Fantasy Basketball: Late-season NBA rookie risers and fallers

TO Nick Whalen, RotoWire

Special for Sportzshala Sports

Periodically throughout the season, we’ve tested the 2022 NBA Rookie class, which has been both volatile and unpredictable when it comes to fantasy basketball.

While big names like Paolo Bankero, Jabari Smith, and Jaden Ivey have mostly stayed healthy and starred, none of those three are currently among the top 130 in 9-cat, total cost. With that said, the class of 2022 turned out to be deeper than many expected. Walker Kessler and Jalen Williams are the two highest-ranked players in the top 9 of the year, neither of whom made the top 10. Williams finished 12th at Oklahoma City while Kessler dropped to 22nd.

With almost exactly a month left until the end of the regular season, freshman players will continue to be a big influence on fantasy – especially those playing on low-performing teams that are likely to open their rotations in the future. This week, we’ll take a look at the “stock tracking” rookie class approach, highlighting which players are trending up, down, or holding position as we near the fantasy season’s finish line.

In trend

Jaden Ivey, Pistons

Thanks in large part to the shaky percentage, Ivey has had a better rookie season in real life than in fantasy, where he is currently out of the top 200. He’s been consistent all year, but Ivey has picked up momentum lately, posting 16.5 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers (37.5% of 3-pointers) since the start of February. Possibly with Bojan Bogdanovich on the way to closingIvey should be the Pistons’ undeniable offensive powerhouse for the rest of the road.

Walker Kessler, Jazz

Those who grabbed Kessler early on and stashed him away on the bench have been richly rewarded over the past few months. Big Man is the best fantasy player in the class and has had multiple blocks in 10 of his last 11 games. The Jazz are a little worried in terms of shutdowns, but as a rookie, Kessler should be immune if the Jazz decide to pull back in recent weeks. Kessler is a full round ahead of Rudy Gobert in total fantasy value this season, despite not becoming a full starter until mid-January.

Jalen Williams, Thunder

Williams is emerging as a versatile fantasy star and there is good reason to believe he will be in the top three in the 2022 redraft. Over the past 11 games, Williams has averaged 20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.5 steals (!!), 0.5 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers on a scoring line of 57/50/ 85. However, he is currently recovering from a wrist injury, so Fantasy Managers should keep a close eye on his condition over the next few days.

Mark Williams, Hornets

The big man may be getting closer to status quo territory, but overall he’s still on the rise after becoming the Hornets’ starting center after the end of trading. Williams is more erratic than managers would like, but he still has 11.5 points, 9.1 shields and 1.4 blocks over his last 10 games.

Tari Eason, Rockets

Fantasy managers have been waiting months for Eason’s breakthrough, and while we’re running out of time, LSU’s product has broken into the top 100 for a total value of 9 categories. Although still off the bench, Eason continues to add value to 25-30-minute steals a night off the bench.

Usman Dieng, Thunder

Until the end of the road, Thunder is officially on Tank Watch, which is incredibly worrying for players like Shai Gilgeus-Alexander and Josh Giddy. However, if the Thunder does start resting the veterans, Dieng will be able to benefit. After spending a month in the G League, Dieng has played at least 19 minutes in each of the last three OKC games. In his last two games, he had 23 points, nine rebounds, four steals and four three-pointers in 39 minutes.

down trend

Jabari Smith, Rockets

For the most part, it was the same old story for Smith, who just didn’t show any measurable growth. He has hit single figures in three of his last six games and continues to be a long-range underdog. Any hope for a late season he finally figured it out The stretch from Smith fades quickly.

Jalen Duren, Pistons

The big man has missed six games in a row with an ankle problem and is left without a clear schedule. Once he returns, he will face increased competition for minutes from Marvin Bagley, James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart.

AJ Griffin, Hawks

A staple in the rotation for most of the year, Griffin has been a DNP-CD in each of the Hawks’ last two games. The addition of Saddiq Bey seems to have pushed him out of new head coach Queen Snyder’s rotation for a while.

status quo

Paolo Bankero, Magic

It feels like Banchero has been under the radar for the last few months on a mediocre Magic team, but he’s still one of the most consistent high-level rookies in recent history. Over the past 10 games, he’s averaged 19.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals/blocks, even though his three-point shots are falling off a cliff. Since January 25, Banchero has been throwing a terrible 15.4 percent (10 out of 65) from deep. However, his scoring stats and resilience – 48 consecutive games played – were huge for fantasy managers.

Benedict Maturin, Pacers

It’s true that Mathurin’s performance has dwindled a bit, but for the most part he’s showing numbers comparable to season averages. Since the beginning of February, Maturin has been shooting from deep (27.9% of 3 points), but still brings coaches 13.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 free throws per game.

Keegan Murray, Kings

Like Smith, Murray’s performance varies from night to night, but overall he was a much more efficient player. Murray is shooting better than 43 percent of three in the past month, and since the All-Star break, he’s up 1.3 steals per game. He has more steals in his last seven games than in the previous 20 combined.

Malachi Branham, Tottenham

The Ohio State product in February was a success while Devin Wassel was sidelined, but his role will be a bit more difficult going forward. However, tank spurs are unpredictable when it comes to injury reports, so Branham should still be in line for a decent number of starts. Over the last 13 games (30.8 mpg), he averaged 15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 triples.

Ochai Agbaji, Jazz

Although I would like to place Agbaji in In trend category, he was not able to achieve much with his recent jump of a few minutes. Kanas’ product registered six starts in his last 10 games, but he only averaged 9.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.9 triples (41.0% FG, 33.9% 3PT) in that stretch.

Jeremy Sochan, Tottenham

Overall, Sochan is positioned as a late bird who should get many minutes over the next few weeks. He’s already on the rise as a scorer – 15.4 ppg in his last 15 games – but remains a pretty shaky fantasy asset given his volatile percentage and lack of consistent defensive play. Sochan missed the Spurs’ final Sunday game with a knee injury, and his participation in Friday’s game against the Nuggets is considered questionable.


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