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.

Evaluating the NBA Rookie Class of 2017

The 2017 rookie class is nothing short of superb, and will go down as one of the best in recent memory. In addition to the “new” rookies, we also get our first look at 2016 1st overall pick, Ben Simmons. What is most exciting about this rookie class is the depth that will be added to the deepest position in the NBA, the Point Guard position. Beyond that there is some great depth on the wings, and some potential long-time starters in the front-court. Let’s take a look at some of the standouts, and who projects to be a member of the All-Rookie teams by years end.

ROY Favorites

Ben Simmons/Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76’ers

The 76’ers have finally been rewarded for Trusting The Process, as Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will both make their NBA debuts this season.

Simmons, who missed all of his inaugural season with a foot injury, will make an impact from game one and should put up good numbers for the Sixers this year. While he will share touches with Fultz, Simmons’ playmaking ability will make an impact for a team that has had lackluster back-courts for years. The two biggest question marks for Simmons are going to be his conditioning post-injury and his jumper.

Fultz will also be handed a lot of playmaking responsibilities from day one, and should be able to thrive with the ball in his hands. Fultz should rank highly amongst the rookie leaders in both points and assists per game. It would not be shocking to see both Fultz and Simmons average close to 15/5/4 as rookies with the amount of touches both will get. Both should also factor in the ROY race from the beginning to the end of the season.

Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball is by far the most talked about rookie off the court. His play on the court will do little to slow down the chatter about him. Ball will be handed the keys to the Lake Show from day one, and will have one of the highest usage rate out of all of the rookies. Ball will lead all rookies in assists and should help the Lakers improve their record, and show he is the face of the franchise for the next 10-15 years. The Ball family is the most polarizing sports family, maybe ever, Lonzo’s on-court ability will keep the Ball name a household one for years to come.

Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks

Smith has already thrown down Top-10 play level dunks in the preseason, and he will find himself in the Top 10 more than once as a rookie. He may be the most exciting rookie when you combine his skill level and athleticism. Back in the summer, Rick Carlisle told him he would have full responsibility as the primary ball. He will put up solid numbers, but I don’t know if Dallas will be as improved as LA or Philly, which is why I see Ball/Fultz/Simmons all ahead of him. As long as he stays healthy, Smith will be an ROY finalist at seasons end.

Sleepers

Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Tatum is going to be a very good pro, for a long time. Leaving him off the favorites list was in no way meant as disrespect, I simply do not see Tatum getting enough touches, or numbers to leap over the top 4. Tatum is on by far the best team among rookies, and may very well be playing deep into June. But it will be interesting to see how Brad Stevens uses him during his rookie campaign. Long term, Tatum could potentially end up being the best pro in the class, I just do not think his ROY odds are very good at this stage.

D’Aaron Fox- Sacramento Kings

Fox will be another rookie point guard that will be handed control from the start for Sacramento. The Kings will probably still rank among the leagues worst teams and I think that will play a bit of a factor in Fox being a 2nd tier Rookie of the Year candidate this season. Fox is going to be a huge part of the foundation to improve the Kings moving forward, and his number will be good, but I think he will find himself outside of the top 5 in ROY voting.

Malik Monk – Charlotte Hornets

Monk will provide a great scoring complement/counterpart to point guard Kemba Walker. Playing off of the ball will allow him to thrive right away. Monk is so athletic that he may possibly find himself a part of the dunk contest. He will help Charlotte attempt to get over the hump, and make a playoff push. Monk will score a lot, and provide a lot of highlights as a rookie. Also, like Fox and Tatum, he will be a great long term pieces for his franchise. Monk probably won’t win Rookie of the Year, but he could play himself into being a factor by seasons end.

Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

Some draft experts considered Jackson to be the best player in the 2017 draft class. It is scary to think about the long term potential of a wing tandem consisting of Josh Jackson and Devin Booker. Jackson is the most NBA ready defensive player in the class and will likely provide complementary scoring for Phoenix. Jackson should find himself on the all-rookie first team, but he will be sharing touches with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.

Honorable, Honorable Mention: Bam Adebayo-Miami, Jonathan Isaac-Orlando and Donovan Mitchell-Utah Jazz

Preseason Rookie Power Rankings

Picking TWO all-rookie teams for this crop of rookies will prove to be extra difficult. The backcourts are going to be loaded and make it hard A) narrow down the guards and B) slot two traditional lineups of PG/SG/SF/PF/C. This will be the first of a weekly installment of a top 10 power rankings system. So without further ado, here is the preseason edition:

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