Editor’s Note: Now, all our premium tools for Fantasy, DFS, and Betting are included in one subscription at one low price. Customers can subscribe to NBC Sports EDGE+ monthly ($9.99) or save 20% on an annual subscription ($95.88). And don't forget to use promo code SAVE10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!
While the NBA Playoffs are still in full swing, for all intents and purposes the fantasy basketball season came to an end when the regular season did. With that being the case, now is a good time to take a look back at the fantasy impact that rookies and second-year players had on their respective teams. This week we'll focus on the Eastern Conference, which boasted all three finalists for the Rookie of the Year award and the best fantasy "sophomore."
The Hawks didn't get much from their rookies, which comes as no surprise given the makeup of the roster and the expectations for each player. Johnson and Cooper, the team's first- and second-round picks in last summer's draft, faced long odds for rotation minutes due to Atlanta's more experienced options at the power forward and point guard positions. Johnson appeared in 25 games this season, averaging 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.5 minutes per game, shooting 53.7% from the field and 71.4% from the foul line. Johnson appeared in three consecutive games just once this season, so it comes as no surprise that he was well off of the fantasy radar.
Cooper made even fewer appearances this season, playing in 13 games and accounting for 0.5 points, 0.4 rebounds, and 0.4 assists in 3.0 minutes per contest. Cooper and Johnson saw the majority of their minutes with the Hawks' G League affiliate, as the former was on a two-way contract. Like Cooper, Brown was also on a two-way, and he appeared in just five games for the "big club." Summer League will be key for Johnson, as he looks to earn a longer look from the Hawks coaching staff once the 2022-23 season begins. From a fantasy standpoint, none of these players are likely to be drafted in any league this fall.
We'll address Mays first since he was rarely a member of the Hawks rotation this season. The former LSU standout started five of the 28 games that he appeared in, posting averages of 2.9 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.3 3-pointers in 7.9 minutes per contest. While he did have his moments, most notably scoring 19 points in a New Year's Eve win over the Cavaliers, Mays did not play enough to merit fantasy consideration outside of the occasional game when the Hawks were hit incredibly hard by injuries.
Okongwu, on the other hand, continued to make strides after averaging 12.0 minutes per game as a rookie. Limited to 50 games this season (six starts) due to injury, the former lottery pick averaged 8.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in 20.7 minutes per. An athletic center who made the backup job his own, Okongwu is on his way to being a key rotation piece for the Hawks moving forward...so long as he can stay healthy. During his end-of-season press conference, Okongwu said that he plans on improving his jump shot this summer, which is key given the fact that he's listed as 6-foot-8.
Having finished the season as a 12th-round player in 9-cat formats, Okongwu's fantasy value moving forward will depend upon the availability of veteran starter Clint Capela. While he may not be a player that fantasy managers look to draft immediately in most leagues, Okongwu's name is definitely one to know.
Not much to see here, as Ryan is on a two-way contract and Hauser was converted from a two-way to a two-year, $1.88 million deal (team option for next season) in February. While Ryan appeared in just one game this season Hauser saw action in 26, averaging 2.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.7 3-pointers in 6.1 minutes per. Neither was on anyone's fantasy radar this season, and that's unlikely to change in 2022-23.
There wasn't much fantasy value to be had from Boston's second-year players either, but Pritchard was able to lock down rotation minutes for a second consecutive season. However, after playing 19.2 minutes per game in 2020-21 he came in at 14.1 per this season, averaging 6.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.4 steals, and 1.4 3-pointers per game. Pritchard shot 42.9% from the field and 41.2% from three, and his best performance came in a December 27 loss to the Timberwolves. With Boston down multiple perimeter players for health reasons Prichard started and played 45 minutes, tallying 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, and five 3-pointers.
It's worth noting that this was part of a stretch in which he scored 14 points or more in four of five games, so the ability to produce is definitely there. The issue is the Celtics' depth, as Marcus Smart and Derrick White have logged minutes at the point, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will also have periods when they serve as the primary playmaker. Pritchard, who finished the regular season ranked outside of the top-300 in 9-cat, won't offer much with regard to season-long fantasy value for this reason.
Nesmith, who was also a first-round pick in 2020, is in an even tougher spot as far as fantasy potential is concerned. While he did appear in 52 games this season, the former Vanderbilt wing averaged 3.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.6 3-pointers in 11.0 minutes per. Nesmith is directly behind the aforementioned Brown and Tatum, which made things even more difficult as far as playing time was concerned. Boston trading Romeo Langford and Josh Richardson to the Spurs did clean up the logjam behind the team's two star wings, but that didn't do Nesmith much good. Obviously, this is going to be a big offseason for him as far as earning more playing time is concerned. Thomas is on a two-way contract and Fitts was signed to a rest-of-season deal in March, and neither factored into the Celtics rotation during the regular season.
Teams being in "win now" mode can make it difficult for young players to make an impact, especially in fantasy. But the Nets' rookies found themselves in a far different situation, thanks to injuries and Kyrie Irving's vaccination status. Thomas and Sharpe were the first-round picks heading into the season, but it was Edwards (who was selected in the second round) who had the biggest impact from a fantasy standpoint. Starting 23 of the 48 regular-season games that he appeared in, Edwards averaged 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.0 3-pointers per, while shooting 41.2% from the field and 84.2% from the foul line. While he did finish the season ranked outside of the top-300 in 9-cat, Edwards was Brooklyn's most consistent fantasy rookie.
Thomas averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.7 3-pointers in 17.6 minutes per game, making 67 appearances. A high-level scorer during his lone season at LSU, Thomas certainly had some flashes this season. He scored 20 points or more in ten games, including a career-high 30 in a February 4 loss to the Jazz. Thomas' best fantasy nights came when the Nets were down multiple scorers (Kevin Durant and Joe Harris were among those sidelined for Thomas' 30-point game) because there wasn't consistent production in categories outside of points and 3-pointers. Depending upon what happens with Bruce Brown, who will be an unrestricted free agent, there could be room for Thomas and Edwards to earn more playing time, even with Joe Harris back in the fold after suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
Sharpe is in an interesting place, as he's the only Nets big man who is guaranteed to be under contract next season. The first-round pick out of North Carolina averaged just over 12 minutes per game in 32 appearances (eight starts) and was not a factor as far as fantasy is concerned. If Brooklyn were to give Kyrie Irving a super-max contract (or close to it), this could limit the team's options when it comes to paying their more experienced bigs. Sharpe isn't a player to target in drafts just yet but file his name away, especially if the Nets lose Nicolas Claxton. Duke Jr. made seven starts as a rookie, but he was on a two-way deal and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
The Hornets didn't get much from their rookie class this season, with none of them averaging at least ten minutes per game. Bouknight, the team's lottery pick out of UConn, averaged 4.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.5 3-pointers in 9.8 minutes per game (31 appearances), shooting 34.8% from the field and 87.1% from the foul line. And with Charlotte's backcourt appearing relatively secure, Bouknight stands to have a difficult time earning the minutes that he'll need in order to have a shot at becoming a relevant fantasy option. Thor appeared in 33 games, accounting for 2.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 0.2 3-pointers in 7.9 minutes per.
Similar to Bouknight, Thor is in a difficult spot fantasy-wise, as the Hornets still have Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, and Cody Martin. Bridges (unrestricted) and Martin (restricted) will be free agents this summer, with the Hornets holding the Bird rights of the former. Add in PJ Washington, who will be entering a contract year, and Kelly Oubre, and that's a long list of players that Thor will be competing with for minutes. Kulboka and Lewis, who were both on two-way deals, weren't a factor this season, and that's unlikely to change in 2022-23.
The 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year, Ball was a player that more than a few fantasy managers were willing to roll the dice on in drafts ahead of this season. Credit to those folks, because the gamble paid off in a big way. Averaging 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.9 3-pointers in 32.3 minutes per game, Ball shot 42.9% from the field and 87.2% from the foul line. There were still moments in which he had some maddening turnovers, but this didn't keep Ball from finishing the season ranked 15th in 8-cat and 21st in 9-cat formats. Charlotte parting ways with James Borrego means that there will be change with regard to how the team runs its offense, but it's quite clear that Ball will be the floor general. You'll be hard-pressed to find a draft next season in which Ball slips out of the second round.
Richards appeared in 50 games but offered little as far as fantasy value is concerned, playing just over seven minutes per game. Even if Montrezl Harrell (unrestricted) doesn't return, there's no way that Richards will merit being drafted in any fantasy league.
More than a few folks were surprised when Dosunmu slipped out of the first round last summer, but the Chicago native's (financial) loss was the Bulls' gain. With Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Zach LaVine all missing time throughout the course of the regular season due to injury, Dosunmu started 40 of the 77 games that he appeared in this season. Averaging 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 0.9 3-pointers in 27.4 minutes per game, Dosunmu shot 52.0% from the field and 67.9% from the foul line. While he did finish the season ranked outside of the top-200 in 9-cat formats, Dosunmu was a solid streaming option during the time in which the Bulls were extremely shorthanded on the perimeter.
As for his fantasy outlook for the 2022-23 campaign, that will depend (in part) upon the free agency of LaVine. He'll be an unrestricted free agent, and one would expect that the Bulls will do all that they can to keep him in the fold. If that happens, Dosunmu's role wouldn't change much, and his fantasy value would be limited. However, if LaVine were to sign elsewhere, the former Big Ten Player of the Year would see his fantasy value rise considerably. Chicago's other rookies, Simonovic and Hill, appeared in a total of 25 games this season. Maybe Simonovic sees an increase in playing time next season, but it's unlikely to be enough to make him a player worth valuing in fantasy drafts.
Sophomore: Patrick Williams
After earning All-Rookie Team honors last season, the 2021-22 campaign was a difficult one for Williams. A thumb injury limited him to 17 regular-season games, which essentially meant that he was a non-factor as far as fantasy is concerned. In those 17 games, Williams averaged 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.9 3-pointers in 24.8 minutes per, shooting 52.9% from the field and 73.2% from the foul line. The addition of DeMar DeRozan meant that scoring opportunities would be relatively scarce for Williams had he remained healthy, so there weren't high expectations on the offensive end of the floor. Hopefully, he can offer a bit more next season as far as the defensive stats are concerned. Depending upon what happens with LaVine, Williams could be worth taking a late-round flier on in drafts, but that feels like his ceiling right now.
Many were interested to see how the Cavaliers' frontcourt rotation would shake out before this season began, as Mobley was joining a group that included Jarrett Allen and Kevin Love. In a league that has gotten smaller with regard to how many coaches handle their rotations, J.B. Bickerstaff went in the opposite direction, starting Mobley alongside Allen with Love coming off the bench. And the strategy worked, as Mobley emerged as the betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors, Allen earned his first All-Star Game appearance, and Love experienced a career renaissance after a brutal 2020-21. Alas, Mobley did not win Rookie of the Year (Toronto's Scottie Barnes did), but that should not put a damper on the season that he had.
The fourth overall pick out of USC started all 69 games that he appeared in, averaging 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.7 blocks, and 0.3 3-pointers in 33.8 minutes per. Mobley, who shot 50.8% from the field and 66.3% from the foul line, provided 7th-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, making him one of five rookies to finish the season ranked within the top-100 in the former (one of four in the latter format). Mobley had a Yahoo ADP of 88.1 heading into this season according to Hashtag Basketball; it should be closer to 50 when fantasy managers begin drafting for the 2022-23 campaign. Nembhard, who signed a two-way deal with the Cavaliers on April 10, averaged 4.5 minutes per game in 14 appearances this season.
Unlike Mobley, the Cavaliers' second-year players did not offer much in the way of consistent fantasy value. Okoro started 61 of the 67 games that he appeared in, averaging 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 0.8 3-pointers in 29.6 minutes per game. Collin Sexton going down with a season-ending knee injury in mid-November appeared to open the door for Okoro to step forward as an offensive contributor, but that did not happen. In the 55 games that he played after Cleveland lost Sexton, Okoro accounted for 9.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 0.9 3-pointers per, shooting 50.6% from the field and 78.4% from the foul line.
Something to consider here is the addition of Caris LeVert at the trade deadline. While LeVert did miss three weeks or so due to injury shortly after his arrival, his presence was due to be a negative for Okoro's usage/shot opportunities. Sexton will be a restricted free agent this summer, so what Cleveland does there will certainly impact Okoro's preseason fantasy value. But based on the numbers that he's put up through his first two seasons, it's likely that he won't be on many fantasy managers' radars come draft time. Stevens and Windler were even less productive, but the former did start 13 of the 63 games that he played this season. Windler, who missed what would have been his rookie season due to injury, has struggled to stay healthy throughout his time in Cleveland. The Cavs did pick up his option for the 2022-23 campaign, but there is no way to justify selecting him in any drafts this fall.
The top overall pick in last summer's draft, Cunningham had the beginning of his rookie campaign derailed by a sprained ankle. And upon returning to action he struggled mightily with his shot, but things would turn around as Cunningham shook off the rust and got more acclimated to the pro game. Dwane Casey ultimately decided to move Cory Joseph into the starting lineup (replacing Killian Hayes), and that helped unlock Cunningham's full potential as a playmaker, and he played well enough to finish third in the league's Rookie of the Year voting.
Cunningham appeared in 64 games this season, averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.8 3-pointers in 32.6 minutes per. Despite shooting just 41.6% from the field (31.4% 3-pointers), Cunningham finished the season as a top-50 player in 8-cat (he ranked 88th in 9-cat) formats. After entering this season with a Yahoo ADP of 72.9, it's fair to expect Cunningham to be off the board much sooner than that this fall. As for Detroit's other rookies, their playing time largely depended upon the availability of the team's more established options.
Due to a lingering foot injury that prematurely ended his college career, Livers appeared in just one NBA game before February 27. He would start five of the 18 games that he appeared in after that point, averaging 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.5 3-pointers per, shooting 46.6% from the field and 85.7% from the foul line. Livers hit double figures in three of his last five games, most notably recording a line of 17 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and four 3-pointers in an April 1 win over Oklahoma City. The upcoming Summer League will be key for Livers when it comes to earning a shot at rotation minutes for next season. Garza (32 games played), Pickett (13), and Key (nine) had their moments while with the Pistons, but there's no need to consider any of them for your fantasy draft boards.
Detroit had three first-round picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, and the team managed to get two starters out of the team. Bey is well on his way to being the most prolific 3-point shooter in franchise history, and he improved his averages across the board in 2021-22. Starting all 82 games, he averaged 16.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.6 3-pointers in 33.0 minutes per, shooting 39.6% from the field and 82.7% from the foul line. Even with the low field-goal percentage, Bey hovered right around top-100 status in both 8- and 9-cat formats. He out-performed his Yahoo ADP (117.4) and could be in line for an even better 2022-23 if the Pistons can get more consistent production at other positions.
Stewart has largely been a rebounds guy with regard to fantasy, as he averaged 8.7 rebounds to go along with 8.3 points, 1.2 assists, 0.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game (71 appearances, all starts). While boasting solid percentages from the field (51.0) and the foul line (71.8), "Beef Stew" did have games in which he struggled with early foul trouble. He finished the season providing 14th-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, which isn't great when talking about a starting center. Being no higher than fourth in the Pistons' offensive pecking order can make it difficult for Stewart on that end of the floor, but the hope is that (at minimum) he'll be able to stay on the floor for longer stretches in Year Three.
Hayes, who was the lottery pick in that 2020 draft class, had an interesting sophomore season. He struggled in the starting role early on, both with and without the aforementioned Cunningham in the lineup, but seemed to turn the corner in late March. During a nine-game stretch in which he made just four starts, Hayes hit double figures on eight occasions and averaged 12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.0 3-pointers per, shooting 46.9% from the field and 83.3% from the foul line. During last year's Summer League, Detroit appeared to be dead set on moving forward with a starting backcourt of Hayes and Cunningham. But that approach wasn't all that successful.
Do the Pistons try this again? Or will they look to stagger the minutes of Hayes and Cunningham as much as they possibly can? Taking the latter path could give Hayes a shot at fantasy relevance, but not to the level where he would be worth targeting in drafts. Lee, who made 37 reserve appearances this season, is in an even worse spot than Hayes with regard to fantasy potential. The good news is that he's under contract for next season, and could be in line for an increase in minutes if the aforementioned Joseph declines his player option.
The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, and mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!
The Pacers went in different directions with their two first-round picks last summer, selecting an older player who appeared poised to contribute right away (Duarte) with one and a tantalizing "project" (Jackson) with the other. Duarte began the season as a starter due to Caris LeVert (who was eventually traded to Cleveland) being sidelined due to injury, averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 2.1 3-pointers in nearly 31 minutes per game (15 starts). Duarte would ultimately start 39 of the 55 games that he played before his season came to an end in mid-March due to injury, averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 3-pointers in 28.0 minutes per.
The additions of Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield at the trade deadline limited Duarte's fantasy value, especially in games when Malcolm Brogdon was also available. Duarte's fantasy prospects for next season depend upon how the Pacers approach this offseason. If no moves are made, and Haliburton, Hield, and Brogdon all return, Duarte's impact in 2022-23 will likely be muted. After getting off to a good start he finished the season ranked outside of the top-150 in 8- and 9-cat formats, so Duarte is unlikely to be a player that fantasy managers target in their drafts.
Jackson was in a different position than Duarte, as he began the season behind veterans Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, and Goga Bitadze. With the Pacers eventually falling out of postseason contention Sabonis was traded to the Kings, and with Turner and Bitadze missing significant amounts of time due to injury, the door finally opened for Jackson in late February. In ten starts, Jackson averaged 11.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.4 steals, and 2.6 blocks in just 21.4 minutes per game, displaying the upside that excited so many during the pre-draft process.
Unfortunately, he would only play in six more games after that stretch due to injuries, which meant that fantasy managers were no longer able to reap the benefits of rostering Jackson. Turner and Bitadze are under contract for next season, but there should be room for Jackson in the rotation. He showed what he's capable of doing during that late-February run mentioned above, and that could be enough to convince some managers in deeper leagues to roll the dice on Jackson in the later rounds of drafts. Washington and Taylor had their moments as the Pacers went all-in on their rebuild, but it's difficult to expect either to be worth selecting in the fall. York did not make his NBA debut until the final weekend of the regular season.
Haliburton is the headliner here, as it came as a surprise to many that he would even be made available for trade at the deadline. But the Kings are "all-in" on De'Aaron Fox, so they parted with both Haliburton and Hield in order to add the aforementioned Sabonis to their roster. A lottery pick in 2020, Haliburton looked the part of the Pacers' point guard of the future, and we saw flashes of his potential to serve as a high-level lead guard even before he was traded.
Finishing the season as a second-round player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, Haliburton made 26 starts for the Pacers and averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.2 3-pointers in 36.1 minutes per game. And he was efficient in doing so, shooting 50.2% from the field and 84.9% from the foul line. Regardless of what the Pacers do with Brogdon, who will be eligible to be traded this summer, Haliburton should be given the keys to their offense moving forward. Not sure he gets selected within the top-25 picks, but Haliburton shouldn't be on drafts boards much longer than that.
Smith is an interesting case, in that the move to Indiana gave him the opportunity that he never received while with the Suns. "Stix" appeared in 22 games after the trade, averaging 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 1.4 3-pointers in 24.7 minutes per, shooting 53.1% from the field and 76.0% from the foul line. Smith's timing was great, as he will be a free agent this offseason. A return to Indiana could give him a shot at playing consistent rotation minutes, even with Turner and Bitadze still being in the picture. It won't be enough to make him a draftable player in the fall, but Smith's name will be one to be mindful of if the Pacers were to once again find themselves headed towards the lottery. Hinton, who's on a two-way contract, only appeared in two games.
While Yurtseven was a member of the 2020 class (he went undrafted), he did not make his NBA debut until this season. And he came through with some big performances when the Heat were without both Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon. During a 15-game stretch that began in mid-December, Yurtseven made 14 starts, averaging 11.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 28.2 minutes per. He shot 51.4% from the field and 62.5% from the foul line, proving to be a solid option for both fantasy managers in need of a replacement for Adebayo and DFS players in search of a bargain.
Yurtseven finished the season with 12 double-doubles, and his fantasy potential in 2022-23 will depend upon two things: the Heat guaranteeing his contract, and whether or not the team decides to re-sign Dedmon (he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer). As for Smart, the two-way contract recipient only appeared in four games during the regular season. That should tell you all that you need to know about his fantasy outlook for next year.
Sophomore: Haywood Highsmith
Highsmith is in a position similar to that of Smart, in that he didn't see much time this season and that's unlikely to change in 2022-23. Appearing in 19 games (one start), Highsmith averaged 2.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.4 3-pointers in 8.6 minutes per.
The Bucks didn't need much in the way of production from their rookies, given how experienced the reigning champions' roster is. Of the three Mamukelashvili played the most, appearing in 41 games (three starts) and accounting for 3.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.5 3-pointers in 9.9 minutes per. The second-round pick out of Seton Hall was primarily a fill-in on nights when the Bucks were severely shorthanded in the frontcourt, with his best performance coming in a loss to the Cavaliers in the regular-season finale (28 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two 3-pointers in 43 minutes).
Mamu's chances of cracking the rotation in 2022-23 likely depend on what Bobby Portis decides, as the fan-favorite has a player option for next season. Wigginton (4.2/1.3/1.2/0.3 with 0.5 3-pointers in 10.5 minutes per game) made 19 appearances, while Vildoza has appeared in four playoff games since joining the Bucks on April 6. While Wigginton will be a restricted free agent this summer, Vildoza's contract for next season is not guaranteed.
Sophomore: Jordan Nwora
Nwora, who was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, will be a restricted free agent this summer. And after appearing in just 30 games as a rookie he was able to earn more opportunities, this season, making 62 appearances (13 starts) and averaging 7.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 3-pointers in 19.1 minutes per. Nwora's accuracy from the field (40.3%) and from three (34.8%) left a bit to be desired, but he certainly had his moments throughout the course of the regular season. He scored 20 points or more in four games, including a career-high 28 in games against the Cavaliers (December 18) and Clippers (April 1). Given the position that Nwora plays, a return to Milwaukee will likely keep him from offering anything next season, as far as consistent fantasy value is concerned.
The Knicks didn't get much in the way of production from their rookies this season, which didn't come as a major surprise. Grimes, the 25th overall pick in last year's draft, did not earn consistent rotation minutes until Christmas and ultimately appeared in 46 games (six starts). Shooting 40.4% from the field and 68.4% from the foul line, he averaged 6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.6 3-pointers in 17.1 minutes per game. Grimes, who scored a career-high 27 points in a mid-December loss to the Bucks, finished the season ranked outside of the top-300 in both 8- and 9-cat formats, and there isn't much reason to plan on drafting him in the fall.
McBride and Sims played even less this season, but the latter was able to pick up a few more minutes late in the season as the Knicks were down multiple frontcourt contributors due to injury. Sims finished outside of the top-400, while McBride wasn't even a top-500 player in 9-cat. McBride's situation was particularly frustrating for fans who wanted to see more of the rookie once the Knicks were out of playoff contention, as veterans Alec Burks and Evan Fournier continued to start and log heavy minutes. Sims' prospects for next season will depend upon what happens with Mitchell Robinson, who will be an unrestricted free agent. If Robinson were to sign elsewhere the Knicks would obviously need to make an addition, but this would give Sims a puncher's chance of earning more run.
For the season as a whole, neither Toppin nor Quickley was in a position to offer consistent fantasy value, regardless of league format. However, both players did have their moments, especially later in the season as their minutes increased. Over the final month of the regular season, Toppin and Quickley were both top-70 players in 9-cat, with the former capping his season with games of 35 and 42 points. Toppin's shot at fantasy relevance next season will depend upon Tom Thibodeau's willingness to play him alongside Julius Randle, which he has not done very often in either of the former Dayton standout's first two NBA seasons.
Quickley, who scored 34 points in the regular-season finale, averaged 16.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.1 3-pointers per game from March 1 onward, showing that he could potentially be an answer to the team's point guard question moving forward. However, the Knicks are widely expected to be in the market for a point guard this summer (Jalen Brunson?), and this does limit Quickley's prospects in 2022-23 as far as fantasy value is concerned.
Suggs was the headliner of this draft class, but it was Wagner who proved to be the most productive. Healthy until ankle sprains led to his missing three of Orlando's last four games, Wagner finished the season ranked just outside of the top-100 in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Jonathan Isaac missing the entire season as he continued to recover from a torn ACL opened up a spot in the starting lineup for Wagner, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. In 79 starts, he averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.2 3-pointers in 30.7 minutes per game, shooting 46.8% from the field and 86.3% from the foul line. Wagner wasn't a finalist for Rookie of the Year honors, but he should be a first-team All-Rookie selection once those teams are announced. His fantasy ceiling next season will depend upon multiple factors.
First and foremost is Isaac's availability, as he is still viewed as a critical option in Orlando's rebuild. The other factor is what happens with Mo Bamba, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Magic started Bamba alongside Wendell Carter Jr., with Isaac's injury being a factor there. If Bamba returns and Isaac is good to go from the start, does this move Wagner to the bench? There's a lot to like about Wagner given how well he played as a rookie, so hopefully, his path to quality minutes will remain clear.
As for Suggs, injuries limited him to just 48 games (45 starts) in his debut season. He most recently underwent ankle surgery just over a week ago, but the expectation is that the point guard will be ready to go when training camp begins. Suggs played just over 27 minutes per game, averaging 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 0.9 3-pointers. The issues: turnovers (3.0 per game) and poor shooting, as Suggs shot 36.1% from the field, 21.4% from three, and 77.3% from the foul line.
Orlando's offensive issues as a team didn't help matters (the Magic were dead last in offensive rating), but Suggs has to be more efficient moving forward. For his sake, hopefully, Suggs (and the Magic overall) can stay relatively healthy, because the "musical chairs" nature of the rotation does no one any favors. Having finished his season ranked just inside of the top-200 in 8-cat, Suggs has the look of a late-round pick even with the subpar percentages.
After struggling with inefficiency as a rookie, Anthony was a player that many fantasy managers were hesitant to gamble on in drafts, as evidenced by his Yahoo ADP of 141.6. Those who did reach were rewarded, however, as Anthony finished the season as a top-100 player in 8-cat (and 136th in 9-cat). Starting each of the 65 games that he played in, the former North Carolina guard averaged 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.0 3-pointers in 31.7 minutes per appearance. Anthony's percentages remained about the same when compared to his rookie season, as he shot 39.1% from the field, 33.8% from three, and 85.4% from the foul line.
The question moving forward is how will Orlando handle its point guard rotation moving forward. In addition to Anthony and Suggs, there's also Markelle Fultz to take into consideration, even with his checkered medical history. Due to that logjam, Anthony's ADP heading into 2022-23 may hover around where it was ahead of this season, even with the numerical improvements that he managed to make.
After playing in 45 games as a rookie, due to the ACL tear that he suffered in the midst of Auburn's Final Four run in 2019, Okeke made 70 appearances this season. In 20 starts, he averaged 9.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 2.3 3-pointers in 29.8 minutes per game, shooting 35.7% from the field, 32.1% from beyond the arc, and 83.3% from the foul line. Again, Orlando as a team was bad offensively, so Okeke's percentages aren't all that surprising. But the defensive stats and 3-point production are certain areas of promise, even if it appears likely that Okeke will serve as a reserve moving forward. He finished this season ranked just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat, despite shooting 37.5% from the field and averaging 8.6 points per game. Okeke had a Yahoo ADP of 139.3 entering the 2021-22 season and, similar to the aforementioned Wagner, his number for next season will be impacted by the presence of Isaac.
Hampton played in 64 games (14 starts), failing to offer much in the way of fantasy value in his first full season with the Magic. With Gary Harris set to be an unrestricted free agent, and Terrence Ross entering the final season of his deal, things could open up for Hampton next season. But that isn't enough to make him worthy of a roll of the dice in fantasy drafts. Schofield, who will be a restricted free agent, and Cannady (whose contract is not guaranteed for next season), were well off the radar as far as fantasy was concerned. And that's unlikely to change in 2022-23.
Philadelphia's rookie class didn't offer much in the way of production, as they appeared in a total of 36 games (23 for Bassey). Springer was viewed as more of a long-term prospect during the pre-draft process, but with the 76ers having James Harden and Tyrese Maxey (more on him below), the path to playing time will be anything but smooth for the 2021 first-round pick. Bassey was selected with the 53rd overall pick last summer, while Powell (who did not play in any NBA games in 2020-21) is on a two-way contract.
With the Ben Simmons saga not coming to an end until the trade deadline, Maxey was thrust into a starring role after making just eight starts as a rookie. And he proved to be one of the NBA's most improved players, averaging 17.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.8 3-pointers in 35.3 minutes per game. Starting 74 of the 75 regular-season games that he appeared in, Maxey shot 48.5% from the field, 42.7% from three, and 86.6% from the foul line. While he has said in the past that he's capable of playing the point guard position, Maxey may be best served to share the backcourt with another player capable of filling that role (see his numbers in the immediate aftermath of the Harden trade).
Maxey was undervalued in drafts, as evidenced by his Yahoo ADP of 142.7. How much he improved may have caught some by surprise, but (in hindsight) it's obvious that Maxey should have been drafted much sooner given the impact that Simmons' absence had on the 76ers' rotation. There will be no such concern in drafts ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Reed wasn't on many fantasy radars, and with good reason, as Andre Drummond began the season as the backup to Joel Embiid. Reed, who did a lot of damage with Philadelphia's G League affiliate, appeared in 48 games for the 76ers this season and failed to crack the top-300 in 9-cat. Maybe he'll get a shot at making the backup center job his own in training camp, as that will be the only way in which he has a shot at offering fantasy value next season. As for Joe, he made 55 appearances during the regular season but only averaged 11.1 minutes per, sitting even further off of fantasy radars than Reed.
Toronto's decision to select Barnes with the fourth overall pick surprised many, but there's no denying the fact that it was the right choice. A fixture in the starting lineup from Day 1, Barnes made 74 starts and averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 0.8 3-pointers in 35.4 minutes per game. While Cleveland's Evan Mobley was the clear betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year, it was Barnes who actually took home the award. Used primarily on the wing, Barnes even had runs in which he served as Toronto's point guard when Fred VanVleet was out due to injury. Given the fact that he played the position during his lone season at Florida State, Barnes being able to shift over to the point without much trouble should not have come as a surprise.
Shooting 49.0% from the field and 74.0% from the foul line, Barnes finished the regular season as a 6th-round player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, outperforming his Yahoo ADP (134.1) by a significant margin. When will he be selected in drafts ahead of the 2022-23 season? It's difficult to see Barnes lasting too far outside of the top-50 if he's even available at that point. Getting more from him in the way of 3-point production (30.1%) would be nice, but there is already a lot to like about Barnes as a young talent.
Of the other three Raptors rookies, Banton played the most, averaging 10.9 minutes per game in 64 appearances. Champagnie appeared in 36 games, Johnson just two, and none of these three offered anything as far as consistent fantasy value is concerned. Champagnie and Johnson were both on two-way deals, and they will be restricted free agents this summer, while Banton's contract for next season is not fully guaranteed. All three face long odds with regard to being worthy of fantasy consideration in 2022-23.
Achiuwa was acquired in the offseason sign-and-trade headlined by Kyle Lowry, and there wasn't much expected of him upon his arrival in Toronto. But he was able to earn consistent rotation minutes, playing in 73 games (28 starts) and averaging 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 0.8 3-pointers in 23.6 minutes per. Achiuwa still leaves a lot to be desired in the percentage categories, but he played the best basketball of his brief NBA career after the All-Star break. In 25 games Achiuwa averaged 12.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.5 3-pointers per, shooting 46.2% from the field, 39.2% from three, and 61.8% from the charity stripe. With Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young both being unrestricted free agents this summer, Achiuwa could be worth taking a late-round flier on in deeper leagues if one (or both) moves on.
Neither Flynn nor Brooks offered much as far as fantasy value is concerned, with the latter joining the Raptors in early March. Brooks' contract for next season isn't fully guaranteed, and the possibility of a return likely depends on how Masai Ujiri sorts out the roster ahead of Brooks. Flynn was Toronto's first-round pick in 2020, so there is some incentive to see what he can potentially provide to the team's rotation in the future. That being said, there's no reason why any fantasy manager should make plans to target him in drafts.
Kispert entered the 2021 draft in a position similar to that of the aforementioned Chris Duarte, serving as an experienced (for a rookie, at least) 3-and-D wing capable of helping a team with playoff aspirations immediately. And similar to the Pacers, the Wizards saw those hopes dashed due to injury (in this case, Bradley Beal), but the silver lining was that Kispert was able to take on a heavier workload. After the All-Star break, he made 24 starts, averaging 11.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.3 3-pointers in 31.2 minutes per game, shooting 49.3% from the field and 84.2% from the foul line.
Those numbers were good for 13th-round value in 9-cat formats, which isn't great, but Kispert showed signs of being an effective rotation contributor for the Wizards moving forward. As for the other two rookies, Todd (12 games) and Schakel (4) appeared in a total of 16 games, so it's safe to say that neither had much of an impact in fantasy basketball circles.
Avdija appeared in all 82 games (eight starts) for the Wizards, averaging 8.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.0 3-pointers in 24.2 minutes per, shooting 43.2% from the field and 75.7% from the foul line. Unfortunately for Avdija, he's caught in a bit of a logjam position-wise, as the Wizards also had starter Kyle Kuzma and fellow reserve Rui Hachimura. Washington playing Kristaps Porzingis at the center position helps keep some minutes free at the forward spots, but not enough to make Avdija a factor in fantasy. Maybe the roster's configuration will change during the summer (Beal's free agency being the key), but this isn't a great spot for Avdija fantasy-wise.
Gill was able to pick up some rotation time when the Wizards were lacking numbers in the post, but he only averaged 10.5 minutes per game in 44 appearances. Todd and Winston played in a total of 19 games, so they were even worse off than Gill in that regard. Carey, who was acquired in the deal that send Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte, played in just three games. He's a project, and with the bodies that Washington currently has at the five, he'll have a lot of competition for playing time moving forward.