NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 7

Welcome back to our 7th installment of our rookie power rankings. We are starting to see some rookies separate themselves from the rest of the pack, some still working out struggles during their adjustment period to the NBA, and one rookie standing up as a serious contender for Rookie of the Year. Let’s check out who’s rising, falling and everyone in-between in this weeks edition of the Hoop Group Insider Rookie Power Rankings. First let’s take a look back at Week 6:

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers
2. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics
4. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers
5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls
6. Dennis Smith – Mavs
7. John Collins – Hawks
8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers
9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings
10. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

Week 7 Rankings

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

While Simmons still rests safely atop the rookie power rankings, he is beginning to feel heat for the first time all season when it comes to his number one spot. This week Simmons showed off his rare ability as a passer as he is on a three game stretch in which he has dished out at least 10 assists in every contest. On Wednesday night against the Lakers he poured in a triple-double to the tune of 12 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. While the 76ers struggled this past week Simmons has continued on one of the more dominant rookie campaigns in NBA history.

2. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

No rookie has been playing better than Mitchell over the last two weeks, and he is continuing to improve at a rapid pace. Over his last 5 games Mitchell is averaging 26.2 points per game on 47% from the field, 43% from 3 and 89% from the line. He is averaging 17.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3 rebounds per game over the course of his rookie season and is flashing potential perennial all-star capabilities night after night. He still trails Simmons by a considerable margin, but if Mitchell keeps up his current pace he could become a legitimate contender for the Rookie of the Year award.

3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

His numbers, albeit solid for a rookie, are not wowing anyone, but Tatum has been the best rookie not named Simmons or Mitchell thus far this season. Maybe the most impressive part of his season thus far has been his shooting  and that has shown no signs of slowing down. He is shooting an absurd 57.4% on catch-and-shoot three point attempts, while his shooting percentages are as follows 51.2% from the field, 52.3% from 3 and 83.8% from the line. Those numbers are impressive for a veteran, let alone a rookie. Tatum will probably get a ring before anyone else on this list, and will be one of the top 3 players from this class when its all said and done.

4. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

The Arizona product is our first person too make moves this week as he rises one spot up to number four. Markkanen had a quiet first half of the week, but had two awesome performances over the weekend against the Hornets (24 points/12 rebounds) and Knicks (15 points/8 rebounds). Lauri is averaging 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a game and is shooting a respectable 34% from the three point line and 84% from the line. He will need to continue to improve his defense and finishing near the rim, but he has gotten off to a pretty good start over the first couple of months of his NBA career.

5. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma traded spots with Markkanen this week as he fell back to number five in our power rankings. He chipped in a measly 3 points and 2 rebounds against the Sixers on Wednesday, but did bounce back with 12 points and 14 rebounds against the Hornets. He is holding steady with averages of 16 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the floor and 37% from 3. Kuzma had one of the poorer weeks of his rookie campaign, but look for him to bounce back this week starting against the Knicks on Tuesday night.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs

Smith strained his hip last week, and will miss his third straight game tomorrow night, and could potentially miss more than that. Hopefully Smith gets healthy in short order, and gets back to providing us with more games like he did against Denver last Monday (20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists). Smith is averaging 14.4 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game for the struggling Mavericks, but was looking to turn a corner over the last few weeks. As he gets healthier and becomes more consistent he will only rise up these rankings as the season moves along.

7. John Collins – Hawks

Despite missing all of this past week, and all of this week, no rookie has done enough to upend Collins from the seventh spot in our rankings. His efficiency has been a shock to casual NBA fans, but he showed consistent hints at his NBA potential during his two year stint at Wake Forest for coach Danny Manning. The Hawks have the second worst record in the Eastern Conference and will fight with the Bulls all season for the highest chance at the number one pick in the 2018 Draft. While there is not many reasons to go out of your way to watch the Hawks this season, check in at least once while Collins is healthy to see why the rookie has been a mainstay in our rankings for almost the entire season.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Ball had a decent shooting week by his standards and found a variety of ways to impact both Lakers wins during the seventh week of the NBA season. In a win against the Sixers he contributed 10 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals. He has shown greater command of the offense as the season has carried on and is looking to get more comfortable shooting the ball, although he has a long ways to go. While two-thirds of the Big Baller Brand is taking their talents to Lithuania in 2018, Lonzo looks to hold down the mainland as he continues to get used to the NBA game week by week.

9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox’s season has been one of consistent inconsistencies. One game (14 points, 4 assists against the Pelicans on Friday for example) he shows the monster potential he possesses, while the next (6 points, 2 assists against the Cavs in 30 minutes) he shows major struggles. Fox is averaging 10.1 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds a game while shooting 40% from the field. Fox will need to continue to show improvement throughout the season in order to climb up the rankings, but unless a couple of guys make some moves he seems like a lock to remain in the top 10 for most of the regular season.

10. Frank Mason – Kings

This is the second straight week a new Sacramento Kings guard has graced the tenth spot, but Kansas alum Frank Mason has found his way into the top 10 rankings for the first time. Mason hit double digits twice this week (15 against the Cavs and 12 against the Pelicans). At times he has outplayed his rookie counterpart Fox. Most impressive part of Mason’s game this early in his NBA career has been his shooting, as he is currently hitting 41% of his shots from the field, 46% from 3 and 77% from the line. Mason may not have the long term potential of someone like Fox, but looks to be a candidate to stick in the league for the next decade plus.

Honorable Mention:

Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings
Maxi Kleber – Mavs
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
Mike James – Suns
Josh Jackson – Suns

NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 6

Welcome back for Volume Six of our HG Inside NBA Rookie Power Rankings. The NBA was back in full swing after a semi-shortened holiday week for Thanksgiving. The rookies continued to show promise, and we have our first legitimate contender to potentially (probably not, but the ROY race could use some drama) contend with Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. Let’s take a look back at our week 5 rankings, and then jump right into week 6:

Week 5 NBA Rookie Power Rankings

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers
2. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers
3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics
4. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls
6. John Collins – Hawks
7. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs
8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers
9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings
10. Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies

Honorable Mention
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Malik Monk – Hornets
Mike James – Suns
Josh Jackson – Suns

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

Simmons sits at number 1 after receiving the Rookie of the Month award for November. Simmons has been spectacular, even if he did not produce at his usual high level this week. While he went for 31 points and 18 rebounds against the Wizards on Wednesday, he shot 15-29 from the foul line, something that he will have to continue to improve over the course of his career. This week should be an interesting one for Simmons, with rookie centered match-ups against the Suns and Lakers early in this week. The Sixerrs then have back-to-back road games against the Cavs and Pelicans next weekend. Expect the LSU product to continue to produce at a high level and continue one of the better rookie campaigns in NBA history.

2. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

The Jazz went 3-0 this week, and Mitchell may have had his coming out party on Friday night against the Pelicans. The former Louisville guard went for 41 points, including 6-12 from the 3 point line. In the other two games, Mitchell averaged 20 points and 4 assists against the Clippers and Nuggets. Mitchell has been on a tear over the last month, and his last 5 games he has been nothing short of sensational for a rookie. Tell me a team that would not sign up for 21.8 points, 4.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game on 47% from the floor, 48% from 3 and 76% from the line. Mitchell still has a ways to go, but he may end as one of the top 2 players to come from this draft class when all is said and done.

3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

The Duke product has remained steady for his play, and has emerged as one of the go-to Celtics offensively down the stretch in close games. Tatum is averaging 4.4 points per game in the 4th quarter. Tatum rounded out Week 6 averaging 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, with shooting percentages that are still absurd. He is shooting 50% from the floor, 49% from 3 and 83% from the line. The rookie shows poise beyond his years, and is going to eventually become an all-star. Luckily for the Celtics, they have more than enough room to be patient.

4. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

While Kuzma has seen himself fall two spots in the sixth installment of our rankings, it is far from an indictment for how he has played thus far. He sat out Wednesday nights contest against the Golden State Warriors, but averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds a game in road losses to the Clippers (not quite on the road, but as part of the away team) and Nuggets. His averages of 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds a game are very good for a rookie and he has shot 48% from 3 in his last 5 games, which shows he will continue to be a lethal threat on the perimeter for years to come for LA. Growing pains are going to be part of the process, but the Lakers have a lot to look forward to in the future.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

Markkanen has been one of the very few bright spots on an absolutely atrocious Bulls team. Up until the last couple of games he has been in the midst of a shooting slump. Over the course of his last five games the Arizona product is shooting 33.8% from the floor, and 34.3% from 3. However, he showed signs of starting to get back into a rhythm over the last couple of games, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds a game against the Kings and Nuggets. It is going to be a tough year in Chicago, but better days are ahead. The Bulls will almost assuredly wind up with a top 5 pick at their current rate, and a potential pairing of Markkanen and DeAndre Ayton/Mo Bomba/Marvin Bagley would solidify the Bulls front court.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs

Every week, Smith has plays that leave us imaging how bright his future is going to be once he puts it all together. He is starting to show signs of picking up the Mavs offensive system and figure out the speed of the NBA game. Smith is averaging 14.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game over his last five games. Continuing to improve as a shooter and improving his assist to turnover ratio are things to watch as Smith improves over the next few years. Smith is a big week away from finding himself among the top 5 in our Rookie Power Rankings.

7. John Collins – Hawks

While Friday brought about the bad news that Collins is going to miss the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury, the Hawks rookie has been impressive while healthy. He is averaging 11.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game while shooting 59.2% from the floor and 76.6% from the floor. He chipped in 13 points and 7 rebounds on 6-7 shooting in 26 minutes against the Cavs on Wednesday. Collins 20.49 PER is extremely impressive for the rookie. It is going to be great for the Hawks, and NBA junkies in general, to get Collins healthy and back on the floor as soon as possible.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Ball made headlines this week, or was apart of them, as Jamal Murray dribbled around him in the closing seconds of a loss to the Nuggets. He struggled Monday in a game against the crosstown rival the Clippers, but played solid against the Warriors and the Nuggets. The 15 points and 10 assists he had against the Warriors might have been his most impressive performance of his rookie campaign, outside of his triple-doubles. Ball has a long way to go, but has shown signs of slowly starting to pick up and adjust to the pace of the NBA game.

9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox has been holding steady as one of the more positive presences for the lowly Sacramento Kings. While he struggled with his first 3 games of the week he rebounded nicely and chipped in 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in a loss at Milwaukee. Fox needs to continue to become more consistent and make strides as a shooter. The potential with Fox is great, and it will be interesting to see how he continues to improve throughout the course of his rookie season and career.

10. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

While his first and last name are spelled almost exactly the same, the Serbian rookie (by way of the 2014 1st round) has played himself into top 10 contention in the Rookie Power Rankings over the last few weeks. In his last 5 games Bogdanovic is averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2 rebounds a game while shooting 51% from the field, 36.5% from 3 and 75% from the line. Bogdanovic has been taking minutes from fellow rookie Justin Jackson on one of the youngest teams in the league. Going to be interesting to see how his role expands (or falls off) over the course of the season.

Honorable Mention:

Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Frank Mason – Kings
Luke Kennard – Pistons
Mike James – Suns

As always feel free to comment on anyone we may have missed on, any disagreements or any comments in general either in the comments below or on Twitter.

NBA Rookie Power Rankings – Week Five

Welcome back to the fifth installment of our HG Insider NBA Rookie Power Rankings for the 2017-2018 season. This loaded rookie class has done little to disappoint the hype they carried with them into the league thus far early in their careers. The fifth week of the NBA season was a bit shorter than the others due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, but it still saw rookies having an impact and included some movers in these very rankings. Let’s take a look at how the rookies stacked up in Week 5.

Week 4 Rankings:

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers
2. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers
3. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls
4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics
5. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs
7. John Collins – Hawks
8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers
9. Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
10. OG Anunoby – Raptors

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

Simmons missed Saturday’s win against the surprising Orlando Magic due to soreness in his elbow, but with two great showings earlier in the week he remains at the top. 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game are still jaw dropping numbers from a rookie. 51% shooting from the field is nothing to slouch at either. He had 27 points and 10 rebounds against the Jazz and 16 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds against Portland (both wins). Simmons did nothing to even give a glimmer of hope for someone planning to take the number one spot from him.

2. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma holds on to the number two ranking for the second week in a row for the HG Insider Rookie Power Rankings. He chipped in 22 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a match-up against the Bulls. He also contributed 17 against the Kings on the night before Thanksgiving. Kuzma comes into week six with averages of 16.8 points, and 6.3 rebounds a game while shooting 49.8% from the field, 36.6% from 3 and 75.9% from the line. Magic Johnson has to be increasingly happy with each passing week that he made a move for Kuzma on draft night back in June.

3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

Tatum saw his ranking go up by one spot in this week’s installment of the rookie rankings thanks to his ability to contribute at an efficient level for the leagues best team. While he scored just 11 points in each of the last two games, the Duke product made winning plays, and showed glimpses of his superstar level potential in two games this week. Tatum is averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages, 49.2% from the field and 47.6% from 3 and 84.1% from the free-throw line, are still abnormally good for a rookie. The wing has been steady, if nothing else, and it is going to be a nightmare for teams to compete with him and Jaylen Brown on the wings as the duo continues to get better and gain experience.

4. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Mitchell moves up the rankings one spot this week, and looks poised to continue to make moves up the board as he grows more consistent with his play. The Jazz rookie helped lead the team to a 2-1 week, with big performances against the 76ers and the Bucks, two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. While he struggled from the floor against the Bulls (1-10 from the floor, 4 points), he contributed in other ways to help the Jazz get a win at home (7 assists and 5 rebounds). In his last 5 games the former Louisville guard is averaging 14.4 points, 5.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds a game while shooting (and this is where it gets weird) 36.2% from the floor and 39.3% from long range. Mitchell has been playing well, but he also has to focus on his shooting and consistency finishing at the rim as he progresses as a pro.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

Markkanen had a relatively quiet week (by his standards thus far), and the Bulls dropped all three contests in week five, which caused him to slide just a hair. He chipped in 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Lakers on Tuesday night, scored only 3 against the Jazz, but rebounded to give the Warriors 14 and 6 in his last game of the week. Lauri is averaging 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds a night and proving to be a good floor spacer (34.5% from downtown). With Nikola Mirotic slated to return to the lineup soon, it will be interesting to see if this at all effects any minutes/touches given to Markkanen.

6. John Collins – Hawks

Collins moves up one spot to number 6 in the week five installment of our rankings. He may have had the best week of all rookies on this list. He was one rebound shy of posting back-to-back double-doubles, but perhaps what is most impressive is the rate at which he has been converting his shots around the rim. Collins is shooting 74.4% from the floor in his last 5 games. He undoubtedly has been one of the very few bright spots for the Hawks this season. Collins won’t always make the highlight reels, but the rookie has been efficient and consistent. If he keeps up his current pace will only continue seeing his stock rise in the coming weeks.

7. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

Smith Jr. rebounded in a positive manner from the struggles that he endured on the court during week four, but still saw his ranking fall one spot during the week five installment of our rankings. The NC State product is a threat to climb back up the rankings as his play breeds some more consistency, but he showed that his ceiling is higher than most everyone else during week five. He led the Mavericks to a 2-1 record during the week, including a 15 point, 4 assist performance against Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder. He has showed a greater command of the offense with each passing week, but like most every rookie not named Jayson Tatum, Smith needs to work on improving his shot-making abilities (31% from the floor and 25% from 3 in his last 5 contests).

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Lonzo’s struggles from the floor have continued, but the rookie has been contributing in other ways for the Lakers as he continues to adjust to life as the face of the NBA’s most prominent franchise. Lonzo contributed 8 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists against the Bulls on Tuesday. He also outplayed fellow rookie lead guard De’Aaron Fox in a loss to the Kings (11 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds while shooting 3-5 from three point range). Ball is still working diligently on finding his shot, and the solution to that lays more in the long term than in the short term/ That said, he has assimilated himself as a playmaker and someone who has been disruptive in passing lanes on the defensive end averaging 1.4 steals per game. His first shoe, the ZO2’s are getting ready to be sent out in the coming days and Ball looks to capitalize on the further notoriety and continue to work his way up the rookie power rankings.

9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox worked himself back into the rookie power rankings this week coming in at the number 9 spot. He had a solid week, and flashed some of the brilliance that give Kings fan a sliver of hope for their future. Fox is averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game while shooting a respectable (compared to other rookie PG’s) 40.2% from the floor and 30.8% from 3 point range. The Kings stink, and Fox shares touches with George Hill, but he has the potential to rise in the rankings as the season goes on.

10. Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies

Brooks falls one spot in the rankings to number 10, but continues his great play as a role player for the Grizzlies early in the ’17-’18. The highlight of his week was chipping in 13 points against the Mavericks in a loss on Wednesday. Brooks has been contributing in ways that aren’t showing up on the stat sheet, but his numbers of 9.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists are not too shabby either. Is Brooks a legitimate ROY threat? No, but he looks to have been a great get for the Grizz.

Honorable Mention:

OG Anunoby – Raptors
Malik Monk – Hornets
Mike James – Suns
Josh Jackson – Suns

NBA Rookie Power Rankings – Week 4

We are officially one month into the NBA season, and have a sizeable data sample to use to help put together the Week 4 Edition of HG Insider’s NBA Rookie Power Rankings. Players are beginning to separate themselves, weaknesses that need improving are becoming apparent and some guys are starting to see the game slow down enough for them to contribute at a more efficient rate. Let’s take a look at the Week 3 rankings before we look at how Week 4 stacks up.

1. Ben Simmons
2. Jayson Tatum
3. Dennis Smith Jr.
4. Kyle Kuzma
5. Lauri Markkanen
6. Donovan Mitchell
7. Lonzo Ball
8. John Collins
9. De’Aaron Fox
10. Mike James

Honorable Mention:

Malik Monk
Josh Jackson
Frank Ntilikina
Dillon Brooks

Without further ado, let’s dive into the Week 4 rankings:

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

I am running out of superlatives to describe Simmons at this rate. He continues to hold the number one spot in a death grip. As of Monday he checks in with averages of 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8 assists per game, while shooting over 50% from the floor. As long as he stays healthy he has the award locked up, which is saying something for how good this rookie class is.

2. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma has solidified himself as the 2nd best rookie a month into the 2017-2018 campaign. He chipped in 24 points and 7 rebounds against Philadelphia and followed it up two nights later with 30 points and 10 rebounds against the Suns. Kuzma is averaging a solid 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and has shown the ability to score bunches of points in a hurry. #1 steal of the draft, #2 in the HG insider NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

3. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

It is becoming hard to ignore how good Markkanen has been so far, despite how far the Bulls have fallen in the record column. The marksmen from Finland is averaging 15.6 points and 8 rebounds a game. He’s shooting 45% from the floor and 37% from 3. He gave the Thunder and Hornets 16 points a piece, before exploding for 26 points and 13 rebounds against the Suns, his best performance to date in his career. Markkanen will square off against the Lakers on Tuesday night going against fellow rookies Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, in what should be an entertaining match-up.

4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

While Tatum slips to number 4 in this weeks ranking, he has still been proving that he is a future force to be reckoned with in the Association. His averages remain solid at 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, while his shooting percentages border on historic for a rookie at 49.4% from the floor, 47.9% from 3 and 84.3% from the line. He gave the Celtics great minutes down the stretch during the win over the Warriors on Thursday night and continues to play his role well alongside the stacked Celtics lineup.

5. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

If I am picking a favorite rookie, Donovan Mitchell tops this list, while his actual play on the court has garnered him a spot back among the top 5 in this week’s rookie rankings. The Louisville product is a walking highlight reel, who can stockpile a ton of points in a short amount of time. His 15 point, 8 assist, 7 rebound effort against the Nets shows the versatile potential he has down the line playing the point guard position for the Jazz, and his 24 points against Minnesota showed his elite scoring potential. The Jazz had a rough week in the W/L column, but Mitchell continued to show promise, and even bought his mom a car. Two out of three ain’t so bad.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

Smith Jr. took a tumble in this weeks rankings due to some poor outings in the latter half of the week. Smith is a rookie, he won’t be immune to these stretches, and neither will anyone else besides maybe Simmons. Smith exploded early in the week for 27 against the Spurs and seemed like a lock to move into the 2nd spot behind Simmons. Unfortunately he  followed it up with two straight outings with point totals in the single digits. Smith looks to rebound from his growing pains this week starting with the Celtics Monday night.

7. John Collins – Hawks

Collins had a good week, bouncing back from his lackluster week 3, and moving himself up one spot in our rookie power rankings. Collins is averaging 11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 54.5% from the floor and 76.7% from the line for the Hawks. He capped off a strong week with an 18 point, 7 rebound effort against the leagues best team, the Boston Celtics. Collins has been a welcome addition for the Hawks and gives Atlanta fans something to look forward to in the future.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Ball struggled mightily in 3 of the 4 games in which he participated in during week 4, but bounced back with his second career triple-double on Sunday night. He contributed 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in an 18 point win over the Denver Nuggets. The story remains the same for Ball. He impacts the game in a multitude of ways, but he still continues to struggle to make shots. Ball will continue to have ups and downs, but he does show significant promise at times, which makes him harder to ignore than other rookies enduring the same struggles to begin their NBA careers.

9. Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies

Brooks makes his first appearance on the list as he has fit in seamlessly to the Grizzlies culture in Memphis. During the month of November he has averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game, shot 44% from the floor. He has also made a countless number of plays that do not appear in the stat sheet to help the Grizzlies win games. Brooks may not possess the upside of other rookies in this class, but he has shown early that he is going to carve out a nice career for himself in the NBA. It will be interesting to see how his role expands as we get deeper into the season and he continues to adjust to life as an NBA player.

10. OG Anunoby – Raptors

Speaking of first timers who specialize in making winning plays for a good team, Anunoby has been a surprise for casual basketball fans. If an early December injury had not derailed OG’s season at Indiana last season he would have gone much higher in the NBA draft. Anunoby has been a very good defender by rookie standards, by evidence of his defense against James Harden. He is also showing offensive promise, 16 points and 3-4 from 3 point rang against the Rockets. Anunoby should continue to rise and has very good long term potential to be a difference maker in the league.

Honorable Mention:

De’Aaron Fox – Kings
Josh Jackson – Suns
Luke Kennard – Pistons
Mike James – Suns

Sidenote: The Sixers have announced that we may be less than a month from getting a healthy (fingers crossed) Markelle Fultz back in the fold. Not only would that be huge for Philly, and the HG and DeMatha alum Fultz, but also for basketball junkies everywhere.

Sixers vs. Lakers: Embiid refuses to be Outshined

The Sixers and Lakers met on Wednesday night at the Staples Center, in a much anticipated early season match-up. The hype around this game surrounded two rookies, but quickly turned into a further coming out party for two blossoming sophomore NBA talents. The Sixers outscored the Lakers 32-25 in the fourth to pull away for a 115-109 victory on the road. Let’s take a look at some of the games prevailing storylines.

Sophomore Slump? Not a chance

A game originally focused around two star rookies, Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball, turned into a career night for Joel Embiid.  Additionally, second year man Brandon Ingram had a great night on the other end for the LA. Embiid chipped in 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 blocks and 7 assists on 14/20 from the floor and 16/19 from the line in Philly’s win. The center from Kansas is asserting himself as one of the best players in the league, which is incredible when you account that Wednesday was the 43rd career game he has played in at the NBA level. Describing him as anything other than unfair is underselling his current and potential (scary he can still get a lot better) production level way short.

Ingram scored 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 3 assists for the Lakers. Ingram has gotten off to a good start during his second season. After struggling at times during his rookie campaign, he has upped his scoring 5 points per game (9 to 14), rebounding is up by 1.2 boards per game (4 to 5.2) and his shooting percentages are up across the board. While the North Carolina product has a ways to go, the developments he has shown early this season have been extremely promising. Ingram/Kuzma could develop into quite the combo down the road, if the Lakers exercise patience here, but with potentially enough cap room to go after two max players in the summer of 2018, it remains to be seen if both remain in the LA’s long-term plans.

The Good: Rookie Edition

While overshadowed by a career night from Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons looked every bit worth the hype on Wednesday night. The rookie went for 18 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds and 5 steals. He was one rebound shy of a triple-double, and finished a couple of tough buckets around the rim over Lonzo Ball. The first quarter was a great representation of the chemistry building between Simmons and Embiid. Both players dished out 3 assists (mostly to each other) and imposed their will whenever they wanted. Philly invested heavily in trusting the process and its is paying major dividends. Future Celtics/Sixers series in the Eastern Conference playoffs will be must watch television.

Kyle Kuzma continued his hot start to his rookie season as well Wednesday night. The rookie from Utah chipped in 24 points and 7 rebounds, and provided a nice complement to Brandon Ingram’s scoring throughout most of the night. Kuzma was extremely underrated coming out of college, and has proven to potentially become a factor in the rookie of the year race. While their more heralded rookie is off to a slower start, Lakers fans have to be excited about the promise shown from Mr. Kuzma.


The Bad: Rookie Edition

Lonzo Ball’s struggles continued on Wednesday night as the 2nd overall pick could not get anything going. The rookie played just 21 minutes and mustered 2 points on 1-9 from the field (0-6 from 3). He also only added 5 rebounds and 2 assists to that line. While Lonzo is talented, he has struggled mightily with adjusting to the NBA game. His shooting percentages, 30% from the field, 23% from 3 and 50% from the line, are indicative of both his inability to finish around the rim and hit the three ball with any consistency. We are still a month into his rookie year, and Lonzo is going to only get better, but it is hard to ignore the obvious struggles he has had. I, for one, am rooting for Lonzo, but he has a longer ways to go than originally thought.

While the Lakers were always going to struggle this year it’s been good to see some of their young players step up and perform consistently night after night. Once Lonzo gets it together and makes more consistent strides in the right direction, it is going to be fun watching Ball/Kuzma/Ingram develop a foundation for the legendary franchise. For Philadelphia, they look like they have the makings of a playoff team, and one that no one in the Eastern Conference wants to see in the playoffs. Are they a threat to win a title this year? Absolutely not, but they will be a factor for years to come, as long as they can stay healthy.