The 2023 Las Vegas Summer League wrapped up last night, with the Cleveland Cavaliers securing their first Summer League title. The Cavs went undefeated, finishing 6-0 and collecting quite a bit of hardware on the way to the championship. Sam Merrill earned All-Summer League first-team honors, Emoni Bates made the All-Summer League second-team and Isaiah Mobley (Evan Mobley’s older brother) was named MVP of the Summer League title game. Bates, a highly-touted high school prospect who transferred from Memphis to Eastern Michigan before entering the draft, showed a lot of potential at Summer League despite being a second-round pick.
But it’ll take time for him and many other rookies to contribute in the NBA. However, the following three rookies will make an impact in fantasy basketball right away.
He made his much-anticipated debut and while it was mixed reviews for some, I’m convinced he’ll be a very good basketball player, worthy of a third-round pick in fantasy this upcoming season.
I previously mentioned that Wembanyama looked nervous in his first game against the Rockets, but adjustments were made by the second contest to put him in a position to be successful.
Between his unblockable mid-range pull-ups, finishing at the rim with contact (with either hand) and using his length to block shots on the perimeter or in traffic, it all makes for an intriguing prospect with a fantasy-friendly skillset.
Brook Lopez finished 22nd last season after averaging 15.9 points with 6.9 rebounds, 1.7 threes and 2.5 blocks. I’d argue that 16 points and seven rebounds are Wemby’s floor, while the two threes and 2.5 blocks are more toward his ceiling. He won’t share Lopez’s shooting efficiency, but the counting stats alone will help him achieve top 40 status in Year 1.
Holmgren is Wemby light. Of course, a lot can change in the offseason, but as it stands, I won’t be wavering from this stance.
In my initial fantasy rankings, I have Holmgren 50th, primarily due to the similarities between him and Wembanyama. The difference is that Holmgren’s usage rate will be lower on such a talented, up-and-coming team like the Thunder.
But it’s fair to argue that Holmgren could be more efficient than Wemby with so much attention being drawn to the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and/or Josh Giddey.
Holmgren’s upside (similarly to Wemby) lies in his shot-blocking. In his only season at Gonzaga, he finished fourth in the NCAA in blocks per game (3.7) and total blocks (117). In four games at the Salt Lake City Summer League, Holmgren averaged 3.8 swats per game and that carried right over into Vegas, where he blocked 3.5 shots per game.
He, too, uses his length to block shots on the perimeter and has a knack for those LeBron James-esque chase-down blocks. There’s a lot to be excited about for Holmgren in his rookie campaign, and you’ll be able to grab him one or two rounds after Wemby. That’s a hell of a discount for a player who could put up comparable numbers.
The latest from Shams Charania doesn’t tell us much — only that the Blazers are still figuring out Damian Lillard‘s market value. And it’s not like the Blazers have many options since Lillard specifically requested to be dealt to the Miami Heat. In speaking with sources close to the Blazers, the Lillard trade-saga could continue through mid-season, which only delays Scoot’s coming out party. However, I still see his upside and believe he’ll make significant contributions in fantasy this season whenever Dame is traded.
It only took one Summer League game to see that Henderson has the “it factor'” and will be an asset for points, assists and steals, along with some sneaky rebounding potential. He’s a natural distributor who can get downhill. Athletically, he reminds me of Derrick Rose but one of the Blazers beat writers I spoke with compared his game to Jason Kidd (who was a fantasy beast in his own right).
Kidd’s jump shot took years to refine, so the question remains: How NBA-ready is Scoot’s?
You tell me. It’s looking pretty wet.
Henderson’s ability to stop on a dime and elevate on both pull-ups and step-backs shows me he’s beyond confident. If he can shoot around 44% and hit at least one three-pointer a game, he will be a solid fantasy player. And remember, he averaged 1.7 stocks (1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks) last season in the G-League.
Currently, he’s a player you’ll want to trade for rather than draft, but if trade talks heat up for Lillard, I’d move Henderson up in my rankings and prioritize him as a third guard to roster for positional depth in H2H and points leagues.
Wembanyama, Holmgren and Henderson are the three rookies I know will contribute for fantasy managers this season, but there are a host of other rookies that I’ll be monitoring in training camp and into the preseason: Amen Thompson, Ausur Thompson, Keyonte George, Cason Wallace and NBA2K24’s Summer League MVP, Cam Whitmore.