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Updated Top-20 Rookie Rankings (21-22 Fantasy Basketball)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Oct 15, 2021

Now that we’ve seen what this year’s group of first-year players can do in Summer League and preseason play and we understand their potential roles for this season, it’s time to update our redraft rookie rankings. Below, I’ve laid out my top-20 fantasy rookie rankings for the 2021-22 season (assume 9-cat, H2H format). Let’s go!

Tier 1

Cade Cunningham (PG, SG – DET): The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft should slot in immediately as the Piston’s top scorer and playmaker after an impressive season at Oklahoma State. In his only season with the Cowboys, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 boards, 3.5 dimes, 2.3 triples, and 1.6 steals on 43/40/84 shooting splits. He’s got the skills to provide top-75 value immediately.

Evan Mobley (C – CLE): Mobley’s value continues to rise significantly thanks to his tremendous preseason play. Concerns about his playing time and production alongside the likes of Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen are minimal, as the seven-footer has a unique skillset of shot-blocking, shooting, and ball-handling. Expect his ADP to continue climbing over the next week.

Tier 2

Jalen Green (SG – HOU): Can Green be more than just a scorer for fantasy basketball managers? He’s a walking bucket, but how much can he contribute in the peripheral categories? That remains to be seen, but he’s still no worse than the third-best fantasy rookie this season. Jalen Suggs isn’t far behind at all.

Jalen Suggs (PG, SG – ORL): The hyper-athletic Gonzaga product should have no problem getting on the court as a rookie for the rebuilding Magic. After an NCAA Championship appearance and a 14/5/4 (1.9 steals, 1.2 triples) stat line, Suggs looks poised to break out in his inaugural campaign. He’s a top-100 guy for redraft formats and more valuable still in dynasty. 

Scottie Barnes (SF – TOR): Barnes’ status as a fantasy sleeper has all but evaporated at this point, but there’s still a chance he pays off his rising ADP or even exceeds it. Injuries to Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher offer Barnes some increased opportunities for the first few weeks of the season, though he’s expected to play a key role off the bench 

Josh Giddey (PG, SG – OKC): I’m really starting to come around on the Australian phenom, who’s shown in preseason play why his game has been compared so much to Ben Simmons.’ I’m still worried about Giddey’s shooting percentages and defensive numbers, but Simmons has been highly valuable in the world of fantasy hoops despite his pedestrian shooting. Giddey is a guy who’s likely to see plenty of playing time right away, and his ability to rebound and facilitate at a high level make him a nightly triple-double threat.

Tier 3

Alperen Sengun (C – HOU): Sengun will likely go down in history as one of the biggest steals of this year’s draft, and he could make an impact for your fantasy basketball team, too. Sengun can provide typical big-man stats: FG%, rebounds, blocks, and low turnovers. He can also provide solid FT%, something atypical of a big. He’ll have competition for minutes in this frontcourt, but there’s no reason Sengun shouldn’t be a 20-minute-per-night guy for the rebuilding Rockets.

Bones Hyland (PG, SG – DEN): Hyland has the upside to be a ROY contender if he finds his way to meaningful minutes in Denver’s backcourt. That’s certainly a possibility with Jamal Murray still out. Hyland has impressed in Summer League and preseason play thanks in large part to his elite scoring and three-point shooting but also because of his ability to rebound and assist at a high level as well.

Chris Duarte (SG – IND): The three-and-D specialist had an impressive Summer League and averaged 18.3 points, 4.0 boards, 3.3 dimes, 3.5 triples, and 4.3 stocks. With injuries to Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, there may be a navigable path to minutes for the Oregon product.

Cameron Thomas (SG – BKN): I’ve been on the Cam Thomas train since he was selected by the Nets, and I’m even higher on him now than I was two months ago. Unless Kyrie Irving gets vaccinated, he won’t be playing for Brooklyn, and Thomas could stand to benefit. The Nets’ bench consists of Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, and Bruce Brown. There’s no reason to think Thomas can’t find his way to some meaningful rotation minutes.

Trey Murphy III (SG, SF – NOP): The Virginia product has lit the preseason ablaze with his 17.5 points, 6.5 boards, and 4.3 triples per game across four contests. He has the potential to carve out a role in New Orleans’ loaded wing rotation as a score-first option.

Franz Wagner (SG, SF – ORL): Wagner impressed in his two seasons at Michigan, and he’ll bring his well-rounded skillset with him to the NBA. Orlando’s frontcourt may seem crowded with the likes of Wendell Carter, Mo Bamba, and Chuma Okeke, but Wagner has a realistic path to 20 minutes off the bench.

Tier 4

Jonathan Kuminga (SF, PF – GSW): His shooting is still raw, but Kuminga is a sound defender and strong rebounder capable of getting to the rim and scoring. His game lacks a three-point touch and efficient shooting, but those issues can certainly be improved upon.

Davion Mitchell (SG – SAC): The Baylor standout started his NBA career off on the right foot with some impressive Summer League play. He averaged 10.8 points, 5.8 dimes, and 1.4 boards while shooting 47.1% from long range, though his defense was what really set him apart from the competition. Mitchell was named co-MVP of the Summer League as he locked down offensive phenom Payton Pritchard in the championship game to lead Sacramento to the Summer League title. Mitchell will compete with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Tyrese Haliburton for backcourt minutes, but he should produce when on the court.

Moses Moody (SF – GSW): Moody made his bones at Arkansas with hard-nosed defense and quality scoring. He should have the chance to implement both in his first season with the Warriors.

James Bouknight (SG – CHA): The score-first two guard is stuck behind Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball in the Hornets’ rotation, but he could be a source of microwave scoring off the bench.

Jalen Johnson (SF – ATL): Johnson has the upside to be a 20/10 guy in the NBA, but he’ll be stuck in a crowded Atlanta rotation.

Tier 5

Kai Jones (C – CHA): The electric athlete and shot-blocker may have a tough time getting immediate minutes in a frontcourt with Mason Plumlee and P.J. Washington, but the upside is certainly there for Jones should either Plumlee or Washington miss time.

Tre Mann (SG – OKC): Mann established himself as a premier scorer and shooter at Florida, and there’s a chance he’ll get to show those skills off for the rebuilding Thunder this season.

Isaiah Jackson (PF – IND): Across his last seven games (Summer League and preseason), I-Jax has totaled 18 blocks and 36 boards. He doesn’t offer a diverse skillset, but he can provide traditional big-man numbers when given the opportunity.

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