Every year there are rookies who are expected to produce, although that’s not always the case. You’ll want to keep a close eye on rookie development throughout the season as well as monitor team depth charts to see where there’s a prime opportunity for one of the young guns to bust out.

Since 2000, there have been five Rookie Of the Year award winners coming from the Eastern Conference. I have a strong belief we’ll see the ROY coming out of the East this season (and third for the Orlando Magic).

Here are some of the guys we think will have a solid NBA career, and want to keep an eye on fantasy-wise throughout the season:

Nerlens Noel, Phi PF/C

Note: Noel expected to miss entire 2013-2014 season, only draft in keeper/dynasty leagues.
I was really excited to watch Noel compete during March Madness last year before his devastating knee injury early in the season. The torn ACL cost him the possibility of a higher draft slot (and money that comes with) and now at least a month of playing time; not to mention a training camp and Summer League that proves to be so valuable to players, especially rookies. If you’re in a 12+ team league I’d consider grabbing him late and stashing Noel for his blocks alone, if you can afford the roster spot. Otherwise, monitor his progress closely and be quick to grab him off waivers.

Anthony Bennett, Cle SF/PF

Bennett has shown athleticism and range with his ability to knock down three’s. He also touts a 7’1 wingspan and will need to harness all that consistently to live up to the top selection. With consistency and conditioning, I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be in ROY conversations. Should he take a step back, he could end up like other combo forwards to go early in the draft in recent memory, such as Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley.

Tim Hardaway Jr., NY SG

Tim Hardaway Jr.
With J.R. Smith (when healthy) and Iman Shumpert battling things out for the starting 2 slot, Hardaway Jr. has the chance to prove he belongs in the rotation as well. He has the pedigree and basketball IQ to shy from the bright lights of New York. He may provide early season value (if he can get off the bench) with Smith out and should be considered a decent waiver wire play depending on injuries and his in game play.

Victor Oladipo, Orl SG

Leading candidate for ROY and the hype about a D. Wade prototype is real. He’s shown the effort and abilities on the defensive end, which have led to easy buckets and a nice field goal percentage from a 2 guard. What’s more revealing, is his surprising ability to knock down a fairly consistent three point shot at the NBA level. He should be amongst the league leaders in steals, provide good rebound and assist numbers as well as the aforementioned high field goal percentage. Oladipo should be drafted in all leagues, and will be even more valuable if/when he becomes PG/SG eligible, given the Magic’s strong desire to thrust Vic into a point guard role.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Det SG

The Pistons made a splash this summer and brought in Josh Smith to pair with an already talented frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. The gaping hole in this lineup is an outside threat to spread the floor. If KCP can knock down the open jumper and spread the floor to the three point line somewhat consistently, he may be a sneaky ROY candidate. With starting point guard Brandon Jennings out for at least a handful games to start the season, Caldwell-Pope should get an early opportunity to produce.

Glen Rice Jr., Was SG/SF

We know he has his share of off court issues. The opportunity in itself may be what Rice Jr. needs to compete at this level. Should he recognize that the time is now to break his old “bad habits” and get serious about the game of basketball, he will prove to be an excellent upside draft pick to compliment presumed starter Otto Porter Jr. His deadeye pedigree will be a nice tool in the toolbox, but its his athleticism that should be the difference maker for him to earn playing time in what will be a fun, young Wizards squad looking to get up and down the court.

Michael Carter-Williams, Phi PG

MCW will need to use his lengthy frame and surprising three point shooting to be an effective point guard in the NBA. The 76ers felt comfortable enough handing MCW the keys after trading breakout All Star Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans. Granted, Carter-Williams may not be quite good enough to hang with the elites quite yet, he should still provide enough stats during garbage time worthy of a roster spot. I’d take him in the 9th and beyond in 12+ team leagues.

Have any fantasy basketball questions? Hit me up on Twitter @FantasyHoopsMat.

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