While we still have a few 2020/21 Panini Basketball releases on the calendar, the 2021/22 season kicks off preseason games October 3rd with the regular season scheduled to begin on October 19th. Here’s a look at five of the top rookies that we will be chasing this season plus a bonus sleeper!

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Cade Cunningham – Detroit Pistons (Drafted No. 1 Overall)

Cade enters the year as a well-rounded rookie that can score and play defense. He landed in a good spot in Detroit filled with young talent but lacking a true number one option on offense. Cade should be able to lead this team as a tall (6′ 7″) playmaking guard alongside Killian Hayes who missed the majority of last season due to injury. The sky is the limit for Cade with the opportunites that the Pistons will give him to develop this year.

Jalen Green – Houston Rockets (Drafted No. 2 Overall)

Green can flat out score. It would not shock me at all to see Green become the top player from this draft. He was ridiculously efficient shooting the ball in the NBA Summer League and avaraged over 20 points a game. Green played last season with the G-League Ignite which could also give him an advantage over other rookies attempting to adjust from the pace of college games. My only hesitation with Green is the presence of John Wall in Houston along with the late-season breakout of Kevin Porter Jr last year. I still see Green as the leading scorer for rookies this year.

Jalen Suggs – Orlando Magic (Drafted No. 5 Overall)

I have to admit that I am a little biased on Suggs after watching him dominate high school basketball (and football) here in Minnesota, but Suggs is an incredible athlete. Everyone got to see his athleticism on display as a freshman at Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament. Suggs is a well rounded guard that will make a nice addition to the young Magic backcourt of Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz. The Magic are rebuilding and desparately need someone to lead the team.

Evan Mobley – Cleveland Cavaliers (Drafted No. 3 Overall)

Mobley is the top non-guard on my list. He joins another team in the midst of a rebuild and the only player standing in his way appears to be Kevin Love. There is zero chance Love can stay healthy for a full season, so look for Mobley and Jarrett Allen to get plenty of playing time together and wreak havoc in the frontcourt. My only other concern here will be that the Cavaliers have guards that like to shoot the ball a ton in Sexton and Garland.

Jonathan Kuminga – Golden State Warriors (Drafted No. 7 Overall)

If you haven’t watched any of Kuminga and Green’s highlights from playing together with the G-League Ignite, do yourself a favor and take 15-minute YouTube break right now. Kuminga will not have an immediate starting role on a deep team that could be a playoff contender with the return of Klay Thompson. With Andrew Wiggins making the decision to not get vaccinated thus far, Kuminga could play his way into a significant role in games that Wiggins is forced to miss. Steph-Klay-Kuminga-Draymond-Wiseman could be a crazy fun lineup to watch scorch opposing teams this season.

Sleeper – Cameron Thomas – Brooklyn Nets (Drafted No. 27 Overall)

Thomas absolutely torched the NBA Summer League, averaging nearly 30 points a game. He has proven that he can shoot, but will need to develop other aspects of his game in order to crack the Nets rotation. Just like the Wiggins situation in Golden State, Kyrie refusing to get vaccinated may open the door for Thomas to move up the depth chart.


2021/22 Panini Chronicles Draft Picks Basketball Hobby Box


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