Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Fantasy Basketball 2022-23 rookie rankings: Paolo Banchero stands out as top fantasy rookie

I felt that Chet Holmgren was the rookie with the best skill set and situation to finish atop the rookie fantasy leaderboard in 2022-23, but the Oklahoma City big is out for the year with a season-ending foot injury. He checked a lot of boxes as a promising scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker who can stretch the floor with accurate shooting from deep. While it’ll be difficult for other first-year NBA players to match his upside, there’s still plenty of talent worth keeping an eye on.

I’ve factored in positional battles, team goals, and skill sets to put together a list for the best targets in the 2022 draft class. Read below to get explanations for the top five and a full top-20 list:

1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Banchero is entering an interesting situation in Orlando. The surprise top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is sure to log plenty of minutes. Franz Wagner averaged 15.2 points on nearly 31 minutes a night in his first pro season en route to an NBA All-Rookie first team selection, and Banchero could get even more exposure. Duke’s former star forward will play a large part in boosting an offense that ranked 29th in points per game last season. He shouldn’t deal with stiff competition from Jonathan Isaac early on as he looks to recover from a string of leg injuries that kept him off the court for all of last year. Banchero will have every opportunity to act as the Magic’s first option on offense from day one, and the same can’t be said for the other players on this list. Orlando shut him down after two summer league games for a reason. They expect him to carry a sizeable workload.

2. Jabari Smith, Houston Rockets

Smith might be neck and neck with Banchero if the two switched teams, but he’s still appears set to have a strong year in H-Town. The Rockets opened things up for the 6-foot-10 sharpshooter by sending Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this summer, making him the clear-cut starter at power forward. Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green are sure to be shot hungry in the backcourt, but Smith will have plenty of responsibility as arguably his team’s best defender and rebounder in the starting unit. Usman Garuba doesn’t seem ready to provide adequate support from the bench, so Smith could be a double-double threat fairly often. He just has to prove that he can bounce back from his Summer League shooting woes to prove his doubters wrong.

3. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

The Kings turned heads when they selected Murray over Jaden Ivey, who was widely considered to be the best point guard in the 2022 draft class. Whether Sacramento made another costly draft-night blunder remains to be seen, but the Kings feel confident that Murray can be an asset early on. The small-ball four out of Iowa shot the ball extremely well during summer league play and averaged 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest while shooting over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three before taking home an MVP award in Las Vegas. He likely won’t replicate those numbers against elite NBA talent, but the 22-year-old rookie has the tools to be successful despite playing along a pair of fantasy studs in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

4. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

I might be higher on Ivey if he wasn’t ruled out of the Las Vegas Summer League after suffering an ankle sprain five minutes into his second game, but adjusting to a new role with a ball-dominant backcourt partner could affect his upside early on. Cade Cunningham will be Detroit’s primary ball handler from the get-go. Ivey can set the table for himself off the ball thanks to his downhill athleticism, but he might not end up being the Pistons’ second-best wing option as Saddiq Bey looks to build on his impressive sophomore season. It’s unclear how Detroit will split up point guard duties between Cunningham, Ivey, and Killian Hayes, but the Purdue product has more competition as his position than the aforementioned players. 

5. Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Mathruin is in the running to start for the Pacers alongside Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. The swingman out of Arizona can benefit from sharing the court with a pair of sharpshooters who each boast career 3-point shooting percentages above 39 percent. While Chris Duarte’s sure to fit into the rotation as well, Hield will be a sought-after veteran around trade deadline time and a trade could help Mathurin’s value shoot up significantly. He showcased some of his offensive talents by totaling 19.3 points and 4.0 rebounds on 48.8 percent shooting in Las Vegas earlier this summer. 

Top 20 Fantasy Rookies for 2022-23

1: Paolo Banchero, ORL

2. Jabari Smith, HOU

3. Keegan Murray, IND

4. Jaden Ivey, DET

5. Bennedict Mathurin, IND

6. Tari Eason, HOU

7. Walker Kessler, UTH

8. Mark Williams, CHA

9. Jalen Williams, OKC

10. Johnny Davis, WAS

11. Jake LaRavia, MEM

12. Jalen Duren, DET

13. TyTy Washington, HOU

14. Shaedon Sharpe, POR

15. Dyson Daniels, NOP

16. Blake Wesley, SAS

17. Jeremy Sochan, SAS

18. Ousmane Dieng, OKC

19. Jaden Hardy, DAL

20. A.J. Griffin, ATL

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