The NBA preseason kicks off on Friday, Dec. 11, so we’ll finally get a chance to watch some of the 2020 rookie class in action. The 2020 NBA Draft didn’t feature a ton of high-end talent, but there should be a few players who will have plenty of fantasy basketball value in Year 1. Whether you’re drafting for a standard league or for a keeper/dynasty format, these rookie rankings will help you pick out which freshman players to target. We’ll be updating these rankings a bit leading up until the season with preseason action giving us a glimpse of the future.
Dec. 29 update — After the first week of the season, the rookie landscape has changed dramatically. We’ve gotten a look at some of the top rookies in the draft and we’ve updated the top 15 rankings below. Let’s go over some of the movement.
James Wiseman is the clear favorite to win ROTY in my eyes. He’s locked into the starting lineup for the Warriors and has looked the least out of place so far. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds through three games. Many will point to Draymond Green’s absence as to why Wiseman’s numbers look good. I think Wiseman will benefit from Green taking on tougher defensive assignments. Wiseman should only get better as he gets more comfortable in the NBA.
LaMelo Ball isn’t getting much run for the Hornets off the bench. There’s a lot he needs to learn before entering the starting lineup/becoming more of a presence on the second unit. There are five rookies starting for their respective teams: Wiseman, Patrick Williams, Killian Hayes, Isaac Okoro and Deni Avdija. Of that group, other than Wiseman, Williams has been the best. He’s going to need some work, but it’s a good sign for the Chicago Bulls after three games. Williams is averaging almost 2.0 blocks per game and is playing meaningful minutes.
Dec. 15 update — We got our first look at the Sixers and Celtics on Tuesday night in their preseason opener. A few notable rookies were taking action, including Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard and Tyrese Maxey. Pritch scored 16 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Nesmith had 8 points and 5 boards in 19 minutes. Maxey didn’t play much — only 12 minutes — but scored 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting. So overall, all three guards did pretty well for their first taste of the NBA. Pritchard is a name to watch if he gets in the good graces of coach Brad Stevens.
Dec. 13 update — We’re three days into the preseason and let’s do another quick update on some of the top rookies. We finally got the debut of LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets might be fun to watch in 2020-21. Ball didn’t score, but had 10 rebounds and 4 assists in 16 minutes. He also made a highlight reel behind-the-back assist.
Toppin had an off game on Sunday vs. the Pistons. He went 1-of-9 from the field and only had 4 points in 24 minutes. Hayes had another off night for Detroit shooting 2-of-11 from the floor. Deni Avdija was a clean 6-for-6 from the field in his Wizards preseason debut, scoring 15 points with 3 outside shots. Patrick Williams had 13 points and 3 steals for the Bulls in his second taste of NBA action. He played 28 minutes and Chicago tightened things up on defense.
Isaac Okoro was apparently dubbed the next Kawhi Leonard by Cavaliers reddit after going for 18 points in 33 minutes in his preseason debut on Saturday. A pair of rookies for the Thunder were impressive in their debuts — Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon. Poku had 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Maledon led OKC in scoring with 20 points.
Dec. 11 update — We had five games to open the preseason schedule and got to glimpse of a few top rookies. The standout performance came from New York Knicks F Obi Toppin, who had a strong debut against the Detroit Pistons.
Toppin scored 11 points with 7 rebounds in just 20 minutes for coach Thibs. The Dayton product also threw down a monstrous dunk, showcasing his athleticism. To me, Toppin feels like the best keeper/dynasty rookie to target.
Killian Hayes was not as impressive for Detroit. He struggled and had more turnovers than points (5 points, 7 turnovers). Saddiq Bey was the better Pistons rookie with 14 points off the bench and may need to sneak into these rankings.
2020-21 NBA Rookie Rankings
|Obi Toppin (inj.)||Knicks||+800|
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