Even as skinny, inexperienced and goofy looking 20 year olds, Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns managed to impress us in a big way last season. This draft class is so stacked that Jahlil Okafor (the #3 pick from 2015) comes in at #9, and and all the lesser known prospects in the #10-25 range have a chance to really step up and make an impact in 2016-17.
“Future 120” is our new and improved way of assessing the league’s top young prospects. These are Top 30 Player Rankings (plus honorable mentions) for each of the past 4 Rookie classes, determined by analyzing them in three key areas: their projected role for 2016-17, their star potential/fantasy upside and their physical/mental readiness.
For this sample let’s compare D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay.
#6. D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
Role on Team: 4.5, Potential: 4.5, Readiness: 4.0, Impact Score: 13.0
The Lakers are ready to hand the keys over to Russell, but is he ready to bring it every night? The slender guard is neither one of the strongest nor the quickest, so he’ll need to rely on his skills and smarts, and he’s still learning on the job. But D’Angelo should play more freely under new coach Luke Walton, and with much more confidence and swagger in year two. Russell may even have All-Star potential, but that’s at least a few years away.
If you want to see D’Angelo in full swagger mode, here is his 39 point explosion against the lowly Nets, where he treats Donald Sloan and Shane Larkin like they’re not even there. Of course most opposing defenses are going to offer more resistance than that, but we’ll generously give him a 4.0 for readiness since he’s coming off a strong summer league and has a much better head coach to guide him now.
#7. Join RotoEvil Nation to find out who ranks in between these point guards!
#8. Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets)
Role on Team: 4.5, Potential: 4.5, Readiness: 3.5, Impact Score: 12.5
With the exception of Josh Smith (36.4% FG, 28.7% 3P, 55.2% FT in 880 total minutes), Mudiay was the league’s worst shooter last season (36.4% FG, 31.9% 3P, 67.0% FT). So he still has a LOT to prove offensively, but he does possess a big, strong body for a point guard and gained lots of valuable experience as a rookie. Emmanuel’s impact score remains strong because he has lots of untapped potential and the Nuggets will be relying heavily on his growth as a player.
Having a veteran scorer to pass to in Gallinari and fellow Future 120 talents such as Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic to play with should aid in that development. Now here’s an interesting matchup: Russell vs. Mudiay!