Fantasy Basketball

2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Rookie Impact

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For the past few seasons, we have seen many rookies make an immediate fantasy impact. The 2015 draft class provided just that, giving us stars such as Devin Booker, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kristaps Porzingis. While we surely can’t expect every class to provide such talent, there always seems to be a few breakout stars.

This draft class seems destined to bring just that. With college stars of every size and skill set, this year provides a vast amount of potential game changers.

Here’s the list of rookies that are capable of providing an immediate impact in fantasy and their respective teams:


2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Rookie Impact

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Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns

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This may be the best all-around player on the list. Being the number one overall pick, this should not be a surprise. Ayton has every tool to his arsenal: huge, athletic, double-double machine, and a solid jump shot that can extend to three-point range.

The 7 footer was a dominant force in his one season at Arizona, averaging 20.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG in 35 games, on 61.2 percent shooting. Even though his defense was the only mark against him last season, he still managed to average two blocks per game.

Being on the perennial bottom-dweller Phoenix Suns, Ayton is destined to make an immediate impact. This will especially be the case on the Suns fast-paced offense lead by All-Star Devin Booker. This pairing could wind up being a dynamic duo sooner rather than later. With defenses bound to be draw attention to Booker, Ayton will be quick to provide large production to his team and fantasy owners.

Marvin Bagley III, PF, Sacramento Kings

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Another dominant big man, Bagley proved to be a dominant all-court scorer in his one season at Duke. Like Ayton, Bagley has a pristine jump shot to match his paint dominance. This should quickly translate playing time and production, as teams crave dynamic big men with an outside jumper.

In his one season at Duke, the 19 year old averaged 21.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG, on 61.4 percent shooting. This came with a highly productive 39.7 percent from behind the arch, and around one steal and one block per game.

Bagley will make an immediate impact on the developing Sacramento Kings, a team desperate for more playmakers in the post. He should fit well with starting center Willie Cauley-Stein. With an elite offensive skill set, expect Bagley to demonstrate a similar production to that of Deandre Ayton.

Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks

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Although you have probably never seen him in action, Doncic is more pro-ready than anyone. At the age of 13, the Slovenian signed a five year deal with EuroLeague team Real Madrid. At the age of 16, he became the youngest player in team history to join the senior division, playing a total of three seasons.

In the 2017-2018 season, at the age of 19, Doncic averaged 16.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on 45 percent from the field. He went on to lead his team to the EuroLeague title, earning regular season MVP and Final Four MVP honors.

Fantasy owners should not sleep on Doncic’s skill set and experience. He has the size (6 ft. 7 in., 218 lbs.), jump shot, and confidence to have a key role on a rebuilding Mavericks squad. Expect Doncic to play well alongside second-year man Dennis Smith Jr. His all-around skill set will allow him to be at least moderately productive in most if not all fantasy categories.

Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks

Young was the most talked about college player last season, and for good reason. From early on he was a crucial game changer, averaging 27.4 PPG and 8.7 APG. Throughout the season, he proved to be a polarizing scorer. His extreme three-point range and pure point guard skill set drew numerous comparisons to Steph Curry.

Despite his offensive prowess, Young and the Oklahoma Sooners had somewhat of a roller coaster season. Young’s defense was constantly panned by analysts, and he was known to be trigger-happy with his jump shot. A prime example of this was in a loss to rival Oklahoma State. Young had a career high 48 points, but this came on a miserable 14/39 from the field.

A season in which began with a promising 14-2 record ended in a mediocre 18-14. Ultimately, the Sooners were trounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament by seventh-seed Rhode Island.

Being on a Hawks team lacking considerable talent, Young will have no problem receiving opportunities for production. He has the potential to lead rookies in scoring, assuming his three-point shot goes well. Don’t be disappointed if this ends up being far from the case. Consider Young a boom-or-bust during this season on the Hawks.



Mohamed Bamba, C, Orlando Magic

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Bamba is not destined to make an immediate impact. The Magic may not be a competitive team at the moment, but they are relatively deep in depth when it comes to big men. This will cause the Texas star to compete for his minutes, which isn’t a good sign for fantasy owners.

Despite this, Bamba is a defensive menace with the physical assets to match. In his one season at Texas, he averaged 3.7 blocks per game on a 13.1 percent block rate, a statistic that is nearly unheard-of. This defense is a dimension the Magic desperately need, so this should allow Bamba to compete for minutes in a crowded front court.

Along with being a block machine, Bamba a decent jumper and made around 70 percent of his free throws. It is rare to find an elite source of blocks that also provides a solid field goal percentage. This should eventually make Bamba a solid fantasy player, assuming he receives significant minutes in the future.

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Memphis Grizzlies

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Another block machine in college, Jackson has an outlook similar to Bamba’s. He was never a high-volume player at Michigan State, and with the return of franchise staples Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, his impact may take time.

Jackson was highly efficient in his one season with the Spartans, averaging 11.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.2 BPG on 52 percent from the field. This came with a fantastic 40 percent from beyond the arch and 80 percent from the free throw line.

This all-around skill set physical talent makes Jackson an intriguing asset. The Grizzlies will likely take quick use to his defensive prowess, but true production will likely take some time to develop. He’ll have to directly compete with veteran PF JaMychal Green fore playing time.

Kevin Knox, SF, New York Knicks

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The Kentucky star wasn’t exactly met with hospitality from the New York crowd when he was selected ninth in the draft. This quickly changed, as he went on to display his elite scoring ability during the summer league, finishing fourth in total points.

Knox could end up being a productive contributor is some fantasy leagues. The Knicks are a franchise that prioritizes showcasing their top prospects. This will especially be the case as the Knicks are a team lacking star power (with Porzingis out) and are not expected to be competitive this season.

The biggest mark against Knox is his one-dimensional skill set. In his one season with Kentucky, Knox was primarily known for his scoring, averaging 15.6 PPG. Other than scoring, there isn’t much about Knox to be particularly excited about. Despite this, his expected usage rate could make him a unique asset this season.

Wendell Carter Jr., PF/C, Chicago Bulls

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This is the biggest sleeper on the list. Carter Jr. had a solid summer league performance, and his post-play and defensive presence at Duke will make him an intriguing asset for a developing Bulls team.

Playing alongside Marvin Bagley III, Carter Jr. averaged a productive 13.5 PPG and 9.1 RPG on 56 percent shooting. This came along with two blocks per game on the defensive end. With his size and athleticism, expect his college numbers to translate to the NBA when he is given the opportunity to do so.

Carter Jr.’s production this season will be based on his playing time. In a frontcourt featuring Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen, and Bobby Portis, this may not be immediate. If the team underperforms early on, Carter Jr. will get opportunities to showcase his two-way skill set.



Significant playing time later in the season could make him a valuable asset to fantasy owners, especially in deeper leagues.


Check out the rest of the 2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Coverage to help win your leagues.

About Mitch Longerbeam

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: October 8-14, 2018 - Fantasy Basketball Links - FantasyRundown.com

  2. Steffen Samuels

    October 12, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Marvin Bradley is a cant miss top 5 pick in any draft this year! I got him in every league and have his fathead on the ceiling above my bed

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