NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 11

We’re back with the 11th version of our NBA Rookie Power Rankings for the 2017-2018 season. The Rookie of the Year race is shaping up to be a three player race at this stage of the season with the potential for a couple of others to sneak in with a strong finish over the next few months. Some rookies are beginning to get consistent and put it all together, while others are getting healthy and starting to play up to their pre-NBA billing. Let’s get to the rankings for Week 11, shall we?

1. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

Mitchell holds onto the number one spot in the rankings for the second straight week. While Utah is struggling to stay healthy, the Louisville product continues to show promise each and every time out, as he is quickly establishing himself as the franchise player that will fill the void left behind by Gordon Hayward. While he had a week highlighted by volume scoring (6-17 and 6-13 performances from the field against the Pelican and Nuggets) he continues to show that he is the best scorer in the rookie class. Utah has a pretty solid core around him and as he continues to develop, learning to make other players better is going to be paramount in him becoming a potential superstar.

2. Ben Simmons – Sixers

As discussed last week, December was not as plentiful for Simmons as the months of October and November were, but the first of week 2018 saw him show signs of bouncing back. The number one spot on the rankings could be in the near future once again. In two Sixer wins, he averaged 22.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in under 30 minutes per contest. Those numbers would have been much higher if the Sixers/Pistons game on Friday was even remotely close (a 114-78 Sixers win). Simmons returns to action on Thursday in London against the Boston Celtics and fellow rookie Jayson Tatum. He will look to continue to get back to the form he was in during the first two months of the season.

3. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuz has struggled over the past couple of weeks, but struggles happen for rookies. They get exasperated when you play in Los Angeles, you play on one of the youngest teams in the league, and your franchise has parents/coaches clashing. Kuzma has struggled from the field over the last five games (35.8%) and is averaging just 13 points a game over the same time frame. Kuzma is going to find his shot again and he will pick it up, but you have to wonder if the rookie wall and the Big Baller Distraction are beginning to take a toll on the rookie at the same time as we dive into the new year.

4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

The Celtics keep winning, even with Tatum having one of his quieter weeks as a pro, offensively speaking. He chipped in 15 points and 5 rebounds against Cleveland and 14 points and 6 rebounds against the Nets. However, his 4 points against the Timberwolves are a career low, but my guess is the rookie is more than happy with the win and the overall position that he is in. Tatum has been playing well defensively and it shows the long term potential that he possesses on both ends of the floor. He has a chance to make a statement on Thursday in London against Philadelphia.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

If there is one word to describe the Finnish products rookie season so far, it would be consistent. Markkanen opened up 2018 on a tear, averaging 17.2 points, and 8.4 rebounds a game in his first 5 games of the calendar year. Even more impressive were his shooting averages for the week; 56.1% from the field, 50% from 3 and 87.5% from the free-throw line. While the Bulls have fallen back to Earth after a red hot stretch in December, Markkanen is one of many reasons for Bulls fans to be excited for their future.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs

Dennis Smith has been both hurt and inconsistent at points during his rookie campaign, but continues to show flashes of brilliance. He started the new year strong with 14 points and 8 assists against the Warriors, while also contributing 15 points and 7 assists against the Bulls two nights later. He had 11 points and 5 assists against the Knicks in a matchup with Frank Ntilikina (remember LeBron’s comments about the two after a Cavs/Knicks game earlier this season), however he sat during crunch time. That is a lesson Rick Carlisle will use to teach the young point guard and make hopefully him better in the future.

7. John Collins – Hawks

Collins had a pretty quiet and inefficient week, by his lofty standards if you’ve been following this very column, but he has still had a good rookie campaign thus far. Minus the time that he has missed, he has been one of the the premier rookies and is still leading in PER (21.06) among the first year guys. He is still shooting 58.4% from the floor, while averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in just 22 minutes per night. He has a chance to rebound this week against the Nuggets and the Nets, and it will be interesting to see if he can get back on track and move his way up these rankings in the future.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

While his dad made headlines yet again this week for comments about the Lakers and Head Coach Luke Walton, and with the Big Baller Classic debut abroad in Lithuania, Lonzo still found a way to have a good week coming off of an injury. He averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game over his first two games back, and continues to handle himself well with the media, despite all the negative attention surrounding his family at the present time. As Ball continues to get healthy it will be interesting to see if he can continue to find his shot, his place within the offense and start to realize the massive hype train that has followed him over the last few years.

De’aaron Fox makes his way back into the Rookie Rankings with a strong week for the Sacramento Kings

9. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

The Serbian product is quietly continuing to have one of the better rookie seasons in the entire league. Older than most rookies (25), he has provided a steady, reliable presence in the Kings back-court to counter the injuries and inconsistency surrounding some of their younger players. He notched double-digits in points and averaged 5 assists per game over his last 3 contests and has all the looks of a guy who is going to stick in the NBA for the next decade. While Bogdanovic does not have the long term potential of his teammate De’Aaron Fox, he can offer a steadying presence that will help the Kings as long as he plays in Sacramento.

10. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox has been notably absent from these rankings for the last few weeks, but now that he is finally healthy he is making a triumphant return. In his first 3 games back against the Spurs, Nuggets and Hornets, the Kentucky Point Guard is averaging 15.3 points, 7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 50% from the floor over this stretch and looks as if the game is starting to slow down for him (a scary proposition with how fast he is). Fox has tremendous long term potential, but the Kings may have to be patient with his development over the course of the season. The Kings are young and they are bad, but Fox has to give the fans some hope for the future.

 

Honorable Mention

Jordan Bell – Warriors
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Bam Adebayo – Heat
Frank Ntilikina – Knicks
Frank Mason – Kings
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
Josh Jackson – Suns
Maxi Kleber – Mavs

NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 10

We’re back for the tenth time this season with our NBA Rookie Power Rankings, but this is the inaugural rankings for the year of 2018. We are rapidly approaching the midway point of the season and the top 7-8 rookies have solidified themselves with movement occurring each week. We look to have a 3-way race for the Rookie of the Year, and the back end of the rankings are fresh with new names surfacing almost every single week. Rookies are coming into their own as they are starting to find their footing with their teams and in the NBA. Lets take a look at this weeks rankings:

1. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Week 10 sees our first installment of the rankings without Ben Simmons at number one. That is no slight to the Sixers budding superstar, but rather speaks to just how good Donovan Mitchell has been. Not only is Mitchell leading all rookies in scoring (18.2 points per game) but he also seems to get better every week. While he struggled at times from the floor in losses to the Nuggets and Warriors, Mitchell showed signs of being a promising defender and improving as a distributor. He was dominant in key moments in a win on Saturday against the Cavs with 29 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. Mitchell will need to keep his foot on the gas to keep this number one spot, but things have officially gotten very interesting between Mitchell, Simmons and Kuzma.

2. Ben Simmons – Sixers

Simmons has been very good and will only continue to get better, but his play has slipped (slightly). Simmons is still a major threat to win Rookie of the Year and some may call him the favorite, but Mitchell was better in December and carries that momentum into 2018. Simmons was great on New Years Eve against the Suns (21 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists) and suggests that he could be getting fully healthy and back on track. No need to fret about Simmons falling from the top spot this week, just time to relax and Trust The Process.

3. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma has been terrific this season and is going to be a very good wing player in the NBA for a long, long time. However, he followed up his best week as a rookie with perhaps his most inconsistent. He was phenomenal on Xmas against Minnesota, chipping in 31 points. He followed it up by shooting 4-24 from the field against the Grizzlies. Kuz is a rookie, he is going to struggle at times and he is going to have some inconsistent stretches, but he is a serious threat for ROY, and needs to continue on becoming a more consistent threat.

4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

One word to describe Tatum’s rookie campaign? Consistent. He has held steady, with averages of 14 points and 5 rebounds a game for much of his rookie season and has been able to come along a little slower than other rookies (in terms of volume of shots/usage.) Does it help he plays on one of the best teams in the league? 100%. But the Celtics are a better team because of the shooting that the Duke product has provided. He is at the top of tier two in terms of the Rookie of the Year race, but my guess is that Tatum wouldn’t trade his places with anyone else in the rookie class.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

Lauri had a couple of big games this past week and is starting to build up some excitement over social media with his play the last couple of weeks for the surprisingly hot Bulls. While he struggled against Milwaukee, New York and Washington (8.67 points per game) he scored a career high 32 points against the Indiana Pacers and gave the Blazers 19 points on 4 three-pointers on New Years Day. Markkanen has had his minutes toyed with at time while Portis/Mirotic have started to play real well, but he has been making the most of them. The fifth spot in these rankings is going to end up being a race to see who can be more consistent between Lauri and Dennis Smith Jr. (maybe John Collins or Lonzo Ball as well).

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

Smith Jr. is finally back in the top 6 of the rookie power rankings and finished 2017 with an absolute bang. The Mavericks rookie started the week off slow, but has Dallas riding a four game winning streak into their match-up with Golden State on Wednesday. Smith recorded his first NBA triple-double in a win against New Orleans (21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) while chipping in 19 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds against the Thunder. Smith is getting healthier, starting to make shots at a high clip and assimilating himself into Rick Carlisle’s offensive system. It is going to be fun to see how Smith develops from here on out.

7. John Collins – Hawks

While Collins had his most inefficient week as a rookie, especially from the field, he has still had a very impressive start to his rookie season. He continues to lead all rookies 21.19 PER and average 11.3 points, and 7.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per night. Collins is also shooting 59.7% from the field, which is a phenomenal total even for a 10 year veteran, much less a 20 year old rookie. It will be interesting to see how Collins bounces back in the first week of 2018, after a relatively down week.

8. Jordan Bell – Warriors

Bell continues to show that he is a perfect fit in the Golden State Warriors lineup. He does not command offensive touches, he is an extremely versatile defender and he is active and engaged on both sides of the ball. Bell is averaging 7.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals per game over his last five. The Warriors having Draymond Green causes enough havoc for NBA teams, having his younger, more athletic twin to complement the rest of the squad just feels both unfair and very fitting.

9. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

While the Kings had quite the haul of guards (on paper) during the 2018 NBA draft, no Kings rookie has played better this season than the 25 year old from Serbia. Bogdanovic is averaging 10.3 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per while shooting a very respectable 47% from the field and 37% from the 3 point line. He had 16 points, 8 assists and 4 steals against the Cavs on Wednesday, while also contributing 13 points and 3 assists in a loss against Phoenix. The Kings are tough to watch, as they are one of the younger teams in the league, but Bogdanovic looks to be a player to build with as Sacramento moves beyond the 2017-2018 campaign.

10. Bam Adebayo – Heat

Bam has seen his minutes go up over the month of December and has rewarded the Heat with very good play in recent weeks. The Kentucky product and Hoop Group/Team Loaded Alum is averaging 8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game over his last five contests all while shooting 60% from the floor. His 16.63 PER is solid for a rookie playing 20 minutes a game and he looks to play a major role in getting the Heat back into the playoffs this spring. Go into watching Heat games for Dion Waiters, and you will quickly find yourself a big fan of Bam Adebayo’s potential at the NBA level.

Honorable Mentions

Lonzo Ball – Lakers
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Maxi Kleber – Mavericks
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
De’Aaron Fox – Kings

NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 8

We are back with the 8th version of our NBA Rookie Power Rankings here at HG Insider. As we move into 2018 we continue to see some rookies separate themselves from the pack, while others have shown flashes that further highlight the depth that made the 2017 draft class so highly regarded. Injuries and sporadic playing time have sidelined others, but with some big names returning in the near future we could see some more shakeups in the not too distant future. Before we crack into the rankings this week, let’s take a look back at Week 7:

1. Ben Simmons – Sixers
2. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics
4. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls
5. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers
6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks
7. John Collins – Hawks
8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers
9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings
10. Frank Mason – Kings

 

1. Ben Simmons – Sixers

Simmons may have had his “worst” week as a rookie thus far, and his seat at the top of the rankings is warmer than ever. He remains on top of our list for the 8th time in as many weeks though. Simmons contributed just 7 points and 8 assists in a W against Minnesota, and then finished a rebound shy of a triple-double on Friday night. He is still averaging 17.4 points, 9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game on 50% shooting from the field. The number one spot is no longer as safe as it once looked, but Simmons remains the head of the class through the first two months of the NBA season.

2. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Mitchell has been closing quick as of late on the top spot in our rankings, and no rookie has been playing better than the Louisville product over the past month. He had 32 points and 6 assists against the Bulls, 17 points and 9 assists in a win against the Celtics. Mitchell capped the week with 26 points on the road against Cleveland. He is now leading all rookies in scoring at 17.7 points per game and is seemingly improving every week. While he must improve his jumper and ability to make others better, Mitchell is far ahead of schedule for the Utah Jazz.

3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

Tatum’s numbers are modest (13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game), but if you have watched him at any point this season you know that he deserves praise in the same breath as Simmons and Mitchell. He has shown the ability to score from all 3 levels and has looked more athletic than he did during his one season stop at Duke. While he struggled to the tune of 2-13 from the floor in losses against the Bulls and Jazz, his shooting numbers remain elite. Tatum is currently shooting 50.8% from the field, 51.5% from three and 83.6% from the foul line. Ignore the numbers and do yourself a favor and watch Tatum as often as you can, he is as good as any rookie in this class.

4. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

While the Lakers went 0-2 last week, Kuzma had a good effort rebounding (no pun) from one of his lesser weeks as a rookie. Kuzma chipped in 19 points and 6 rebounds against the Knicks and 20 points and 7 rebounds against the Cavs on Saturday night. His averages remain steady at 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game on 49.7% from the floor, 38% from 3 and 77.6% from the foul line. While he is learning to adjusting to coming off of the bench, it will not be long until Kuzma makes himself a must start in the Lakers lineup. Kuzma is a shining example of someone who has ignored the rankings and let his play do the talking throughout his basketball career, which ironically has allowed him to climb up to the number four spot in our rookie power rankings this week.

5. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

While his brothers made waves for signing to professional deals with a club in Lithuania (give yourself a pat on the back if you did not have to Google where that country is), ‘Zo had his best all-around week to date as a rookie. While he would have liked to win more, Lonzo averaged 15 points, 8.5 assists and 8 rebounds per game against the Knicks and Cavs. Most importantly he has been shooting 46.2% from the floor and 38% from three over his last five games, which shows marked improvement from the first six plus weeks of his NBA career. Once Ball can get his shot to consistently drop, the sky is the limit for him. It is important for him to continue to work on getting stronger and becoming a more consistent shooter.

6. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

While Markkanen missed all of this past week, he is slated to return this week and remains in the top 10 of our rookie power rankings. Markkanen has averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds a game for the Bulls and has been one of the very lone bright spots for Chicago thus far. It will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg handles his minutes moving forward with Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis both healthy (playing good minutes together despite a preseason scuffle between the two). Hopefully Markkanen can remain healthy the rest of the season, but regardless he has been one of the top 10 rookies of the first two months.

7. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

While Smith Jr. has missed his last six games, it is important to note that when healthy he has been among the top 5-6 rookies in the league this season. Smith could return as early as Wednesday night in a home showdown against the Pistons, but I would assume Rick Carlisle is going to wait until his rookie lead guard is 100% ready to go before thrusting him back into action. The North Carolina State product is holding steady with averages of 14.4 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Continuing to master the point guard position and becoming a better shooter are two important things to improve if Smith wants to continue taking his game to the next level over the next few months/seasons.

8. OG Anunoby – Raptors

While injuries to other more prominent rookies have allowed OG to slip back into the top ten rankings, the Indiana alum has been nothing short of spectacular for the Raptors. While his numbers are far from impressive, the rookie has impacted the Raptors in ways that go far beyond the stat sheet. He is the best defender in the rookie class, by a rather lengthy margin and has showed signs of rapid development on the other side of the ball. Anunoby may have as much long term potential as anyone in the entire rookie class, and his +25.9 +/- show that he plays a major role in effecting positive outcomes for the Raptors already in the short term.

9. Jordan Bell – Warriors

Bell makes his first appearance in these very rankings, but he has been nothing short of spectacular for the Warriors so far in his young career. While Kyle Kuzma was the steal of the 2017 draft overall, Bell falling all the way to the Warriors has been such a match made in heaven that he deserves mention as the second biggest steal of draft night 2K17. His athletic ability serves him well in the versatile and aggressive switching defensive style of Golden State, and he has been an efficient offensive threat shooting 65% from the floor over his last five games. He also dished out 8 assists against the Mavericks last Thursday. Bell is going to turn the tide of at least a couple of games in May/June when the Warriors need it most to get over the hump to try and win their third title in four years.

10. Frank Ntilikina – Knicks

Ntilikina has been the most photogenic rookie by far, with several photo-ops close to being meme worthy before Christmas of his rookie season, but it is his play of late that has garnered him a spot at the number 10 spot in our rankings. The French rookie has been averaging 8 points and 3.4 assists per game over his last five games, while shooting 50% from 3 point range. He also has owned a near 3:1 Assist to Turnover ratio, which is great for a rookie. He has been playing a bigger factor in recent gameplans for the Knicks, and looks like he is just starting to scratch the surface of his massive potential. Will Ntilikina stick in the top 10? It is hard to say, but he has been fun to watch and will be a good long term piece for the Knicks.

Honorable Mention:

De’Aaron Fox – Kings
John Collins – Hawks
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
Frank Mason – Kings
Josh Jackson – Suns
Mike James – Suns
Bam Adebayo – Heat