Being new to the NBA can be tough.
While some players like LeBron James (2003-2004) and Blake Griffin (2010-2011) are able to adjust quickly and excel right from the start, the vast majority take some time to figure things out – they need to get stronger. both mentally and physically.
Here’s a look at the sophomores who have the talent to expand their rookie numbers and break through into Year 2:
Josh Giddy, PG/SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Did Giddy have a stellar rookie season? Yes. But there is still plenty of room for growth. As one of the league’s top prospects for the 2021/22 season, he was the second-youngest player in the NBA. Although his rookie campaign was partially derailed after 54 games by a hip injury that ended his season, he was phenomenal from November to February, posting 12.7 points per game, 8.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.0 blocks. -shots. During this period, Giddy was named Western Rookie of the Month every month.
However, there are two key areas where he can improve: field goal percentage (41.6%) and turnovers (3.3 TPG). With six sophomores on the roster, the Thunder are a young team, and with rookie Chet Holmgren out for the season (Lisfranc), Giddy can be counted on to play an even bigger role. He’s great for fantasy drafts.
Bones Highland, PG, Denver Nuggets
Denver had high hopes for Highland’s long-term potential after selecting him 26th overall in the 2021 NBA draft, but didn’t anticipate how much he would contribute in his rookie season. Highland has taken a big step forward. He finished with 10.1 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists and had a shooting percentage of 55.8 percent. Highland was named to the league’s rookie team.
With the departures of Monte Morris and Will Burton, Hyland established himself as a substitute point guard. Starting point guard Jamal Murray’s health also leaves much to be desired, so the Nuggets are likely in no rush to get him. In addition, Hyland has what it takes to play both defensive positions this season, so he’s likely to share the court with Murray from time to time. Highland should be well above his average draft position, especially if the Nuggets have more injury problems.
Davion Mitchell, PG, Sacramento Kings
Mitchell was a very productive player last year in Summer League and was named one of the MVPs along with Cam Thomas. Despite being smaller, he displayed defensive prowess, a high basketball IQ, and offensive skills. Mitchell’s success carried over into the regular season. In 75 regular-season games, he averaged 11.5 points per game, 2.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 27.7 mpg.
However, it’s worth looking at what Mitchell did in the last 11 games of the season with De’Aaron Fox out with a hand injury. If you remember, Mitchell filled the gap and had a remarkable series of games, averaging 18.8 points per game, 2.5 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game. As Fox’s understudy, Mitchell will be the Kings’ sixth player this season and is a good fantasy option, but it will be difficult for him to finish in the top 100 in most formats. His blocking, stealing and shooting percentage was sub-optimal, but the possibility of Baylor’s product making it into the top 150 cannot be ruled out.
Herbert Jones, SF/PF, New Orleans Pelicans
Last season, Jones was considered the best player in fantasy basketball; his defensive skills helped him finish just outside the top 75 in category formats. Jones started 69 of 78 games, averaging 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 assists and 0.8 blocks on 29.9 miles per game, with 47.6% shots from the game.
With the return of Zion Williamson, Jones is likely to start at small forward and should play a big role given the Pelicans are weak on the wings. Look no further than Jones if you’re looking for an interception and blocking specialist who can also contribute to other statistical areas. He is an excellent choice, currently outside of the top 100.
Joshua Primo, SG, San Antonio Spurs
While Primo showed potential early on, he failed to make a solid contribution during last season. When rookies first enter the league, the Spurs usually protect them from pressure in order to better prepare them for future success. It was good news for Primo, who only played 50 games and finished with 5.8 points per game, 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.
Fast forward to today and Primo will be in a better position. He’s looked great in the Summer League this season, and now with DeJonte Murray in Atlanta, the sophomore will have more options on the perimeter. Primo’s role in the Spurs rotation is secured. He suffered an MCL sprain during training camp, but he could be back by the start of the regular season.