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.

Turkey Showdown Champions

2015 Team Champions

11U Champs - Middletowns Finest

11U Champs – Middletowns Finest

12U Champs - NJ Shoreshots Nitro

12U Champs – NJ Shoreshots Nitro

14U Champs - NJ Shoreboys

14U Champs – NJ Shoreboys

13U BLUE Champs - NY Rens

13U BLUE Champs – NY Rens

13U WHITE Champs - Metro Mavericks

13U WHITE Champs – Metro Mavericks

2015 Most Valuable Players

11U MVP - Tarik Watson

11U MVP – Tarik Watson

12U MVP - Ben Roy

12U MVP – Ben Roy

14U MVP - Jacob Hopping

14U MVP – Jacob Hopping

13U BLUE MVP - Maurice Doby

13U BLUE MVP – Maurice Doby

13U WHTE MVP - Matt Milman

13U WHTE MVP – Matt Milman

ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Good News or ACC or Bad News For Big Ten

The ACC/Big Ten “Challenge” has been around for 10 years now. A non-conference event that matches up a Big Ten team against an ACC team so see which conference can take home the bragging rights. It’s a bit of a mismatch, as the ACC is typically the deepest conference in college basketball year in and year out. This year however was different. The ACC blew the doors off the Big Ten. This makes us wonder, is the ACC really that good? Or is the Big Ten worse than expected?

The ACC won the challenge 11-3, with the only wins coming from Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. Otherwise, it was not close. There were moral victories, sure. Indiana went toe-to-toe with Duke for 35 minutes. It showed us a much different team than the one that gone manhandled by Indiana State at the beginning of the year. However, there were not many other positives to take away from this challenge for the Big Ten.

Minnesota, a favorite in the conference, lost at home, albeit to a good Miami team. Michigan got pounded by a Tar Heel team that was embarrassed by Michigan State a few days prior. Shows the gap between those two rival schools. NCAA Tournament hopeful Northwestern lost to Georgia Tech at the buzzer. Wisconsin managed just 37 points against Virginia’s defense. And the list goes on.

Is the ACC Good? Is the Big Ten Bad?

Such a lopsided result poses the question: Is the ACC that good, or is the Big Ten that bad? We knew the Big Ten was top heavy. Michigan State is a title contender, and Purdue and Minnesota are expected tournament teams. Outside that though, there are major question marks that were not answered. Michigan did not look capable of competing with top teams, Northwestern suffered its third non-conference loss, and Illinois lost to a struggling Wake Forest team. There’s not much to take away.

Don’t get me wrong, the ACC is tough. Duke, UNC, Notre Dame, Miami are VERY good. They will all sit around the top 15 much of the year, as will Lousiville. We learned Syracuse is more real than we thought, thanks to the emergence of Frank Howard. Virginia is Virginia, and their defense will have them dancing again. But outside them, who else is legit? Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech are not locks by any means. Wake Forest has had major struggles and Georgia Tech is still a question mark with their suspensions.

It’s not expected for the Big Ten to win this challenge. I’m not sure any conference can beat the ACC in this challenge. But the Big Ten’s inability to keep it close at all, shows there are major weaknesses in the conference. It’s possible we only see three, maybe four teams make the big dance come Selection Sunday. 

Can Highlight Tapes Help My Recruitment?

During the 2016/2017 season, over 550 thousand males and 430 thousand females  participated in a high school basketball program. For this reason, few high school players are actively recruited by college coaches. The overwhelming majority must figure out a way to sell themselves to college coaches to be noticed.

How Do I Get Coaches to Notice Me?

Once you reach out, the first thing a coach is going to ask is “Can you send me your film”. Since they can not be everywhere, coaches will often use this as a method to weed out, prioritize and research athletes. It is important to have film clipped, sorted and ready to share with coaches. Sharing your a highlight tape saves coaches hours of sorting film and allows you to showcase your strengths.

What Should I Include in My Highlight Tape?

A highlight tape should be what it sounds like : short, entertaining and effective. Coaches can often watch two possessions and be able to size up a player. Therefore, what you choose to include is paramount. Some things to keep in mind while you are selecting your content include:



  1. Keep it short. The ideal length for a highlight tape is between 2-3 mins. This allows you to showcase a variety of talents without losing interest.
  2. Add variety. Mixing in defensive plays, assists, foul shots, off the ball movement and plays in transition help maintain a coaches interest and helps give coaches a full understanding of a player.
  3. Consider your music selection. Including music in your highlight tape can help maintain an interest, but be careful it does not take away from the film or turn coaches away.
  4. Post it to YouTube or Vimeo. If coaches are not going to watch a 4 min highlight video, they definitely are not going to wait that long to download it. Uploading your video and including a clickable link in an email saves you the hassle of uploading the file multiple times and coaches the hassle of downloading large files.
  5. Include your information. Providing your name, contact information, school and height gives puts the information coaches look for right in front of them.

Highlight tapes are a great tool for early in the recruiting process. When starting to recruit a class, coaches need to research a large number of players, and do not have the ability to be courtside at every game to see everyone. Most times, players need to find a way to put themselves in front of coaches. Highlight tapes are a great way to showcase what you are capable of at your best in a short, concise, and professional video that does not take as long to view as a raw game film.



Begin your recruiting process the right way with Hoop Group Highlights!

For more information on purchasing a highlight tape, please see our Hoop Group Highlights page.

Improving Your 3-Point Shooting with a Successful Offense

In today’s NBA, many of the professional teams that are competitive contenders year in and year out have four main offensive qualities, which are vital to a successful postseason run.


The first quality in learning how to get better at basketball on the offensive end is rebounding. Offensive rebounds are very important because they give your team more possessions and opportunities to score after failed attempts at field goals. Offensive rebounds also reset the shot clock, which helps the team control the time of possession in the game.


The second main quality of effective basketball skills training on offense is passing. Greg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs is the engineer of a tested and successful offensive system that is predicated on unselfish play. Passing on offense disrupts defensive schemes, thoroughly utilizes the shot clock, and eventually leads to well-assisted, high-percentage shots that the team can depend on. Also, if an offensive play breaks down due to double or triple-teams by the opposing defense, making that extra pass can work wonders.

Ball Screening

The third main quality of an effective offense is ball screening. Setting screens is a valuable skill that is taught in basketball clinics when children are enjoying their first years of playing the sport. There are a number of good reasons why setting clean ball screens is important. One reason is that good player movement on offense can throw a defense off guard and force help on that side of the ball. If the opposition’s defensive anchor is not communicating well, offenses can take advantage of it.

Setting great ball screens is usually even more effective if some type of activity is happening before the screen is set, which causes the opposing team’s power forward or center to leave their spot on the floor to rove behind the play.

3-Point Shooting

The fourth and final main quality of a successful basketball offensive is 3-point shooting. 3-pointers are a big plus because they obviously put more points on the board when they are scored consistently at a high rate during any given game.

When you look at today’s professional league, the great teams who put themselves in a great position to compete for a championship every year are the teams who have a collective 3-point field goal total that hovers around 40%. Really great 3-point shooters who have great individual percentages from behind the arc are very valuable teammates to have in today’s era. Players from the past, such as Reggie Miller and Ray Allen were excellent 3-point shooters.

Currently, NBA players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver can dominate games with their uncanny ability to score 3-pointers consistently, against any defense. However, the best shots are the ones that are taken and made without a defender in sight. Getting to this point involves doing all the other things (offensive rebounding, passing, and ball screening) consistently.

Improving your 3-point shooting involves practice on a regular basis. The most successful professional players will tell you that there’s no premium you can put on shooting that ball behind the arc countless times a day during practice. Great shooting is also about body positioning and developing a shooting style that you use every time you attempt a shot. Like any other attempt, you have to have a great release and follow through.

If you’re interested in improving your offensive skills and developing your 3-point shooting, choose a youth basketball camp that’s dedicated to bring players to the next level.  Keeping these things in mind, you’ll be defeating competition in no time.