Commentary

Rookie Report: Categorical helpers

Updated: December 6, 2007, 9:33 AM ET
By Keith Lipscomb | ESPN.com

Congratulations are in order for Al Horford and Kevin Durant.

Not only for being named Eastern and Western Conference rookies of the month for November, but for being such solid regulars that they are exempt from consideration in this week's list of rookies who are emerging as threats in seven of the eight standard league categories (free-throw percentage is the only category not addressed, because no other rookies get to the line enough to make a major difference fantasy-wise). Now that Jamario Moon and Juan Carlos Navarro are owned in nearly 80 percent of ESPN leagues, they are also exempt from appearing below.

Let this serve as an "If You're Hardcore" for the NBA newbies. I'm looking into the not-too-distant future in hopes of finding that rookie who can hold down that final roster spot on your team and fill a categorical hole. So, let's get to the "Best of the Rest", by category, as we count down the shopping days.

Points and Rebounds: Jared Dudley, SF, Bobcats

Bobcats head coach Sam Vincent replaced Primoz Brezec with Dudley in the starting lineup earlier this week, and this is a move that makes Dudley worth owning in deeper leagues immediately. Albeit a small sample size, the former Boston College star has averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in his two starts this season. Dudley is versatile and capable of consistent output if given 30-plus minutes regularly. Long term, because of the frail nature of the other frontcourt starters, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, Dudley could wind up with even more value down the road.

Assists and Steals: Acie Law, PG, Hawks

Yes, I know there's no other rookie worth considering in the assist category, but Law has received more than 20 minutes in each of his two games since returning from injury. Anthony Johnson is not the answer at the point in Atlanta and the Hawks appear poised to give the former Aggie a chance to prove he can run the show. After a rough start to the season, Law has 24 assists to just five turnovers in his past five appearances and should at least continue his season pace of a steal per night.

Field goal percentage: Luis Scola, SF/PF, Rockets

While Dudley is the short-term answer here and the Nets' Sean Williams is the easy answer because of his rookie-best .556 percentage thus far, Williams has attempted just 68 shots in 15 games. That's not enough to make a big dent for your team and there are no signs of his attempts increasing anytime soon.

Scola is the pick here, because he is just one Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming injury away from seeing his minutes, and therefore shots, increase exponentially. After combining to miss 45 games in 2006-07, Yao has yet to miss a game and T-Mac has missed just two thus far. While you never wish an injury on a player, it certainly doesn't hurt to prepare in case one occurs, if you've got the room on your roster.

3-pointers: Daequan Cook, SG, Heat

Cook has been receiving slightly more than 20 minutes per night off the bench during the past two weeks as Pat Riley continues to look for an offensive spark. Cook is a scorer, plain and simple, and isn't afraid to shoot it. He's averaging 11.8 points per game during his past five games and has attempted 18 3-pointers during that span. If Cook continues to get playing time, he could provide a couple decent nights as a deep reserve in daily leagues.

Blocks: Jason Smith, SF/PF, 76ers

With the Nets' Sean Williams ranked 10th in the entire league in blocks per game (2.07), I decided to highlight Smith, who has multiple blocks in four of his past six games. Keep an eye on his minutes as Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks has shortened his rotation significantly. Smith has yet to receive more than 25 minutes in a game, however Philly is extremely thin up front and one injury could change that in a hurry.

Keith Lipscomb is an editor for ESPN.com Fantasy Games.

Keith Lipscomb is a senior editor for ESPN Fantasy Games.