Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Fantasy Basketball: Ranking the top 25 incoming rookies ahead of 2022-23 NBA Draft

Fantasy Basketball: Ranking the top 25 incoming rookies ahead of 2022-23 NBA Draft

Ameer Tyree takes a look at what rookies could be the most impactful in 2022-23


The 2022 NBA Draft’s order has been decided and June 23rd is rapidly approaching. The Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets will pick from the top prospects first, and several of the earlier selections could be in for productive rookie years. The Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes led all rookies in fantasy points last year, and the 2023 Rookie of the Year could very well do the same. We’ll go over our top 25 rookies to watch ahead of July’s draft here to help fantasy managers prepare.

  1. Chet Holmgren: Holmgren might not go first overall because of fit, but I don’t think any prospect can match his raw numbers if he lands in the right spot. The lanky Gonzaga product nearly averaged a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in his lone collegiate campaign to go along with 3.7 blocks per contest. If he lands with the center-starved Oklahoma City Thunder, he’ll have a great chance to leave other rookies in the dust.  
  2. Paolo Banchero: Banchero is in the running to be this year’s top pick alongside Holmgren and Jabari Smith. The Duke star’s college numbers were nearly identical to Smith’s, but he could face stiff competition at his position if the Orlando Magic drafted him with Jonathan Isaac and Franz Wagner in the fold. His offensive versatility and rebounding alone make him a top-tier rookie.
  3. Jabari Smith: Smith’s raised his draft stock tremendously after averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds at Auburn. His defensive effort could help him edge out Blanchero during his rookie campaign, but fit and depth will likely determine which of the two forwards is a better fantasy asset. He’ll almost certainly be a top-three pick and ending up with the Houston Rockets at third overall would be best for his rookie year outlook.
  4. Keegan Murray: Only three players in college basketball topped Murray’s mark of 23.5 points per game last season. He put up that figure while grabbing 8.7 boards per game and shooting a super-efficient 55.4 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from deep. Landing on a rebuilding team with less blue chip talent could help him stay fairly close to the aforementioned players in the season-long standings. 
  5. Jaden Ivey: Purdue’s Ivey is a special talent, but could have a tougher time because of how loaded the point guard position is. The scoring guard will likely be a top-five pick in the first round, but his playmaking could need to improve to match the production of the other lottery prospects. The forwards I’ve mentioned already rebound very well and Ivey could need to compete with the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Cade Cunningham for touches.
  6. Benedict Mathurin: Mathurin took a big step forward in his sophomore year and evolved into his team’s top scorer. He averaged 17.7 points per game with solid all-around shooting splits. He’s arguably the most NBA-ready small forward/shooting guard in the draft and could earn ample playing time if he shows improvement as a decision maker and off-ball defender.
  7. Johnny Davis: Davis exploded onto the scene as a borderline nightly double-double threat as a sophomore last season after averaging 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds as a freshman. He racked up 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his second collegiate season. More consistent shooting could help him separate himself from other late-lottery prospects.
  8. Dyson Daniels: Jumbo-sized guards have faired well lately and Daniels has the tools to do a little bit of everything. The G League Ignite alum averaged 13 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per 36 minutes last season. He’s one of the better playmakers in the field with limited shooting. That didn’t stop Josh Giddey from finishing as a top-30 point guard in points leagues despite missing 30 games, though.
  9. Malaki Branham: Branham made things look too easy in his first year with the Buckeyes. The guard didn’t have superstar numbers but shot 49.8 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from deep. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. 
  10. Jalen Duren: Duren had an underwhelming career at Memphis after ending high school as the nation’s second-ranked center. He has NBA-ready strength and athleticism that could thrive at the next level alongside the right playmakers. Duren averaged 17 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes last season. 
  11. Mark Williams: Williams and Duren are neck and neck as center prospects to many. Williams has superior height and wingspan with similar stats per 36. The first one of these two bigs off the board will the best shot at finishing second to Holmgren among first-year centers.
  12. TyTy Washington: Washington showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman but never reached his potential after suffering an ankle injury. He averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Washington could be the next Kentucky guard who exceeds expectations at the next level. 
  13. Shaedon Sharpe: Sharpe is said to have top-five talent but hasn’t played competitive basketball since high school. He has the size, athleticism, and shooting stroke to be an impact player. Learning how to play pro ball could limit him early on, though. 
  14. Tari Eason: Eason is one of the best two-way prospects in the draft. The LSU product averaged 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Tigers after transferring from Cincinnati. He knocked down more than 55 percent of his field goals and contributed 1.1 blocks and 1.9 steals per contest.
  15. Jaden Hardy: Only Holmgren was rated higher than Hardy at of high school. The dynamic guard opted to play in the G-League for a year and averaged 17.7 points. His efficiency needs improvement, as he shot less than 40 percent from the field in his first pro campaign. 
  16. Kennedy Chandler: Chandler’s well-rounded, efficient game makes him one of the better guard prospects around. He averaged 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from long range. The Tennesee product’s 60 percent clip from the charity stripe is worrisome, but the rest of his game is solid enough to help him impact games. 
  17. Nikola Jovic: Jovic is one of the more tantalizing international talents available. He has solid shooting, movement, and ballhandling for a 6’10” player at 18 years old. Jovic averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game in Liga ABA last season.
  18. Jeremy Sochan: Sochan tallied 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes throughout his freshman year at Baylor. While he’s projected to go inside the top 10, his shooting could limit him at the next level. He shot less than 30 percent from deep and less than59 percent from the field.
  19. A.J. Griffin: Griffin could very well be the best 3-and-D prospect on the board. The 6’6″ wing shot 44.7 percent from deep at Duke on 4.1 attempts per game. The catch-and-shoot specialist could be a top-10 pick based on potential, but consistency will be key for him. Griffin only averaged 10.4 points per game in college.
  20. Patrick Baldwin Jr.: Baldwin was a top-five recruit out of high school but struggled when he chose to play for his father at Milwaukee over Duke, Kentucky, and other blue blood programs. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in an injury-riddled season on an unimpressive 34.4 percent shooting. Baldwin could be one of the biggest steals in the draft when healthy. 
  21. Ochai Agbaji: Agbaji’s been one of college basketball’s most consistent players over the last few years. He was a double-digit scorer for his final three collegiate seasons and notched 18.8 points per game while shooting 40 percent from deep as a senior. Many think he profiles as more of a role player at the next level, though.
  22. E.J. Liddell: Liddell was a household name in college basketball as a sophomore and junior. The undersized power forward racked up 19.4 points an d 7.9 rebounds per game in his farewell season while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from deep. He might not be a go-to guy, but his valuable experience could make his adjustment period easier.
  23. Marjon Beauchamp: Beauchamp averaged 30.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists at Yakima College before leaving for the G League Ignite. He found success as a pro as well, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds on 57.1 percent shooting. The 6’6″ wing could be poised to make another leap despite limited exposure to elite competition.
  24. Wendell Moore Jr.: Moore’s one of several Blue Devils with enough tools to have early success. It took him a few more years than expected to get here, but his junior year averages of 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game are nothing to scoff at. The physical wing can impact both sides of the ball and averaged just under 1.4 steals per game last season.

  25. Bryce McGowens: McGowens is a fringe first-round talent that’s polarizing, to say the least. He led Nebraska in scorning with 16.8 points per game and was second in rebounding with 5.2 boards per contest. His shooting left room for improvement, but he’s as dynamic as any guard when he’s on and scored at least 20 points 11 times last season. 

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