Another draft is in the books, and as of right now, hope springs eternal for all 30 NBA teams. Every team is upbeat about their shiny new toys, and I'm here to help you work out which of these toys you should be exhilarated to draft onto your fantasy teams next season.
We were told for what seemed like an eternity that the 2014 NBA Draft class was one for the ages, and if it turns out to be anywhere near as good as the hype, we're going to have a serious influx of talent into our fantasy league player pools next season.
Here are my early fantasy takes from the 2014 NBA Draft.
Andrew Wiggins SG/SF (1)
Joe Harris SF (33)
It's hardly breaking news to anyone that Andrew Wiggins is fairly good at basketball. After last year's potential whiff on Anthony Bennett, Wiggins has the look of a NBA star in the not-too-distant future, but he will start to contribute from a fantasy perspective immediately? The wings are barren in Cleveland with Luol Deng unlikely to re-sign, so the minutes will be there for Wiggins to make the most of. An athletic freak, Wiggins' fantasy value will come in the form of steals, blocks, boards and points, with some three-pointers thrown in for good measure. Based on name recognition, you'll pay a premium for Wiggins in dynasty and redraft leagues, but he could be a very solid contributor from the start of his NBA career.
Harris could contribute immediately as well but will find himself behind Wiggins, obviously. A good sign for Harris is that both Deng and C.J. Miles are unrestricted free agents. A good Summer League showing could have Harris getting regular minutes this season. A very good shooter, Harris will find it difficult to register much on the standard fantasy league radar this season, but he could easily fill a role in deeper leagues as a three-point specialist.
Jabari Parker SF/PF (2)
Damian Inglis SF (31)
Johnny O'Bryant PF/C (36)
Jabari Parker, at this stage, is the prohibitive favorite to take home next season's Rookie of the Year honors, and it seems like all the stars are aligning for him to be fantasy's most productive first-year man as well. Coming onto the worst team in the NBA will open up all sorts of opportunities for Parker to strut his stuff, and he could be the real deal. Whether he starts at the three or the four won't matter a huge amount for fantasy purposes, just know that he will be the first rookie of the board in most drafts. While you may pay a little more for Wiggins in dynasty leagues, nobody is putting a bigger dent in your budget for redraft leagues than the freshman from Duke.
Inglis is a super-intriguing pick but will likely stay in France for a couple more years before making the trek stateside. In dynasty leagues, I'd be trying to sneak him under everyone else's guard as I think he has huge upside and will be able to contribute down the track.
O'Bryant adds some bulk to the beanpole-like frontcourt that Milwaukee is currently trotting out, clocking in at 257 lbs. He's undersized for a center but has incredible strength. O'Bryant isn't likely to do much this season, but that could change depending on the futures of Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. His fantasy value will come from his ability to score from the post and grab boards with his great length.
Joel Embiid C (3)
Dario Saric SF/PF (12)
K.J. McDaniels SF (32)
Jerami Grant SF (39)
Vasilije Micic PG (52)
Jordan McRae SG (58)
Now that's what you call a draft class! In terms of quantity, Philadelphia went all out, and you can say they also did alright on the quality side of things. First of all, the big piece is the big man, Joel Embiid. He may not play at all this season, a la Nerlens Noel (knee) last season, but he has a great deal of keeper potential. Embiid won't be slipping under the radar, and he has the ability to change the game when he comes back from the foot surgery he underwent just before the draft this June. He blocked 2.6 shots per game in college in just 23 minutes per game and has been likened to the one and only Hakeem Olajuwon. Even if he's half as good as Hakeem, the Sixers will be thrilled. I know he'll be someone I want in all my dynasty leagues.
Much like Embiid, Saric is a pick for the future, in fantasy and real life. He won't be in the NBA for two years at the least, but when he does go stateside, expect a productive player to arrive. He's a big man who is a great long-range shooter and an adept passer. Saric has all the signs of being a fantasy stud. Sadly, we won't see that until 2016-17. Until then, he's a great draft-and-stash dynasty option.
Their next two picks, McDaniels and Grant, were both thought to be first-rounders and represent huge value. Given Philadelphia's fantasy-friendly system and the fact that every day is a day closer to Thaddeus Young's departure, I'd expect at least one of these guys to be a fantasy relevant player by the end of the season. McDaniels is a guy I'd take a flyer on in 12-team leagues, especially in leagues with weekly lineups, as he can rack up numbers like nobodies business. He averaged 2.8 blocks from the small forward position last season, as well as averaging 17.1 points per game. McDaniels is very high on my sleeper rankings for this season.
Micic is a super-talented passer from Serbia but will likely remain in Europe for at least this season. Aside from his passing, his skill set is limited and so are his fantasy prospects. McRae filled it up at Tennessee, averaging 18.5 points per game, and with Philadelphia clearly in a look-to-the-future mindset, he could easily see court time this season. Fantasy-wise, he's a low-level dynasty target and obviously off the standard-league radar.
Aaron Gordon PF (4)
Elfrid Payton (10)
Devyn Marble (56)
The draft's first real reach was the Magic selecting Gordon at No. 4, and for fantasy purposes, I don't like the pick either. He'll have to compete with Tobias Harris and Kyle O'Quinn for minutes and is considered a tweener. His numbers at Arizona weren't overwhelming, and the Magic must be hoping he can leverage his incredible athleticism into basketball production. It's not a terrible pick, but I wouldn't be drafting Gordon in 10 or 12-team leagues this season and wouldn't break the bank to roster him in dynasty.
I do, however, love the Payton pick. He may not start straight away, but it's only a matter of time before Payton supplants Jameer Nelson as the starting point guard in Orlando. The Magic gave up two first-rounders to snare him off Philadelphia, so they obviously view him as the future at that position, and for that reason, he makes a great fantasy target. Each season, a rookie point guard takes the NBA, and the fantasy world by storm. Last season it was Michael Carter-Williams, the year before, Damian Lillard. Elfrid Payton could easily be that guy for 2014-15. Just be prepared for some subpar shooting numbers to go along with nice assist totals.
Marble was a quality scorer who helped in all categories at Iowa. I just don't think he'll be able to do a lot in the NBA. He has limited fantasy value in all formats.
Dante Exum PG/SG (5)
Rodney Hood SF (23)
While picking Exum was a no-brainer from a best-player-available standpoint, his fit on the Utah roster isn't quite as clear cut. He'll likely play alongside Trey Burke and form a three-guard rotation with Alec Burks, but I don't think this situation is ideal for his fantasy value. Exum will get drafted in almost all standard leagues, but he's not someone I will be going out of my way to snatch up. I don't doubt his ability at all, I just think, with a limited role, his shortcomings (i.e. shooting) may standout more than his strengths. As a dynasty target, he's probably a top four guy though, so by all means, go crazy and get him on your roster.
Hood surprised me by slipping this far, and the Jazz may have found themselves a very good sharpshooter, most likely coming off the bench behind Gordon Hayward. Last season, Utah used Richard Jefferson in the sharpshooter role, and I can see Hood taking over the reins during his rookie campaign. He's not someone to be drafted but could quickly become a waiver-wire darling, like Tim Hardaway last season.
Marcus Smart PG/SG (6)
James Young SG/SF (17)
Smart could be the signal that we're nearing the end of the Rajon Rondo era in Boston. General manager Danny Ainge denied this post-draft, but it seems the writing is all but on the wall. Irrespective of Rondo's future, Smart will have a big role to play this season. He'll start at the two next to Rondo and be one of the first rookies of the board in fantasy drafts. His dynasty value is even higher, with the specter of Rondo's departure hanging over the franchise. He will get great steal numbers and is very nice scorer, although his field goal percentage can let him down. Still, he seems like a top-100 target come draft season.
Young was absolutely the right pick for the Celtics at No. 17, but his fantasy appeal for this season is limited. He'll back up Jeff Green and play behind Smart and Avery Bradley at the two. His intrigue lies in his upside. Look to him in dynasty formats as a three-point shooter and scorer.
Los Angeles Lakers
Julius Randle PF (7)
Jordan Clarkson PG (46)
There was hardly a more perfect fit than Randle landing in Los Angeles, although with basically no one on the books, any player selected by the Lakers would've had a great role ahead of them. Randle is a double-double machine and will probably be the second rookie off draft boards come October. Whether he has a high ceiling or not is debatable, but for right now, he's going to give you some good numbers with that bare-bones squad.
Los Angeles bought the Clarkson pick with cash, so they must've seen something there they liked, but his role will be affected heavily by what Los Angeles does in free agency. I don't think that he will hold much value, even in dynasty leagues.
Nik Stauskas SG (8)
Um…what was this about? After drafting a scoring two guard last season in Ben McLemore at pick No. 7, the Kings went out and drafted a scoring two guard at pick No. 8 Thursday, a head-scratcher of a pick. You'd have to think that either McLemore is out after one season, or the two will be in a true timeshare at shooting guard next season. Stauskas is a good scorer, especially from beyond the arc, and a decent passer, but I don't think he'll hold a lot of fantasy value this season. He shot a great 47 percent from the field at Michigan last season, so that helps his value, but I think it'll be a couple of seasons before he becomes a fantasy-relevant player.
Noah Vonleh PF (9)
P.J. Hairston SG (26)
Dwight Powell PF (45)
I don't like the Vonleh pick at all for the Hornets. They may bring Josh McRoberts back in free agency and also have last season's No. 4 pick, Cody Zeller, waiting in the wings to play the four, so I just don't see Vonleh having a meaningful role this season. He's not someone to be drafted in most leagues, and even his dynasty value is a bit murky. Let others overpay for him, and save your money for someone else.
What I do love, though, is the Hairston pick. Charlotte lacked players who can score from the outside, and Hairston hit 2.8 three-pointers in his lone D-League season, averaging 21.8 points per game. He could quickly supplant Gerald Henderson and be a sleeper pick to tuck away at the end of fantasy drafts. He probably is a top-15 fantasy rookie for next season.
A big Canadian prospect, Powell likely won't contribute this season but could be a huge sleeper in this class. If you can stash him in dynasty leagues, it would be a pretty good option.
Doug McDermott SF (11)
Cameron Bairstow PF (49)
Dougie McBuckets fits a pressing need for the Bulls – scoring, and that's why they gave up their two first rounders to snare the Creighton product. I'd like him a lot more for fantasy purposes if we knew where Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Love were going to end up, but if Chicago strikes out on all three, McDermott's value becomes sky high. He also averaged 7.0 rebounds per game in his senior season, so he's not totally one-dimensional, but the Bulls will be using him as a source of scoring.
Bairstow is a big, tough, strong Aussie, but unfortunately, being able to wrestle crocodiles isn't a mainstream fantasy category yet. He's unlikely have much impact this season, and his dynasty prospects are slim, but he still may carve out a nice career in the NBA for himself.
Zach LaVine SG (13)
Glenn Robinson III SF (40)
LaVine is definition of a workout star, wowing teams with his crazy athleticism in pre-draft workouts. Minnesota fell in love with him, but unfortunately, I don't think fantasy owners will. He is definitely a work in progress and therefore an interesting dynasty target, but for 2014-15, I'd leave him alone.
Getting GR3 this low could prove one of the steals of the draft and depending on how the Kevin Love situation plays out, he could have an impact immediately. As it stands now, he is way down the depth chart and is only of value as a dynasty stash, but that could reap huge rewards.
T.J. Warren SF (14)
Tyler Ennis PG (18)
Bogdan Bogdanovic SG (27)
Alec Brown C (50)
Warren is a superb pick for the upstart Suns. He could either complement or replace P.J. Tucker and would provide some balance to the Suns' backcourt-dominated scoring. Warren will get minutes one way or another and makes an intriguing last round flyer in 12-team leagues and a high-value dynasty target.
Ennis is a great backup to Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, and if either were to suffer a prolonged injury again, he would demand fantasy attention. For now, he is relegated to the backup role and would only gain prominence if traded somewhere with a more defined starting role for him. As much as I like him, his fantasy prospects seem limited based on his location.
Bogdanovic will likely be stashed in Europe by Phoenix, even though he probably could compete at the NBA level immediately. The Suns just have no room in their rotation for him. A great scorer, Bogdanovic has good upside as a fantasy player as well.
As for Brown, there's not a lot of fantasy relevance to note here. He's a big body but could only contribute in blocks if he got minutes. Pass.
Adreian Payne PF (15)
Walter Tavares C (43)
Lamar Patterson SG (48)
Payne doesn't make a lot of sense in Atlanta, and his fantasy value will play out accordingly. He's a stretch four, who rebounds, but that's what Paul Millsap, Pero Antic and Mike Scott do already. He's unlikely to have any fantasy excitement this season or in the foreseeable future.
Tavares was the tallest player selected in the draft, measuring 7-3, and the Hawks have long needed a true center to free up Al Horford. They selected Lucas Nogueira last season, and he is more likely than Tavares to have an impact in the near future, but Tavares is an intriguing player for down the road. Grab him for cheap in a dynasty league and stash him.
Patterson is a player who has limited potential in a fantasy sense and I would avoid him in dynasty leagues, even though the Hawks are crying out for wing depth.
Jusuf Nurkic C (16)
Gary Harris SG (19)
Nikola Jokic PF/C (41)
Nurkic has the potential to be a solid NBA big man and has drawn comparisons to Nikola Pekovic already. For this season though, he'll need to battle Timofey Mozgov and JaVale McGee for minutes, so his impact will be marginal, but grabbing a large-bodied talent like Nurkic in dynasty is a great tactic.
I would've loved the Harris pick so much more if the Nuggets hadn't just acquired Arron Afflalo. As it is now, Harris' value is miniscule for this season, but once Afflalo and Foye's contracts are up, he should be the starter at the two next to Ty Lawson. Harris is a proven scorer and also a fairly solid defender. He looks to have a bright fantasy future ahead of him, it just won't be this season.
Jokic faces the same battle that Nurkic does for playing time, with a lower ceiling. He'll struggle to be a fantasy factor at any stage in his career, but he is a decent player. I'd look elsewhere with my dynasty picks.
Bruno Caboclo SF (20)
DeAndre Daniels SF (37)
The man who had people running to Google during the draft, Caboclo could actually join the Raptors for next season. He's obviously a high-potential pick and has been called the Brazilian Kevin Durant. It goes without saying, he's for deep dynasty leagues only, but his upside is extremely tantalizing.
Daniels is unlikely to contribute this season either, but he is a decent shooter. The main concern with Daniels is his size, and that may prohibit him ever landing a meaningful spot in a rotation. There's no real fantasy potently for Daniels this season, and there are better options in dynasty leagues.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Mitch McGary PF/C (21)
Josh Huestis SF (29)
Semaj Christon PG (55)
With a team loaded with superstars like the Thunder, it's difficult for rookies to come in and contribute. McGary, while a decent prospect, will be stuck behind Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins Serge Ibaka but could be a serviceable backup in years to come. It's unlikely he ever becomes a starter in Oklahoma City, so his dynasty value is capped.
Huestis is a defensive-minded player and offers very little to fantasy players. I'd steer clear in all formats.
Christon is a high-upside pick this late in the draft, but his chances of doing anything in Oklahoma City behind Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson are slim. He's worth a flyer in dynasty leagues and scored at a high clip at Xavier.
Jordan Adams SG (22)
Jarnell Stokes PF (35)
The Grizzlies' biggest need was scoring last season, and that's exactly what Adams brings to the table. Does his offensive ability outweigh Tony Allen's defensive capabilities to allow him starter's minutes? Probably not at this stage, but he could be a Tim Hardaway type player this season, picked up off waiver wires when he gets hot. He also nabbed 2.6 steals per game at UCLA and could be a fantasy sleeper.
Stokes sure is a tough guy on the court, but his upside is limited. He'll be serviceable backing up Zach Randolph, but his fantasy abilities are limited to rebounds. He averaged double-digit boards last season at Tennessee. As for dynasty leagues, Stokes doesn't have much scope for improvement, so you'd be better focusing your attentions elsewhere.
Shabazz Napier PG (24)
If LeBron James wants you to draft a player, you obviously go out and get that player. Miami acquired Napier from Charlotte in a draft day trade after LeBron made his feelings known regarding the UConn point guard. With Napier now in the fold, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole's futures lie in doubt. Chalmers is a free agent, and Napier could easily be the starting point guard Opening Night. Assuming the Big Three return intact, Napier's value will be similar to what we saw from Chalmers, three-pointers, steals and a moderate amount of assists, and that's still very much relevant in fantasy leagues.
Clint Capela PF (25)
Nick Johnson SG (42)
Alessandro Gentile SG (53)
Both Capela and Gentile are Euro players who very likely won't be in Houston when the 2014-15 season tips off. Capela has the most upside and is projected to be a Serge Ibaka type player when he does come over. Stash him in dynasty leagues and you will reap the rewards.
Johnson is a solid guard who will likely back up James Harden and possibly Patrick Beverley with Jeremy Lin reportedly on his way out of town. He will likely be a career backup, so his fantasy value is muted.
Los Angeles Clippers
C.J. Wilcox SG (28)
The Clippers' only selection fit their need for scorers, but it'll be tough for Wilcox to fight his way through the depth chart and into fantasy-relevant minutes. He's a great shooter and will help the Clippers a lot but won't do much for fantasy teams, except in deep, deep formats.
San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Anderson SF (30)
Nemanja Dangubic SF (54)
This just isn't fair. The Spurs get arguably the steal of the draft in former UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson. He'll play as a point forward in the NBA and could slot straight into the Boris Diaw role in San Antonio if the big Frenchman leaves in free agency. Anderson is a great passer who put up a crazy 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals averages last season. The Spurs get a bargain, but Anderson's fantasy value would've been higher in nearly every other city. He's still a great dynasty pick.
New York Knicks
Cleanthony Early SF (34)
Thanasis Antetokounmpo SF (51)
Louis Labeyrie PF/C (57)
From zero picks two days ago, the Knicks ended the draft with three and made the most of them. Early is a gem and could be a fantasy impact player straight away, particularly if Carmelo Anthony walks. Early is a great shooter and a decent rebounder and should get ample opportunity to prove why he should've gone in the first round. Don't be scared to snatch him up with your last pick.
Surprising as it is, Antetokounmpo is now a familiar name in NBA circles, due to Giannis' breakout rookie campaign with the Bucks last season. Thanasis, his older brother, has a lower ceiling but still has the ability to put up defensive numbers and rebounds. Much like Early, he'll have the opportunity to win minutes and could have a fantasy impact. I wouldn't draft him though, more likely, I'll just keep him on my watch list.
Labeyrie won't be in the NBA for a while, so he's only on the dynasty radar, and even then, it's unlikely he makes much of an impact at any stage.
Spencer Dinwiddie PG/SG (38)
It's a great pick for Detroit who were horrible at guard last season. He could easily start next to Brandon Jennings or back him up, and he should be able to contribute in assists straight away. Dinwiddie is more of a deeper league target initially, but I love his value in dynasty leagues as I don't think it will take long for coach Stan Van Gundy to get frustrated with Jennings' poor decision making.
Markel Brown SG (44)
Xavier Thames SG (59)
Cory Jefferson SF (60)
The Nets came into the draft with no picks, but due to trades and some Russian oligarch cash, ended with three late second rounders. It's unlikely any of these guys contribute this season, but Brown has value in dynasty when guys like Deron Williams and Joe Johnson start (or continue) their fade from stardom.
New Orleans Pelicans
Russ Smith PG/SG (47)
New Orleans also entered the draft with no picks but traded Pierre Jackson to Philadelphia to grab Russ Smith. The backcourt is crowded in The Big Easy, with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon ahead of him on the depth chart, but Smith was a proven performer in his four years at Louisville. He's worth a look in dynasty leagues due to the many injury concerns the Pelicans seem to always be faced with, but that's about it.
And that's it. All 60 picks done and dusted for another season. Let's just hope that their play on the court (and in the fantasy box score) lives up to the hype. There are going to be a heap of rookies permeating our drafts this season, and the impact on dynasty leagues will be felt for seasons to come. All we can do now is enjoy.