Nobody could truly predict how much the shortened off-season would truly affect this season’s rookie class. Never before has a rookie class been thrown into the regular season with such a small amount of preparation. Nonetheless, it seems to not have affected the rookie class too much and plenty of them have become regular contributors for their respective teams. Here’s a look at the top ten rookies of the NBA and where they rank in the race for the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
1. LaMelo Ball / Charlotte Hornets
Season stats : 11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.1 apg
Some may say he gets an unfair amount of media attention, but when you become the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double, you tend to get a lot of people watching you. It’s fair to say the media attention he receives is well earned especially considering he is leading all rookies in assists, rebounds, steals, and efficiency. LaMelo Ball has become a big contributor for the Charlotte Hornet, who is currently sitting at eighth in the east.
Not only does he lead his team in rebounding per game, but he also is second on the Hornets in assists per game. What is truly respectable is the fact that he only averages 25.2 minutes per game as he is coming off the bench. There are already conversations and discussions about whether LaMelo deserves to start or not, and if he does start, to get more minutes that may just give him the extra space he needs to really run away with the award.
2. Tyrese Haliburton / Sacramento Kings
Season stats : 11.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.6 apg
I must admit, I didn’t realize Tyrese Haliburton was as good as he is until I did my research on him. Haliburton is playing a healthy 28.5 minutes per game while showing an accurate shot from deep and a willingness to pass the ball. He’s currently leading all rookies in three-point percentage while taking almost five three point shots a game.
What really places him in the number two spot in this ranking is the fact that Haliburton is also second among rookies in assists per game, points per game, and efficiency. He’s third among the rookies in steals per game and field goal percentage as he has shown that he deserves to be in the talk for Rookie of the Year.
3. James Wiseman / Golden State Warriors
Season stats : 11.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.6bpg
As soon as James Wiseman was drafted by the Warriors, I picked him to win Rookie of the Year. So far this season, he hasn’t shown enough to be placed first or second in the ranking, but third place is still a good place to be this early in the season. What Wiseman has shown me is he is not afraid to go up and try to dunk it on an opposing player, which is always exciting to watch.
His paint defense has looked solid so far as he leads all rookies in blocks per game, but when he is tasked with defending a guard, he sometimes looks lost out there. I expect James Wiseman’s minutes and impact to increase now that Draymond Green is back and helping orchestrate the offense.
4. Patrick Williams / Chicago Bulls
Season stats : 10.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.1apg
One of the bigger surprises during the draft night was the Chicago Bulls selecting Patrick Williams with the fourth pick. Williams has responded after not starting a game in college by starting every game so far for the Bulls and plugging holes on a team that very much needed it. Coming into the league as a natural 3&D player has given Williams a chance to show off his skill set with a silky smooth mid-range, a solid ability to space the floor (48.1% at the three), and great defensive chops. Improving each game and getting more comfortable on the court will only increase his chances of winning the Rookie of the Year award.
5. Tyrese Maxey / Philadelphia 76’ers
Season stats : 11.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg
Talk about seizing an opportunity; Maxey put up 39 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in his first career start. Cooling off considerably after that game is what keeps him from being higher in the ranking. Even still, Tyrese Maxey has shown the ability and the fearlessness to not just take but also make tough shots.
It’s no surprise Philly didn’t want to include him in a trade for Harden. A couple more good to great games and Maxey should be moving up the rankings in no time.
6. Anthony Edwards / Minnesota Timberwolves
Season stats : 12.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
Another rookie who isn’t starting, but is making an offensive impact for his team. Anthony Edwards is showing glimpses of the potential the Timberwolves saw in him as they chose him to be the number one overall pick in the draft. He leads all rookies in scoring but is a nonfactor on defense for a team that could badly use an improvement on defense.
7. Precious Achiuwa / Miami Heat
Season stats : 8.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1 apg
Another rookie who had an eye-opening first career start while going up against Joel Embiid, nonetheless. Precious Achiuwa has the potential and physical capabilities to become a good defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Bam Adebayo coming back into the starting lineup will push Precious back to the bench where he will still be in the rotation, but with a lessened role.
8. Cole Anthony / Orlando Magic
Season stats : 10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg
Becoming a starter after Markell’s Fultz’s unfortunate injury has allowed Cole Anthony a chance to show the Orlando Magic why they drafted him in the first place. Starting has also shown that Anthony needs to work on his effectiveness on offense.
9. Payton Pritchard / Boston Celtics
Season stats : 8.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg
Being drafted number 26 in the draft hasn’t stopped Payton Pritchard from becoming a productive player off the bench for a team looking to make it far in the playoffs.
10. Jae’Sean Tate / Houston Rockets
Season stats : 8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
Positive surprise for the Houston Rockets, Jae’Sean Tate has shown no fear when going to the rim but needs to develop a more consistent jumper.
Honorable mentions – Deni Avdija, Saddiq Bey, Immanuel Quickley, Isaiah Joe, Xavier Tillman
I’m just a guy who loves the NBA and would love to hear your opinions, follow me on Twitter @MARStheMARS and tell me your thought about the NBA