Evans having LeBron-like rookie season

Tyreke Evans is averaging 20.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 5.0 apg.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Rookies don't usually get much appreciation in NBA fantasy leagues. Oh, there are exceptions every now and then...MJ, LeBron, Kevin Durant, but mainly fantasy owners take a "wait-and-see" attitude towards first-year players.

There are very good reasons for the reluctance of fantasy owners to depend heavily on rookies. First of all, unless they are headed to a bad team, you aren't sure of the amount of PT (playing time) they'll get.

Secondly, most NBA head coaches need at least half-a-season to teach their rookies how to play defense. Too many first-year players only played "half the floor" in college, resting at the defensive end.

Third, veteran NBA players aren't usually excited about giving up court time and shots to a 20-year-old. Winning isn't the only thing in the NBA that most players think about, I'm guessing their next contract and the stats needed to get a much bigger one, ranks very high on most players' list.

While the top-three players in this year draft haven't done much (Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden), there are a few rookies who have performed beyond expectations. Lets look at four of them.

Tyreke Evans, Sacramento (drafted fourth overall) - When star guard Kevin Martin went down five games into the season, Evans filled the void. He's averaging a very LeBron James-like 20.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 5.0 apg. (James averaged 20.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.9 apg in his rookie season). Despite the fact that Martin has just recently returned to the lineup, it hasn't slowed Evans down. He's scored 21 and 34 in his last two games. Evans is owned in 89% of all leagues.

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee (drafted 10th overall) - Jennings is only technically a rookie having skipped college to play ball in Europe last year. He's been a star from the start of the season and should continue that way for the rest of the year. He's averaging 18.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 6.2 apg. Jennings is owned in 91% of all leagues.

Jonny Flynn, Minnesota (drafted sixth overall) - Flynn was actually the second point guard selected by Minnesota in last year's draft behind Spaniard Ricky Rubio. Rubio never signed with the "Wolves" which opened the door for Flynn to shine. He's averaging 14.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 4.1 apg including a career-high 29 points on Monday against the 76ers. Flynn is owned in 70% of all leagues.

Stephen Curry, Golden State (drafted seventh overall) - It doesn't hurt that he's getting almost 33 minutes-per-night on the No.2 scoring team in the league. Curry is averaging 17.1 ppg in January, up from 13.5 in December. His shot opportunities are up and he's contributing all across the board. Best of all, he's only owned in 65% of all leagues.

Leading Candidates for Fantasy Rookie of the Year
PlayerTeamMINPPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3PT%FT%
T. EvansSAC37.420.85.05.01.50.545.924.778.8
B. JenningsMIL34.418.03.66.21.10.338.639.581.6
J. FlynnMIN29.814.22.34.11.20.041.634.881.6
S. CurryGSW32.912.93.94.51.80.345.943.984.7


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.