June 28, 2016, 2:43 am
After weeks of research and mock drafts, the NBA Draft came and left many followers very surprised and confused. There were some surprise trades (including a big one between the Magic and Thunder) and some teams expected to make some big moves were awfully quiet. Now, with very little time until free agency gets underway and commands all the attention of the fantasy world, I would like to review the additions that NBA teams made on draft night that look to have immediate fantasy value.
Top Fantasy Rookie Picks
I’ve pegged the below rookies as players that are walking in to more ideal situations right away. These rookies are safer bets to offer fantasy value next season due to expected opportunities and lack of roster competition.
Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons (PF)
Maybe this is too obvious, but the 76ers will be looking to shape their roster and offense around Simmons. Look for him to be an immediate fantasy contributor with his ability to score, rebound and pass. Simmons will be favored to win rookie of the year as the 76ers are looking to move their other big men to clear the way for him. Most years, the top projected rookie is ranked somewhere around the 6th or 7th rounds. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Simmons is overvalued and fantasy owners reach on him because of the immediate success we saw in KAT. KAT was a once in a lifetime fantasy rookie, be careful of your temptations on fantasy draft day.
Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram (SF)
Ingram is another player that should have every opportunity to produce. I view Ingram as a player that should contribute in points, 3-pointers and some defensive stats immediately. He has little roster competition to worry about, but the Lakers are full of young guns looking to prove themselves. How well this group meshes will determine his fantasy value.
Phoenix Suns – Dragan Bender (PF)
Bender plays a position that the Suns were desperately in need of. Yes, they drafted a second power forward that may cause some competition for minutes, but Bender is supposed to be more NBA ready than Chriss. I expect Bender to play a stretch forward role and should be able to average double digit scoring, some 3-pointers and the potential for some blocks and rebounds.
New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield (SG)
I do not foresee Eric Gordon returning to the Pelicans. There is a good chance that both Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are gone the following offseason as well. This means Buddy Hield could be the number two scoring option on this team as early as next season. While several factors will have to play out in his favor, Hield’s game should translate very well to the NBA level. Even if the Pelican keep all three aforementioned players, there is a good chance Hield still sees ample opportunities when they inevitably go down to injuries again.