A breakdown of the 2023-24 NBA rookie class

Contributed Photo / Joshua Gateley
From left, NBA rookies Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama

It feels crazy to say that we have officially reached the halfway point of the NBA 2023-24 season.  

Between suspensions, injuries and mid-season trades, there’s a lot to talk about. Though, it’s not crazy to say that this year’s rookie class has exceeded all expectations and more. 

Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren have delivered in their highly anticipated league debuts. The San Antonio Spurs’ Wembanyama is averaging 19.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks with a 29.3 three-point shooting percentage. Twenty-year-old rookie Wembanyama previously played professional basketball in France before being the first draft pick in the 2023 NBA draft. 

His impressive shooting abilities and playmaking skills give the Spurs a lot of offensive opportunities. Simultaneously, his high-level efficiency at his size and height provides a huge defensive advantage for the Spurs. 

Twenty-one-year-old rookie Holmgren is averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Holmgren previously attended Gonzaga University where he played varsity basketball for one year before being drafted second overall at the 2022 NBA draft. Holmgren’s most impressive stat is his three-point percentage average at 39.2. In his first 12 NBA games as a rookie, he averaged 44.2 per cent from three. 

Chet plays a large part in Oklahoma City Thunder’s current second place standing in the West. 

It is always nice to see highly anticipated rookies live up and maintain the hype they received in the pre-season. 

Though sometimes, it’s even better to see an 18th overall draft pick climb up to a starting position on the previous season’s Eastern Conference Championship team. 

Coming from the University of Central Los Angels, Jamie Jaquez Jr. has been nothing but embraced and well utilized by the Miami Heat. 

Jaquez holds the top spot amongst all players in the NBA for total fourth-quarter minutes. The 22-year-old Heat rookie has proven that he fits right into Miami’s driven “heat” culture and is a valuable addition to the previous 2022-23 NBA finalists. 

The Toronto Raptors rookie Gradey Dick has not been the immediate saving grace that a lot of Raptors fans hoped for, but he is showing a lot of developmental hope. 

The former Kansas athlete was drafted 13th overall in 2023. Though, his 3.7-point average in the first 22 games of NBA regular season earned him a spot with the Raptors 905, G League team where he found a better rhythm at a 16.7-point average per game and a 25 per cent three-point shooting average. 

As the Raptors trade away their 2019 NBA Champions OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, they brought back Gradey for a few games making it clear they are aiming to build around youth like him and Scottie Barnes. 

While these three rookies have made an impressive leap into their debut season, there’s still more to see from rookies like Scoot Henderson, drafted third overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, and Brandon Miller, drafted second overall by the Charlotte Hornets. 

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