Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans was the NBA's 2009-10 Rookie of the Year and the TSN "Best Fantasy Bargain" winner for shooting guards after seemingly coming out of nowhere to produce astonishing numbers. Though his Kings struggled to a 25-57 record, Evans posted the best rookie statistics since LeBron James first started to play for pay. Evans averaged 20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.8 apg and 1.5 spg.
But the 2009-10 season is now a memory and we begin our look towards next season by examining the group of recently drafted college and international players to see if we can uncover the next "Evans."
Putting statistical projections on rookies is one of the most difficult skills to master primarily because you must do more than simply measure talent. You must determine how they will blend with their new team and most importantly how much playing time they will garner.
Superstar Kobe Bryant averaged just 7.6 ppg in his first NBA season (1995-96), one in which he only got on the floor for about 15 minutes-per-game. By contrast, James averaged 39.5 mpg in 2003-04 and Evans averaged 37.2 minutes- per-game last season in posting his 20+ points-per-game.
Jermaine O'Neal was an extremely talented, but raw high school player when he was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1996. He played sparingly as a rookie, 458 minutes in all, and averaged just 4.1 ppg as a rookie. And in four years in the Pacific Northwest he never averaged more than 4.5 ppg. However, when he was traded to Indiana in 2000-01, he became a six-time All-Star center.
Did his talent level change overnight?
No. In his first season in Indiana, O'Neal averaged 12.9 ppg and 9.8 rpg. while playing 32 minutes-per-game versus 12.3 minutes in his final year in Portland.
It's about opportunity as much as talent.
With that said, let's look at this year's draftees to see who should warrant your fantasy attention. We'll choose the 10 players we feel will give you the most production in their rookie season.
John Wall, Washington - Wall is very young, very quick and with Shaun Livingston and Earl Boykins as the team's other options will play for as many minutes as his stamina will allow. He's been compared to Derrick Rose and Rose's first-year totals were: 16.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.3 apg which is a good starting point. If Andray Blatche and Gilbert Arenas are healthy, his assists could go higher and his points total a little bit lower.
Evan Turner, Philadelphia - The 76ers needed a "finisher" and Turner is that guy. He's the most "NBA-ready" player in the draft and could play at the one- two or three spot. If Philadelphia keeps Andre Iguodala, Turner's scoring might be limited as they possess many of the same skills, but if Iguodala is traded, Turner could average 20 ppg.
Derrick Favors, New Jersey - Favors might not actually play in New Jersey depending upon how free agency goes, but if he stays, he could put up solid numbers alongside center Brook Lopez. Solid, not spectacular, as in nine points and seven rebounds-per-game.
Wesley Johnson, Minnesota - Johnson is the wing scorer that the Timberwolves needed to go along with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love up front and guards Jonny Flynn and Corey Brewer in the backcourt. He'll likely average around 13 ppg, but filling in the rest of the boxscore might be where he stumbles.
Ekpe Udoh, Golden State - Almost anybody who plays for the Warriors has fantasy relevance because of the up tempo game they play. Udoh may have to share time with Anthony Randolph and Brandon Wright which could limit his upside to around eight points and seven rebounds.
Greg Monroe, Detroit - Monroe is a talented big man who has a solid offensive game, rebounds and passes the ball well. He should start at power forward from Day 1 and given the Pistons' need for frontcourt scoring should be able to post 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists-per-game.
Paul George, Indiana - George is an athletic scorer, who is heading to a team that needs one to take some pressure off of Danny Granger. He reminds people of Tracy McGrady but he's not as good a ballhandler. He's at his best as a spot up shooter. He has the tools to be a very good rebounding small forward who can put up 16 points and seven boards. But probably not until year two.
Ed Davis, Toronto - Davis is an athletic, rebounding, shot-blocking, power forward who will have big shoes to fill for the Raptors. Though he's certainly no Chris Bosh, his numbers will be solid. He could average 13 points and 10 rebounds as a rookie.
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee - If Sanders can put on a few pounds, he and Andrew Bogut could be a dynamic duo for the Bucks. He's got a long wingspan yet is athletic enough to get involved in the transition game. Which is good because he might have to wait in line to get his shots behind the likes of Corey Maggette, Brandon Jennings, Bogut and John Salmons if he resigns with the Bucks. Sanders won't score a lot, but could be a stats-filler elsewhere with rebounds and block shots.
James Anderson, San Antonio - The Spurs got a possible steal at No.20 when they chose James Anderson. He can create his own shot and score in a multitude of ways. He's NBA-ready and should be a success as the third option behind Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. He should average double-digit points right from Opening Day.
Will any of these guys be able to post "Evans-type" numbers?
My guess is...not this year.