Now that everyone has successfully recoverd from the stuffing, turkey, and grandma’s green bean cassarole, it’s time for another week’s Rookie Rankings, leading us right into the most wonderful time of the year. It’s been a wonderful year for some rookies, but not others. Did your favorite have what it takes to stay on the list this week?
1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG
It’s getting harder and harder to find faults with Lillard’s performances. Game after game and week after week, it seems as though no one will be able to unseat Lillard from this top spot on our Rankings. Lillard averaged 18.3 ppg and 6.8 apg over four games this week; unfortunately, Damian’s offense couldn’t help the Trail Blazers in all aspects, as the team went 1-3 during this weeks games.
Last week’s ranking: 1 (no change)
2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF
Kidd-Gilchrist has cooled off ever so slightly, as noticed in his offensive numbers lately (11, 10, 8, 6 points respectively last four games), yet his effort on the defensive side of the ball is still noticed and very much appreciated by the Bobcats. MKG is still averaging 1.2 spg and 1.4 bpg, very impressive numbers for any SF not named LeBron James and/or Kevin Durant.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (no change)
3) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C
Valanciunas is starting to look like the steal of the Draft…the 2011 Draft, that is. While Cleveland got a sure-fire All-Star in Kyrie Irving, Minnesota, Utah, and Cleveland are all kicking themselves for passing up on the big man from Lithuania. J-Val had another impressive week, shooting 54.5% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line, a very impressive number for a 7-footer. Valanciunas also shot the ball 33 times from the field and 12 times from the free-throw line, so you know those numbers are battle tested.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (no change)
4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF
Barnes had himself a solid week of work, including one double-double and one dunk that shocked the NBA world. While his other numbers may show a still-timid Barnes who is still trying to figure out his role on an ever-evolving Warriors team, plays like the aforementioned show as to why Barnes was drafted 7th overall, and that once he puts everything together, he could be posterizing people like that for years to come.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (no change)
5) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF
Singler has shot up our rankings in the last few weeks, moving from an unranked-afterthought to someone who could find themselves still moving up if he continues to perform at this level. Singler scored in double-digits in three of his four games this week, and also recorded his first career double-double with a 16 point, 10 rebound performance in a 108-101 win over Portland.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (+1)
6) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG
Waiters must have heard what we had to say about his performance last week. Waiters immediately began scoring with a higher rate of efficiency, and getting to the free-throw line more, something that he had been doing a poor job of last week. He’s also helped in other ways during Kyrie Irving absence, including dishing out 4.3 apg, an improvement over his season average of 2.9.
Last week’s ranking: 10 (+4)
7) Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats, SF
Taylor has been turning heads as of late, and it’s not simply because of his defense. A solid all-around four-year player out of Vanderbilt, Taylor makes our list due to his increased contributions on the offensive end for the Bobcats; Taylor scored in double-figures in five straight games before only posting 6 points in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. However, Taylor’s confidence has improved greatly, and he’s much more inclined to take a shot now than he was at the beginning of the season.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
8) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, C
Drummond fell out of our rankings last week due to some inconsistencies, and because he was out-performed by his fellow rookies. This week, however, Drummond returns with a mission in mind: defense wins championships…and gets you on NBA Rookie Class’ Rookie Rankings. Drummond, while horrible offensively this week, has contributed on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 9.8 rpg and 1.8 bpg. Drummond also recorded his first career double-double with a 13 point, 13 rebound effort in a close 91-90 win over Toronto.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG
Shved’s playing time may quickly dwindle due to Ricky Rubio’s impending return, but Shved surely won’t go down without a fight. The upstart Russian has averaged 9.8 ppg, 1 spg, and 2.5 apg this week, primarily off the bench. While it’s Rubio’s job once he returns, Shved still has the opportunity to make his presence known off the bench for the T’Wolves.
Last week’s ranking: 9 (no change)
10) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF
It’s difficult to see a player with so much promise and potential plummet this far in our Rookie Rankings; however, it’s also very difficult to rank Davis much higher than 10th, considering that he hasn’t played in almost two full weeks now, due to a nagging ankle injury. Should Davis return soon, he could easily find himself ranked much higher. Should Davis not return soon, he could easily find himself off of this list.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)