Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman celebrates a play against the South Carolina State Bulldogs on November 5, 2019 at the FedExForum.

Joe Murphy/Getty

The NBA season starts in two weeks, and with no Summer League and shortened training camps and preseason, the incoming rookie class will have to adapt quickly to the association.

Of course, some will adapt more quickly than others, and their numbers will reflect it. Players like James Wiseman on a contending Warriors squad. High-flying Knicks forward Obi Toppin who will be putting guys on posters all season. Frenchman Killian Hayes, who according to Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey is the team's starting facilitator.

These young studs and many more could have big roles from the jump and thus be viable fantasy basketball candidates.

That being said, here are five rookies that should be rostered in fantasy leagues this season, factoring in their teams' current situations and the players' projected stats.


5. Killian Hayes

19-year-old Hayes is already being given the keys to the car, though the car is a Ford Focus. But maybe Hayes will turn the Focus into a Mustang; we'll see. For now, he brings a combination of shooting, driving and playmaking to a Detroit team that is in need of elite guard play aside from Derrick Rose, who wants to help groom the rookie into a star.

They have so many forwards on their roster that we might see Blake Griffin starting alongside Hayes in the backcourt (only partly joking).

But at 6-foot-5 and with an 80-inch wingspan, the international point guard exhibits the ability to score at all three levels. He's patient when looking to attack the rim and has good body control, but he's going to have to develop a right-handed drive over time.

Projected stats: 14.3 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.1 RPG, 35% 3PT FG

4. Obi Toppin - Knicks

The Knicks actually had a decent offseason, which is rare to say, and it was highlighted by drafting the guy they had been eyeing for a while: Obi Toppin. The 22-year-old forward was the NCAAM AP Player of the Year and is known for doing things like this in games:

Because of his age and talent, Toppin should be a plug-and-play option who sees a lot of minutes early on. He's not locked in as a starter yet, as Julius Randle will presumably fill that slot. But Toppin could quickly overtake Randle as the team's top power forward as his game complements that of sophomore guard RJ Barrett's better.

Also noteworthy, the 6-foot-9 New York native has been working on his three ball nonstop during the offseason, an area that Randle has struggled with. Last season at Dayton, Toppin averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds on 63% shooting in about 32 min a game, including 39% from deep, although he barely attempted three triples a night. Regardless, he will provide the Knicks with some much-needed energy as they look to dig out of their lengthy hole of irrelevancy.

Projected stats: 13.5 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 54% FG

3. James Wiseman - Warriors

After playing just three games at Memphis for Penny Hardaway, James Wiseman went No. 2 overall to the Warriors and immediately fills the team's need for a starting center. He's not expected to be a nightly 20/10 guy, though that was his average in his brief collegiate career, even as the Dubs aim to get back in the playoffs.

But Wiseman will be playing in a Steve Kerr system centered around the GOAT shooter in Stephen Curry and one of the league best passing forwards in Draymond Green. The 7-foot-1 big will be involved in both PNR and pick-and-pop action, as he can space the floor with his shooting. He will benefit from short dump off passes, lobs, running the floor and will clean up the glass on both sides of the floor. Draymond will maximize the rookie's length on defense, too.

Projected stats: 14.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 58% FG

2. Anthony Edwards

He went first in this year's draft, but I have him second on this list. Nevertheless, Anthony Edwards has drawn comparisons to James Harden, though he compares himself to Dwayne Wade. Edwards' 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame is more than ideal for a shooting guard, and with an 82-inch wingspan and 42-inch vertical β€” he will be finishing above the rim more often than not and can make a defensive impact as well.

His perimeter shooting might be inconsistent at times, as the 19-year-old connected on just 29% of his triples in his lone season at Georgia. But he should get some quality looks in a lineup featuring a talented duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.

But playing alongside two All-Stars makes Edwards the third option, which isn't bad for a guy who wants to be playing football.

Projected stats: 15.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 44% FG, 31% 3PT FG

1. LaMelo Ball - Hornets

The No. 3 overall pick in 2020, LaMelo Ball enters a crowded Charlotte Hornets backcourt that features Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham. Rozier is coming off career-highs of 18 PPG, 4.1 APG and 40% three-point shooting in the 2019-20 season β€” the first of his three-year, $57 million contract.

Graham, on the other hand, skyrocketed in his sophomore season, averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 assists after scoring less than five points a game the season prior.

But the 19-year-old Ball is a highly-touted prospect, and at 6-foot-8, his size combined with his playmaking and finishing ability could slot him as the team's starting point guard. Starting Rozier and Graham would leave Charlotte undersized in the backcourt, and with neither guard being a defensive specialist, that could be a problem.

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Plus, you don't draft a guy top-3 and bring him off the bench, right? I mean, you got that pick because your team sucked last season.

LaMelo will have the ball in his hands a lot (see what I did there) and will emerge as one of the team's best playmakers in addition to newly acquired veteran forward Gordon Hayward. The guard might struggle with his outside jumper a bit, but he's shown he has the range and confidence to take to take and make long-distance jumpers. He's my pick for Rookie of the Year.

Projected stats: 14.2 PPG, 6.8 APG, 6.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

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