I’ll admit it. Going into the season I was a little bit worried that I overshot my pick of Trae Young as the top fantasy rookie this season. I very well could still be wrong, but 35 points on 23 shots with six 3’s and 11 assists are pretty fantastic and shows the type of upside the Hawks were hoping for. Quite a few rookies have started off hot in crucial roles for their admittedly bad teams, and in this space I will try to highlight some of the ups and downs of the rookie class.
Trae Young – He’s getting more than 30 minutes per game, averaging 23 pts and 8 assists with close to four 3’s and a steal per game. This is exactly what you wanted if you drafted Trae, and so far so good. People can complain about the FG%, but if you were counting on him being an asset there, you’re doing this wrong.
Luka Doncic – The other half of the big draft night trade skipped the summer league for good reason – winning the Euroleague – and hasn’t missed a beat so far for the Mavericks. Averaging 18pts, 5.7 Reb, 4.3 Asst, and 2.3 3’s per game with a steal on top is the kind of multi-category gold that people were hoping for. High minutes and high usage on a bad Mavericks team should allow these stats to continue and improve as Luka gets more comfortable in the league.
Jaren Jackson Jr – The man drafted between the previous two, JJJ wasn’t expected to get starter minutes out of the gate, but that will change with JaMychal Green going down. Even in about 27 minutes per game the numbers are there for JJJ – 15pts, 6 rebs, 1.7 steals, 1 block, and nearly one 3. Up the minutes and getting more run with the starters, I expect these numbers to improve across the board. If he is somehow available in your league or owned by someone less savvy than a Razzball reader, get him on your roster!
GIVE IT TIME
The natural section aside from UP would be DOWN, but let’s not be too hard on NBA rookies one week into season.
Collin Sexton – Playing with the second unit, Sexton isn’t getting huge minutes like Young and Doncic and when he has played it has been a mixed bag of poor shooting and court vision (only 3 assists!). I expect him to work his way into more minutes as the season progresses, but other than dynasty formats, he isn’t very exciting.
Elie Okobo – A lot of people, myself included, thought Okobo would step into some decent minutes on a PG-starved roster in Phoenix. That hasn’t been the case at all, as he has been given limited opportunities on a Suns team that is trying to win this year. Keep him rostered in dynasty, and keep an eye on him in redraft leagues for when the Suns finally decide to see what he can do.
Wendell Carter Jr. – Starting an NBA career having to guard Joel Embiid is just not cool. It was a difficult task and Carter predictably did not do well. After earning the starting role in preseason, he has yet to have a ‘good’ game, albeit, he isn’t getting a lot of chances on offense with the crew of ballhogs on the Bulls. Carter is going to continue to do the dirty work and hopefully take advantage of the opportunities that he does get. He has shown very good court awareness and passing so far – the buckets will come.
Chandler Hutchison – He is mastering the ability to be completely invisible on the court and the box score. While he has been ok, there is very little production and I can’t recall a single thing he has done well. I was expecting a little more.
Deandre Ayton – He looks good, not great. Double-doubles were expected to be the norm and 2 out of 3 games he’s delivered. Would definitely like to see more on the defensive side and I expect that will come.
Marvin Bagley III – Meh
Mohamed Bamba – The blocks are there and he’s made a couple 3’s. Everything else is lackluster and he’s been held scoreless twice already. This is part Bamba and part terrible Orlando guard play, but the #6 overall pick should get at least one bucket when he’s hanging around the rim right?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – I really liked him during the draft process, and so far so good for the guard out of Kentucky. I expect him to work his way into the lead guard role and improve his stats across the board.
Omari Spellman – A favorite of Dynasty Guru Craig Bozic, Spellman finally got some decent minutes and delivered with 17 pts and hitting 4-of-5 3Pt attempts. If he can be consistent as a stretch 4 option, he should do very well in that Atlanta offense with defenses keying on Trae Young.
This rookie class is one of the better ones in recent memory and well worth getting excited about. There are some fantasy studs in the making and a lot of other well rounded role players to be had as well. If you are rebuilding in your dynasty league, going all in on this rookie class should get you back to contention in no time.