We're just over one week into the season, and most of the NBA's top rookies have played in at least three games. That's given us some idea of what to expect from them moving forward, at least from a usage and minutes perspective. Which rookies have performed worse than expected, and which have performed better?
Cade Cunningham, Pistons
After averaging 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks in 27.7 minutes during Summer League, Cunningham sprained his ankle before the preseason started and hasn't played since. It appears he's nearing a return, as he's starting to scrimmage in the G League. He could debut as soon as Saturday when the Pistons return from a road trip.
Jalen Green, Rockets
Green had a massive performance in the third game of the season against the Celtics, as he posted 30 points on 18 shots, notably hitting eight threes. However, he's struggled aside from that. The shooting guard is averaging 14.5 points on 39.0 percent shooting and also providing just 2.5 assists in 32.5 minutes Encouragingly, he's keeping his shot volume high with 14.8 attempts from the field and 7.5 attempts from three. On the other hand, it's concerning that he's yet to take a free throw. None of this is surprising from a 19-year-old regardless of draft pedigree, but it's certainly harming Fantasy managers more than helping them at the moment.
Mobley has looked as NBA-ready as any rookie thus far, and he's seeing more minutes than expected for a Cavaliers team that loaded up the frontcourt during the offseason. In 33.0 minutes per game, he's averaging 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals. He's only taking 1.0 three per game – fewer than expected – but that's keeping his field-goal percentage at a great 55.0 percent. He's also been a great free-throw shooter, hitting 85.7 percent of his freebies per game. There's no reason to expect his role to decrease at any point this season.
Bizarrely, Barnes is scoring more (16.8 PPG) and dishing less than in preseason. His assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3 AST, 3.3 TOV) is rough, but that should start to even out soon. He's not a great free-throw shooter (71.4%), which was expected coming out of college, and he's a non-factor from three, going just 1-for-6 from distance in four games. But, ultimately, the scoring is a good sign, and he's shooting a great 56.0 percent from the field.
Suggs had a nice Summer League, but he struggled in preseason, and that's carried over into the regular season. He is starting alongside Cole Anthony, which doesn't help from a playmaking perspective, but Suggs is dishing just 3.5 assists and is also turning it over 3.5 times per game. More damaging is his shooting percentage, with the rookie shooting only 28.8 percent from the field on 13.0 attempts per game. On a positive note, he's taking 4.0 free throws and shooting 87.5 percent. The fit is less-than-ideal and the efficiency is bad, but Suggs' aggressiveness in finding his own shot has to be viewed as a positive and is a good sign for positive growth throughout the season.
Josh Giddey, Thunder
The sixth overall pick has not looked flustered by NBA competition at all. His shooting splits (42/38/60) leave something to be desired, but his playmaking ability is excellent. In 27.3 minutes per game, Giddey is averaging 4.5 assists with only 1.5 turnovers – an incredible ratio for a rookie. He's only averaging 9.0 points, but he's boosting his fantasy value through 7.3 rebounds per game. Overall, he's looked shockingly NBA-ready for a just-turned-19-year-old playmaker. Fantasy managers in both keeper leagues and redraft leagues have to feel great about what they've been seeing so far.
Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors
Kuminga was recently cleared to start practicing in full. He was entrusted to be a volume scorer in Summer League, but his role will obviously be pulled back once he finally debuts for Golden State. His role isn't clear, but he should be given opportunities to barge into the backup wing rotation.
Franz Wagner, Magic
Orlando invested the eighth overall pick in Wagner, and he's been given plenty of run early in the season. The rookie is averaging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 combined steals-plus-blocks in 33.0 minutes. Overall, he's exceeded most fantasy managers' expectations thus far. He could benefit from increased free-throw attempts (just four total in four games), but that's nitpicking an otherwise nice start to his season. Once Chuma Okeke (hip) returns, Wagner could see a marginally reduced role, but the organization will probably prioritize Wagner over Okeke.
The appropriately nicknamed "Off Night" can't be kept off the court, as he's been creating havoc for opposing backcourts with his defensive ability (1.3 steals per game). His 10.0 shots in 29.3 minutes per game aren't falling well (36.7%), but it's encouraging that he's seeing nearly 30 minutes and is finding shots within the offense. He's getting his teammates involved with 3.7 assists, and he has just two turnovers in three games. Mitchell clearly has upside for better production, and he's an obvious add in dynasty leagues if he's somehow on the waiver wire.
The absences of Caris LeVert (back) and T.J. Warren (foot) have forced coach Rick Carlisle to throw Duarte into the fire, and the rookie has exceeded expectations. Through four games, he's seeing 38.3 minutes and is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He's been on fire from distance (3.3 makes on 44.8 percent). He was maybe the hottest name on the waiver wire ahead of Week 2, and it would be a surprise if he's not a 12-team player for the remainder of the season.