We're nearing the first of the month, and it's time to do a temperature check on the fantasy basketball rookies. My first rookie column featured the notable first-year players, but seven weeks into the NBA season, we've had a couple of young hoopers rising up the ladder.
Let's dive into the latest rookie report in fantasy basketball.
1: Chet Holmgren - PF/C - Oklahoma City Thunder
Last rank: 2
Draft pick: Pick 2, 2022
Holmgren leap-frogged prized phenom Victor Wembanyama in my latest rookie rankings, as he's 12th in nine-category leagues and 40th in points leagues. His unique combination of efficiency and defense is a cheat code for fantasy, and he's already pacing to be an elite fantasy player.
Fellow Yahoo fantasy basketball contributor Justin Henry and I debated whether Chet is better than Kevin Durant through 17 games, and the numbers don't lie.
Chet Holmgren: 663.2 fantasy points
Kevin Durant: 542.8 fantasy points
KD finished his rookie season 84th in category leagues, and with so much upside in Holmgren's defensive game and better rebounding, he could be the best rookie in OKC/Seattle history.
2. Victor Wembanyama - PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
Last rank: 1
Draft pick: Pick 1, 2023
Wemby takes a small step back, but let's not forget he's still the favorite to win Rookie of the Year and is living up to the hype. He is 30th in category leagues and 26th in points leagues as of Thursday and notched his first 10 stock performance this past Sunday. He's closing in on averaging 20 and 10, and through 17 games, he has more fantasy points than Tim Duncan did in his rookie season. I'm not saying that will hold, but it's an excellent marker for his potential despite the Spurs winning only three games thus far.
Imagine a world where Coach Popovich decides to do less of the "point-Sochan" experiment and play Wembanyama with Tre Jones more frequently at the point. Just look at the difference between each player on the court with Wemby.
Wemby w/ Tre Jones and no Jeremy Sochan
54.6 FPs/g, 1.5 FPs/min
22.2 pts, 12.2 reb, 2.7 asts, 2.4 stls, 3.4 blks and 1.5 FPs/min
Wemby w/ Jeremy Sochan and no Tre Jones
Avg 44.8 FPs/g, 1.2 FPs/min
18.6 pts, 11.5 reb, 3.8 asts, 1.2 stls, 2.5 blks, and 1.2 FPs/min
(Data courtesy of Rototwire)
To keep up with all things Wemby, I suggest checking out Victor Vector by Yahoo Sr. Writer Ben Rohrbach, where he tracks how Wembanyama stacks up against some of the best rookies in the history of the NBA. Spoiler alert: no one will ever surpass Shaq's dominance as a rookie — an absolute MONSTER.
3. Ausar Thompson - SG/SF, Detroit Pistons
Last rank: 3
Draft Pick: Pick 5, 2023
Drafting Thompson is a rare W for the Pistons based on how the season is going. Through seven weeks, he continues to be one of this class' best rebounders and defenders. Thompson has yet to hit his stride as a scorer, but fantasy managers can't complain too much about him shooting 46% from the field while stuffing the stat sheet across the board.
He's an underrated playmaker, too, averaging 4.5 potential assists per game. And given that he has the third-most drives per game on the roster, I'd expect his assist rate to go up once sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic is back in the lineup.
There's still room for improvement, which is scary considering he's 64th in points leagues and 71st in category leagues through Thursday.
4. Brandon Miller - SF, Charlotte Hornets
Last rank: 5
Draft pick: Pick 2, 2023
It's Miller time. With LaMelo Ball (ankle) facing a lengthy absence, Miller joined the starting unit on Tuesday, finishing with 18 points (7-18 FG, 4-8 3PT) with three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 36 minutes. Between injuries and Hornets HC Steve Clifford wanting to get Miller some meaningful minutes, he's actually started in nine of his last 10 games, so the arrow is pointing up.
Miller's value is similar in category and points leagues, ranking 158th and 137th, respectively. He's not doing much outside of scoring, but he's at least doing that efficiently (for the most part). His 46/37/78 shooting splits are respectable and certainly something fantasy managers can use in 12+ team leagues.
He's locked into the rotation, playing over 30 minutes in 11 of his 15 games this season, so if the Hornets decide to become sellers shortly, that's only more usage and opportunity that could be coming Miller's way.
5. Jaime Jaquez Jr. - SF, Miami Heat
Last rank: unranked
Draft pick: Pick 18, 2023
I could be undervaluing the UCLA alum, as I stated earlier in the week that he's on a heater and likely isn't going away anytime soon. He's been the perfect fit for "Heat Culture" and is playing at a level where he's nearing must-roster territory in all league sizes and formats.
He's 50% rostered at the moment despite being a near top-100 player in points and category leagues over the past two weeks.
Over that span, he's averaging 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.9 threes and 0.9 steals with 55/54/78 shooting splits in 31.4 minutes per game. Yes, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro have missed a handful of games, but in fantasy basketball, you have to take advantage of players who play well when given the chance to play.
Jaquez Jr. has looked every bit the part, and I'm hard-pressed to think he won't produce in only 20 minutes per game.
6. Keyonte George - PG/SG, Utah Jazz
Last rank: unranked
Draft Pick: Pick 16, 2023
George took over as the starting point guard of the Jazz nine games ago, and I am surprised that he's not rostered in more leagues. Remember that it's a long season, and guards often struggle out of the gates. That said, George's shooting woes may have fantasy managers hesitant on wanting to hold in shallow leagues — which is understandable — he's hitting 32% of his shots over the past nine games. However, I don't see why you wouldn't want him as bench depth for everything else that he provides. Since becoming the starter, he's averaging 12.2 points, 6.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 threes and 0.8 stocks.
I'm a staunch believer in his game and what he can do from a fantasy perspective, and the more experience he gains, the better it'll be for fantasy. Trust the process here.
7. Scoot Henderson - PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Last rank: 4
Draft pick: Pick 3, 2023
Scoot Henderson has returned to the court after recovering from an ankle injury that cost him nine games. He's looked a bit different, sporting new goggles after he was prescribed corrective lenses to improve his vision. The early results are positive, as he's 5-for-7 on three-point attempts in his last two games.
He's been coming off the bench since he re-joined the team, capping his upside a bit, but it won't be long before he reclaims the starting nod.
He's the future of the franchise and at 5-12 on the season, the Blazers won't be striving for anything other than the development of their core of young players. Still, until Scoot starts seeing 30+ minutes and shows progress in either assists, scoring or defense, he's best viewed as a stash in category leagues who will have little value in points league in his current role.