The 2017-18 NBA Rookie Class Rankings
Note: Our positional rankings have been designed for Head-to-Head points. We have not ignored the Head-to-Head Rotisserie and pure Rotisserie leaguers. We will have the Top 100 rankings for them soon.
Be sure to see the rest of our 2017 – 2018 Fantasy Basketball positional rankings:
This year’s NBA rookie class will impact Fantasy teams, but don’t expect sonic boom-like production out this this crop. Over the past five years, only five players (Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Nikola Jokic) surpassed the 20.0 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) barrier in their first year; as you may have noticed, there are neither guards nor small forwards cracking this list, which makes the odds of Lonzo Ball, Marquelle Fultz or Jayson Tatum becoming the sixth about as long as DeAndre Jordan hitting 20 straight free throws.
Still, this NBA rookie class is steep with talent, with at least six or seven players capable of becoming solid contributors to their respective Fantasy squads. As we move down the list, keep in mind that the rankings are for this season only, so let’s not get into a snit because a certain Laker isn’t atop the list and why Harry Giles (who, if healthy, can emerge as one of the top players of this rookie class) won’t be mentioned past the ensuing period.
- Dennis Smith, PG, Mavericks: Check out his box from this past Monday’s preseason game against the Magic (16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block) and you get a sense of what to expect from the blistering fast Smith, whose presence will breathe life into a Mavericks offense so conservative it made Steve Bannon scream, “Go Left, damn you.” Dallas was the only team in the league not to average more than 100 points last season, finishing at 97.9 points per night. Smith will help push the tempo immediately while also making Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews more efficient. While there’s work to do on improving his offensive game, Smith should shoot well enough to finish with around 14-16 points per game to go along with seven assists, five boards and a steal per night. He stands a reasonable chance to approach the 16.9 PER of Jordan Clarkson (Lakers, 2014-15), the best PER by a rookie guard in the past five years.
- Ben Simmons, PG, 76ers: He’s ranked just ahead of his teammate, Fultz, for one simple reason: listed as a SF/PF in most leagues, Simmons will gain PG eligibility early in the season, giving his Fantasy owners the flexibility to move him around daily. At 6’10”, Simmons will be the de facto quarterback of the young Sixers lineup and while his shooting leaves a lot to be desired early, Simmons is a triple-double waiting to happen.
- Lonzo Ball, PG, Lakers: There’s no in-between with Ball. Either he lives up to the hype and becomes the foundation of the new-look Lakers or he’s going to fall flat on his well-hyped rear end. Either way, it wouldn’t keep his dad quiet. Ball will offer assists and hit the glass, yet, like Simmons, his shooting will be the make-or-break of his rookie production. He’s been the first rookie off the board in most drafts, a mistake that could burn his Fantasy owners.
- Marquelle Fultz, PG, 76ers: Yes, Simmons will be the focal point of the offense, but don’t discount Fultz’s value. He should emerge as a Fantasy-viable option, but it’s probably not going to kick in until after the All-Star break, as it will take some time to find a role for Fultz. I think he’s going to be the best player in the Class of 2018, but it just won’t show in his overall numbers this season.
- John Collins, PF/C, Hawks: His rebounding prowess makes him a strong option as the middle rounds conclude as Collins has a chance to stake his claim for minutes in a crowded Hawks frontcourt. Collins will get his share of blocks and his interior scoring could be a welcome surprise.
- Josh Jackson, SF, Suns: No one doubts his talent, yet Jackson will be competing for minutes and touches on a Phoenix roster that already must solve how to get Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Marquese Chriss enough shots. Jackson can contribute on the glass and should be able to add a steal and a block per game, but his potential could be shackled as the Suns begin to put together the jigsaw puzzle of a young team brimming with potential.
- Jayson Tatum, SF, Celtics: Obviously, Boston isn’t looking at Tatum as a go-to guy, but while he has struggled with his shooting in the early going, Tatum’s elite scoring ability will take form and will be nurtured by new Celts point guard Kyrie Irving. Like Chriss, expect Tatum to be a stronger Fantasy factor after the All-Star break.
- Donovan Mitchell, SG/SF, Jazz: My dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year, Mitchell’s scoring is welcomed on a team that needs to fill the void that Gordon Hayward left. He’s averaging nearly 15 field goal attempts per game in the preseason and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not approaching that total in the early portion of the regular season. His defensive skills will make him a strong candidate to average 1.5 steals per game.
- D’Aaron Fox, PG, Kings: George Hill will start the season as the starter, but Fox will see considerable minutes as the Kings slowly ease into the lineup. Few players in the draft are as explosive as Fox, who has intriguing scoring ability while his athleticism will show up in the number of steals he records.
- Lauri Markkanen, PF, Bulls: There’s no reason why the Bulls wouldn’t give him a ton of minutes. His rebounding skills are better than expected and there will be nights where the 7’3” Markkanen won’t rain hell from above with his 3-point shooting. He’s not Kristaps Porzingis, yet Markkanen is good enough to make his own name for Fantasy players to consume.
Oh, and These Guys
- Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Magic
- Justin Jackson, SF, Kings
- Frank Nitilikina, PG, Knicks
- Malik Monk, SG, Hornets
- Caleb Swanigan, PF, Trail Blazers
- Bam Adebayo, PF, Heat
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