NBA Rookie Power Rankings

After a couple week hiatus, we are back with a new edition of the HG Insider NBA Rookie Power Rankings. We are closing in on the all-star break and the race for rookie of the year is becoming clearer. Markelle Fultz has still yet to return for Philadelphia, but some other rookies are becoming consistent and making a name for themselves as we are sprinting towards the finish line in year one of their careers. Without further ado, let’s dive into the rankings:

1. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Mitchell is once again on top of our Rookie Power Rankings, as he has been playing the best out of all of the rookies since the middle of December. He is making a push towards averaging 20 points per game for the season, and would become the first rookie to average 20+ a game since Blake Griffin’s rookie season with the Clippers. Mitchell is averaging 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assist per game this year, and his shooting percentages are holding at a respectable clip; 44.4% from the field, 35.3% from 3 and 83.7% from the free-throw line. Mitchell will have to keep his foot on the gas in order to hold off Simmons, but so far, so good for the Louisville product.

2. Ben Simmons – Sixers

Simmons, who was leading these rankings for most of November & December, is still in the thick of the rookie of the year race with two months to go. Philadelphia is currently holding onto the 8th seed in the East, and with Simmons rounding back into form they have a chance to get hot and make a run at home court in the Eastern Conference come playoff time. Simmons, who has been vocal about being an all-star snub, is averaging 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. If Simmons can hold his numbers steady and get the Sixers into the playoffs he has a very good chance of taking the Rookie of the Year trophy away from Mitchell come June.

3. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

To no ones surprise the Bulls have been awful this season, but they have shown signs of promise, highlighted by Markkanen’s steady play all season long. The power forward is averaging 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Along with Zach Lavine, The Bulls are showing a decent young nucleus, that could be further bolstered by a lottery pick in the 2018 draft. Markkanen has shown to be a lethal asset in pick and roll situations, and can score at all three levels. The Bulls are struggling, but they may have the next great, versatile European forward at the NBA level.

4. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

The Lakers added an additional draft pick, and a ton of future cap space this week, but they have to be happy with the rookies and sophomores already on the roster. Perhaps no one makes them happier for their future than Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds during his rookie campaign. He has held steady shooting the ball with averages of 45.2% from the field, 36.2% from the three and 70% from the line. While he has had his share of great weeks, and poor ones, Kuzma is going to be a fixture of the Lakers plans moving forward, even if they get some big names in free agency over the next couple of summers.

5. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

Tatum may end up having the best career on this list, but as a Rookie he is playing on one of the best teams in the league, and he has sacrificed numbers for wins. The Celtics are a better team when Tatum plays well, as he is averaging 14.8 points, 5 rebounds and shoots 50% from the field in wins. While his shooting has fallen off a little bit, Tatum is already a very good NBA shot maker, and he has also been a plus defender for the Celtics, which is asking a lot of a rookie. Tatum will not win Rookie of the Year, but will win a championship before anyone else in the top 5 of this list.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs

While Smith spent the first part of the season dealing with injuries and inconsistent minutes, he has suddenly found his stride over the last month. Over his last 10 games, Smith is averaging 15 points, 6 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. Smith has still struggled to shoot the ball well at a consistent clip, and will have to improve in this department moving forward to take the next step as an NBA player. It will be interesting to see how he improves over the coming years, and what the Mavs will do to surround him with talent moving forward.

7. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox has come on strong over the last month, after recovering from injury, and is showing sings of the player who terrorized college basketball in Lexington just one year ago. Over his last ten games, Fox has averaged 14.3 points, 4.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds while shooting 43% from the field. The Kings have continued to struggle, but Fox’s play gives Sacramento fans something to look forward to in the coming years. His role will only increase as George Hill was moved to Cleveland this week, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the extra responsibility over the last two months of the season.

8. John Collins – Hawks

Collins leads all rookies in PER at 20.12, but plays on one of the worst teams in the league. Collins has been uber-efficient for a rookie, and it will be interesting to see how he develops over the next couple of seasons for the woeful, yet rebuilding Hawks. He is averaging 10.3 points, 7 rebounds and is shooting 58.5% from the floor. With the emergence of some of the guys behind him, it will be tough for him to stay at 7, without an uptick in his current level of play, however, Collins is going to have a long and prosperous career.

9. Josh Jackson – Suns

While the Suns are still among the worst teams in the league, no rookie has improve their play over the last month than Josh Jackson. Devin Booker has missed some time hurt, and Jackson has taken advantage of the extra touches and responsibility with Booker out. Over his last ten games, Jackson is averaging 17.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just under 20 minutes per night. Jackson has been a mainstay in the honorable mentione section all season long, but he has earned his way into the top 10 in these rankings with his recent play.

10. Jarrett Allen – Nets

If Jackson has been the fastest rising rookie of late, Allen is not too far behind him. Over the last month, Allen has seen his minutes skyrocket, and he has become increasingly comfortable with the pace of play at the NBA level with each passing game. Over his last ten games he is averaging 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and is shooting 68.8% from the field. He is flashing the long term potential he possesses and is turning out to be a hell of a pick for the Nets and their rebuilding efforts moving forward.

Honorable Mention:

Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings
Jordan Bell – Warriors
Josh Hart – Lakers
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Lonzo Ball – Lakers
Bam Adebayo – Heat

Brad Stevens Make a Good Celtics Team Very Dangerous

Rewind to opening night in the NBA. Gordon Hayward had the latest gruesome leg injury and the Cleveland Cavaliers ruined Kyrie Irving’s Celtic debut. With Hayward out for the year, many immediately left the Celtics for dead and were ready to name the Cavs Eastern Conference champions yet again. After that, Boston lost to Milwaukee to drop to 0-2 and it looked like Hayward’s absence would indeed be missed this year.

All Brad Stevens and company did from there was rattle off 12 straight wins and now own the best record in the NBA. And while their opening night opponents are still struggling to find their identity, Boston seems to have theirs figured out. One large reason why is the man on their sidelines.

Say what you want about the top coaches in the NBA. Greg Popovich has been a mad genius for years. Steve Kerr and Golden State have lost just 24 games in two seasons. You can mention Thibodeau, D’Antoni, and Spoelstra. None of them have been as impressive as Brad Stevens has so far this season.

Imagine winning the Eastern Conference last season over the mighty Cavaliers. Then imagine trading your best player, who was the heart and soul of your club. Imagine trading away your defensive specialist on the perimeter. You replace them with two all-stars, but you lose one of them on opening night. You now have one all-star, who grant it is one of the best players in the league, and a back court of young, unproven players. Couple that with a thin front court. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for sbest record in the NBA.

Now I know that is exaggerated to an extent. The cupboard is not empty in Boston. They do have Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and two lottery picks in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. It’s not that they are winning that is the impressive part. It’s how they are winning. They come from behind (see their game against Oklahoma City). They win the close game (25% of their wins have been a one possession game). And they’ve even won at less than full strength (Irving and Horford have each missed games).

Brad Stevens has this team competing. He has them playing very balanced and serving their roles. Irving is the team’s leading scorer, but six other players are scoring 10 points plus a game, if you include Marcus Morris’s 12.2 in just five games. Horford leads the team in rebounding, but league sophomore Jaylen Brown chips in almost seven a game. Aron Baynes, the definition of a role player, adds six a game as well. Their assist leader? Marcus Smart. The guy everyone was worried would lose his place on this team. He also adds 1.67 steals per game, second to Kyrie’s 1.92.

Top to bottom Stevens is getting production from their guys on the floor. And the result is win after win. That’s the biggest thing a coach can do in the NBA; Get his team to buy into their roles and play as one, cohesive unit. Not bad for a guy that many thought would flame out after a couple seasons, as most college-to-NBA coaches do.

I’m not crowning the Celtics 2018 NBA Champions three weeks into the season. I’m not saying give Brad Stevens the Coach of the Year award yet either. There is far too much season. The Pistons are legit and the Cavs will be scary come playoff time when they get their point guard healthy. A lot can still happen. But right now it doesn’t seem to matter who Boston throws out on the court. Brad Stevens has them winning.

Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft First Round

markelle fultz nba draft adam silver

NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Round one of the NBA Draft is in the books. A lot will be predicted before the NBA season even tips off. Players 18-22 years old will be put under a microscope all Summer long. We aren’t wasting any time,let’s dig in with our initial Winners and Losers from Round one of the 2017 NBA Draft.


Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers were a winner Tuesday when they traded up for the #1 overall pick. They promptly set their sights on Markelle Fultz, and for right reason. Fultz flew as under the radar as any player could last season at Washington and drew his share of criticism. Facts are that Fultz is one of three players to average over 20 points as a freshman, joining Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. He brings great athleticism, play making ability and scoring to a young Sixer team.

jimmy butler chicago bulls

Loser: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls made a splash early in the draft when they traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the #16 pick in the Draft for the #7 pick. With that pick the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. Markkanen is a streaky shooter, but when he’s hot he’s as hot as anyone. Still raw, he will need to develop more before he makes a big impact. Popular opinion is the Bulls did not get enough back for Butler, and I can’t say I disagree. Between questions of LaVine’s healthy knee and shipping the 16th pick, it seems like the Bulls could have gotten more for a player of Butler’s caliber.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

The Kings had two Top 10 picks going into the Draft and came out with three first round picks. They swapped the #10 for the 15th and 20th picks, totaling a return of DeAron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles in Round 1. Fox is the quickest player in the Draft and fills a huge holes for the Kings. They got a perimeter shooter in Jackson, the ACC Player of the Year, and a potential steal in Giles. Giles was a top recruit coming out of high school, but an ACL injury caused his lone season at Duke to be underwhelming. If healthy, Giles could prove to be a dynamic post player for Sacramento.

deandre fox malik monk nba draft sacramento kings

Winner: Charlotte Hornets

Malik Monk fell drastically in the first round. A potential Top 5 pick, Monk slide all the way down to Charlotte at 11. What they got in Monk is someone who can score in bunches. Monk has the potential to be the best scorer in this Draft, something that should not be taken lightly considering the names at the top. A back court of Kemba Walker and Malik Monk is a lethal one for Charlotte. While he needs to clean up other aspects of his game, Michael Jordan and company got great value with their first rounder.

danny ainge boston celtics nba draft trade

Loser: Boston Celtics

It’s tough to say the Boston Celtics are losers when they walk away with a player like Jayson Tatum, but I’m doing it. Tatum is a great scorer, and he showed that at Duke. But when you look at how Boston’s season ended last year, it was an inability defend Cleveland’s scorers. Kyrie ate up Isaiah Thomas and no one could match up with the physical specimen that is Lebron James. Boston decided to pass on Fultz and declare IT their Point Guard, fine. The bigger issue was passing on Josh Jackson. While Jackson can’t shoot as well as Tatum, he is better everywhere else. He is an extremely good defender, can rebound and block shots. I think Tatum can be a great scorer in the League, but passing on Fultz and Jackson will haunt the Celtics down the road.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder didn’t steal the show with their selection of Terrance Ferguson, but they filled a big need. Like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay before him, Ferguson’s stock dropped a little when he went overseas to play in Australia instead of playing at Arizona. However, OKC obtained an outside shooter they needed. Joining Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo in the back court, not much spot light will be on Ferguson initially, but he will be able to spread the floor, something Andre Roberson failed to do last year.

These are gut reaction first takes. There’s a good chance one of these opinions will become laughable in a couple of years. Only time will tell however. For now, here’s to waiting for October. Give us your thoughts in the comment section and follow Hoop Group Insider this Summer as we give you all the NBA news you need.

NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics- #3 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

Needs: Wing Scoring, Depth at the 3/4 Position

The Pick: Jayson Tatum

Other Options: Josh Jackson (Kansas), Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)

The Celtics lack of talent on the wing was exposed in their series with the Cavs, when LeBron James absolutely dominated Boston. Granted, he is (arguably) the best player of all-time, the Celtics will need to figure out a way to counter LeBron for the next several years.

Since it is nearly impossible to stop James, the best way for the Celtics to counteract him is to keeping pace with his offensive output. That is why the Celtics are looking to sign Gordon Hayward, and that is why they should take Tatum over Jackson, despite most regarding Jackson as the better talent.

Tatum averaged impressive numbers at Duke, dropping over 16 points per game and hauling in over 7 rebounds. His 6-11 wingspan and slightly larger frame gives him versatility to play the 4 position and add depth to the front-court as well, something that Josh Jackson cannot provide.

Tatum can score in a multitude of ways and has great offensive instincts. He is dangerous driving to the lane or posting up on the block, and he has been making significant strides to improve his outside shooting. Jackson did perform slightly better from beyond the arc, but if there is anything to be learned from the progression of NBA talent, it is that shooting can be taught, while size and instinct are hard to change.