As we recover from mounds of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even more turkey, it’s time to check in with our rookies and see how they’ve performed as of late.
1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG
It continues to amaze me how well and how quickly Lillard has adjusted to the professional level. He leads all rookies in the following categories: points per game (19.5), assists per game (5.8), and steals per game (1.5). If teams can’t start to slow him down soon, the Rookie of the Year contest will be over by the time everyone’s done with their Black Friday shopping.
Last week’s ranking:1 (No change)
2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF
The Bobcats somehow keep winning, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist keeps putting up strong numbers across the board. Correlation? You bet. MKG’s energy and ball pressure on the defensive side of the ball has led to easier looks and opportunities for Kidd-Gilchrist on the offensive end. While the Cats will probably drop off at some point, don’t expect MKG to do so; don’t expect him to fall very far from this list, either, unless someone is outhustling and outperforming him.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)
3) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C
Valanciunas must have really good ears. After ranking fourth last week, Toronto’s new big man has posted two straight double-doubles and three consecutive games with at least one block (not factoring all of the other shots he’s altered). J-Val’s one weakness so far has been his discipline on the defensive side of the ball, or lack thereof. Valanciunas has fouled out twice in the past week, and has recorded two other games of four or more fouls.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (+1)
4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF
After a rather lackluster start to the season for such a high draft pick, Barnes has seemingly put all the pieces together, scoring at a higher clip, playing tougher defense, and taking care of the ball much better. Barnes’ improved 11.3 ppg now ranks fifth among rookies, and if he continues to score as he has the past week (12, 20, and 9 in 3 games), that number should only climb higher.
Last week’s ranking: 7 (+3)
5) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF
Anthony Davis has played better than advertised…when he actually plays, that is. Davis has seemingly caught the injury bug and just can’t seem to shake it. After dealing with a minor concussion earlier in the season, Davis is now battling an ankle injury (the same ankle that bothered him during the Olympics this summer). When he’s in the starting line-up, though, teams will soon need to put their best defender on him; he put up 28 points and 11 rebounds in his only game this week, a close 117-113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (-3)
6) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF
While fellow Detroit rookie Andre Drummond provided some flash in his game that helped to land him on our Rookie Rankings, Kyle Singler (the super-rookie) is starting to perform at a level that not many anticipated from the former Duke Blue Devil. Singler recently strung together three straight double-digit point games and, aside from a disappointing 2-point performance against the Magic, looks to keep the numbers up.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
7) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, PF
It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Sullinger started to receive legitimate starters minutes…and the ball. Sullinger, while being given the nod early in the season to start, has been moved around as Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s look to find a balance in their offense. It looks as though more of their offense will need to go through Sullinger now, after posting his first career double-double this week, and shooting an impressive 57% from the field.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
8) Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors, SG
If you give him minutes, he will perform. Terrence Ross has scored 10 points or more in games in which he’s been given 14 minutes or more; that feat occurred twice this past week, as Ross’s contributions on the offensive end have been efficient and well-needed. Given more time, Ross can continue to grow as an all-around player; in his most recent game against the Bobcats, the newest Toronto shooter scored 11 points, while also filling the stat sheet with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, and no turnovers. Landry Fields should be on his guard, or else he’ll soon be turning over his starting spot to Ross.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG
He’s a foreign point guard for the Timberwolves, and yet his game-play has kept others from asking “How soon will the other foreign point guard (Rubio) return?” Shved only played once this week (L 101-94 to Denver) but still played well enough to earn himself a second week in our rankings. Should he continue his strong play until Rubio returns, he will have earned himself minutes even after the better-known foreigner hits the floor again.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (-3)
10) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG
Dion Waiters continues to make the list, but barely. Waiters shot an abysmal 25% this week, and hasn’t gotten to the free-throw line as often as of late. With a big game against the difficult Miami Heat tomorrow night, it doesn’t look as though Dion’s percentages will improve anytime soon. He can only hope to contribute in other ways to help the struggling Cavs.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)