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Experts Analysis

Rookie Report, Volume Nine

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: February 19, 2021, 1:02 am ET

For the first time this season, a rookie won Player of the Week honors in his conference. That's where this week's edition of the Rookie Report will pick up, and thanks to the Pistons having decided to sit Blake Griffin more big games could be in store for Saddiq Bey. Also, Minnesota's prized rookie has been better when the team's starting point guard sits, and his fantasy value could be in for a boost as a result. 

Bey has the best week of his NBA career: Small forward Saddiq Bey was one of the team’s two first-round picks in November’s draft, but unlike Isaiah Stewart, it took a little more time for him to earn consistent rotation minutes. That has changed over the last two weeks, as Bey has played 20 minutes or more in six of Detroit’s last seven games. Last week the rookie forward had the best week of his career to date, averaging 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 4.0 3-pointers per game, while shooting 71.4% from both the field and from three.

As a result, Bey was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. And with the Pistons making the decision to officially begin the process of finding a new landing spot for Blake Griffin, Bey should have no issue getting playing time moving forward. The one question worth asking when it comes to his fantasy potential this season is whether or not he will be able to do enough defensively to truly benefit those who have him rostered. Last week he had three steals and zero blocks in four games, and all that production came in Detroit’s February 14 win over New Orleans. And for the season, Bey has just one game in which he’s produced at least one steal and one blocked shot (February 5 vs. Phoenix).

That all being said, the additional playing time should alleviate those concerns even if Bey’s defensive production doesn’t improve. Rostered in 39% of Yahoo leagues, he is providing top-50 value in both 8- and 9-cat formats over the last week. Can he be crack the top-50 for the entire season? That may be a bit much to ask. But Bey moving into the starting lineup will give the rookie the minutes that he needs to make a run.

Timberwolves’ Edwards starting to come on: The absence of D'Angelo Russell (knee) has left Minnesota without one of its key building blocks, but there has been a positive. Anthony Edwards has more opportunities to make plays on the ball himself, as opposed to being third in line (or even fourth thanks to the emergence of Malik Beasley) behind Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. The numbers tell the story, as when playing with Russell, Edwards has a net rating of minus-16.4 this season (14 games). Without Russell, the rookie’s net rating is just a minus-2.0.

Russell has a usage of 26.4 when not sharing the court with Russell, while his effective field goal (47.3) and true shooting (50.6) percentages are much-improved as well. Over the last week, he has posted averages of 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 2.0 3-pointers and 1.5 turnovers per game, while shooting 40.8% from the field and 81.8% from the foul line. Edwards still isn’t providing top-100 value during this run, thanks to the low field goal percentage and defensive production, but he has been a better fantasy player when paired with Ricky Rubio than with Russell. And with Russell not expected back until late-March at the earliest, the first overall pick appears poised to build on his current run.

Rockets’ Tate continues to impress: At 25 years old, Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate is on oof the oldest rookies in this class. And he didn’t go straight from college to the NBA either, as he spent time playing in Australia after completing his Ohio State career. This season got off to an interesting start for Tate, as multiple Rockets having to go into quarantine gave him additional opportunities to show what he could do in game action. And he has managed to remain in the rotation, playing an average of 27.3 minutes per game.

Tate has scored 16 points or more in three of Houston’s last four, averaging 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 3-pointers per game during this stretch. In Wednesday’s loss to the 76ers he played 33 minutes, tallying 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and one 3-pointer. What has boosted Tate’s value recently is the absence of Victor Oladipo, who has missed three straight due to a sprained foot.

Rostered in 21% of Yahoo leagues, Tate is providing late-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats. And over the last week, he sits just outside of the top-50 in both. Unless there’s a surefire opportunity to add a player who has been more productive on a consistent basis, it won’t hurt fantasy managers to keep Tate on their rosters as Oladipo is without a concrete timeline for a return.

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Warriors’ Wiseman expected to return soon: Golden State center James Wiseman has not appeared in a game since January 30 due to a sprained wrist, but his time on the sideline could be coming to an end soon. The second overall pick was re-evaluated on Thursday, and the team simply said in a release that Wiseman is “making good progress.” He was able to take part in portions of Thursday’s practice, so fantasy managers will have to wait to see if that is enough to get him cleared for Friday’s game in Orlando. If not, the hope is that Wiseman will be cleared to play at some point during the Warriors’ four-game road trip.

While he hasn’t been a great fantasy player, Wiseman is a must-roster due to Golden State’s lack of true big men. Whether or not he starts, as Kevon Looney (ankle) is also expected back soon, remains to be seen. But that doesn’t change anything when it comes to Wiseman’s importance to the Warriors now and, more importantly, in the future.

Thunder’s Maledon returns to action: After missing four more games due to health and safety protocols, Oklahoma City guard Theo Maledon made his return to action Tuesday night. And he was thrust right back into the starting lineup, as the Thunder were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (he returned on Wednesday). In the two games Maledon played nearly 62 minutes total, tallying 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and four 3-pointers. The rookie was discussed in this column last week, and his status from a fantasy standpoint remains unchanged. With George Hill out until after the All-Star Break, at least, Maledon needs to be rostered regardless of league format.

Nuggets’ Campazzo makes first NBA start: With Will Barton and Monte Morris both sidelined for Tuesday’s game against the Celtics, Denver point guard Facundo Campazzo made the first start of his NBA career. All things considered his stat line wasn’t terrible, as he tallied 15 points (5-of-12 FGs), three rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in a little over 39 minutes played. This was his Campazzo’s second straight 15-point effort, and in Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards he posted a 14/1/1/2 line with two 3-pointers in 25 minutes.

So does Campazzo offer anything when it comes to fantasy value? Unfortunately, no. Because on Wednesday, not only did Morris return but starting off-guard Gary Harris did as well. The Morris/Campazzo tandem will still be part of Denver’s second unit, but that does the rookie no favors when it comes to his fantasy value. At best, he’s a streaming option whenever the Nuggets find themselves down multiple guards.

Past Columns

Volume OneWiseman’s debut a solid first step

Volume TwoAll aboard the Haliburton bandwagon

Volume Three: Fultz injury thrusts Anthony into the spotlight

Volume Four: Opportunity knocks for Maxey

Volume Five: Grizzlies rookies limited due to postponements

Volume Six: Wiseman moved to the bench

Volume Seven: Rozier injury pushes Ball into starting lineup

Volume Eight: Bulls' Williams making strides

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.