The NBA Draft almost always serves as a way teams can help themselves down the road, not right away. That means most rookies enter their first season in the pros having little-to-no fantasy value. However, there are always those gems, those diamonds in the rough. There probably won't be more than 10 or 11 rookies drafted in standard fantasy leagues this season (depending on your league depth and rules), but that doesn't mean those who go undrafted aren't worth stalking on the waiver wire a couple of times a week. Here's our evaluation of this year's rookies, and what we believe are reasonable expectations for their contributions this season.
Anthony Davis, PF, NOR: Davis is clearly on a different level from the rest of the players on this list, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will hold the most fantasy value for the upcoming season. The areas in which Davis excels don't always have tangible value, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He should be able to get blocks against smaller forwards, but he may struggle to get the ball on the other side of the floor with the glue-handed Austin Rivers potentially running the New Orleans offense.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA: Kidd-Gilchrist is a defensive-minded player, much like Davis. He will have opportunities to score, considering he is on a team with limited offensive options. Kidd-Gilchrist also might be able to get Kemba Walker out and running considering his transition game was the best in the NCAA last season.
Bradley Beal, SG, WAS: Beal is a tremendous shooter, who will most likely be a starter Opening Night. The big question here is "How much can John Wall improve?" If Wall is able to slash to the hoop, Beal could be left open for plenty of three-point jumpers.
Dion Waiters, SG, CLE: Ignore the fact that Waiters came off the bench in college. That was a decision based on a system, not raw ability. He should be able to work well with Kyrie Irving, who will only improve in his second season. A slashing, Dwyane Wade-type of guard paired with a good, young point guard is the type of player that can put up big numbers in a rookie year.
Thomas Robinson, PF, SAC: Rebounding tends to translate into the NBA as well as or better than any other stat and oh boy, can Robinson rebound. He has led the Big 12 in each of the past two seasons in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The problem is that Robinson may have his minutes limited by the veterans in the Kings frontcourt rotation (DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes). He had his fair share of struggles in the Summer League, and the re-signing of Thompson is a big wall he'll have to climb over to be a consistent contributor in his rookie season.
Damian Lillard, PG, POR: Lillard is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate if only because he will have the ball in his hands so often. A point guard with a quick release on his jumper, he should work seamlessly with a forward like LaMarcus Aldridge in the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop. Meanwhile, someone with his ability to score could end up getting Brandon Jennings-like media attention in his first year in the league.
Harrison Barnes, SF, GSW: Barnes' measurables at the combine were elite, but the problem is he usually doesn't display that sort of athletic ability during games. If he starts to use his athleticism to his advantage, he could be a productive rookie with the amount of minutes he should be getting.
Austin Rivers, G, NOR: Rivers is a talent, but struggled as a decision maker in his sole season at Duke. Each play seemed premeditated. If he was going to pass, he already knew. If he was going to shoot, that choice was already made before the play even started. That is a trait that may not translate to well to the NBA, especially considering he will be playing a lot of point guard in New Orleans. His ability as a natural scorer and shooter, though, should not be overlooked, and the fact that many of New Orleans' plays will start with the ball in Rivers' hands means plenty of opportunities for him to put up numbers.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR: Valanciunas struggled in the Olympics and has a reputation for getting into foul trouble. However, many scouts have said that if he were in this past season's draft (as opposed to the 2011 NBA Draft, when he was picked sixth overall), he would have been the second overall pick. He can run and jump better than most big men. Now, the Raptors need to see just how ready he is for NBA play.
Terrence Ross, SG, TOR: Ross might not fit in right away. He is an athlete and a strong wing shooter, but could start the season as the Raptors' fourth guard, playing directly behind DeMar DeRozan. He is still young and relatively raw. That means he could struggle integrating his game into the NBA.
Jeremy Lamb, SG, HOU: Lamb is one of the few guards on a team that is building itself as a shelter for forwards. He is still unspeakably skinny, but if he can add some bulk, he might be able to score some points off the bench for Houston.
Jared Sullinger, PF, BOS: This pick will depend on health. If Sully is healthy, all of a sudden, he could make an impact and could have fantasy value. If he isn't healthy and isn't able to play a consistent amount of minutes, his fantasy value will be shot.
Alexsey Shved, SG, MIN: Shved could actually find himself in a starting role from day one in Minnesota. If that is the case and he ends up playing 30 minutes a night at shooting guard, he could end up having legitimate fantasy value. However, due to coach Rick Adelman's love of veterans, we'll likely see Shved start the season coming off the bench. Where he could find a lot of minutes is if the Timberwolves fall prey to the same catastrophic number of injuries as last season.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, ORL: Nicholson will likely come off the bench in Orlando, a rebuilding team that will probably try to develop its young players. That means he could start to see more minutes nearing the end of the season, but don't expect big minutes at the start of the year.
Moe Harkless, SF, ORL: Harkless was moved in the Dwight Howard deal and is now likely stuck behind both Hedo Turkoglu and Quentin Richardson on the Magic depth chart. Unless Orlando is able to move Turkoglu's big contract, he may not see enough minutes off the bench this season to be of use in most leagues.
Kendall Marshall, PG, PHX: Marshall will back up the recently signed Goran Dragic and will provide a pass-first mentality off the bench. He is a magnificent passer in transition, but the problem is that this Suns team isn't really meant to run a lot. With plenty of possessions potentially starting and ending with Michael Beasley in isolation, Marshall's fantasy value might not be too high in the upcoming season.
Royce White, F, HOU: White can play both forward positions, but the problem for him is that this Rockets' roster currently staffs 12 players that identify as forwards or centers. That's right, 12! That means that while White may deserve to get 25 minutes per game, it might be tough for him to get a heavy load of minutes considering Houston will be playing musical chairs with its frontcourt.
Terrence Jones, F, HOU: Jones has the same problem as White. One team, 2,384,498 forwards doesn't exactly work out well for Jones' projected minutes total.
Donatas Motiejunas, C, HOU: Motiejunas tore up the Summer League in July, averaging 16.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game in his four contests. Meanwhile, he shot 62.2 percent from the field. He, however, will also likely fall victim to the Rockets' logjam at forward.
Andre Drummond, PF/C, DET: Drummond might be the rawest player taken in the first round. His jump shot needs loads of work. His free throw percentage at UConn last year was a diminutive 29.5 percent. His hands need improvement. He might be an impact player someday in the future, but it is hard to imagine that being the case in his rookie season in Detroit. The one positive to take away from Drummond is the comparisons he's received to Dwight Howard. If that's truly his potential, he could be a great stash in deep leagues with prospect slots.
Meyers Leonard, C, POR: Though Leonard does have talent, he might just be too unpolished right now to make any sort of impact as a rookie in Portland. His fantasy value will come in later years, once he begins to build strength and fully develop all his moves around the basket.
John Henson, PF, MIL: Henson could develop into a nice shot blocker, but he might be too skinny right now to make a big impact on defense. He will be coming off the bench as a rookie and could pull down some rebounds, but that will probably be it.
Marquis Teague, PG, CHI): Teague is basically the same player as his brother, Jeff, except he is younger and less developed. That means hold off on drafting him in your fantasy league for another couple of years.
Tyler Zeller, PF/C, CLE -- Zeller will most likely be the immediate backup to Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. Though he won't see a ton of time, he could end up sneakily getting a few points per game in transition, which could really help his overall value.
Arnett Moultrie, PF, PHI: Moultrie was an underrated scorer in the SEC and could work his way into seeing time later in the season. Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen are hardly impossible to pass on the depth chart. If his moves around the basket work at the NBA level, this could be a sneaky waiver wire pick up in fantasy leagues.
Perry Jones, SF, OKC: Are we sure that Sam Presti didn't spread that rumor about Jones' knee on draft night just so he could steal him with the 28th pick? Jones is going to have to play behind Kevin Durant, so unless Durant slides over to power forward as often as he did in Olympic play, Jones' minutes may not be too high. If he does get a chance to play, though, he could end up being the best value pick in June's draft.
John Jenkins, SG, ATL: Jenkins is a great shooter, but struggles to create for himself and playing on a team with Devin Harris, Jeff Teague, and Lou Williams doing most of the ball-handling, means he may not see many shots. Plus, Atlanta already has Anthony Morrow, a more experienced version of what Jenkins actually hopes to become.
Evan Fournier, SG, DEN: Denver might be the deepest team in the league, and that means Fournier's chances of playing a significant amount of minutes are low.
Fab Melo, C, BOS: The defending Big East Defensive Player of the Year probably won't see the floor often as a rookie. His offensive game just isn't there yet.
Jared Cunningham, G, DAL: Cunningham might not see a lot of playing time as a rookie, as he'll probably be listed behind Darren Collison, Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, and O.J. Mayo on the preseason depth chart.
Tony Wroten, PG, MEM: For now, Wroten's value will be on the defensive end of the floor, which won't be too helpful to fantasy owners. He doesn't have any sort of shot and will most likely struggle to score in his rookie season.
Miles Plumlee, PF, IND: The Ian Mahinmi trade means there is one more player Plumlee has to jump for playing time. The Pacers are a contending team that is trying to win now. Giving Plumlee a significant amount of minutes probably should not and will not be a part of the plan.
Festus Ezeli, C, GSW: Ezeli could develop into a quality shot blocker, but that is about it. He most likely won't have much fantasy value in the upcoming season.
Jeffery Taylor, SF, CHA: Taylor is a knockdown three-point shooter and actually has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create. Playing on a team like the Bobcats means he might actually get to see a significant amount of minutes.
Bernard James, C, DAL: James was a dominant blocker in the ACC and at age 27, has the body to be a strong NBA player right now. Plus, he is backing up the always-frail Chris Kaman, which means 30 starts next season might not be out of the question.
Draymond Green, F, GSW: The Warriors are a young team in rebuilding mode, and that means Green could see time on the court. The offense won't be run through him like it was at Michigan State, but he has a consistent midrange jumper, and if he plays enough minutes, he could be an impact rebounder. Plus, Golden State tanks better than any other team in the league, which means Green's value could shoot up in the final month and a half of the season.
Will Barton, SG, POR: Barton averaged 18 points per game on only 12.9 field goal attempts per game as a sophomore last season in Memphis. He is wildly efficient for someone his age and playing on a team that might give a decent amount of time to its rookies could end up making him the second-round pick that stands out most from this draft.