The following Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings are based on one-year categories and head-to-head formats which are pretty standard. Relative to dynasty basketball, every year only five to six rookies give viable fantasy production in one-year redraft fantasy basketball leagues. Conversely, in deeper leagues, that number can get up to 10, but not any more than 15.
Take 2022 for example. In shorter leagues, players like Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Benedict Mathurin, and Keegan Murray saw substantial success in their minutes. Although Jabari Smith had lackluster shooting percentages for his entire season, he still finished well enough to hold bench spots. Having Benedict Mathurin as a consistent starter though would have seen a lot of minutes between the bench and starter roster, ultimately shifting his value weekly. Jaden Ivey saw more touches when Cade Cunningham was out for the season. Betting on a lot of rookie production in your fantasy basketball league can lead to a lack of success in head-to-head or category leagues.
Picking the right rookies can lead to league championships. Just have to know when to hold them, and when to fold them.
Fantasy Basketball Rookie Rankings
Ability and statistical accumulation are two lines on the same graph that can intersect. Initially, looking at a player like Brandon Miller is enticing because of his playability and opportunity. He may not have the same ability as Scoot Henderson. Scoots’ single-year fantasy viability may hold the edge before any news of Damian Lillard leaving the Trailblazers surfaces. There are a few players that have both the ability and minutes potential to accumulate enough categories to help win the league. Making sure you have the right player is important!
Let’s take a look at a few instances for this year and last year. Victor Wembanyama may be one of the greatest players of all time as far as potential goes, but for this year he may only be a relatively inefficient big who is a rebounder and shot blocker. Jabari Smith Jr. was heralded as one of the best pure forward shooters to come out of the draft. Sadly, he only shot 30% from three and 40% overall. Not exactly the best display of shooting talent throughout the season that was demonstrated in college. As mentioned before, other players like Jaden Ivey get the kind of run that your team may need if an injury like Cade Cunningham’s presents itself. Those are impossible to predict, but using depth charts can be an important source in deeper leagues to analyze a potential selection, especially later in the rounds.
Preseason depth charts can be misleading or uninformative. You can find eight depth charts with eight different lineups, none of which tell you exactly what to expect for this season. What we can expect is predicting some semblance of injury possibility for those ahead of our rookies on the chart. Also, it does not hurt to get some NBA trade machine thought processing into the mix either. Portland is the best example of this, while the Suns and Clippers can be informative as well for injury risk. A rookie can find himself in the mix simply because Kawhi Leonard has a cold. Non-generational rookies will have playing time issues on deep teams.
Consider Herb Jones. That Pelicans team was lacking significant defensive wings and riddled with injuries. He may not have been incredibly ready, but Jones put together a season worthwhile in deeper leagues, and competent in shallower ones. His defensive metric prowess was advantageous to fantasy owners. Andrew Nembhard was another one of those examples, albeit for a worse team.
Noah Clowney, Kobe Bufkin, and Dariq Whitehead are examples of this in today’s NBA. The Brooklyn Nets have six players in the last year of their contract. Alternatively, it would make sense to extend players like Nic Claxton, but it seems as though they are in a wait-and-see position where they could trade a few of their contracts away for positional improvement.
There will always be value. As long as you consider the possibilities and the potential, it will not steer you wrong.
*Note: Chet Holmgren can be designated as a rookie in some leagues, but for these purposes he is the best pick if assuming he is a rookie.
While these rookie rankings are for single-season re-draft leagues, you can also check out the Fantrax rookie rankings for dynasty basketball leagues.
|#||Name||Pos.||Team||Quick Notes||Relative Comps||Depth|
|–||Chet Holmgren||F/C||Oklahoma City Thunder||Immediate contributor in blocks, rebounds, FG%||Jaren Jackson Jr., Jalen Smith, Kristaps Porzingis||Starter|
|1||Victor Wembanyama||F/C||San Antonio Spurs||Immediate contributor in blocks, rebounds. Wary of FG% this season.||Chet Holmgren, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jalen Smith, Kristaps Porzingis||Starter|
|2||Brandon Miller||F||Charlotte Hornets||3P%, rebounds, potential guard flex.||Between Mikal and Miles Bridges.||Starter, Bench 1|
|3||Scoot Henderson||G||Portland Trailblazers||Positional Rebounds, Assists. Points dependent on Dame||De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr, Kira Lewis, Ja Morant||Bench 1, Starter|
|4||Jarace Walker||F||Indiana Pacers||Early starter potential, FG%, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals.||Justise Winslow, PJ Washington, Jeremy Sochan||Starter, Bench 1|
|5||Ausar Thompson||G/F||Detroit Pistons||Steals, Blocks, Rebounds, Assists potential.||Scottie Barnes, Josh Giddey, Jarrett Culver||Bench 1, Starter|
|6||Amen Thompson||G||Houston Rockets||See Above||See Above||Bench 1, Starter, Bench 2|
|7||Taylor Hendricks||F||Utah Jazz||3P%, Rebounds, Blocks potential||Lesser Jabari Smith Jr.||Bench 1|
|8||Dereck Lively II||C||Dallas Mavericks||Rebounds, FG%, Blocks||Mark Williams, Justin Patton, Jaxson Hayes||Bench 2|
|9||Gradey Dick||G/F||Toronto Raptors||3p%, rebounds at the G position||Saddiq Bey, Kevin Knox||Bench 1|
|10||Anthony Black||G||Orlando Magic||FG% from rim touches, assist potential, rebounds and defensive metrics as a guard||Jarrett Culver, Dyson Daniels||Bench 2, Bench 3|
|11||Jaime Jaquez Jr.||F||Miami Heat||All-around statistical player||Kyle Kuzma, Chandler Hutchison, Franz Wagner||Bench 1|
|12||Jett Howard||F||Orlando Magic||3p% and assist potential||Taurean Prince, Justin Jackson||Bench 1|
|13||Jordan Hawkins||G||New Orleans Pelicans||3P%||Quintin Grimes, Jerome Robinson||Bench 2|
|14||Keyonte George||G||Utah Jazz||All-around, but low assists outlook for G||Betwen Donovan Mitchell and Josh Christopher||Bench 1|
|15||Kris Murray||F||Portland Trailblazers||Instant rebounder, shooter, stocks candidate.||Obi Toppin, Patrick Williams, Keegan Murray||Bench 2, Bench 3|
|16||Kobe Bufkin||G||Atlanta Hawks||Rebounding from the guard position, steals, FG%, FT%.||Delon Wright, Jordan Poole||Bench 1|
|17||Dariq Whitehead||F||Brooklyn Nets||Early Returns on 3P%, rebounding.||Keldon Johnson, AJ Griffin||Bench 1, Bench 2|
|18||Cam Whitmore||F||Houston Rockets||Rookie level FG%, rebounds potential. Beware of injury.||Usman Garuba, Troy Brown, Nassir Little, Cam Reddish||Bench 1, Bench 2|
|19||Bilal Coulibaly||F||Washington Wizards||Mystery Box. Early returns on Rebounds, FG%. Wary of 3P% and points. High athleticism.||Sekou Doumboya, Deni Avdija, Josh Jackson||Bench 1|
|20||Cason Wallace||G||Oklahoma City Thunder||Lack of starter minutes. Decent potential in guard rebounds, steals.||TyTy Washington, Tyrese Maxey, Frank Jackson||Bench 1, Bench 2|
|21||Jalen Hood-Schifino||G||Los Angeles Lakers||Hood-Schifino has a path to playing time with a Lakers team in need of guard playmaking. Assist potential high, average shooter, good positional rebounder.||Lesser Josh Okogie, Keon Johnson, Romeo Langford||Bench 2|
|22||Noah Clowney||F/C||Brooklyn Nets||Early rebounds returns, no defensive metric potential, some C 3P% potential.||Nic Claxton, Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles||Bench 2, Bench 3|
|23||Brice Sensabaugh||F||Utah Jazz||Early returns on 3P%, good rebounder, could be a real scoring steal. Big fan.||Keldon Johnson, AJ Griffin, DeAndre Hunter||Bench 3|
|24||Brandin Podziemski||G||Golden State Warriors||Earlier returns on scoring, 3P%, rebounds from the guard position, not an assist booster, has steal potential.||Donte Divincenzo, Landry Shamet||Bench 5|
|25||Julian Strawther||G/F||Denver Nuggets||Strawther has great rebound and 3P peripherals, lacking in defensive and assist metrics early on. Should be an inside-out scorer.||Justin Anderson, Justin Jackson||Bench 5|
|26||Kobe Brown||G/F||Los Angeles Clippers||Big-bodied, efficient, rebounding G/F. Will play F long term, can play-make. Possible steals candidate. Possible early minutes getter on Clippers.||Taurean Prince, De’Andre Hunter, Semi Ojeleye||Bench 6|
|27||Ben Sheppard||G||Indiana Pacers||Shooter, 3P% player specifically. Not much starter potential. Concerns about FT%, rebounding.||Lesser Josh Hart, Quentin Grimes, Desmond Bane.||Bench 5|
|28||Marcus Sasser||G||Detroit Pistons||Defensive metric and 3P% first player, not a starter long term.||Carsen Edwards, Payton Pritchard, Jalen Brunson, Aaron Holliday||Bench 3|
|29||Olivier-Maxence Prosper||F||Dallas Mavericks||Efficient interior forward, not a defensive statistic candidate or shooter.||Non-defensive Herb Jones||Bench 3|
|30||Leonard Miller||F||Minnesota Timberwolves||Mystery Box.||Juan Hernangomez, Nikola Jovic, Darius Bazley||Bench 3|
|31||Hunter Tyson||F||Denver Nuggets||Shooter, will benefit sooner on the offensive end. Rebounder for position potential||Anthony Brown, Jordan Nwora||Bench 3|
|32||Jalen Pickett||G||Denver Nuggets||Efficient backup PG, has starter potential with injury risk. Non-defenisve metric contributor short or long term.||Shorter Ayo Dosunmu||Bench 3|
|33||Trayce Jackson-Davis||F/C||Golden State Warriors||Minutes potential with playmaking, rebounding, shotblocking older big. GSW mixes in guys like this.||Ray Spalding, Dewan Hernandez, Xavier Tillman, Isaiah Mobley||Bench 4, Bench 5|
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