Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Grading Every 2022 NBA Team's Rookie Class

Zach Buckley

The NBA's summer break is either quickly approaching or, for those not fortunate enough to lock down a playoff spot, already here.

That makes it report card time for the 2021-22 rookie crop.

Collectively, this class impressed and seems like it will spawn several stars in the near future. But not every freshman showed out, and some who struggled might be laying the groundwork for going bust.

While it's too early to bring complete clarity on the respective roads ahead, there's still a year's worth of data to evaluate. Each club's rookie class is going under the microscope to measure how it performed against expectations.

Atlanta Hawks

Logan Riely/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks rostered two rookies in Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper, though both led a blink-and-you-missed-it existence. Johnson logged 120 minutes across 22 contests, while Cooper saw just 39 minutes across 13 outings on his two-way pact.

That leaves almost nothing to evaluate at the NBA level, though Johnson flashed as a finisher (53.7 field-goal percentage), while the 6'1" Cooper misfired on most everything he attempted (3-of-14 overall, 1-of-6 from three-point range). Neither was particularly surprising, since Johnson's athleticism impressed scouts, while Cooper's lack of size was always a worry against big league defenders.

Each at least impressed at the G League level, for whatever that's worth. Johnson stuffed the stat sheet with 21.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game, while Cooper paired his 16.3 points with 6.7 assists per contest. If you wanted to nitpick, though, Johnson didn't find much success from distance (14-of-46, 30.4 percent), and Cooper wasn't a particularly efficient scorer (41.9 percent from the field).

Grade: C-

Boston Celtics

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

After sacrificing their first-round pick in last summer's Al Horford-Kemba Walker swap, the Boston Celtics made a single selection in the 2021 talent grab. And that player, No. 45 pick Juhann Begarin, was stashed overseas.

As a result, Boston played just two freshmen all season—though "played" is used loosely. Two-way contract recipient Matt Ryan, who went undrafted in 2020, served five minutes of mop-up duty in the season finale, and that was it for his NBA run.

Sam Hauser, who had his two-way pact converted to a standard deal in February, scattered 158 minutes over 26 outings. It's too small of a sample size to really analyze, though the 6'8" forward did show promise with his shooting (43.2 percent from three) and decision-making (10 assists against two turnovers). That probably qualifies as meeting expectations, even if it isn't entirely clear who he can defend.

Grade: C

Brooklyn Nets

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets left the draft with three players last summer, spending their own selections on Cam Thomas (No. 27) and Kessler Edwards (No. 44) and acquiring Day'Ron Sharpe (No. 29). They added the undrafted David Duke Jr. shortly thereafter.

For a club with championship aspirations, it got plenty of mileage from its freshmen.

Thomas and Edwards cleared 2,000 combined minutes, and even Duke saw 341 minutes on his two-way pact. Thomas' scoring was erratic, but he still tallied 10 20-point outbursts. Edwards emerged as a reliable three-and-D wing and even convinced the club to waive veteran James Johnson and promote his two-way contract to a standard deal so he'd be eligible for the postseason.

Grade: B

Charlotte Hornets

Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

There are two ways to read the Charlotte Hornets' limited involvement of its rookie class. Should fans be encouraged that the rotation regulars were good enough to not need the youngsters or disheartened that the freshmen couldn't force the issue more?

It's tempting to lean more toward the latter, since, while this was a good season in Buzz City, it wasn't so great that it should have made the rotation impenetrable.

James Bouknight saw the least action of all lottery picks (304 minutes), while Kai Jones logged the second-fewest minutes of all first-rounders (63). Tack on JT Thor's 262 minutes, and that still only gives this group 629 combined minutes, or less than 37 different first-year players tallied on their own.

Bouknight never found his scoring niche and wound up shooting just 34.8 percent from the field. Thor flashed defensive upside, and Jones kept active on the interior, but neither saw enough action to make a difference.

Grade: D+

Chicago Bulls

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Last summer, the Chicago Bulls snatched Ayo Dosunmu with the 38th pick. They subsequently spent this season watching the Windy City native compile a compelling case for All-Rookie first-team honors.

His defense is what you notice first, and it's what Chicago leaned most heavily on when it promoted the rookie to the starting lineup to fill the cracks left by injured perimeter stoppers Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.

Dosunmu not only held his own on that end—posting top-10 rookie marks in steals (60, seventh) and blocks (29, eighth)—but he also hit 52 percent of his field goals and 37.6 percent of his threes while more than doubling his 1.4 turnovers per game with 3.3 assists.

"We've asked him to do a lot in the absence of [Ball and Caruso]," Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said in March, per ESPN's Jamal Collier. "... What he's been able to do, how he's able to impact our team and how he's been able to help us win, it's been incredible. He's given us a lot in a very, very difficult situation."

The Bulls didn't plan on needing Dosunmu nearly this much. He got just two minutes in his second outing and didn't see the floor in his fourth. But when his number was urgently called, he delivered in a way Chicago faithful shouldn't soon forget.

Grade: A-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Evan Mobley carried sky-high expectations into the campaign as the third pick. It's possible he exceeded all of them—save, perhaps, for not showing more touch with his three-ball (25 percent)—during a campaign he seems destined to punctuate by winning Rookie of the Year.

Cleveland completely transformed itself this season. Last year, this squad had a .306 winning percentage and the Association's sixth-worst defense. This year, it pumped that winning percentage to .537—it was .578 before All-Star center Jarrett Allen went down with a fractured finger in early March—and climbed to fifth in defensive efficiency. That turnaround isn't all about Mobley, but his fingerprints are smudged all over it.

"He does everything for us," Darius Garland said, per The Ringer's Rob Mahoney. "Defensive-wise, offensive-wise. He's a 7-foot unicorn."

Mobley paced all rookies with 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while ranking fifth with 15.0 points per game. Among 2021 draftees, he trailed only Scottie Barnes in win shares (5.2) and value over replacement player (1.5). It was just a phenomenal first season, even when measured against Cleveland's lofty hopes.

Grade: A+

Dallas Mavericks

Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images

Four rookies saw action for the Dallas Mavericks this season. Including any member of the quartet in a round of Who He Play For? might meet the legal definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

None saw even 20 minutes of action, and only one, Moses Wright, finished the season on the roster—on a two-way pact he signed in late February. He suited up just three times for the Mavericks and saw eight of his 13 minutes in the season finale.

He missed three of his four field-goal attempts and his only long-range look, but he did grab three rebounds and block a shot, so that's something, right?

Grade: Incomplete

Denver Nuggets

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Save for Carlik Jones' two-game cup of coffee and Petr Cornelie's 13-game venti latte, the Denver Nuggets were effectively a one-rookie club. That made it all the more impressive to see what kind of impact they received from their freshman crop.

Bones Hyland, last year's No. 26 pick, was one of only 13 rookies to average double-digit points. He was the lone member of that group to get less than 20 minutes per night (19) and one of only two to see less than 26 minutes (along with Oklahoma City's Tre Mann).

Hyland struggled from two-point territory (46.5 percent), but he was above average from three (36.6) and strong at the stripe (85.6). While he's programmed more to score than set the table, he still managed 5.2 assists against 2.4 turnovers per 36 minutes.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Eight rookies saw action for the Detroit Pistons this season, which makes sense given where the team is in its rebuilding project. What also makes sense is keeping our focus largely on No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, given the franchise's massive investment in him and relatively light investment in the others (second-rounders Luka Garza and Isaiah Livers were the only other draft picks).

Cunningham lost part of training camp, all of the preseason and five of the club's first six games to an ankle injury, and it barely slowed him down. While it took him five games to post his first 40-plus field-goal percentage, he still had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double in his third NBA contest. He has maintained his ascension ever since.

Once Detroit's campaign was essentially finished, Cunningham had averaged a rookie-best 17.4 points per game, plus 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds. Since March 1, he elevated things to 21.2 points (on 46.2 percent shooting) and 6.7 assists per game.

He looks like a rising star, which is all the Pistons needed to see this season. As a bonus, they got to watch Garza pile up the production in limited action (17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes) and saw Livers look like a keeper who held his own defensively and connected on just about everything he put up (45.6/42.2/85.7 slash).

Grade: A

Golden State Warriors

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Few, if any, eyebrows would've raised had you informed Golden State Warriors fans before the season that one of their rookies would lock down a regular rotation role while the other would prove a little less reliable and shuffle in and out of the lineup. What could have turned heads, though, would be the revelation that Jonathan Kuminga has been the source of stability, while Moses Moody has encountered more ups and downs.

With Golden State locked into a championship chase, it only had so many minutes available to the freshmen, but Kuminga found ways to maximize his opportunities. His youth and inexperience showed at times, but his skill and explosive athleticism often helped him cover his mistakes. He contributed as a role-playing hustler, defender and finisher and still showed glimpses of stardom, topping 20 points in five outings.

Moody, billed before the draft as the more NBA-ready of the two, encountered more turbulence and a brutal shooting slump (33.9 percent overall, 12.1 percent from three over his first 26 outings). But his production and playing time became more consistent in the second half (48.4 percent shooting, 46.8 percent from three over his final 26 contests), and it might be enough to earn him a playoff rotation spot.

Grade: B+

Houston Rockets

Logan Riely/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets rostered six rookies this season, which fits their transformational timeline in light of James Harden's exit last year. Four players were plucked from the first round—Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba—while Daishen Nix inked a two-way pact (later converted to a standard contract) after the draft and Trevelin Queen signed a two-way contract in December.

The quantity alone is impressive, but the quality is what should have Space City jazzed about the future.

Green took a while to get going—he was also a 19-year-old, No. 1 option for a bad offense—but once the light bulb clicked on, it had a brilliant shine. After the All-Star break, he posted centerpiece-caliber stats, including 22.1 points per game on 47.6/38.7/75.6 shooting. Sengun, meanwhile, impressed early and often with soft touch, activity on the glass and some of the most creative passing you'll see from a center not named Nikola Jokic.

Those two are the headliners and the ones who most impacted the letter grade. But Christopher had moments as an athletic energizer with a powerful scoring punch, and Nix impressed with his playmaking (usually at the G League level, but still). Queen might not be a keeper, as he is already 25 years old, but Garuba absolutely could be; he just had his rookie season largely kept in check by injuries.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers

A.J. Mast/Getty Images

Five freshmen finished the season with the Indiana Pacers, including Gabe York, who deserves a huge hat tip for making his NBA debut at age 28. If stats in limited playing time can be trusted, Indy may have found four keepers in its other first-timers.

Chris Duarte turned the most heads, as he should have as the lone lottery pick (and, along with Isaiah Jackson, one of two players drafted). Duarte tussled with the injury bug a few times, but when healthy he proved he ranked among the top offensive forces in this class. He ranked sixth among rookies in scoring (13.1 points per game) and fifth in three-pointers made (1.7).

Jackson had a tougher time cracking the rotation, but once injuries and the trade deadline cleared the clutter up front, he showed how active he can be on the interior. His per-game marks over his final 16 appearances included 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in only 21.8 minutes.

Terry Taylor and Duane Washington Jr. both showed enough to have their two-way contracts converted into standard deals. Taylor cleaned the glass like he was angling for a Windex sponsorship, while Washington showcased one of the better three-point strokes in the class (1.7 threes per game at a 37.7 percent clip).

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers

Jason Miller/Getty Images

In a different universe, the Los Angeles Clippers could have been well connected with this rookie class. In this reality, though, they ditched Keon Johnson at the trade deadline and watched Jason Preston have his first season erased by a fractured foot.

In the end, L.A.'s class boils down to Brandon Boston Jr. and 10 games of Xavier Moon, the 27-year-old nephew of onetime Clipper Jamario Moon. Xavier Moon looked decent when he played (5.8 points on 49 percent shooting and 2.4 assists in only 13.7 minutes per game), but there isn't much to evaluate.

So, this is essentially all about Boston and his mixed bag of results. There were nights when it all clicked (16-plus points in five different outings) and plenty more when his age and inexperience showed. Getting regular minutes is a win for any second-round rookie (Boston was last summer's 51st pick), but his shaky shooting rates (38.5 overall, 30.6 from deep) put a cap on the letter grade.

Grade: C+

Los Angeles Lakers

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In case all of last summer's jokes about the Los Angeles Lakers' age didn't tip you off, this squad wasn't exactly swimming with youth. Four first-timers did hit the hardwood for the Purple and Gold, but only two finished the season on the roster, including Mac McClung, whom the Lakers waived in October and re-signed just in time for him to log 22 minutes in the finale.

In other words, L.A.'s rookie class starts and stops with Austin Reaves, who grabbed a two-way deal with the Lakers after the draft and had it converted to a standard contract before the season tipped. The front office proved prescient on that decision, as Reaves quietly emerged as one of the stronger contributors in his class.

His game is all about subtleties, which doesn't usually help the traditional stats (his 31-point, 16-board, 10-assist finale notwithstanding). But he did earn stellar marks in the advanced metrics. FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR ranked Reaves first among qualified rookies, while his 2.9 win shares bested all but six players taken in last year's draft.

Grade: A-

Memphis Grizzlies

Justin Ford/Getty Images

It's been a strange—but solid—first season for Ziaire Williams, the lone freshman seeing major minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies. He's a toolsy, 20-year-old project pick who might be a half-decade away from playing his best basketball, and sometimes that shows.

Then again, he's also a rotation regular, a sometimes starter and, of late, even a part-time closer for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Even if the Grizzlies dial back his development during the postseason, he has made meaningful contributions to a heavyweight contender. That's no small achievement for a first-timer.

His numbers don't jump off the page (8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per contest), but his game sometimes leaps off your viewing device. He can switch on defense, create off the dribble and finish around the basket. He isn't the most consistent freshman you'll find, but he is clearly ahead of schedule.

Grade: B

Miami Heat

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Miami Heat are in full championship-chase mode, so they've sided strongly with experience over upside. Three of their top five players in minutes per game are 32 or older, and only two rotation regulars are under age 25 (Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo).

That doesn't leave much room for rookies, and Heat president Pat Riley will never force the issue on that front. They only have two freshmen, both went undrafted and one isn't even from this draft class (Omer Yurtseven, who went undrafted in 2020). The other is on a two-way contract that was only signed in mid-February (Javonte Smart).

Neither gets much burn, but Yurtseven looked good—like, latest-hidden-gem-unearthed-by-the-Heat good—when called upon. His sample size is small (706 minutes), but his per-36-minutes marks included 15.2 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 block.

Grade: B-

Milwaukee Bucks

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks have a world title to defend, and they haven't tasked many freshmen with taking part in that. While six first-timers saw action in Milwaukee this season, only three remain on the roster—including one who was signed in April and has yet to make his NBA debut (26-year-old Luca Vildoza).

The only two Bucks rookies to see any action and still have a roster spot are their two-way recipients: Lindell Wigginton, who went undrafted in 2019, and Sandro Mamukelashvili, last summer's 54th selection. Each spent the season either behind emergency glass or utilized in a deep reserve role, although neither looked out of place when pressed into action.

They logged under 700 combined minutes, so there isn't much data to digest, but what is there is fine, which probably counts as a minor win given the lack of investment.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Of the 19,780 minutes logged by the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, just 260 of them were filled by freshmen. Only 19 of those went to McKinley Wright IV, who went 1-of-1 on opening night and only attempted two more shots the entire season.

The rest belonged to Leandro Bolmaro, a 2020 first-rounder who was acquired from the New York Knicks during that draft and stashed overseas for the 2020-21 campaign. But he came stateside this season, handled mop-up duty on opening night and rarely saw significant minutes, only once playing more than four games in a row.

He plays a complementary style built around defense and secondary distribution, so his stats might always be held in check, but there's almost nothing to see in his box scores. Even stretching the production out to per 36 minutes only bumps it to 7.5 points (on 31.5 percent shooting), 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Pelicans

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

When the New Orleans Pelicans plucked Herbert Jones from the 2021 draft with the 35th pick, they found the top perimeter stopper in this class. Then, when they signed Jose Alvarado off the scrap heap—first on a two-way deal, which was later converted to a standard contract—they snagged the second-best.

That makes their rookie class a resounding success, even if the instant impact of No. 17 pick Trey Murphy III hasn't quite been as instant or impactful as expected. Murphy, for the record, has been fine (and better since the All-Star break), but beyond a few big games in March, there hasn't been too much to get jazzed about.

Still, among all rookies to log at least 500 minutes, three of the top nine in RAPTOR play for New Orleans, per FiveThirtyEight. The order is different than expected—Alvarado sits first overall, Jones is third and Murphy is ninth—but the results are wildly encouraging nonetheless.

Grade: A+

New York Knicks

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Not a lot went right for the New York Knicks this year, who spiraled from last season's fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference to 11th, but their rookies were mostly rock-solid, and that counts for something.

First-rounder Quentin Grimes tallied the most bright spots while establishing himself as a reliable stopper and sure-handed outside shooter (38.1 percent) before the injury bug got the better of him. Jericho Sims didn't get a ton of burn (555 minutes), but he controlled the interior as a 72.2 percent shooter who averaged 11.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes. Miles McBride proved a defensive pest, which somewhat glossed over his offensive issues (29.6 percent shooting).

It wasn't a banner year for first-year 'Bockers, but considering the class consisted of a late first-rounder (Grimes, No. 25) and two second-rounders (McBride, No. 36, and Sims, No. 58), New York should be pleased with the return on investment.

Grade: B-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Nate Billings/Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder closed the campaign with a tank-tastic six rookies on the roster, including four 2021 draft picks, a 2020 pick who missed last season with a torn ACL (Vit Krejci) and a 24-year-old who inked a two-way deal in mid-February and still saw 465 minutes (Lindy Waters III).

Josh Giddey, the No. 6 overall pick, served as the crown jewel and might have pushed for Rookie of the Year honors had he not been forced off the floor in February by a season-ending hip injury. Even with the ailment, though, he finished as the lone freshman to tally at least 500 points, 400 rebounds and 300 assists. In another nod to his across-the-board contributions, he had four triple-doubles—or one more than the rest of the NBA's rookie class combined.

Tre Mann finished with a sub-40 field-goal percentage, but his streak scoring yielded seven 20-point outings. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl did a little of everything while nestling into a glue-guy role. Aaron Wiggins made 35 starts and popped for 20-plus points four times. Krejci played just 30 games and recently underwent knee surgery. Waters, an Oklahoma native, splashed 36.3 percent of his threes.

Grade: A-

Orlando Magic

NBA Photos/Getty Images

It was a tale of two seasons for the Orlando Magic's rookie lottery picks. The team didn't get nearly as much as it expected out of No. 5 pick Jalen Suggs, but No. 8 pick Franz Wagner was everything it could have wanted and more.

Injuries limited Suggs to 48 appearances and perhaps prevented him from finding a rhythm all season. Still, there are only so many ways to sugarcoat a rough 36.1/21.4/77.3 shooting slash. He at least provided defensive value as an on-ball stopper and off-ball disruptor, but that alone can't salvage his season.

Wagner, though, was phenomenal. If he wasn't the most consistent rookie in this class, he at least made the shortlist. He paced all rookies with 79 games (all of them starts), led the Magic in minutes (2,429) and was the only freshman—and one of 16 players overall—to average double-digit points on 45/35/85 shooting.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Between the Ben Simmons saga, the James Harden blockbuster, Joel Embiid's MVP candidacy, Tyrese Maxey's ascension and more, the Philadelphia 76ers had a lot going on this season. Too much, apparently, for them to carve out much time for first-timers.

Philly played five freshmen during the campaign, but only three finished the year on the payroll: first-rounder Jaden Springer, second-rounder Charles Bassey and two-way contract recipient Myles Powell. Collectively, the trio saw just 226 minutes of floor time.

Is it worrisome that Springer only contributed six of those minutes? I mean, it's not ideal, and given Philly's issues on the perimeter defensively, you would've hoped the rookie could've made his mark. Then again, he's a 19-year-old developmental project, and the Sixers have all eyes on the title, so he was never likely to see many opportunities.

Bassey did a ton in limited action—including fouling (6.9 per 36 minutes). Powell shot 5-of-17 from the field and 1-of-6 from distance while matching his three assists with three turnovers. Not great.

Grade: D-

Phoenix Suns

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It's a good thing Ish Wainright locked down a roster spot in the desert—first on a two-way pact, then on a rest-of-season deal—or there would be almost nothing to evaluate. He and two-way player Gabriel "Iffe" Lundberg were the only two rookies to finish the season with Phoenix Suns, and Lundberg—the first Danish player to play an NBA game—only suited up four times (all in April, long after Phoenix had locked down the No. 1 seed).

Wainright isn't the typical NBA rookie. The 27-year-old had four seasons between his final campaign at Baylor and first in the Association, suiting up in Germany and France before joining the Toronto Raptors for training camp and latching on with Phoenix in October.

His age alone suggests he's not a keeper for the Suns, and nothing about his stats lead you in that direction either (2.4 points on 39.4/32.2/58.3 shooting). Still, he suited up 45 times for the league's top team, and for a long-ago undrafted player who once had a deal with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, that's an awesome story.

As for the grade, the Suns essentially got back what they put into this rookie class: very little.

Grade: C

Portland Trail Blazers

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers tanked hard late in the season, closing with 21 losses in their final 23 outings. However, since they're so new to the strategy, they didn't feature as many first-timers as most teams in this position would.

While six rookies saw the floor at different points, only two—Greg Brown III and Trendon Watford—cleared the 25-game mark, while another two—Cameron McGriff and Jarron Cumberland—made just three appearances each.

We'll focus only on the four who finished the season in Portland: Brown, Watford, Keon Johnson and two-way player Brandon Williams. Williams was the most productive of the four by volume (12.9 points per game), but he shot just 37.2 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from three-point range. Watford struck the best balance between volume and efficiency, netting his 7.6 points on 53.2 percent shooting, although more than 70 percent of his shots came within 10 feet of the basket.

Brown and Johnson are turbo-charged athletes, but neither can legally down an adult beverage, and it shows in their lack of seasoning. Brown showed the most growth, though, albeit while shooting just 42.6 percent from the field.

Grade: C-

Sacramento Kings

Barry Gossage/Getty Images

Given the Sacramento Kings' perpetual push for any kind of relevance—and that historically elusive playoff berth—the club doesn't play as many rookies as its .366 winning percentage says it should. Just three rookies hit the hardwood for the Kings this season, and one, Ade Murkey, logged just a single minute during a 10-day deal.

Otherwise, it was just No. 9 pick Davion Mitchell and No. 39 pick Neemias Queta. Since the Kings are far more heavily invested in the former and rarely called upon the latter (Queta totaled just 120 minutes over 14 outings), Mitchell is the primary evaluation.

He defended as advertised, slicing two percentage points off his opponents' normal field-goal percentage and ranking ninth among qualified rookies in FiveThirtyEight's Defensive RAPTOR.

But, as expected, his offense lagged behind his defense, with Mitchell connecting on only 41.8 percent of his field goals and 31.6 percent of his long-range looks. He did, however, perk up late and average 14.1 points on 44.1 percent shooting and 5.9 assists per game after the All-Star break.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs

Tim Heitman/Getty Images

While the San Antonio Spurs have semi-embraced a youth movement, their collective competitive mindset delivered both a ticket to the play-in tournament and a unique crop of rookies.

On one hand, they looked way down the road when they made Joshua Primo, the draft's youngest prospect, the 12th pick. On the other, the rest of their rookie class includes 22-year-old Joe Wieskamp, who spent three seasons at Iowa, and 26-year-old Jock Landale, who graduated from Saint Mary's in 2018 and played in Australia, Serbia and Lithuania before landing in the Alamo City.

Primo is the focal point, and he clearly has a lot of work to do. (On a related note, he turned 19 in December.) It's tough to label him as anything more than intriguing, but he didn't look out of place in the NBA, and that's a victory by itself. Landale proved capable of handling regular minutes, while Wieskamp looks like he could be if he finds more consistency with his shot (35.7 percent overall, 32.6 percent from outside).

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors

Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors seemingly played the long game when they took Scottie Barnes and his vast potential with the No. 4 pick last summer, but the rookie had other ideas. Rather than force Toronto to wait on his development, he marked his arrival with a 25-point, 13-rebound double-double in his second NBA game and hasn't slowed down since.

He's neck-and-neck with Evan Mobley for Rookie of the Year honors, and several metrics paint Barnes as the best player in this class. His 6.6 win shares and 1.9 VORP both pace all 2021 draftees. He led all rookies with 2,617 minutes, was the only rookie to rank among the top five in the class in total points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, and helped the Raptors climb to No. 5 in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto bet big on Barnes, and it's already counting its winnings. That Dalano Banton proved his worth as a lanky, disruptive defender, and Justin Champagnie contributed in limited minutes was the proverbial icing on the cake.

Grade: A+

Utah Jazz

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

If the story of the Utah Jazz's 2021-22 season is ever told in book form, the rookies might be fortunate to grab a footnote.

It's not that second-rounder Jared Butler has been completely looked over, but given the other storylines in Salt Lake City—the Donovan Mitchell-Rudy Gobert dynamic, the Joe Ingles ACL tear and subsequent trade, all of the blown big leads—there just isn't much to say about him. Butler's stat sheet is a snoozer: 3.8 points on 40.4/31.8/68.8 shooting, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per night.

Utah's only other rookie, Xavier Sneed, saw all of 31 minutes on his two-way deal, so nothing to mention there, either.

Grade: C-

Washington Wizards

G Fiume/Getty Images

An early-season analysis of Corey Kispert, the 15th pick, would not have been kind. It took him six games to score more than two points, and it wasn't until his 14th outing that he reached double-digit points or splashed multiple three-balls. For a 22-year-old shooting specialist, this was not how things were supposed to go.

But the old adage about the season being a marathon and not a sprint again proved its purpose. Each month was essentially more productive than the last, leaving Kispert with perfectly suitable post-All-Star contributions of 11.4 points per game on 49.3/38.6/84.2 shooting.

He looks like a capable rotation player and potential longtime starter, which is probably what the Washington Wizards hoped to find with the pick. It would have been nice to see more from Isaiah Todd, but he's a 20-year-old developmental project who hardly saw the floor (74 total minutes), so there's nothing to really take from his initial NBA go-around.

Grade: B-


Statistics used courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.


Read 100 Comments

Download the app for comments Get the B/R app to join the conversation

Install the App
Bleacher Report