Rookie Power Rankings Week 1

The NBA season is now a week old, and it is time for the first installment of our rookie power rankings at Hoop Group Insider. While the sample size is small, some rookies are living up to the hype, some are off to a slow start and there are even a couple of surprises. Let’s take a look at the pre-season ranking for reference before diving into the Week 1 rankings:

1. Lonzo Ball
2. Ben Simmons
3. Markelle Fultz
4. Dennis Smith Jr.
5. Jayson Tatum
6. Josh Jackson
7. D’Aaron Fox
8. Malik Monk
9. Jonathan Isaac
10. Bam Adebayo

Now onto Week 1:

1. Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76’ers

Simmons is off to a hot start as he is averaging a double-double (16.4 points and 10 rebounds a game) while flashing the court vision that made him such a special prospect (7.4 assists per game). Simmons is shooting at a 48% clip, and posted his first of many career triple-doubles this past Monday against the Pistons. While the 76’ers are off to a slow start, Simmons has proven to be well worth the hype early. His next game against fellow Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is one to keep an eye on for NBA junkies.

2. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Tatum opened his rookie campaign as a starter on one of the best teams in the league, and with Gordon Hayward’s injury will assume an even greater role within the Celtics offense. He is averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a game while shooting 48% from the floor and 46% from 3-point range. In his last two games he has been averaging 19 points a game and figures to become a mainstay in the C’s offense for years to come. Originally I did not see Tatum getting enough touches to win Rookie of the Year, but if week one is any indication he will find himself in the thick of the race from beginning to seasons end.

3. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings

Fox has been extremely impressive early, showing the athleticism and skill to warrant the comparison of a much younger and raw left-handed version of John Wall. Fox is averaging 15/5/5 while shooting 46% from the field and 40% from 3. The Kings are going to be bad this season, but will be an interesting team to follow with all the young UK talent in the lineup in Fox/Cauley-Stein/Labissiere. Fox probably won’t win the Rookie of the Year, but he could end up being amongst the top 2-3 players in this draft class.

4. Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers

Ball had a rather lackluster debut, and has struggled shooting the basketball, but he is averaging 11.5/9/9 and is showing glimpses of the potential that made him such a hyped prospect. Lonzo is going to be among the league’s top assist men for years , and as he gets more comfortable could make a legitimate run at averaging 10+ assists per game as a rookie. On the flip side shooting 5-26 over a two game stretch shows how far Lonzo still has to go on the offensive side of the ball. Ball has been far from perfect, but he has shown flashes early on in his rookie campaign.

5. Dennis Smith Jr – Dallas Mavericks

Smith, a Hoop Group alum, opened up his NBA career with a double-double (16 points + 10 assists) against the Atlanta Hawks. Smith sat out the next two games, while playing the last two. Smith is averaging 15 points, 5 assist and 3 rebounds a game and has been given the keys to the Mavericks offense. Smith is shooting at a 48% clip and may find himself higher on this list in the future. The crop of point guards in this rookie class is incredible, and it will be fun to watch them all develop over the course of their rookie seasons.

6. Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls

Markkanen is a new name to this list, and if he keeps up at his current pace he will skyrocket into the top half of the rankings. He is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds a game while shooting over 45% from beyond the arc. Markkanen seemed to struggle at times over the summer in international play, and I was hesitant to list him amongst the top 10 rookies on the initial list, but he looks to be a good piece for the Bulls rebuilding efforts.

7. Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

Jackson has flashed his athleticism and potential at times early on for the floundering Phoenix Suns. He is currently averaging 11 points and 3 rebounds a game, while learning how to impose his athletic ability on the other end, which is still a work in progress. The Suns are going to be awful, which will hurt Jackson’s chances for Rookie of the Year or 1st team All-Rookie, but his development is key for the future of the Suns Franchise.

8. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell is another new name to the list that was absent from the preseason rankings. Mitchell is averaging a modest 7 points and 3 assists per game, but has flashed major defensive potential, and an ability to create his own shot, even though they are not falling at a great clip early on. Mitchell snuck his way into the back end of the rankings due to the potential he has flashed early, and his production should follow as the game continues to slow down for him.

9. Malik Monk – Charlotte Hornets

Monk is averaging 7.5 points per game, and has struggled to find a consistent rhythm early, but he flashed his ability to score in bunches against the Denver Nuggets last night with 17 points. Monk will settle in as the rotations in Charlotte’s lineup tighten and he finds his shot, which is his 2nd best asset. Monk may never crack the top 5 on this list, but he will have plenty of outings similar to his performance against the Nuggets as he adjusts to the pace of the NBA.

10. Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76’ers

Fultz has gotten off to a slow start, and the news only got worse with news of an injured shoulder came out in the past couple of days. Fultz sat out Wednesday nights game against Houston and will miss his next 2 games before being evaluated further. The injury bug and Philadelphia rookie curse is still, unfortunately, alive and well, but hopefully Fultz can heal and get back on the court in short order. It’ll make more sense to evaluate Fultz ROY potential and his fit at the NBA level once we know when he will be 100% healthy.

With a week gone from the NBA regular season slate, these 10 stand out as the top 10 rookies so far. A lot of season left to be played and a lot of names that could still make a run at an appearance on the list. Until next week, rookie power rankings out. Check out the rest of my NBA articles on Hoop Group Insider.

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