Numbers Game: Down Year for Rookies?
Numbers Game: Down Year for Rookies?

This article is part of our Numbers Game series.

One month into the season, the Rookie of the Year "competition" looks more like a coronation. Joel Embiid is a star on the rise, with a future trajectory every bit as optimistic as those of Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns (typical asterisks for health included). But for all the excitement about Embiid, it is an indictment of the entire rookie class that there is not legitimate ROY challenger for a player who has sat out nearly a third his games, and averages only 22.6 minutes when he does play.

Perhaps we should have expected that rookies would have a down year – last summer's draft was widely considered amongst the weakest in years, and the No. 1 pick has yet to play a game. On the other hand, this year's rookie class is bolstered by some promising additions from recent classes (Embiid and Dario Saric were drafted in 2014) and some "NBA ready prospects" were drafted onto teams that seemed like great fits for their skill set (Buddy Heild on the Pelicans).

Fantasy wise, the story is the same. This year's rookie class has been a low-impact disappointment. Embiid is the only rookie who is in fantasy lineups every time he takes the court.

But we are only one month in, and we are talking about people who, by definition, have no NBA experience. When we are talking about rookies, how meaningful is the first month of a nearly six-month season?

Rookies are Rarely Fantasy Standouts

Rookies get a lot

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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