Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Fantasy Basketball: Best available landing spots for 10 top rookies ahead of 2022 NBA Draft

We identified 25 of the most enticing Fantasy Basketball prospects last week ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft. Several incoming rookies could be major impact players in their first NBA campaigns, but their destinations could  significantly affect where they rank among their peers. We’ve shortened the list to break down what realistic landing spots could be the most ideal for 10 of the most sought-after prospects here. Let’s take a look at what environments could be most conducive to Fantasy success among likely lottery picks.

Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero: Houston Rockets

Both these players are in the running to go first overall and would benefit the most from joining the Rockets. The young, rebuilding squad was neck and neck with the Orlando Magic from a record standpoint last year, but has much less depth. Orlando seems poised to get versatile swingman Jonathan Isaac back in the rotation. The two-way wing can play the three and four. He’ll definitely be a starter when healthy. Houston has handed the franchise over to youth and could benefit from upgrading from Jae’Sean Tate at power forward. Moving a veteran asset like Eric Gordon could clear the way for Tate to move to small forward and allow Smith or Banchero to step in as a volume shooter alongside Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. Both players averaged at least 18 points and 8.0 rebounds per 36 minutes in college and could thrive without having to compete with Wendell Carter Jr. at the four.

Chet Holmgren: Oklahoma City Thunder

Holmgren might not be the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but he is the most enticing Fantasy prospect among incoming rookies. The Gonzaga product posted ridiculous numbers for the loaded Bulldogs as a freshman. He nearly averaged a double-double with 14.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game on just 26.9 minutes a night. The Thunder are starving for a center and have the option to drop Isaiah Roby later this month. Holmgren would immediately bump Derrick Favors and other subpar Fantasy bigs down a few spots on the depth chart. He’d flourish and get a ton of minutes alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey as part of a promising, young core. Holmgren could flirt with a double-double average in Year 1.

Jaden Ivey: Detroit Pistons

Ivey seems like a lock to go inside the top five in what some see as a three-player draft. The combo guard out of Purdue can impact games but has a slim chance to run an offense as a rookie. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Cade Cunningham will be the primary initiators on the teams most likely to draft Ivey, but the Pistons could use his burst most. Detroit had one of the least efficient offenses in the NBA last season and needs more offense in the backcourt. Cory Joseph and Killian Hayes aren’t going to cut it. Ivey’s explosiveness helped him put up 17.3 points per game on 46 percent shooting in college, and Cunningham’s gravity could give him plenty of open areas to work in. It’s unclear how much playmaking he’ll do, but his shotmaking and downhill playing style will help a team that averaged 104.8 points on 43.1 percent shooting last season.

Keegan Murray: Indiana Pacers

Murray was one of college basketball’s most productive players last season. The former Iowa forward racked up 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. While he’s a bit of a tweener for a power forward at 6-foot-8, plenty of other Pacers had success as small-ball fours in 2021-22. Oshae Brissett averaged  14 points and 7.1 rebounds in the 24 games he played following the Domantas Sabonis trade, and Murray is the more complete prospect on offense. Murray has a clear path to a boatload of minutes in Indiana, especially if T.J. Warren’s nagging foot injury continues to be a problem. 

Shaedon Sharpe: San Antonio Spurs

Sharpe is the wild card of this year’s lottery prospects and could be a key part of the Spurs’ rebuild. The Kentucky wing hasn’t really played organized basketball since high school but has all the measurables of a dynamic NBA guard. Many thought that San Antonio reached too much when it drafted Josh Primo out of Alabama at 12th overall last year, but they could double down at shooting guard this year after sending Derrick White to the Boston Celtics in a midseason trade. Sharpe is a freak athlete at 6-foot-5 and boasts a nearly 7-foot wingspan at 200 pounds. He scored more than 22 points per game while grabbing almost 6.0 boards per contest on the EYBL circuit. Sharpe is raw, but the Spurs need a player who can flat-out create his own shots. Dejounte Murray’s development turned out just fine.

Dyson Daniels: Sacramento Kings

The Kings seem to believe that they’re in win-now mode, but they don’t realistically have the tools to do that right now. They passed up Tyrese Haliburton to pair Fox with Sabonis and have a lot of work to do. Only the Rockets gave up more points than Sacramento last season, and no team can be competitive with a defense so horrendous. Daniels is everyone’s favorite jumbo guard this year at 6-foot-8 and is one of the better perimeter defenders in the draft class. He contests shots at the rim, is a willing passer and rebounds well. Daniels averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with the G League Ignite last season.

AJ Griffin: Portland Trail Blazers

Duke’s second-best prospect has been praised for his ceiling and will likely need a team with plenty of minutes to spare. Portland was a seller at the trade deadline last season and parted with C.J. McCollum and Norman Powell. Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons are set to be the top options for now, but there’s a major need for a longer wing who can be an effective shooter off the catch from long range when that duo is creating off the dribble. Griffin sank well over 40 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s in college and might be a more desirable option than Josh Hart or Nassir Little at small forward. I doubt Portland wants Keon Johnson or Brandon Williams running the second unit, so I expect Simons to revert to a bench role.

Bennedict Mathurin: New Orleans Pelicans

McCollum has essentially transitioned into a lead guard with New Orleans, and the Pelicans could use a true shooting guard to pair with him. Brandon Ingram played like more of a shooting guard down the stretch last season and could move back to small forward if McCollum gets a legitimate backcourt partner. Mathurin averaged nearly 18 points per game on 45 percent shooting in his final year at Arizona. He can make up for what Herb Jones lacks on offense while Jones covers for his defensive shortcomings. New Orleans could address its need for an NBA-ready wing shooter through free agency, but Mathurin has the skills to step in relatively quickly. 

TyTy Washington: Washington Wizards

Washington’s name isn’t the only reason he’d be a good fit with the Wizards. The Kentucky guard could help a Washington team that has an obvious need for a dynamic playmaker. No point guard rotation starring Tomas Satoransky and Ish Smith will make noise in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal is being asked to do too much creating for others, and Washington won’t face a ton of pressure to score with Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma in the fold. Kentucky guards have a knack for exceeding expectations, and he showed flashes of excellence when setting the table for his teammates as a Wildcat. He broke John Wall’s single-game assist record with 17 dimes in a game during his lone collegiate season with Kentucky. 

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