Before the games on Wednesday night there were six NBA rookies who were in the top 150 on ESPN fantasy basic. Let’s take a look at some kiddos and see who are the rookies who are performing best in fantasy basketball to star the year.
Tyrese Haliburton, 68 on ESPN player rater (78.7% rostered)
Haliburton is averaging the fifth most minutes per game for the Kings, and the fifth most shots per game. He’s jumped right into the NBA. Currently scoring 11+ points per game, with five assists, 2+ rebounds, and 1+ steal per game, he’s also shooting 45% from three on 4+ attempts per game.
Here’s the list of other players in the NBA who can meet or exceed those averages:
That’s it, that’s the tweet.
Lamelo Ball, 71 ESPN PR (94% rostered)
This much heralded playmaker is also scoring 11 points per game, while dishing nearly six dimes (on only 24 minutes), but his outside shooting is poor, which was the main concern coming into the season. So, everyone was right!
Regardless, Lam Ball (I will not call him Melo) is kind of as advertised: scoring 11 PPG on suspect shooting, around six assists and six rebounds per game, and a steal. Which is just fine for a rookie! Lam Ball’s shot will improve: whether it’s slightly or vastly, he’s still a valuable fantasy player right now, and will continue to be. If he can up his free throws above 80% (he’s currently at 70 FT%), and maybe pick his moments with the threes just a touch, he’ll be averaging 15/5/5, y’know? He’s ALREADY good. Also, he’s been dreadful at catch and shoot threes (sub-30% from outside), and much better at pull ups (39 3PT%).
By the way, only 15 players are averaging 11/5/5 and 1+ SPG: Russell Westbrook, Khris Middleton, DeMar DeRozan, Luka Doncic, GIANNIS, James Harden, Paul George, Steph Curry, Zach LaVine, Dejounte Murray, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and LAM BALL.
If he was your dynasty league’s rookie draft pick, then you’re probably feeling pretty swell right now. Good on ya! Ball and Wiseman definitely seem better than Anthony Edwards so far (smh Minnie, sigh).
Cole Anthony, 128 ESPN PR (32.1% rostered)
Since the dawn of 2021, Cole Anthony is fifth in minutes per game on the Magic, and he’s fifth in shot attempts. Sound familiar? These rookies are getting their minutes this season. He’s currently shooting 37% from outside, but his finishing needs to improve for him to truly be effective. I’m not a believer just yet, I think Anthony still has a lot of room to grow, but you can’t deny the numbers: he’s a top 150 fantasy player as a 20 year old. You’d be foolish to ignore that. If he’s available in your league, you should pick him right up.
James Wiseman, 130 ESPN PR (72% rostered)
Here are Wiseman’s per-36 numbers: 21+ PPG/10+ RPG/2+ BPG. Seems good, right?
The seven-foot 19-year-old is currently averaging 12 and five, with 1+ blocks per game, and he’s shooting 42+ 3PT% on 1+ 3PA. Doesn’t seem like much, but when you look at who else is doing that, and it’s only three other players: Chris Boucher, Mikal Bridges, and KEVIN DURANT, then you start to realize why Wiseman is already a top 150 player, even though he’s averaging under 21 minutes per game.
Wiseman’s not sinking his free throws (62 FT% on 3+ freebie attempts per game), but at least he’s going to the line. He really does seem like a miracle fit for the Warriors, and if he gets more minutes as the season goes along, then he could approach the 90% rostered level. Everyone’s happy about this kid on this team, I think. It’s nice to see good things for the Dubs after they’ve had so much bad luck the past 18 months.
Patrick Williams, 138 ESPN PR (11.5% rostered)
Williams isn’t wowing anyone yet with his numbers, but he’s been a steady presence for the Bulls (aside from his recent hip injury) and he has played better in January. He’s currently sixth in MPG and FGA for the Bulls in the new year (9 PPG, 4+ RPG, 1 SPG, and he’s hitting his outside shot at a 42% clip), but the Bulls still don’t look like a team with an identity of a plan. They’re definitely playing better than last year, even if their record doesn’t reflect that (7-10). Williams can shoot, finish, and defend, so his versatility will be to his advantage as he grows along with whatever this Chicago team ends up being.
His low roster percentage is fine, even though I think he has solid upside in the coming years. He’s a top 150 player, but I could see his minutes going down as the Bulls get healthy, and perhaps push for a playoff spot.
Devin Vassell, 150 ESPN PR (4.9% rostered)
Vassell, who was my rookie draft pick in my main dynasty league, is also a guy you can leave off your roster, but must keep on your watch list. He had at least one steal in 13 straight games, and he’s averaged 20+ MPG over the past two weeks. All of his ratios are good, even if the volume is slight (5+ PPG, 3+ RPG, a dime, a three), and his thefts keep his value in this range. If he ends the season playing closer to 25 MPG, I predict he’ll be near the top 100. Everything he does looks decent to good, so far, especially defensively. He and Dejounte Murray are extremely nice together.
I’m keeping him on my roster because I think he’s fantastic, but he’s definitely not a must add until he consistently produces more volume. The Spurs are in the sixth seed in the loaded Western Conference, and Vassell’s +3 in his minutes. He’s certainly not hurting the Spurs in his limited playing time.