NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 12

Photo via CBS Sports

We are two weeks into 2018, and three months into the 2017-2018 NBA season as of the close of this week. The rookie class has spent close to 100 days (regular season) in the league and we are seeing mixed results from an extremely talented rookie group. Some are battling injuries, and some have just been inconsistent, but the depth and long term potential of the group continues to flash itself week in and week out. Let’s jump right into the rankings for Week 12 and see how it shakes out three months in.

1. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Mitchell continues to sit on top of the rankings for the third consecutive week, and for very good reason. Mitchell has shown to be the best scorer in the class, as he currently averages 18.8 points per night (22.8 over his last 10), including a 35 point effort against the Hornets on Saturday. While the Jazz have struggled mightily, Mitchell has played like a future superstar and is going to be the franchise player in Utah for as long as he wants to remain there. Mitchell has made the Jazz a must watch on a consistent basis, and for Jazz fans it is only going to get better from here.

2. Ben Simmons – Sixers

Simmons has been phenomenal this season, and will compete with Mitchell until the end of the season for the Rookie of the Year award. He is a tremendous, borderline generational talent and is going to only get better as the season and his career progresses. His biggest weakness is his jumper, and that will have to improve, but he still has plenty of time to work on that. While his performance against Boston in London was underwhelming for him, if Simmons can get back to his November/December form and get the Sixers into the playoffs he should walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.

3. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

Tatum got the better of fellow rookie Ben Simmons in their match-up in London, both individually and in the W/L column (114-103 Celtics win). Tatum continues to play at a consistently high level, and providing the Celtics with an elite shooter on the wings with a quickly expanding all-around game. Tatum is averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game, and is playing at a pretty high level on the defensive end for a rookie. He also remains the best shooter in the rookie class and one of the best statistically in the league; 49.9% from the field, 45.9% from 3 and 82.2% from the line. Also belated to congrats go out to Tatum for becoming a father this week, and remaining in the top 3 of our Rookie Power Rankings.

4. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

Outside of some time he missed due to injuries in December, Markkanen has been absolutely phenomenal for the Bulls this season. He averaged 22.7 points per game during the second week of 2018, including a 33 point outburst against the Knicks on Wednesday. The Arizona product via way of Finland has also been a surprisingly consistent rebounder pulling in 7.5 a night. The Bulls were on of the worst teams during the first six weeks of the NBA season, and now only stand 6.5 games back of a playoff spot. With Zach Lavine getting healthy and Markkanen continuing to play well Chicago may be able to make a run at the playoffs over the next few months.

5. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma’s struggles have continued into 2018, but he rebounded nicely in a win against the Mavericks on Saturday night and looks to have started to get back on track. In seven games in January Kuzma has averaged just 11.3 points per game, and shot 39.5% from the floor, but he contributed a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds, in that game against Dallas. Despite his struggles the Lakers have won 4 straight and if Kuzma has truly got his shot back, it only means good things for the potential of that streak continuing towards the end of January. The biggest steal of the draft is going to be just fine over the long haul, and it looks like the previous two weeks worth of struggles are something he is already starting to put behind him.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

The fact that Dennis Smith Jr. is not in the top 5 of this rookie class speaks to just how deep the class is as a whole. He was excellent this past week in his two outings and flashed the promise that he holds as a potential superstar point guard. The former NC State lead guard averaged 19 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game while leading Dallas to a 2-1 record during the week. While his shooting has been inconsistent Smith is averaging 17 points and 5 assists per game over his last 5 games and starting to gain more confidence from veteran head coach Rick Carlisle. Smith plays on one of the leagues worst teams, but he alone is worth tuning in if you get a chance to watch Dallas over the next decade plus.

7. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Ball will undergo an MRI on his left knee today for precautionary reasons, so hopefully it is nothing serious and we will see the UCLA product back on the court at full strength in short order. He held his own against Dennis Smith Jr. on Saturday night, and looked impressive at times against both San Antonio and Sacramento earlier in the week. Ball is averaging 11.2 points, 8.4 rebounds 7 assists and 2 steals per game over the course of the last 5 games, in which the Lakers are 4-1. While the rest of the Ball family makes headlines halfway around the world, Lonzo continues to improve each week, and will prove to be a very good lead guard over the course of his NBA career.

8. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

The swing guard from Serbia continues to impress each week and has found himself at the 8th spot in our rankings during week 12. In 4 games this week (unfortunately for Sacramento all four finishing as losses) Bogdanovic averaged 17.5 points, 4 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. While his averages were impressive, it is more impressive when you look at his shooting percentages and efficiency; 58% from the field, 54% from 3 and 87% from the line. While the Kings currently sport the second worst record in the league (behind only the Hawks), Bogdanovic and backcourt mate De’Aaron Fox have both shown enough promise to give Kings fans a lot to look forward to in future seasons.

9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox has been starting to see the game slow down for him over the last few weeks and is starting to flash the potential that had some scouts dubbing him the left handed John Wall. He has seen his role expand in Sacramento’s offense over the past couple of weeks and he has ran with the extra responsibility. He averaged close to 13 points and over 7 assists per game in his 4 appearances during this weeks action. While the Kings are amongst the league’s worst, the climb back to respectability is going to run through Fox’s development over the rest of the season and the coming years.

10. Bam Adebayo – Heat

The Heat are surprisingly holding down the 4th spot in the East as of Sunday afternoon, and look to pose a threat to teams not names Cleveland or Boston in the Eastern Conference come the springtime. A big reason why? The emergence of Adebayo, the product of one season with John Calipari in Lexington, Kentucky. He is averaging 7.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 19 minutes a game so far in the month of January. As his minutes have picked up, so as his production and he is showing the potential to turn into one hell of a compliment to Hassan Whiteside in the Miami starting lineup. Bam’s development will be something to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.

Honorable Mentions:

John Collins – Hawks
Jordan Bell – Warriors
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Josh Jackson – Suns
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies

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