In honor of the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge being held from Orlando, Florida this Friday evening, we thought itâ€™d be a great idea to break down some of the star sophomores or second-year players making an impact in Fantasy around the league.
The Draft generally overhypes and overanalyzes such talents coming into the season, so with that being said; which rooks from last year have successfully lived up to or exceeded the hype?
Since our fantasy focus rests solely on last seasonâ€™s crop of rooks there can be no better place to start than with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Mr. John Wall.
John Wall, Washington Wizards PG
As if 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 steals per game didnâ€™t say enough, John Wall, the speedy orchestrator of the Wizardsâ€™ offense, stands alone when it comes to 2010 rookies who have become must-have fantasy options moving forward.
The 6-4 lightning fast floor general ranks 1st among all point guards in free throw attempts per game at a staggering 6.4 while shooting a steady 80% from the line. He also comes in tops among all PGs registering a very helpful block per contest.
Wallâ€™s 7.6 assists per game place him 10th among all qualified players this season.
The second-year man out of Kentucky has upped his scoring average to just less than 17 points per game while increasing his FG-percentage from 40.9% to 42.6% through 33 games played.
Unfortunately his turnovers still remain high at 4.2 per contest, but with Wallâ€™s overall stellar production, namely in assists, free throws, blocks and steals, fantasy owners are surely happy to accommodate a few overstated shortcomings.
Now if we could just get this guy to hit some threes.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers SG/SF
If you had your choice of selecting a rising star worth banking on for perennial Fantasy relevance it would have to be Pacersâ€™ shooting guard Paul George.
With an absolutely unique blend of skills, smarts, physical attributes and athletic ability; George is â€˜that guyâ€™ capable of tipping the scale your way in the winning column.
This season the high-flying 6-8 wing is posting respectable averages of 12.1 points, 2.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 40.1% from three-point range.
Georgeâ€™s ability to knock down the long ball, haul down rebounds and tally decent steal numbers is what ultimately sets him apart from other super sophs at the SG/SF position.
With the option of playing him at G, SG, F, SF or utility; Georgeâ€™s versatility and surging production is making him a must-have even though he has not yet tapped into his scoring prowess as young player.
Already a starter in just his second NBA campaign, Georgeâ€™s 30-point, 9-rebound, 5-assist, 5-steal performance against the Mavs back in early February only confirmed his ascent.
Oh, lest we fail to mention the 7 three-point bombs he splashed down in that game. Kind of hard to remember amidst all the other fantasy goodies.
Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks PG
You knew we couldnâ€™t post an article without mentioning this guyâ€™s name at least once.
While that sentiment is purposely sarcastic, whatâ€™s not so cynical in nature is the emerging point guardâ€™s ridiculous fantasy implications for owners moving forward.
Who knows if Linâ€™s impressive play will last, but if it does, one would think he moves way up the must-have fantasy list for next season.
The numbers, small sample and all, bear repeating. Over his last ten contests the 6-3, 200-pound lead guard has put in remarkable averages of 21.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 8.9 assists in 37.1 minutes of action per game.
Lin is unique in many ways. First of all, he gets to the line extremely often for a point guard. His 5.1 free throw attempts per game would have ranked him near the top of all NBA point guards this season if he had played enough games to qualify.
For a guard he shoots an efficient 47% from the floor and 77% from the charity stripe while still knocking down about a three per game.
His steal numbers would also rank amongst the league leaders at 2.5 per contest since getting major minutes as the Knicks point man if he had played enough games to qualify.
But the biggest surprise of all is that Lin in reality, not fantasy, was not even drafted by an NBA club a season ago.
Donâ€™t you be the one to make that same mistake next year.
Turnovers are an issue, but remember this kid hasnâ€™t played much NBA basketball. Heâ€™ll get better. Not many second-year players have entire defenses game-planning specifically against stopping them.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons PF/C
The 7th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft got off to a rough start appearing clumsy, slow and out of place in the Vegas Summer League, but lucky for him, and opportunistic fantasy owners, the relative â€˜Deer in the Headlightsâ€™ look didnâ€™t last long.
After putting in a very respectable rookie season where the 6-11 former Georgetown Hoya posted 9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest while suiting up in 80 games, 48 as a starter for the Detroit Pistons; Monroe has exceeded his draft lottery status with an even better sophomore campaign.
In 35 games this season Monroe is averaging 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is shooting 51.3% from the field and a much-needed 77.4% from the free throw line.
Available in most fantasy formats at the dual PF/C position, Monroe adds a versatile big capable of providing steady rebounding, FG%, FT%, points and steals numbers.
He wonâ€™t give you many blocks, however with his assists numbers almost doubling and his steal and free throw percentage stats above the norm for a big-man, Monroe has quickly become a reliable source of fantasy production night in and night out.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings PF/C
DeMarcus Cousins has turned out to be the beast in fantasy, and reality, everyone thought he would be.
His combination of size, nimble footwork and skill already rival the best in the game today.
And thatâ€™s saying something. Unfortunately we canâ€™t speak the same for his head, but thatâ€™s another story entirely.
Fantasy-wise, if you can get past the immaturity-infused periods of inconsistency youâ€™ll find a guy who can completely dominate a stat sheet.
In 32 games this season the 6-11, 270-pound power forward is tallying 16.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.
His 11.3 rebounds per contest rank him 5th in all of the Association behind Howard, Love, Bynum and Griffin.
Cousinsâ€™ respectable 72.9% free throw mark wonâ€™t kill fantasy owners either.
Although his assists numbers have dropped from 2.5 per game in his rookie year to just 1.0 this season and his field goal percentage remains at a lowly 43.6%, the fiery big man is still one of just a handful of guys in the League capable of posting 20 points and 20 rebounds on any given night.