Deandre Ayton: The No. 1 pick will make an immediate fantasy impact in Phoenix, where he should start at center right away. Ayton will have a teammate that ranked top-five in Usage Rate last season in Devin Booker, but it shouldn’t take long before the rookie becomes the team’s No. 2 option, and the big man shouldn’t destroy your FT%. The Suns sported the second-highest Pace in the NBA last season, which fits well with Ayton’s ability to run the floor. Hopefully Phoenix’s improvements lead to fewer blowouts and fourth quarter DNPs from its starters, and while Ayton has plenty of work to do defensively, he’ll still likely cost a fourth or fifth round fantasy pick.
Marvin Bagley: The Kings may have taken Bagley for the wrong reasons (he was seemingly the only top prospect open to work out for the team) while passing over a possible generational talent in the process, but he could average 20/10 soon in the NBA nevertheless. The rookie’s major defensive issues won’t keep him off the floor, and he might even play some oversized four given Sacramento’s frontcourt that features Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph and Harry Giles (who’s getting good buzz). Sacramento ranked last in Pace and bottom-five both in Offensive and Defensive Efficiency last season, so there’s only room for growth from this “young super team.” There’s a clear path for Bagley to quickly become the face of the franchise.
Luka Doncic: The Mavericks dealt a 2019 first rounder to the Hawks to move up two spots to grab Doncic, who enters the league as arguably the best European prospect ever. It will be interesting to see Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic coexist, but Rick Carlisle’s offense should work perfectly with both handling the ball. The rookie joins an offense that’s ranked near the bottom of the league in Pace each of the last two seasons, but the team continues to get younger, and Doncic’s terrific passing is going to give Dallas an entirely new feel in 2018/19. He’s arguably the top rookie pick in dynasty league drafts.
Collin Sexton: The Cavaliers took Sexton at pick No. 8, and while he has to deal with PG George Hill, this landing spot is pretty great for the rookie’s fantasy value, assuming LeBron James leaves town. James had the No. 4 Usage Rate last season while leading the NBA in minutes played, so there would be a huge void on a roster in desperate need of a playmaker. Sexton, who wouldn’t be playing undermanned for the first time, needs to improve his outside shooting but should be a plus defender who partners well with Kevin Love in pick-and-rolls. Given his situation in Cleveland if/when James leaves, Sexton is a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate.
Lonnie Walker: The Spurs were happy to grab Walker at pick 18, and while he may have been viewed as more of a long-term project, he could immediately be given important minutes if San Antonio trades Kawhi Leonard. Walker is a freak athlete who can create his own shot and could’ve easily gone in the lottery, and it always helps joining a franchise that has a great track record of developing talent. There’s sleeper potential for this rookie who knows how to wear a hat.
Trae Young: This clearly depends on the Hawks trading Dennis Schroder to open the point guard spot up for Young, but that seems inevitable now after the team passed over Luka Doncic falling into their laps. Young became the first college player ever to lead the nation in scoring and assists last season, and he did it at age 19 and with opposing defenses focusing entirely on him. Young isn’t physically imposing and has real bust potential (the Hawks reportedly fell in love with him in no small part because of a good workout), but he’s going to be given a big opportunity to be fantasy relevant right away (and all those turnovers and poor FG% won’t hurt fantasy owners nearly as much in points leagues).