Earlier this week, Mr. Hooper outlined his redemption attempt from a lackluster RazzJam performance with a mid-season 12-team roto league draft (which starts counting stats Dec. 26) that I managed to snag a spot in as well. 

How’s my RazzJam team doing? Oh, well, thanks for asking. Pretty dang well! I’ve been the pace car most the season in my league, currently with a healthy lead over second place Guiseppe Racco. I was in the Top 10 overall for a bit, but have dropped back to 16th in the last few days. Still a long way to go, so definitely not doing any early celebrating. 

But I digress. I thought it would be fun to compare rookie draft ranking in the current draft, making the turn into round 21 of 25 as I write this, to preseason ADP to gauge the market for rookie performances so far this season. I’m using NFBKC for the pre-season ADP and Monster Basketball for current rankings.

Paolo Banchero: Pre-season ADP, 62; Per-game ranking, 132; Total value ranking, 141; Drafted, 50.

By most measures, the No. 1 pick has exceeded expectations, putting up rookie performances at a near-historic level. He’s averaging about 22 points, 6.5 boards, 4 assists, a steal and half a block per game; one of just 17 players currently averaging at least 20-6-4 per game. The overall value remains up in the 100s. In the last two weeks, however, he’s ranked 39th per game and has been hitting a stride, with better free throw shooting and an uptick in threes. So it’s not too surprising his draft stock actually has increased mid-season. He’s gotten some of the rookie rust off early and could possibly return Top 50 value ROS. 

Jabari Smith Jr.: Pre-season ADP, 75; Per-game ranking, 139; Total value ranking, 113; Drafted, 101.

This is the first mid-season draft I’ve done, and it’s been fun to balance the preseason ADPs with the current rankings. Smith fell right between the two here after some early season struggles. He’s averaging about 12 points, 7 boards, an assist, half a steal and a block, shooting just 37% from the field. He’s definitely shown glimpses of the high-end player he could become, but I think this one will need some extra time to simmer. He’s  not part of the offense enough, as shown by the lack of assists and getting to the line only twice per game (though the 83% from there is nice). 

Walker Kessler: Preseason ADP, 141; Per-game ranking 124; Total value ranking, 85; Drafted 106.

The Utah Ranger has been one of the favorite rookie darlings of the season, averaging nearly a double-double with 2.5 blocks in just 18 minutes per game. He’s put up No. 52 value in the last two weeks, as the minutes have increased. The FG% (.754) is huge, while the FT% (.538) is gross, but he only takes a couple a game. Given the Kelly Olynyk trade talk happening, I’m actually a little surprised Kessler didn’t go a bit higher. Had I not stocked up on big guys in the early rounds of this draft, I definitely would have snagged him just before this.

Jalen Duren: Preseason ADP, 175; Per-Game ranking, 178; Total value ranking, 147; Drafted, 115. 

Averaging 30 minutes per game the last couple weeks, and should be a lock to post a double-double on most nights. I’m not getting too excited about Duren until the blocks come up – currently .8 per game – but he’ll continue to clean up the boards in Detroit the rest of the season. 

Tari Eason: Preseason ADP 132, Per-game ranking, 142; Total value ranking, 109; Drafted 118. 

Let Eason blast off! Eason has averaged about 20 minutes per game with a decent 20% usage rate when on the floor. He’s ranked 45th in Per 36 value, but continues to be stymied with an average bench role. Perhaps some shakeup during trade season opens up more PT for Tari and he gets up around the Top 100 by season’s end.

Bennedict Mathurin: Preseason ADP 144; Per-game ranking, 218; Total value ranking, 160; Drafted 120.

My early season flame has fizzled due to the lack of non-points related production. He’s averaging 4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and very little on the defensive end. I thought the hustle may result in more counting stats early for Mathurin, but 18 points and 2 threes per game just doesn’t get you much, especially while shooting 41%. Looking at the rankings so far this season, this pick at the end of round 10 was a reach … says the guy who’s still rolling out Mathurin in Razzball Writers’ League week after week.

Jalen Williams: Preseason ADP, 171; Per-game ranking 219; Total value ranking, 185; Drafted 123. 

Williams supplanted himself on one of the pretty horses of the OKC carousel quickly this season. He’s getting plenty of run at 30 minutes per season. The usage rate is just 17%, but he’s the kind of hustle wing that won’t need the ball in his hands much to produce quality fantasy stats. Still, this was a pretty big jump in ADP for a guy averaging 10-3-3.

Jaden Ivey: Preseason ADP, 137; Per-game ranking 227; Total value ranking, 175; drafted 130.

Ivey went from being the fifth rookie off the board preseason to the eighth, despite Cade Cunningham being out for the season, but his ADP is pretty much the same for the revved up guard of Motor City. He’s averaging 15-4-4 with a steal a game and sub-par percentages. I’m not a huge fan, but pretty good value here.

Keegan Murray: Preseason ADP, 83; Per-game ranking, 153; Total value ranking, 144; Drafted, 141.

My first rookie pick of the draft! It’s been slow going for the SacTown first timer who many thought would be the early fantasy star of the 2022 draft class. He just hasn’t provided much outside of threes, as his playing partner Domantas Sabonis gobbles up all the fantasy stats to be had in the Kings frontcourt. But, Mike Brown is content on keeping Murray in the starting 5, and playing him around 30 minutes per game of run. I figure picking him near his current value was pretty good and hope he increases production as the season goes.

Shaedon Sharpe: Preseason ADP, 262; Per-game ranking, 321; Total value ranking, 264; Drafted 147.

A bit of a head scratcher on this pick. Despite owning one of the baddest highlight reels (bad as in awesome) of any rookie this year, Sharpe’s all-around game has a ways to go to be fantasy relevant, and I don’t see much of a path out of his 20 minutes-per-game bench role. However, we’re in round 14 now, so teams are just starting to throw darts for guys who may be useful for a few weeks. There is a slim chance Sharpe gets traded in a package with Josh Hart if the Blazer find an upgrade at the 3. A bunch of run on a lottery-destined team could lead to some very useful numbers by Shaedon.

Andrew Nembhard: Preseason ADP, 394; Per-game ranking, 158; Total value ranking, 153; Drafted, 166.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the rookie class, the No. 31 pick worked his way into a starting role with Indiana thanks to his elite defense, often guarding the other teams’ best offensive weapons. After a couple weeks of Top 50 play while Haliburton was out with injury, his fantasy game has come back down to Earth.

Also, shoutout to GSW Dubs in 3, who loves himself some rookies, taking Eason, Williams, Sharpe and Nembhard within a 5-round stretch.

Jeremy Sochan: Preseason ADP, 179; Per-game ranking, 290; Total value ranking, 265; Drafted 192.

Future fantasy stud, in time. 

AJ Griffin: Preseason ADP, 318; Per-game ranking, 177; Total value ranking, 159; Drafted, 195.

GSW Dubs in 3 again! Griffin has carved out a solid role as energy off the bench as well as a fill-in starting as the Hawks have dealt with a string of injuries.

Mark Williams: Preseason ADP, 198; Per-game ranking, 405; Total value ranking, 446; Drafted 220.

My second rook on the team, Williams has been dominating the G league, but only played 12 minutes in the big show. I took him on the chance the Hornets keep diving, and Plumlee gets traded away, opening up a Duren-like role for Williams in the second half.

Speaking of the G League, the run-down of which rookies are performing well in the minors that I promised a month ago before going AWOL on the Rookie Reports is coming! I promise, Son!

In conclusion, it seems rookies are still being somewhat overvalued in this mid-season draft. I think there is a psychology from fantasy owners’ of seeing such good raw talent on the floor, and forgetting it just takes time to learn the flow of the game in order to post those few more counting stats per game and better efficiencies that make the difference between a 200-ranked player and a 100-ranked player.