This week I thought I’d try out a combo of the Rookie Report and Friday Night recap articles [nice excuse for not getting work in on time, Phil!] and feature the rookies at play on a single night in the Association. I’ll also add a few quick hit notes at the bottom from a fairly uneventful Friday Night in the Association.  

A message to those who were not hesitant to jump on the JALEN Williams train: “I’m stupid. You are smart. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good looking. I’m not very attractive…” 

I should have been stoked to ride the former Bronco of Santa Clara to fantasy promise land, especially since he entered the NBA at the ripe old age of 21, and thus likely able to adapt to NBA play quicker than other rookies. He’s been on a tear the last two weeks, highlighted by his 16 steals in five games, a main contributor toward his No. 29 rank in 9-cat leagues in the last two weeks. Over those six games, Williams has averaged 15 points (53% FG, 75% FT, 1.3 threes), 5.2 rebounds, 3 assists, the aforementioned 2.5 steals, .7 blocks and just 1.3 turnovers. 

In the Friday night spotlight, Williams totaled 18 points, eight boards, three assists and two steals as the Thunder thrashed the Wizards, 127-110. The 12-round pick is a great fit for the fast-paced Thunder style, as he plays aggressive yet under control, and has an obvious knack for getting dunks. He’s as good as Tari Eason at collecting counting stats on a per minute basis, but has the minutes to actually build a strong fantasy profile – one that is somewhat Aaron Gordon-esque at the moment. 

We’ll see what happens when Poku and JRE return from injury, but Williams has certain made his case to be a focal point of the Thunder rumble moving forward.

The Wizards currently have no rookies in the rotation – while Johnny Davis kinda stinks it up in the G League – but I will take the opportunity to note how second-year player Jordan Goodwin started the 2nd half (with the Thunder up 25). He posted 9-2-1-1-1 with a three on 4-of-6 shooting. He’s played well in 19 minutes a game so far this year. If Bradley Beal is out for a lengthy amount of time, opportunity may arise from the former undrafted rookie. 

Malaki Branham helped the Spurs win the battle of tanks against the Pistons, 121-109 [or is it, lose the battle?], scoring 19 points (4-8 FG, 2-3 3pt, 4-6 FT) with 2 boards, 3 assists and a steal. He’ll continue to see an increase in minutes with the Devin Vassell injury news [super sad emoji face]. Jeremy Sochan posted a 10-8-2-1-1 stat line with 5 turnovers. I decided to ride the Sochan wave in the Writers’ League just for fun. Although right now it’s more like just sittin’ on your board, floating in the surf just past the break, practicing your one-handed shooting stroke in the cool, salty air … just waitin’ for the perfect Sochanawave to come. 

Dyson Daniels got no points and a few counting stats in 10 minutes of run as the Pelicans lost 102-108 to the Nets. And that’s all I got to say about that. 

Bennedict Mathurin scored 19 points (6-10 FG, 0-1, 7-7), with two boards, two steals and four giveaways as the Pacers beat Portland 108-99. Mathurin’s fantasy value has been increasing lately on better efficiency. He has shot 60% or better in three of his last six games, after having done that a total of [checks notes to confirm] zero times in his first 34 games as a pro. He’s shooting 86% from the line on 8.3 attempts per game over the last two weeks. If those trends continue, I like the prospects.

Shaedon Sharpe played 19 minutes and … ah, who cares when our time here can be better spent celebrating the fact that Shaedon Sharpe is going to be in the dunk contest! [Take’s a 5-minute break to watch Sharpe-r Image dunk compilation videos.] 

My direction last week to “run don’t walk” to pick up Mark Williams meant to have an asterisk *only if you have the bench spot to let him marinate for a bit. In a Hornets blowout over the Bucks, 138-109, Big Mark got four points (2-4 FG, 0-2 FT), six boards, an assist and a steal in 19 minutes. In related news, Mason Plumlee posted 19-15-6 with a steal on 7-of-8 shooting and that is grrrrreat for his trade value. 

MarJon Beauchamp had six points, two boards and two assists in 19 minutes, as the Bucks turned this into a rest game at halftime. After a hot stretch earlier in the season, Beauchamp’s role continues to ebb and flow with sporadic good outings.

Christian Braun didn’t play in Denver’s 121-108 road win over Cleveland, but has been getting the occasional 25-minutes outings, but nothing to write to fantasy home about.

Miami rookie Nikola Jovic is out four weeks with an unfortunate-for-a-seven-footer back injury; but the Heat managed without him in a 104-96 win over the Suns.

Second-rounder Max Christie tied his season high Friday night with eight points (3-5 FG, 2-2 3pt) in 16 minutes to go with a board, three assists and a block, getting a little extra garbage time as L.A. made fools of Atlanta, 130-114.

Elsewhere around the rookie-less NBA Friday night:

Bulls on Parade! Had I not dove into the whole rookie crossover tactic here, the lede would have been Nikola Vucevic makin’ it a good day with 19 points (8-14 FG, 2-3 3pt, 1-1 FT), 18 boards, 10 assists and two blocks as Chicago beat Philadelphia, 126-112. He’s been hot the last week, and currently sits at No. 26 value ranking per game, and is scratching at the door of first round total value (ranked 14). Zach LaVine also went of, hitting 11-of-13 from deep, 14-of-19 overall for 41 points. Patrick Williams posted 18-6-2 and playing well lately [just jinxed it, didn’t I?]. 

Despite the loss, the 76ers starters all had good games (PJ Tucker even scored a bucket!), with Tyrese Maxey (26-3-6 with a steal and five threes) rounding into form. 

Knickerbocker big boys Julius Randle (32-11-3) and Mitchell Robinson (10 points, 18 boards, two blocks) marched New York over Toronto in Toronto, 113-108. Gary Trent Jr. poured more propane into his heater, scoring 27 points (8-16 FG, 4-8 FT, 7-8 FT) in his third straight game of at least 40 minutes. Fred VanVleet posted his second straight huge stat line, 28-8-7-2-1 with 3 threes, but the field goal percentage (.377 on the season) hasn’t been getting any better.

Minnesota got to see the Rudy Gobert they originally envisioned as he led the Wolves over the Clippers, 115-128, with a monster 25-point, 21-rebound, two-block performance while going 11-of-15 from the field. Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid both left early with injuries.

Finally, a few quick hits:

Chris Paul missed the second half with right hip soreness, which sounds like an unfortunate lingering thing for an old man like Paul. I’m going to need Cam Payne healthy ASAP. Duane Washington Jr. filled in with 13-2-7 in 25 minutes.

Fun stat line for Nic Claxton: 9-9-4-1-5.

Naji Marshall had a strong game with 23-9-1 and three blocks, and it should be a nice run for him while Zion is on the mend.

Killian Hayes sways good-to-bad game-to-game with the best of ‘em. He nabbed five steals to go with 18 points, three boards and seven assists Friday night.

Jakob Poeltl posted 11-16-7-2-3 and is averaging a steal and nearly two blocks a game with 11 boards in his last seven games.

Bruce Brown has made his way to the top of the mountain of Nuggets bench players. He posted 13-6-5 with a steal in 28 minutes. Looks like he’ll continue to be valuable with a now-healthy Denver rotation.

John Collins has picked up his play with Capela out, finishing with 16 points, eight boards, two assists and three blocks, but missed all five of his 3-point attempts in L.A.

No one can make a 14-19-4-1-1 stat line look so “meh” quite like Jusuf Nurkic, and you can take that however you’d like.

Best of luck to all as we wrap up the first week of 2023 NBA basketball. Cheers.