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Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rater: Preseason

Every week during the fantasy basketball season, we’ll take a look at the top rookies in the NBA and how they effect your team.

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Obi Toppin, F, New York Knicks
The Knicks took the athletic Flyer eighth overall, and intend to use him as a high-usage guy on offense and an effective force on defense. Toppin might not start right away as the Knicks have Julius Randle at PF, but once the 6’9” forward proves his worth through an efficient three-point shot and effort on defense, the minutes will come. I expect Toppin to be a candidate for Rookie of The Year; for fantasy, he is a safe sleeper in points leagues and will be helpful to teams in category leagues as he fills basically every stat. 

Cole Anthony, G, Orlando Magic
Cole Anthony was the perfect choice for a Magic team that is stuck in limbo, constantly making the playoffs as a lower seed. There’s always a place in the league for teams like the Magic, who will struggle to attract big-name free agents and must build through the draft. Until they find their next franchise building block, they will draft guys who fill the seats and fill the stat sheet. Cole Anthony is that guy – a prolific scorer, with a storied background rooted in basketball, and a hefty social media following. For your fantasy team, Anthony will provide points, three-pointers made, assists, and free-throw percentage at a clip high enough to earn a full-time roster spot pretty early on in the season. I will be watching him closely to see how many minutes he’s given, and he will likely be an early-season addition for me.

Deni Avdija, F, Washington Wizards
Avdija might be the most NBA-ready prospect, and he fell to a team that has made it clear they are competing in the present, meaning he will get valuable minutes in high stakes games. With the offense in the hands of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, Avdija won’t have a very high usage percentage, yet he is efficient enough to make it work in the minutes he will be given. We all know he can shoot, score, and pass at a high level, but it will be the effort he shows on defense in the first 20 games that determines if he has a meaningful spot in the Wizards rotation and on your fantasy team.  

LaMelo Ball, G, Charlotte Hornets
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Hornets rookie guard, and it might be risky to take him as high as the sixth round in re-draft leagues, as well as paying up for him in DraftKings. The reality, though, is that Ball might have the highest ceiling of all the rookies. Depending on how early the Hornets entrust him with valuable minutes, you could have a fantasy gem on your hands. He contributes as a scorer, passer, shooter, and a sneaky good rebounder for his position. Drafting Ball is a considerable risk, but one that I am willing to take in order to achieve that potential ceiling. 

Heisen is currently a journalism major at the University of Oregon and was part of the SemiPro Media team as a Co-Assistant Editor and Staff Writer. He has a passion for fantasy football and a knack for the analytical statistics behind football. Heisen roots for a football team that epitomizes choking: The Los Angeles Chargers.

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