It's been a while since we've done a proper rookie update, and the discussion around the first-year players has died down in general as fans begin to focus on the upcoming playoffs. Many of the prominent rookies have hit the proverbial "rookie wall" and have fallen down the fantasy ranks as of late. Still, it's worth reviewing what they've done since the new year and what we can expect moving forward as the fantasy season winds down.
Herb Jones, Pelicans (56)
Jones remains one of the surprises of this rookie class. Before the season began, it was unclear if he would even see real minutes competing against another rookie in Trey Murphy. Now, Jones ranks ahead of all other rookies in per-game rank since the New Year and above high-usage starters like De'Aaron Fox and even teammate Brandon Ingram. The 23-year-old rookie is thriving behind excellent defensive numbers (1.8 steals and 0.7 blocks), plus efficient shooting (49.1 FG% and 90.9 FT%). His three-point numbers are low (0.9 makes per game), but it's clearly not affecting his stock too much.
Josh Giddey, Thunder (60)
Giddey is injured right now but was stepping up his game while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was sidelined, and we got a taste of what the rookie is capable of as a true lead option at just 19 years old. Since the New Year, he's averaged 14.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 33.3 minutes. Giddey needs to improve his shooting (45/28/78 splits) and clean up the turnovers a bit (3.6) relative to his assists, but the 2.3 offensive rebounds per game is impressive for his age and position.
Cade Cunningham, Pistons (75)
The No. 1 overall pick is playing better than he was early in the season, but he's still plagued by inconsistent play and the more-than-occasional awful performance. The averages pan out to 17.0 points on 42/32/83 splits, 5.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 31.1 minutes in 23 games. However, that includes seven games with four or fewer made shots from the field and eight games with at least five turnovers. Fantasy managers will just have to continue taking the bad with the good and banking on it averaging out well for the rest of the season.
Scottie Barnes, Raptors (90)
Barnes' performances are a bit more muted compared to the start of the season, but he's still one of the most intriguing prospects in the class due to his size and versatility on both ends. In 2022, he's averaging 14.0 points on 48/28/76 splits, 6.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 combined steals-plus-blocks. The shooting needs to improve, but fantasy managers – especially those in keeper leagues – should be encouraged that Barnes is still able to make a tangible offensive impact while surrounded by other nice offensive options like Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, not to mention Gary Trent, who is trigger-happy from distance.
Ayo Dosunmu, Bulls (92)
Dosunmu was a relative afterthought in this year's draft. He went 38th overall, and once training camp began, it seemed like he would struggle to find minutes behind Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Coby White and even Zach LaVine to an extent. However, tons of injuries continued to open up more and more time for the rookie, and he's proved his worth every step of the way. Over his past 28 appearances, he's averaged 10.3 points on 52/41/77 shooting, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 combined steals-plus-blocks in 34.1 minutes. The Illinois product has been especially useful in nine-category leagues, as this stretch of games includes just 1.7 turnovers. Dosunmu's minutes and usage will decline once Ball and Caruso are healthy, so fantasy managers need to ensure a backup plan is in place.
Franz Wagner, Magic (105)
Wagner has been one of the steadiest rookies in the class, and fantasy managers have been able to set it and forget it. Plus, he's played in every game so far – an impressive feat given the COVID-19 protocols earlier in the season and rookies often breaking down at some point in the year. In his past 26 appearances, he's averaged 15.2 points on 49/34/87 shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 31.0 minutes. Markelle Fultz's integration back into the rotation could affect Wagner's usage some, but it seems more likely Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony will be affected.
Chris Duarte, Pacers (111)
Duarte's performances have leveled off since his electric start to the year, but he's still provided nice fantasy value and remains a passable bench option in 12-team formats. And with the Pacers now sliding into a light rebuild, more opportunities could be available soon, though he's still needing to compete for minutes with Buddy Hield. Over his past 19 games, he's averaged 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 27.3 minutes.
Evan Mobley, Cavaliers (126)
The initial shock of Mobley's NBA-readiness has worn off. While it's clear he's contributing to winning, the fantasy production isn't quite there, and he's been relatively inconsistent lately. That's not unexpected, given he's competing for rebounds with Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland has been dealing with a persistent back injury, robbing Mobley of easy looks and a great screen-and-roll partner. In 2022, the rookie has averaged 15.2 points on 50.8 FG%, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.2 combined blocks-plus-steals.
Jalen Suggs, Magic (134)
Suggs has been relatively underwhelming all year, though he hasn't been too bad considering how close in rank he is to Evan Mobley over the past two months. During this stretch, he's averaging 12.6 points, 5.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 28.0 minutes. His shooting splits (40/20/77) are tragic, but the passing is encouraging, and getting to the free-throw line 3.7 times per game is solid given his relatively low usage. The main issue now is that Markelle Fultz is back, presumably resulting in even less usage for the rookie.