Rookie/Sophomore Report

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Now in the fourth week of the season, many teams have seen their rosters impacted either by injuries or the dreaded "health and safety protocols" distinction. This edition of the Rookie/Sophomore Report begins with a second-year guard whose role within the 76ers rotation has been impacted by those things, as well as the starting point guard wanting out of town. We'll also take a look at the best fantasy rookie thus far, and two lottery picks who have gotten off to slow starts.

76ers' Maxey keeps plugging along

Back in the second edition of this column we discussed Tyrese Maxey, and whether or not he was ready for the responsibility of serving as Philadelphia's starting point guard. With Ben Simmons still away from the team and (at that time) Shake Milton sidelined due to injury, Maxey was going to have every opportunity to either sink or swim. His start to the season has been a positive one, with the second-year guard averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.3 3-pointers and 1.4 turnovers in 35.4 minutes per game.

Shooting 49.0% from the field and 83.9% from the foul line, Maxey is providing sixth-round value in 9-cat formats per Basketball Monster. You'll certainly take that as a fantasy manager, especially when considering the limited role that Maxey filled a season ago. With there still being no timetable regarding Simmons' return, or if he'll ever suit up for the 76ers again, it's "all-in" on Maxey. He's currently rostered in 70% of Yahoo leagues, a number that's way too low given his production, and the current state of the 76ers rotation.

Philadelphia played Tuesday's 118-109 loss to the Bucks without starters Joel Embiid (health and safety protocols), Tobias Harris (health and safety protocols) and Seth Curry (right foot contusion), which meant that even more would be asked of Maxey. To his credit the second-year guard rose to the challenge, posting a line of 31 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and no turnovers in 39 minutes played. Until the team and Simmons reach a resolution, Maxey is firmly entrenched as the starting point guard. And given how well he's played, it's fair to wonder if the changing of the guard has already taken place.

Cavaliers' Mobley a star in the making

After hitting double figures in each of his first six games, Cavaliers forward/center Evan Mobley hit a low point in an October 30 loss to the Suns. Shooting just 1-of-6 from the field, he played 21 minutes and finished with two points, four rebounds and four assists. To the rookie's credit he bounced back two nights later, putting up a 15/10/3/2/1 line in a win over the Hornets.

And he's continued to play well, averaging 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 3-pointers per in Cleveland's last three games (all wins). The best performance of the bunch came in Sunday's win over the Knicks. Making his first appearance at Madison Square Garden, Mobley tallied 26 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers, shooting 11-of-15 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line.

Following the game teammate Ricky Rubio, who went off for 37, could not contain his excitement when discussing his rookie teammate.

"First game in the Garden. Twenty years old. You have to give him credit," Rubio said according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "He's really mature for his age. He knows how to play the game the right way. Scoring 26 points your first game in MSG is hard to do. We're proud to have a teammate like him. It's fun."

Cleveland is currently a surprising 7-4, and Mobley is one of the reasons why this team has exceeded expectations. The 7-footer currently ranks just outside of the top-50 in 9-cat formats, and has been the best rookie as far as fantasy value is concerned. And Mobley's Rookie of the Year odds have adjusted accordingly, with PointsBet giving him +275 odds to win the award (tied with Scottie Barnes).

Bones cracks the Nuggets rotation

Nuggets coach Michael Malone spoke highly of rookie guard Nah'Shon Hyland during the preseason, even going so far as to state that he had earned the right to be in the rotation. But that isn't how things played out once the regular season got underway, as Bones was a DNP-CD in three of Denver's first four games. But after playing just nine minutes in an October 29 win over the Mavericks, Hyland has played at least 15 in each of the last five games.

And with Michael Porter Jr. out indefinitely due to a lower back issue, more minutes have opened up in the Nuggets rotation. Hyland and Porter obviously don't play the same position, but there is now an even greater need for offensive playmaking when reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is not on the floor. In his last five games Hyland has averaged 6.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers in 17.1 minutes per, shooting 33.3% from the field and 100% from the foul line.

Those aren't great numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but Hyland is certainly worth tracking.

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How concerned should we be about Green's start in Houston?

A rookie getting off to a slow start rarely comes as a surprise, as the process of acclimating to the NBA can be a difficult one. Rockets guard Jalen Green certainly qualifies, with the second overall pick struggling with his shot. Through ten games he's shooting 35.3% from the field and 28.6% from three, percentages that are a far cry from what he produced last season with G League Elite (46.1% from the field, 36.5% from three). It's worth asking: should managers who have Green rostered look to cut bait, and look to add a more consistent option in return?

I'd hold onto him, if only out of hope that he'll find a way to be consistently productive on areas other than scoring. That can be difficult, however, as some young players can struggle to understand that there are more ways in which to impact a game. But Green is young, and he will certainly have every opportunity to turn things around given how young the Rockets are. Growing pains are to be expected, and fantasy managers should remain patient, so long as their entire roster isn't in dire straits. Green is averaging 13.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.0 3-pointers and 2.9 turnovers in 32.2 minutes per game.

Now's the time to jump on the Vassell bandwagon

Spurs wing Devin Vassell has made noteworthy strides in his second season, more than doubling his scoring average while playing nearly 26 minutes per game. Through ten games, all coming off the bench, he's averaging 11.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers per game, while shooting 43.3% from the field and 66.7% from the foul line. The free throw and 3-point (32.6) percentages do leave a bit to be desired, but Vassell appears to be growing into a role as one of the Spurs' key reserves.

In last Wednesday's one-point loss to the Mavericks, Vassell posted a line of 21 points, three rebounds, one assist, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes off the bench. San Antonio currently ranks sixth in bench points per game (39.1), and Vassell has been a key contributor to that. However, the Spurs ranking 26th in points from their starters (68.3) is why the team is 3-7. Could there come a point in time when Gregg Popovich decides to give Vassell a look with the starters? That remains to be seen. But if the struggles continue, this may be something that the Spurs are willing to consider. For that reason, managers who have a spot to "play with" on their fantasy rosters may want to consider adding Vassell now. He's rostered in just 25% of Yahoo leagues.

Is Orlando's Suggs approaching "drop" status?

Magic point guard Jalen Suggs is in a situation where he won't lack for playing time. With Markelle Fultz still working his way back from a torn ACL, and Michael Carter-Williams an ankle injury, the fifth overall pick in this summer's draft was in line to start from Day 1. That's been the case, as Suggs has started all 11 games that he's played in. However, while second-year guard Cole Anthony has taken off, the rookie out of Gonzaga has struggled with regard to efficiency.

In 28.7 minutes per game, Suggs is averaging 12.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.2 3-pointers and 3.5 turnovers, while shooting 30.9% from the field and 84.6% from the foul line. As a result, Suggs is ranked 283rd in 9-cat formats per Basketball Monster. Still rostered in 64% of Yahoo leagues, it's fair to wonder if now is the time for managers to wave the white flag and drop Suggs. Because even in the five-game stretch ahead of Sunday's win over the Jazz, he averaged 13.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.0 blocks, 1.4 3-pointers and 3.4 turnovers per game, while shooting 33.3% from the field and 89.5% from the foul line.

Suggs' inefficiency can be especially problematic for fantasy managers whose rosters may be lacking in guards who figure prominently in their team's rotation. With Suggs still starting on a nightly basis he's worth holding onto, but managers should stay ready to make a move in the very near future. Following this week the Magic will play four games in each of the next two. If Suggs is unable to make strides during that period, it may be time to bid the rookie farewell as far as most fantasy leagues are concerned.