Pacific Northwest, you probably don’t even know where the heck Yakima is. Which means you also don’t know about this hilarious billboard declaring it the Palm Springs of Washington (funny because Yakima is kind of a craphole). But, if you’re paying attention to your NBA rookie origin stories, you’d know that MarJon Beauchamp is the first and only NBA 1st round draft pick to come out of this quasi-desert rose of a geographical location.

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“Houston, we have a problem” … is the headline I had to fight off for days when contemplating an article on the early returns (or lack thereof) from No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. And that’s just wrong. Literally. The astronauts of Apollo 13 actually said to mission control, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” While we’re at it: Forrest Gump said, “Life was like a box of chocolates;” Marie Antoinette wanted them to eat a pastry, not cake; Manfred Mann was “Revved up like a deuce;” the cornfield winds whispered “If you build it, he will come;” and Darth Vader’s famous line is, “No, I am your father” (either way, its hilarious to say into a fan). Thanks to my Master’s degree in Web Searchography, I know those formations of false collective memories are called the Mandela Effect. What does this have to do with Smith? I have no idea, but it was a fun way to cut through some writer’s block.

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Back in the day when I used to go to malls just to hang out (ah, those were the days), a must stop every time was Sharper Image. It was like the in-flight magazines, but in person! All sorts of shiny, new, modernized gadgets and gizmos, tech-driven household items I otherwise wouldn’t care about, random game, sporting and, especially, golf novelties and, of course, a few minutes in the latest and greatest massage chair. It was a blissful time of next-level window shopping between stops at Sam Goody, Sbarro, Zumies, and more. Sharper Image was great because it was all eye candy without any inclination that I’d actually be buying something. Aside from the fact I couldn’t afford anything in there as a teenager, I also didn’t need it, as cool and flashy as it was. 

And that’s Shaedon Sharpe in his rookie season for fantasy basketball. 

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Jaden Ivey was impressive enough in his sophomore season at Purdue that myriad draft writeups questioned whether he deserved the No. 1 spot. He ended as the 5th to Detroit, which was perfect, not only because his family has a history there, but it’s also pretty easy to compare his game to one of Detroit’s finest: the Dodge Viper. His performance is highlighted by explosive speed; his game can be a lot to handle and, if steered with a lack of direction, a harsh spin out is possible.

So far, Ivey shareholders are feeling pretty good. In four games he’s averaging 16 points, 5.5 ast., 4.3 boards and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes of play while shooting 43% from deep.

However, I’m pumping the breaks on Ivey and holding up the caution sign.

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Rookies are traditionally seen as volatile fantasy assets, and for good reason—every year there are some duds and some studs. Last year, the perceived cream of the crop and number one overall pick on Draft Night and in our hearts, was none other than Zion Williamson from Duke University. He wound up playing only 24 games, but the per-game numbers lacked across-the-board production, landing him just outside the top-150 for fantasy value. Meanwhile, his fellow Blue Devil teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were unrosterable in category leagues. Even runaway ROY Ja Morant was just a mid-rounder when all was said and done. On the flip side, you had a guy like Kendrick Nunn who, when given the opportunity produced similar value to Zion but went mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues.

Every Friday I’ll be checking in on the 2020-21 Rookie Class to see where they stand with respect to their peers and the rest of the Association. The season is young but I like what I’m seeing from a rookie crop that had been dismissed as historically weak.

For now, I’m sticking to rooks who play 20+ minutes, as where there are minutes, there are opportunites.

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You are all pretty familiar with the reliable rookies this year and are playing them every night – Luka, Trae, JJJ, and crew.  This week I’d like to showcase some of the other rookies who have considerably less hype and perhaps not any useful results yet either.  Even mining the forgotten talents of the draft turns up some good players, which again speaks to the strength of this year’s class.

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Reliable rookies are usually tough to find in any sport, with basketball being no exception. They usually show flashes of fantasy goodness only to disappear for a similar amount of time, ultimately hitting the rookie wall and hoping to ‘come back strong next year’. Roughly 20 games into the season for all teams and I’m just about ready to make that claim on several players this year. Some are just reliable, while others are truly special talents. Dynasty owners who grabbed them will be happy for years.

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Collin Sexton is in a no-win situation. Cleveland is terrible (2-12), LeBron left, and he was selected with the big prize draft pick from the Kyrie Irving trade. He needs to be good for Cleveland to have some hope for the future. Luckily, he was this last week, putting up back-to-back solid games and carrying on the momentum from the prior week, when he was inserted into the starting lineup. He averaged 20 PTS, 3 AST, 4 REB, and 2 3PM while playing just over 30 minutes. He also had 4 TO’s in each game but, if he is going to be productive, you can find worse than a rookie point guard on a miserable team. If for some reason he is still sitting on your waiver wire, go add him now!

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It is obvious to me now that this rookie class is paying close attention to these articles. Jaren Jackson Jr. saw that Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. headlined this the last two weeks and was inspired to put up back-to-back excellent games against tough opponents in GSW(L) and MEM(W). The rookie passed the 30 minute mark in both games and averaged 17.5 PTS, 6.5 REB, 1.5 STL, and 4 BLK (including five in one game) with 1 3PM on top. He followed that up with a lackluster performance against PHI but that can be forgiven (especially since they got the W).

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What did you guys dress up as this Halloween?  Wendell Carter Jr. put on his FRANCHISE CENTER costume and then forgot to take it off.  What a week for the big man from Duke – 25 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 3 BLK, and 2 3PM on Halloween followed by 11 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 1 apiece BLK/STL and then 14 pts, 13 REB, 2 STL, and 4 BLK. He is becoming a bigger part of the offense in Chicago and using his high basketball IQ to make things happen.  Stock is way up.  If he is still available in your league or you have an owner sleeping on him, get on it!

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