Rookie Check-In

7 min read

Now that we’re about a month into a very interesting season, filled with insane pace, 50 point games, injuries, trades, drama, and Derrick Rose, I figured it was a good time to check in on the babies of the NBA and see how things are progressing. Obviously, one month is a small sample size, but it was about this time last year that the NBA, and fantasy GMs, realized we might have slept on Donovan Mitchell. Some of the Fantasy Unicorn staff ran a quick 32 player mock rookie dynasty redraft to see how values may have changed. Click here to see the results

As expected, some players have met or exceeded expectations, others have been a letdown, and others have been dealing with injuries or bad coaching. I examine current rankings, their dynasty ceilings, and eventual strengths and weaknesses to help you choose guys that fit your build. Let’s take a quick look at some noteworthy information gleaned so far. 

Luka Doncic

Doncic has been sensational so far leading Dallas in points (19.6) and assists (4.4), and 2nd on his squad in rebounds (6.5) and 3PM (2.5). He’s also been more efficient from the field than most of us anticipated (47.4) Add in decent steals (0.8) with solid free throw shooting (75.9%) and you have the makings of a star, with that superstar potential. The turnovers are high, as expected, but by every other measure, Luka has looked legit and every bit the guy most of us had hoped for. He’s currently ranked 92 in standard leagues, but when you punt TO’s he jumps to 42, with plenty of room to grow. Any doubts about how Doncic’s athleticism and game would translate have been effectively shut down as he looks to be a player that contributes across the board with a few elite cats. I would say trade for him, but his hype is at a fever pitch now.

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
92Top 15++ Scoring
++ 3PM
+ Assists
+ Rebounds (For Position)
– Turnovers

This is just nasty.

Wendell Carter Jr

WCJ started off a little slow but has turned it on the last few weeks as he has been on a board and block tear. On the season he’s averaging 11.5/7.9/2.3 with 0.7 steals and a tasty 2.1 blocks. 77.3% from the line and 0.4 3’s are pretty solid, but he has been from the field, shooting 46.9%. WCJ is clocking in at #60 overall in standard leagues, which is already a very nice 5/6th round value. Going by the last 2 weeks, all of his numbers have jumped, including an eye-popping 2.7 swats, which makes him the #14 player overall during this period. He’ll probably never be en elite scorer, but it doesn’t seem like he has any glaring weaknesses. With RoLo clearly on the trading block and the Bulls in the middle of their rebuild, they have no reason to slow down WCJ’s development. No intelligent GM would be moving him for anything short of a huge overpay. It couldn’t hurt to ask though, right?

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
60Top 25++ Blocks
++ Rebounds
+ Assists
+ Steals (For Position)
– Scoring

Here he is getting the better of Luka.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

SGA is another rookie that represents a very nice skill set that doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. His intelligence, athleticism, and size have been on full display recently, and he is currently on a steeply upward trajectory. He’s quickly made such a big impression that Clippers coach Doc Rivers has recently announced that SGA will be starting over Avery Bradley even after he returns from injury. On the season, he’s just barely clinging to standard league relevance, where his FT shooting has been his only notable positive contribution. Ignore that. Over the last week, since he’s been announced the starter, Shai has gone off, averaging 17.7/4.7/3 on 55.5% shooting, with 1.3 3PM, a steal, and an impressive 1.7 blocks. During this time he’s ranked 44 overall in fantasy. He needs to work on his playmaking and assists, but part of these numbers could be due to mainly playing next to vets Pat Beverly and Lou Williams, and also playing nearly half of his minutes at the 2. Enjoy the ride or trade for him now if you can.

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
132Top 30++ Scoring
+ Blocks
+ FG%
– Assists (For Position)

Super crafty scoring. Wait till the end for the block on Draymond.

Kevin Knox

Knox came in guns blazing in the Summer league, averaging 21.3 points, 6.5 boards, and 2.3 assists. The problem was, this was on an inefficient 35% shooting from the field. Extrapolate that type of game from the Summer League into the actual NBA and you get some ugly results. To be fair, Kevin has been dealing with injuries and has only 7 games so far on his NBA resume. What he’s shown so far has done nothing to quell my initial concerns. He’s been only playing 17.1 minutes a game as he’s been coming back from injuries, but he has averaged a dreadful 8.1/1.6/0.3 on a cat-killing 32.8% from the field. His only saving grace has been his 1.1 3PM. As he gets healthy and the Knicks move to a full rebuild, Knox should improve, but his fantasy DNA is shallow, as he looks to grow into an inefficient scorer that doesn’t consistently provide much else. To steal from one of my fellow unicorns, Knox will become a bigger Wiggins. Find that Knicks fan in your league, talk him up as a dynamic scorer who will be perfectly teamed with Porzingis, and then accept their first offer.

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
356Top 80+ Scoring
+ 3PM
– Assists
– Steals
– Blocks
– FG%

I will admit that this is a nasty put back.

Mitchell Robinson

The hype train is officially on the tracks and starting its journey crisscrossing through the NBA. In a surprise move, Mitchell was recently named the starting center for the Knicks. NY already has a starter-level vet in Enes Kanter, but they seem to be prioritizing youth and probably like the defensive presence Mitchell provides. The Knicks are 7.5 points better defensively per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. While Mitchell is currently residing just inside standard league viable for the season, during his last week of play he is ranked 50th overall based off of an incredible 75% from the field and an insane 4.7 blocks. Those block numbers are clearly inflated by his absurd 9 block game, but that potential for 3 swats a game is definitely there. His usage is extremely low (9.8%) while he starts to develop his offensive game. As the season and his career progress, the points and boards (especially the boards) will go up. His FT% will probably anchor his value forever, and also don’t expect any 3’s or assists. Still, he could be the next DeAndre Jordan. If he fits your punt FT build, he, along with WCJ are the future block and board machines. Make your move.

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
132Top 50++ Blocks
+ Rebounds
+ FG%
+ Steals (For Position)
– Assists
— FT%

Count ’em.

Kevin Huerter

Huerter has been slightly frustrating to roster this season as his production has been pretty inconsistent. This is to be expected by rookies, but his game looked like it could quickly translate to the NBA level. He still remains the excellent 3 point shooter with solid playmaking ability and sneaky athleticism. With Bazemore yet to be traded and Bembry playing very well, Huerter has been relegated to just 17 minutes per game and is currently way outside standard league relevance and is shooting a poorly at 37.3%. Looking closer at his per 36 minutes gives fantasy GMs a better idea of what he might look like in a few years, with 9.8/6.8/3.2 with 1.7 3PM and 1.3 steals. I’m still a believer in his talents and that opportunity will eventually come, though it may take longer than I had anticipated. When he does start to blossom, expect solid all-around value with nice scoring, 3’s and assists. He’s a hold in deeper dynasty leagues, but don’t expect too much production this season.

Current RankDynasty CeilingStrengths/Weaknesses
248Top 60+ Scoring
+ 3PM
+ Assists
+ Rebounds (For Position)
+ FT%
– FG%

That’s a really nice assist.

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