For this week’s article, I’m going to break down the rookies into 1st/2nd/3rd teams based on their performances over roughly the first third of the season. This is solely my own opinion, mostly based on statistical performance but also some other intangibles thrown in there. Feel free to drop your own teams in the comments! Let’s go!
1st Team – Dynasty Cornerstones
PG – Trae Young – Trae has had both good and bad stretches so far in his young career. The overall results have been good though, as his game is transitioning to the NBA just fine. I expect him to be a cornerstone of the Hawks and my dynasty leagues for a long time.
SG – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Probably more of a PG, but I can’t leave him off the 1st team. He has solidified his grip on the starting role in LA and doesn’t look like he’ll give it up ever again. He’s scoring, rebounding, passing, and getting the defensive stats. He will be a perennial All-Star if he refines his shot. Who had the Clippers holding on to the second-best record in the West for this long?
SF – Luka Doncic – I guess he fits here as the 3, although he seemingly plays all over the court with Dallas. Doncic is already one of the most exciting players in the NBA and will continue to be so for years to come.
PF – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Remember back before the season when everyone was saying how it would take JJJ a while to adjust to the NBA game? Yea, that didn’t happen. After putting up 36 points the other game, I think it’s safe to say the rookie has figured some things out already. He could easily end up being the best fantasy and real life player in this draft.
C – Wendell Carter Jr. – With all apologies to Deandre Ayton, I think WCJ brings the more diverse and valuable skill set to your fantasy team. He is becoming an efficient scorer, willing passer, and above average rim defender. Once the Bulls field a real team on the court, he should really take off.
2nd Team – Solid Pieces
PG – Collin Sexton – I’m not sure I know what to make of Sexton overall. Is he just a scorer with the occasional good assist night? Can he figure out his shot to become more of a threat from deep? Regardless, he is still a threat to take it to the rim at any moment.
SG – Landry Shamet – As long as teams have to devote resources to defend Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Jimmy Butler, Shamet will continue to get wide open looks. He has even added a few assists as well. Shamet is definitely more of a niche player than all around contributor, but I expect him to fill that niche very well.
SF – Miles Bridges – Let this man play! When he gets minutes, he produces so get with the program Charlotte!! If Miles is sitting around in your dynasty league or his owner is losing faith, get him while you can.
PF – Marvin Bagley III – He’d be a first teamer if JJJ wasn’t ahead of him. He’s doing everything that was expected and is adding a few blocks as well. Partnering with De’Aaron Fox long term should mean some fun times in Sacramento.
C – Deandre Ayton – He is exactly as advertised. Points, rebounds, FG%, and not a whole lot else. He could become elite in those three categories, though. With some coaching, he may defend the rim better as well. Sky is the limit for him, but so far to me he has been pretty generic compared to the other bigs.
3rd Team – Just need the opportunity
PG – Elie Okobo – Phoenix finally fixed the log jam they created themselves at PG recently and it is time to see what Okobo can do with increased minutes over an extended period. I think his owners will be very happy.
SG – Allonzo Trier – The UDFA has worked his way into the rotation for the Knicks and has produced nicely when given the chance. You likely got him for free in your league, so the value has been extremely good.
SF – Kevin Knox – Trier’s NY teammate, Knox missed quite a bit of time already with an injury and then scuffled in his first few games back as his minutes were all over the place. His most recent game shows the upside, though – 26 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 STl, 1 BLK, and 5 3PM on 45% shooting against a very tough Milwaukee team. Get him while (if) you can.
PF – Omari Spellman – The PF/C position in this class is just stacked. Spellman produces nicely when given the minutes, but that yet to be consistent for him. The upside is there for PTS, REB, 3PM, and BLK, so keep an eye out for any Atlanta injuries or a change of heart by the coaching staff.
C – Mohamed Bamba – Early in the season I mentioned how Orlando should get him minutes at the expense of Nikola Vucevic so that they could see what they had. Well, that was pretty dumb because Vucevic has been fantastic so far. Bamba is getting over 1 BLK a game, though, in less than 20 minutes, so he hasn’t disappointed in that regard. Consistent minutes will show us whether or not he can be a legit dynasty piece.
Honorable Mention – Aaron Holiday – Keep an eye on the youngest Holiday brother. He produced very nicely in his brief stint receiving consistent minutes and, if opportunity arises in Indiana, he should pick up where he left off.
So there you have it. 16 players out of this class are worth writing about, which is more than most years. I didn’t even include the solid role player types (Kevin Huerter/Donte DiVincenzo/Troy Brown Jr.), the far away projects (Mitchell Robinson), or the currently injured but intriguing (Zhaire Smith/Lonnie Walker IV/Michael Porter Jr) who could be helping your team in the coming months or years. Rookie classes are a lot of fun to speculate on, but when there are so many hits like this year, it really takes it to another level. I hope you are all having as much fun as I am following this group.