It's the first of the month, and we have an exciting 12-game NBA slate Wednesday. I've just updated the rest of the season rankings and now it's time to evaluate the performances of some of the most rostered rookies in fantasy basketball.
Let's get right into the first rookie report of the season as we enter the midpoint of Week 2.
Victor Wembanyama - PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
Wemby carried the highest draft capital coming into the season because he's a generational phenomenon who's taking the NBA world by storm. The funny thing is, he hasn't played that well from a fantasy standpoint. He ranks just outside the top 150 in category leagues and is 62nd in points leagues.
Scoring: Wemby is averaging 15.7 points per game, ranking second among rookies.
Steals and Blocks: His length and athleticism are already wreaking havoc on opposing teams, swiping 1.5 steals and swatting 2.3 shots per contest. Again, it's early. But he's proving to be an elite defender at only 19 years old.
Rebounding: He leads the Spurs in rebounding, posting a respectable 7.5 rebounds per game. Given his size, fantasy managers would love it if he could convert more of his 12 rebound chances per game.
Turnovers: He's second in the league in turnovers per game at 4.7 per contest, which fantasy managers will have to deal with as he is getting more attention and defensive pressure than anyone in San Antonio. Former Clippers center Robert Covington said, "You have to be aggressive with him, and you have to be physical with him." That's ringing true as that strategy works, causing an extremely high turnover rate.
Minutes: His 27 minutes per game ranks fourth among rookies. I'd expect his minutes to ramp up as the season progresses, so I'm not overly concerned. However, it seems like the Spurs are managing his workload, a trend I don't anticipate changing this year.
Poor free-throw shooting: He hasn't found a rhythm at the charity stripe. He's getting to the line five times per game and knocking them down at a 67% clip, which can impact your week in category leagues.
Chet Holmgren - PF/C, Oklahoma City Thunder
Holmgren didn't rise up draft boards at the rate of Wembanyama, but he wasn't far behind, going as early as the third round and rarely making it out of the fifth round in drafts. It was pretty evident that he and Wemby have similar skill sets, and that's why I always prioritized Chet over Wemby — he was the cheaper option in drafts. And it looks like Chet's brief experience in the 2022 Salt Lake City Summer League, time spent watching from the sidelines last season and working tirelessly in the gym all offseason have prepared him well for his true rookie campaign. He's been a way better fantasy player than his French foe, ranking 15th in category leagues and 47th in points leagues early in the season.
Everything? Seriously, you can't ask for much more production than he's currently providing. He's been efficient. He's knocking down 3s at a high clip. And he's giving fantasy managers all of the stocks. He leads all rookies in blocks per game, and he's literally putting up Anthony Davis numbers on the defensive end. And he's not struggling like Wemby with the ball in his hands either, only turning the ball over 1.5 times per game. He's what everyone wants Wemby to be, and it's precisely why I've been hyping him up all offseason.
Minutes: We need more minutes, Daigneault! Chet could eclipse 18 points with 7.5 rebounds per game if he gets over the 30-minute mark.
Scoot Henderson - PG, Portland Trail Blazers
It's been quite the learning curve for Mr. Henderson through his first few NBA games. It didn't help that one of Portland's primary guards (Anfernee Simons) went down with an injury after one game, thrusting Scoot into a more prominent role offensively. Guards often struggle as rookies, and I admittedly ranked him too high based on what I've seen thus far. I'd probably drop him in points leagues because he's not scoring enough to offset his turnovers and lack of production elsewhere. Still, I'm confident he'll turn it around as the season progresses.
Minutes: He's one of only two rookies averaging over 30 minutes per night. He is one of the key building blocks for the Blazers, so he's got more job security than most first-year players.
Efficiency: He's getting plenty of volume, but his shot selection is highly questionable. Through four games, he's shooting 33% from the field, and five of his 10 shot attempts are coming from beyond the arc. Three-point shooting was never a strength of his game. He should be attacking the rim or taking advantage of his twitchiness in the mid-range. Again, this will come with more reps and experience.
Turnovers: Anytime a point guard averages more turnovers than assists, it will be a problem.
Ausar Thompson - SG/SF, Detroit Pistons
One of my sleepers is doing exactly what I expected: stocks, stocks and more stocks. The kid is looking like Shawn Marion, and when his shot finally starts to fall, it's going to be silly how good of a fantasy player he can be. He's been a better fantasy asset than Wemby thus far, and his play could put him in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. He's 60th in points leagues and 89th in category leagues.
Defense: He joins Wemby and Chet as the only rookies averaging at least three stocks to start the season. He's second in blocks per game among rookies, which is impressive to see from someone playing on the wing.
Rebounding: I underestimated Thompson's rebounding instincts. He's averaging an insane 10.5 rebounds per game right now, which leads all rookies. I don't expect that to hold all season, but he will be one of the best rebounders of this draft class — that much is clear.
Passing: Four dimes? Keep them coming. His unselfishness and ability to push the ball in transition have been a huge asset for fantasy managers.
Minutes: He's locked into a starting role and sees 29.5 minutes per night. Can't argue with that!
Scoring: He's shooting 32% from the field, although I like that he is confident enough to continue hoisting almost two 3s a game. Most of his shots are coming from within five feet, which is a high-efficiency shot (it's closest to the rim). He's essentially missing bunnies near the rim, going 4-16 from the field on layups. I'd expect that to improve, and if he continues getting high-percentage looks with a mix of extending out to 3-point territory, we'll see his scoring normalize.
Brandon Miller - SF, Charlotte Hornets
I'm taking the L here because not only was I off on Miller, but I didn't think he would contribute right away due to the logjam on the perimeter. If or when Miles Bridges returns, it could impact Miller's minutes and production, but until that happens, Miller is a must-roster in all formats. He's been efficient and is establishing himself as one of the top scorers for a struggling Hornets team. Gordon Hayward is toast. Miller ranks 66th in category formats and a respectable 93rd in points leagues.
Scoring: He leads all rookies, averaging over 17 points per game. He's fourth in the NBA in points off the bench, which is highly impressive for the young forward.
Efficiency: He's knocking down 48% of his shots from the field and is also getting to the line a healthy amount (three times per game) and hitting them at a 90% clip.
Rebounding: Six boards off the bench? Fantasy managers will gladly take it, as he's been sneakily averaging two offensive rebounds per game. Rebounding is about position and effort, and it's great to see he's making a point to be aggressive on the glass.
Minutes: He's clearly the sixth man right now, and there's an opportunity for more if Hayward succumbs to an injury or trade in the future.
Defense: He's averaging one stock per game, so it would boost his fantasy appeal if he could get more steals and blocks off the wing. Everything else looks Paul George-esque, so if he can add the defense, he could be a steal for fantasy managers this year.