The NBA’s top rookies for the 2022-23 season

Special for Yahoo Sports

Fantasy football may be in full swing, but don’t watch now because the start of the NBA season is just over a month away. That means it’s time to start preparing for the fantasy basketball drafts, which will start reporting in earnest over the next few weeks.

Part of the evaluation process for any fantasy player is deciding which newcomers to target. While most rookies aren’t worth targeting in the first three to four rounds in most reconstituted leagues, many freshman players have potential in the top 100 — and even the top 50. Only last season saw Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham and Franz Wagner finish in the top 100, while jalen green, Josh Giddey, Alperen Sengun and Herbert Jones were among the other recruits who brought value.

Keep in mind that rookies tend to be high turnover players, so overall they tend to have lower values ​​in the nine category formats. Cunningham, for example, would have finished much higher had he not been ranked in the top 10 in turnovers per game, as well as the TOV percentage.

With Barnes, Mobley, Cunningham and Green all looking like potential stars, the NBA Draft 2022 class has big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, the player who would have been the top fantasy target in the class – Oklahoma City Chet Holmgren – suffered a Lisfranc injury in August and is expected to miss the whole season 2022-23. In Dynasty Leagues, Holmgren remains a highly valued prospect with a future first-round advantage, but in re-draft formats, he can be overlooked.

Even with Holmgren out of the mix, the Class of 2022 is still full of intrigue. The #1 pick overall, Paolo Bancherowill likely be the first rookie to leave the roster in most leagues, while Jabari Smith Jr., Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, Benoit Mathurin and several others will also deserve to be targeted.

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Let’s take a closer look at what fantastic managers should expect from this year’s top signings:

Paolo Banchero, Magic

Before the draft, the prevailing belief was that Banchero would go No. 3 to the Rockets, but the Magic played their cards close to the vest and eventually grabbed the Duke with the top pick. Orlando’s roster is pretty packed with talent when it comes to teams picking No. 1 overall, so Banchero will have competition for touches in the form of Wagner, Anthony Cole, Jalen Sugg, Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter. But he’s easily the highest-ranking player on the roster, so Orlando should give him every chance to operate as the main playmaker.

Straight away, Banchero should be an impact scorer and rebounder, and he’s a well-above-average distributor for his size and position. Defensively, he hasn’t racked up too impressive tally stats at Duke, so that area of ​​his game might be a little behind. Banchero was also a relatively poor free-throw shooter in college (72.9% FT), so hopefully that improves as he develops. Either way, Banchero is clearly the best fantasy recruit at this point with a debut Yahoo ADP of 71.0 on Wednesday.

Jabari Smith Jr., Rockets

Overall, it feels like Smith has lost steam over the past two months. This can mostly be attributed to a lackluster performance at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he only shot 38% from the field and wasn’t overly assertive. But Smith did well as a rebounder in Vegas and had a combined 3.0 steals/blocks per game.

On a Rockets roster that includes Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon (for now, at least) and Sengun, Smith won’t be asked to be a star scorer. In the long run, he may be best served as a complementary piece, as much of his value lies in his willingness to do the small things on both sides.

On the fantasy side, Smith has the top 100 on the rise in 2022-23, but his ceiling will ultimately be determined by whether he can complete his scoring, rebounds and 3-point shooting (42.0% 3PT at Auburn last season ) with adequate defensive numbers (2.1 combined steals/blocks per game last season).

Rockets rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. has top-100 fantasy in 2022-23. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Keegan Murray, Kings

Unlike Smith, Murray was on the short list of rookies who permanently bolstered their Summer League stock. Murray has topped 20 points in his four appearances, lending credence to the idea that he’ll be able to break into the NBA after a dominating second year at Iowa.

Murray is currently the second rookie on the board in most drafts (Yahoo ADP: 96.8), but fantastic managers can often knock him out of the top 100. Although Murray doesn’t have very high growth potential over the from the first year it should have a high ground and could be this year’s version of Wagner. We know for sure that Murray will be behind De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis in the attacking pecking order, but it will be interesting to see how well he is able to push Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter for the keys.

At the very least, Murray should produce a well-rounded stat profile highlighted by an effective 3-point shot. In college, he posted 3.2 blocks/steals per game, but it’s unclear how well that will go to the next level.

Benoit Mathurin, Pacers

Mathurin is currently falling out of the top 140 Yahoo drafts, which is understandable. Rookie guards, in particular, often struggle to return major value immediately. But if Mathurin is able to shoot a decent percentage and take care of the ball, he’ll be in a great position to excel from the jump.

The Pacers Trade Malcolm Brogdon in Boston over the summer essentially cements Mathurin as the starting shooter next to Tyrese Haliburton. If Indiana should move Boyfriend Hield at some point, this would further increase Mathurin’s value. For now, though, he’s firmly my No. 4 rookie in the 2022 class. In terms of stat profile, fantasy managers should expect point contributions, three (2.2 3PM/G the season last in Arizona) and rebounds with low-end assists and steals. Ultimately, the biggest mark in Mathurin’s favor is that he plans to play a ton of minutes for a rebuilding team.

Jaden Ivey, Pistons

The Pistons were thrilled that Ivey was available as the No. 5 overall pick. Pairing the Purdue star with Cunningham gives Detroit its high-potential backcourt of the future. There’s a lot to love about Ivey in the long run. He is a top athlete at his position and was one of the best downhill guards in the country last season. Ivey also made tangible progress as an outside shooter, exhausting nearly 36% of his attempts after struggling deep as a rookie.

That said, I’m not entirely convinced that Ivey (132.1 ADP) will be a fantastic starting asset as a rookie. As discussed above with Mathurin, it’s hard for entry-level guards — especially shooting guards — to get back into the top 100 early on. Playing alongside Cunningham, Ivey probably won’t generate a ton of assists – he averaged just 3.1 assists per game as the No. 1 option for Purdue – and he never was. a college thief gambler.

If he can maintain decent percentages, Ivey has the upside, but I’m more interested in his potential in dynasty/keeper formats. I have previously compared Ivey to players like Fox and Green, who had good rookie seasons but were much better in real life than in fantasy.

Jalen Düren, Pistons

Physically, Duren is one of the most impressive players in the class. And while he has a huge long-term advantage as a FG%/rebounds/blocks contributor, he faces a crowded depth chart in Detroit. At some point the Pistons will probably give Duren a chance, but from now on he will have to face Isaiah Stewart, Nerlens Christmas, Kelly Olynik and Marvin Bagley III for minutes.

Pistons rookie center Jalen Duren is more of a long-term fantasy game.

Pistons rookie Jalen Duren has a long-term fantasy, but faces a crowded frontcourt in Detroit. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mark Williams, hornets

Going into the draft, the Hornets’ obvious need was front and center, and they answered it by adding one of college basketball’s best shot blockers. Williams is listed at 7-1, but he looks even bigger than that and moves well for his height.

The case for him being fantasy relevant as a rookie is almost entirely in his shot-blocking potential. He had 2.8 shots in just 23.6 minutes per game as a sophomore at Duke. If Williams can save a few minutes in a central group that still includes mason plumleeas good as Nick Richardsit will be worth watching.

Tari Reason, Rockets

Keep an eye out for LSU’s No. 17 overall pick. He doesn’t come into the league with nearly as much fanfare as most of the other names on this list, but Eason could very well find himself seeing regular minutes for the Rockets’ rebuild — especially if Houston finds a taker for Gordon. In five Summer League appearances, Eason posted 17.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.4 threes per game.

Walker Kesler, Jazz

Kessler’s case is similar to Eason’s: it’s all about opportunity. After dealing with both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz probably aren’t done moving, but as the roster stands, Kessler could end up opening the year as Utah’s starting center. On paper, it’s between Kessler and the former Kansas standout Udoka Azubuikewho has only appeared in 32 NBA games over the past two seasons.

Keep an eye on the Jazz over the coming weeks. If they don’t add another big man before the start of the season, Kessler is absolutely worth a later pick. As a sophomore at Auburn last season, he had 4.8 blocks (plus 8.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals) in just 25.6 minutes per game.

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