Rookies. We all love to love them and usually they’re not worthy of our love. But this year feels a little different, doesn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at which rookies are ranking up our fantasy rosters and what we should do about them in our own fantasy leagues!

In order of draft position:

1. Anthony Edwards

Y! Rank: 197

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 62%

What to do: The number one overall draft has been a tad bit disappointing this season, mainly due to his 37.5% field goal percentage and his inability to play well off the ball. Still, there have been plenty of highlight-reel worthy dunks and he’s starting to turn it around. Plus, he has a pretty sweet nickname with the whole “Antman” thing he has goin’ on.

With Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell both missing time, and the Wolves sitting on a 6-17 record, it’s officially Antman season. Through four games in February, he’s averaging 14 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists on 39.3% shooting. He’s worth a scoop and a hold to see what the Wolves do in what projects to be a lost season.

2. James Wiseman

Y! Rank: 193

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 77%

What to do: After being demoted to the bench and suffering an injury, it’s hard to recommend hanging onto James Wiseman in fantasy hoops. He shows flashes every now and then that reminds us why he was taken second overall, but he’s still far from being a finished product.

Still, he’s already scoring 12.2 points per game on 50.3% shooting with 40.9% shooting from behind the arc. In general, he takes good shots and looks like he’s primed to be a very good player down the road. In dynasty leagues and keeper leagues, I’d hang on tight if you can.

3. LaMelo Ball

Y! Rank: 49

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 61

Y! % Owned: 91%

What to do: If you managed to draft LaMelo Ball, congratulations are in order. His average ADP on Yahoo! was 96.6, and he’s absolutely crushing that draft spot at the moment with the sky as the limit. The only thing that has slowed LaMelo down has been coach Borrego’s insistence on bringing him off the bench behind Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, but it looks like he may be sticking in the starting lineup now.

With 13.6 points, 6 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game, LaMelo Ball’s court vision has been as good as advertised and his 43.7% shooting has been better than projected. If you have him, enjoy the ride.

4. Patrick Williams

Y! Rank: 152

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 188

Y! % Owned: 21%

What to do: I’ll admit, as a Bulls fan I wasn’t really eyeing Patrick Williams in the draft. Looks like I was wrong. He hasn’t exactly crushed it statistically this season, but he’s a forward connecting on 48% of his attempts and he’s putting up 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game in just 26.6 minutes per game too.

Most importantly, over his last two games, he’s averaging 15.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, a steal, and a block per game, which has lead to a lot of people running to the waiver wire to scoop him up. It’s really important to remember he did this without Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markannen in the lineup though, so don’t get too bold. If you have dead weight, it makes sense to pick him up to see if he can keep it going.

5. Isaac Okoro

Y! Rank: 239

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 6%

What to do: Isaac Okoro is getting a ton of minutes and isn’t doing a whole lot with them. He may develop into a really decent player, but right now rostering him isn’t advisable. He might be worth a stream for steals here and there.

6. Onyeka Okongwu

Y! Rank: 378

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 1%

What to do: Onyeka Okongwu is buried on the depth chart behind Clint Capela and John Collins, so he’s only averaging a little over 11 minutes per game. He’s not worth a roster spot.

7. Killian Hayes

Y! Rank: 475

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 17%

What to do: 17% of Yahoo! teams must have given up or have no IL spot and aspirations of winning their league. Killian Hayes wasn’t playing super well before he went down with the hip injury that will sideline him for eight weeks. He might be worth a hold in dynasty leagues, but he wasn’t playing super well before the injury anyway.

8. Obi Toppin

Y! Rank: 327

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 17%

What to do: Unlucky number 17 again. Obi Toppin may work his way into a rotation spot by the end of the season, depending on how the Knicks play over the next month or two. However, he’s only getting 11 minutes per game right now and he has Tom Thibodeau as a coach, which isn’t ideal for any rookie. Ask Immanuel Quickley.

9. Deni Avdija

Y! Rank: 206

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 176

Y! % Owned: 10%

What to do: Deni Avdija is actually worth keeping an eye on. He’s very polished for a rookie and the Wizards are sitting on a 5-15 record. He may find himself on the floor a whole lot more as the Wizards opt to tank the season for a good draft pick in the coming months. He’s mostly good for contributing points and threes but it’s hard to recommend stashing him right now. He’s someone to keep an eye on down the stretch though.

10. Jalen Smith

Y! Rank: 439

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: He’s averaging a shade under seven minutes per game on a team competing for the playoffs. Barring several injuries, there’s no reason to roster him.

11. Devin Vassell

Y! Rank: 124

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 166

Y! % Owned: 2%

What to do: The worst news for Devin Vassell is that the Spurs keep winning basketball games and Derrick White is back and getting his full minutes already. Vassell produced when he got the minutes, but his path to them right now isn’t very clear. He’s only managed 14 minutes per game over their last four games with White back. Leave him on the wire until his situation gets better.

12. Tyrese Haliburton

Y! Rank: 48

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 44

Y! % Owned: 74%

What to do: The fact that Tyrese Haliburton isn’t rostered in nearly every league at this point is saddening. He scores a lot of his points on threes, contributes 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting 48.4% from the field. He’s a stone-cold stud on a team that needs his contributions. If he’s not owned in your league, go get him. If Buddy Hield ever gets traded, look out.

13. Kira Lewis Jr.

Y! Rank: 383

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 1%

What to do: Kira Lewis Jr. is buried on the depth chart currently, but with the Pelicans struggling and with JJ Redick on the block, he’s worth keeping an eye on. He played 19 minutes in their last win over the Grizzlies and handed out four assists. It’s possible he plays his way into the rotation for a talented team struggling to get wins. Just add him to the watch list for now.

14. Aaron Nesmith

Y! Rank: 414

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Aaron Nesmith has gotten a string of three DNPs in a row. He’s on a competitive team. Leave him on the wire.

15. Cole Anthony

Y! Rank: 155

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 45%

What to do: After an unfortunate injury for Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony was thrust into a bigger role and struggled. As of late, he’s really turned it around. Over his last four games, he’s averaging 15 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.3 steals. He’s definitely worth a roster spot right now so run out and grab him if he’s sitting on your waiver wires if you need assists, scoring, and steals.

16. Isaiah Stewart

Y! Rank: 214

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 2%

What to do: Isaiah Stewart is someone to keep an eye on over the next few months. Not because he’s extremely good or anything, but the Pistons are 5-18 and aren’t looking to stay competitive in a lot of games as they tank their way to the lottery. At some point, Stewart projects to replace Mason Plumlee in the starting lineup. Stewart needs to learn how not to foul at the NBA level, but he’ll be a great option for rebounds and field goal percentage if he can figure it out and get minutes down the stretch.

17. Aleksej Pokusevski

Y! Rank: 308

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 1%

What to do: Aleksej Pokusevski may end up being a very, very good player. He’s ridiculously tall and he has guard skills. Unfortunately, he’s been pretty bad this season and he’s still super raw. Leave him on the wire for now, but go get him in dynasty leagues as he has enormous potential at the NBA level.

18. Josh Green

Y! Rank: 362

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Josh Green isn’t getting minutes and isn’t worth a roster spot.

19. Saddiq Bey

Y! Rank: 263

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 1%

What to do: Saddiq Bey is another rookie to keep your eye on for the same reasons you should keep your eye on Isaiah Stewart. The Pistons suck and have nothing to focus on except the development of young talent. He’s nothing more than a three-point specialist at the moment, but definitely someone to keep on your watch list for playoff time where he could be seeing big minutes.

20. Precious Achiuwa

Y! Rank: 272

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 3%

What to do: Precious Achiuwa got a little bit of love from the fantasy world when he stepped into a big role for the shorthanded Miami Heat and really produced. Now that everyone is back though, he’s been relegated to a role that’s too small to justify rostering him. The Heat will look to make the playoffs again this year, so there’s no reason to stash him either. In dynasty leagues, he could be a stud down the road.

21. Tyrese Maxey

Y! Rank: 177

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 6%

What to do: Similar to Precious, Tyrese Maxey has stepped up with the 76ers down bodies. When Shake Milton and Seth Curry are healthy though, he shouldn’t be owned. Leave him on the wire.

22. Zeke Nnaji

Y! Rank: 539

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Who? Zeke Nnaji doesn’t play, so leave him on the wire.

23. Leandro Bolmaro

Y! Rank: 703

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Leandro Bolmaro is in Barcelona, so he shouldn’t be on your team, probably ever.

24. RJ Hampton

Y! Rank: 388

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: RJ Hampton finally saw 27 minutes of action in the last Nuggets game, where he scored seven points from the guard position. He’s best left on the wire.

25. Immanuel Quickley

Y! Rank: 163

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 178

Y! % Owned: 51%

What to do: Immanuel Quickley was a popular add but after the Knicks traded for Derrick Rose yesterday, the backcourt is just too crowded to advise going out and grabbing IQ. If you have him on your roster, go ahead and hang on to see how it all shakes out, but I just traded him the day of the trade for a pick swap. He was barely rosterable before, so this doesn’t help.

26. Payton Pritchard

Y! Rank: 225

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 186

Y! % Owned: 4%

What to do: Payton Pritchard has found himself back in the rotation thanks to the Marcus Smart injury, but he doesn’t do a whole lot but shoot the three-ball. If you need that, he’s okay to stream right now, but he’s not worth a permanent roster spot.

27. Udoka Azubuike

Y! Rank: 389

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Udoka Azubuike isn’t playing and shouldn’t be on your roster.

28. Jaden McDaniels

Y! Rank: 298

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Jaden McDaniels is getting plenty of minutes, and should continue to get minutes on a struggling Timberwolves team. He’s just not doing much with those minutes right now. Keep an eye on him as his situation is perfect for a rookie, but there’s no reason to grab him.

29. Malachi Flynn

Y! Rank: 398

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 0%

What to do: Malachi Flynn gets minutes here and there but he isn’t a part of the regular rotation in Toronto. Leave him on the wire.

30. Desmond Bane

Y! Rank: 195

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 4%

What to do: Mr. Irrelevant, Desmond Bane, isn’t so irrelevant. He’s shooting lights out from deep, near the top of the league shooting 48.6% from deep. He’s worth a look for help in that department in deeper leagues and worth monitoring in standard leagues, but going out to grab him isn’t advisable at this juncture.

That’s it for the first round guys, but there are two second-round guys that you need to keep on your shortlist.

34. Theo Maledon

Y! Rank: 237

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: Unranked

Y! % Owned: 16%

What to do: Theo Maledon didn’t project to do much this season, but with George Hill shelved for four weeks for a right thumb surgery, and the Thunder not being a great team, he’s someone to roster right now since he’ll have all the opportunity in the world. As I’m writing this, he’s being hit with the league’s health and safety protocols, but if you can stash him go ahead and do so as he projects to be the team’s starting point guard down the stretch and he’s been playing well in their last six games, averaging 12.4 points, 2.6 threes, 3.2 assists, and 2.2 steals.

35. Xavier Tillman

Y! Rank: 178

Basketball Monster Per-Game Rank: 94

Y! % Owned: 10%

What to do: It’s not a bad idea to go out and get Xavier Tillman right now and just hang onto him to see how everything shakes out. He has definitely benefited from Jonas Valanciunas being out an extended period of time, but even with JV back in the fold, it looks like Tillman will stick. He played 28 minutes in JV’s first game back. Tilllman contributes in boards and blocks mainly while shooting 52.7% from the field. There might be sexier options floating around your wire, but if those contributions fit your needs, go get him right now.

  1. Jonathan says:
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    Thanks for the great write-up! I love seeking rookies or unfinished players or projects to find the next great thing.

    I play in a keeper league by round, I have Okongwu as a stash but it was with the hope that Collins trade or Cap injury prone nature would appear…is it better to cut bait on the dead weight roster spot?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Keith

      Keith says:
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      Hey Jonathan!

      Thanks for the question. In my opinion, if you’re looking to win this season I’d move on from Okongwu. Capela is signed through 2023 and JC is singed through 2022. It’s possible JC gets traded, but those seemed like rumors that have quickly evaporated at this point. It’s also possible Capela gets injured, but it’s not something I would bet on, and even if one of those things happens it’s tough to see Okongwu contributing in a meaningful way in the next few seasons. In a dynasty league, he’s worth a roster spot, but in a keeper league I’d probably move on personally.

      Hope that helps!

      • Keith

        Keith says:
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        To clarify, the Hawks can extend a qualifying offer to JC in 2021-22 and I don’t see them passing that up. It’s possible he wears a different jersey, but not if the Hawks are serious about winning with Trae Young as their main piece.

        • Jonathan says:
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          I tend to agree, and I think he is a long shot that I’ll have to pass on for now…I had high hopes on draft night that their selection indicated a higher investment/usage for me, but better to cut ties and move on. Thanks!

          • Jonathan says:
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            Ended up dropping for Len-Sanity

            Lin to Len 2.0

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