This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.

Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.

We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.

Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.

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For this week’s article, I’m going to break down the rookies into 1st/2nd/3rd teams based on their performances over roughly the first third of the season. This is solely my own opinion, mostly based on statistical performance but also some other intangibles thrown in there. Feel free to drop your own teams in the comments! Let’s go!

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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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Man…I really feel for Markelle Fultz. He was the #24 recruit out of high school and received scholarships from over 20 colleges, participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, was a member of the Team USA Under-18 squad, First-Team All-Pac-12 and Third-Team All-American in college, and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. On top of the world, as they say, at the tender age of 19 years old. But then the yips surfaced. “The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation…It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.” The most well-known athletes to succumb to the yips are Chuck Knoblauch, Nick Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, and Rick Ankiel. Is Fultz about to join them?

It’s looking likely, as TheAthletic wrote an article yesterday saying that Fultz is dealing with wrist and shoulder issues AND would prefer to move to another team. I’ve been a mental midget at times in my life and have dealt with depression as well, so I empathize but understand some of the realities of the shituation. I was able to hunker down in my cave and deal with my demons, but he’s in the public sphere with everyone all up in his business. The pressure and attention must be debilitating. I feel for you Fultz and wish the best.

This is a fantasy website, though, so I must address the implications from a fantasy perspective. The Fultz stops here. Do not use the Fultz, as the issues seems to be mental. He took an entire season off to deal with it, yet it’s only gotten worse. If he’s having trouble with this, imagine Draymond Green yapping about the yips in his ear. He’s a drop in most formats. I guess in the deepest of leagues, you could stash him as a lottery ticket, but that’s about it.

Did the Boston Celtics sabotage him? I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is that one should always be cynical when a team is willing to pass on the consensus number one overall pick in the draft.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician and politician, who expanded the Roman Empire. He got greedy, though, when he declared himself dictator. As a result, members of the Roman Senate conspired and stabbed him in the back, both literally and figuratively. Julius Randle is a no-nonsense player who bullies defenders down low. Bull in a china shop is an apt description, especially since he’s 6′ 9″ and 250 pounds. After he spent the first four years of his career in Los Angeles, he took his talents to New Orleans and didn’t mess around. He was the same bull that he had been with the Lakers. Last night, though….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 14 10 1 0 0 0/1 9/13 3/3

….Julius did mess around, notching his sixth career triple-dub. In only 25 minutes! There’s been nothing but love for Julius in New Orleans, as he provides the team with a physical presence down low, who can also be a playmaker in the third-fastest team in the NBA for offensive pace. Ain’t nobody stabbing this Julius in the back. From a fantasy perspective, though, don’t go slicing and dicing your team to acquire his services. He’s a fine player, as he’s currently the 87th player according to Basketball Monster. The issues are the limited minutes, lack of threeecolas, low assists, and miniscule defensive contributions. Hopefully no one comes and stab me in the back now.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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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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Each NBA franchise participated in a handful of exhibition games designed to determine who will receive meaningful minutes when the games count, see which rookies have the moxie to handle the men they are trying to steal jobs from, figure out which two-way players will be relegated to the G-league, and ascertain whether preseason really deserves a hyphen or not. Coaches agonize over different rotations, who can play with who, what offensive sets might work, who is smart enough to make defensive decisions in the wink of an eye, and whose agent was lying when he said their player had been putting up 3,000 three pointers a day in an effort to improve their range. All this is done while those same coaches secretly plead in their inside brain, “Please God, don’t let anybody get hurt, sleep with another player’s girlfriend, or be swayed by their buddy from the 4th grade to think that they truly deserve 15 shots per game.” All of those could significantly change rotation plans, kill that elusive team chemistry, or generally cause chaos.

So after the past week of games, we are here to answer or try to answer the following questions:

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I love cars and have fixed up a few rice burners in my day. So, when I used to have cable and spent time channel surfing, I’d stop on a NASCAR race and indulge from time to time. Not my thing. Round and round and round and round they go. Look at the clock. Three more hours to go. The most interesting times would be when the pace car would come out. Without fail, I’d get up and sit on the edge of my seat and pray that whoever was driving would just punch it and channel their inner Fast & Furious. It’s going to happen one of these days. That’s how I feel about this Pacers team. The team has been one of the slowest paced teams in the league. Not since 1985 has the team played at a +100 possessions per game pace. Last season, they finished 23rd. I need someone to press the NOS button and let his baby go! Then we could all scream Oladipo Ho! and Myles wouldn’t have to walk 500 miles. I know what you’re thinking: This site is free?

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It’s fitting that my rookie contribution to Razzball would be focused on this year’s rookie crop. I may tend to start off posts with a heavy Kevin-centric focus. I’ve been obsessed with Fantasy NBA for 15 years. Have I won chips? More than zero. Are my fantasy prognostications correct? Ride with me for a solid 50/50 shot at accuracy. What about real basketball? Was I a scrappy D3 player that really understands the game? I’m on the bottom half of bad pickup games, but I can dunk on an 8-foot rim. So yeah, you could call me an expert. Let’s begin!

UPSIDE!!!
The promise, upside, and mystery of rookies entice us Fantasy GMs every season. Yet there is statistical history that proves love, like Jon Arbuckle for Veterinarian Liz, generally goes unrequited.  Last season there was a boon in productive rookies, with 8 being standard league relevant (12 team, 13 player roster): Ben Simmons (27), Donovan Mitchell (39), Jayson Tatum (42), Lauri Markkanen (66), Lonzo Ball (78), John Collins (92), Kyle Kuzma (116), Jarret Allen (143). While that rookie class surpassed the hype, what’s in store for this year’s group? These youngsters carry a lot of weight in dynasty leagues, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on standard redraft leagues.

For a deep dive in terms of dynasty, check Craig’s rankings here and here.

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Here is the next installment of the Dynasty Deep Dive Rookie Rankings, which will cover players 16-30. If you missed Part One (1-15), do not fear, as you can find it HERE.

Now that we’ve gone over the potential superstars from the class, let’s delve into the potential steals. If you think picks 16-30 don’t/won’t matter, let’s rewind the calendar to last year when the Atlanta Hawks selected John Collins with the 19th overall pick, the Kings picked Harry Giles at 20, Jarrett Allen went 22nd to the Nets, OG Anunoby was scooped at 23 by the Raptors, and the Lakers cleaned up with Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart at picks 27 and 30 respectively.

History has shown that many in this area will bust, but I’m here to help you find those potential golden nuggets.

Let’s rock and roll and see who made the cut. Part Three of the rankings will be released soon, so come back and check to see who cracked the top 45.

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