Rookie Rankings: Pistons’ Rookies Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond Impress

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?

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

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)

Don’t agree with our rankings?  Leave a comment below letting us know who deserves to be where on this list.  Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Rookie Rankings: Anthony Davis Drops, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist Rises Again

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.

Super-rookie Kyle Singler makes his debut in this weeks Rookie Rankings(freep.com)

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)

Rookie Ratings: Rookies Continue to Grow and Impress

Damian Lillard contiues to impress throught the early stages of the season (nwsportsbeat.com)

As the season continues to grow, so do our rookies.  Now a solid two weeks into their first season-long campaign, some Rooks are on the rise while others may seem to be falling off the charts.

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

Lillard continues to impress in Portland, as the youngster is now averaging a rookie-high 18.4 ppg, a rookie-high 6.6 apg, and a respectable 3.1 rpg.  Regardless of the competition, Lillard has shown up for every game, scoring in double-digits in every contest so far.  The Trail Blazers may be struggling somewhat in the win-loss column, but Lillard is doing everything he can to help this team.
Last week’s rating: 1 (No change)

2) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF

Davis made a strong push for the number 1 spot this week, but still unfortunately can’t match Lillard’s production.  Davis is leading all rookies with 7.0 rpg and an amazing 2.75 bpg (good for fourth in the entire league).  While his FG% might not be as dynamite as some would expect from a big man, he’s still averaging 15.0 ppg and shooting lights-out from the free-throw line as a big (.818%).
Last week’s rating: 2 (No change)

3) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

MKG makes a nice jump in the standings this week after showing people that his selection as No. 2 was no fluke.  Kidd-Gilchrist exploded for 25 points and 12 rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks in a 101-97 OT win for the Bobcats, and followed that performance with 15 and 8 against the Washington Wizards in a 92-76 victory.  There’s no mystery as to why Charlotte has now won three straight games; MKG is turning out to be a difference maker for the very young team.
Last week’s rating: 6 (+3)

4) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

Valanciunas has continued to impress above the border.  Averaging 8.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 0.6 bpg, Val is continuing to show why the Raptors didn’t mind waiting for him before he came over to the NBA this year.  Dwayne Casey is continuing to salivate at the idea of turning Valanciunas into a defensive force, and it’s only a matter of time until he gets to that next level.
Last week’s rating: 4 (No change)

5) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

After a hot start to the season, Waiters cools off ever so slightly, but still finds himself contributing greatly to a young Cavs team that has needed his offense.  Waiters is averaging 14.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 2.1 apg, and has been very efficient from three-point land (.486%).  His free-throw percentage needs work, though (.588%).
Last week’s rating: 3 (-2)

6) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG

Shved makes his first appearance in the rankings after having a strong second week, after scoring in double-digits multiple times and helping the injury-plagued Timberwolves to a 5-3 start.  Shved is averaging 9.0 ppg, 3.9 ppg, and 3.1 rpg, all respectable numbers for someone who isn’t even getting starters minutes.  Shved may struggle as veterans start to figure him out, but he’s turning out to be a great fill-in for Ricky Rubio while Rubio recovers from an ACL injury.
Last week’s rating: N/A

7) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

Barnes has seen his numbers improve since last week, and his ranking has done the same: 9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.3 apg, while moving up from 10th on last week’s list.  Barnes also recorded his first career double-double last time out in a close 92-88 victory against the Hawks where all of Barnes 19 points and 13 rebounds were needed to secure the win.
Last week’s rating: 10 (+3)

8) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, C

Drummond has continued to play strong off the bench for Detroit, as his averages have jumped to 6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 1.0 bpg.  Drummond still looks raw on the court, but he has a great mentor in Greg Monroe (see: 2012-2013 triple-double leaders) and seems to enjoy coming off the bench as a spark plug for the Pistons.  Embracing one’s role is the first step to reaching the next level.
Last week’s rating: N/A

9) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, SG

Beal, like the Wizards, has fallen off in our rankings, but he’s still putting up solid numbers: 11.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 1.9 apg.  His field-goal percentage has seemingly hit rock bottom, though, as he’s averaging 16% from the field over his last two games.  Teams are keying in on Beal in John Wall’s absence and it’s showing; Beal can only hope Wall will be back soon.
Last week’s rating: 9 (No change)

10) Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks, SF

Crowder, a poor-man’s Ron Artest (minus the head case), has been performing nicely for the Mavs in Shawn Marion’s absence due to injury.  Crowder is averaging 7.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 1.3 apg.  Given more opportunities from the field (Crowder’s only attempted 55 shots), Jae’s numbers could easily jump, helping to give the young colt more confidence.
Last week’s rating: 5 (-5)

Rookie Rankings: And What A Start It’s Been

With just over a week into the NBA season, we’re finally seeing our rookies getting some playing time.  Granted, not all are making the largest impact on their team; yet there are those that are rising to the occasion of helping out their franchise while others continue to struggle to see any court time.  With that in mind, here are the first formal Rookie Rankings, based off of the first few weeks of the season:

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

Lillard has been an absolute wonder to watch so far this season.  Whether he’s passing on the pick-and-roll, or taking the ball to the hoop, Lillard has been very impressive with one of the oldest plays in the book, and it has helped him to an early season stat line of 19.3 ppg and 8.0 apg, both tops among rookies.  Lillard has already taken on a long list of worthy opponents, including the Lakers, Thunder, and Clippers, and has proven that he’s ready to run with the big boys.  Once the game continues to slow down for him, it will be amazing to see what Lillard can really do.
Last week’s rating: N/A

2) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF/C

I guess there is plenty reason to fear the Brow.  Davis has impressed in the early going of his career, averaging 14.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg.  Add in the 1.5 bpg that he is averaging, and Davis is living up to the hype that many expected from him.  A mild concussion has kept him out of most of the Hornets’ contests, but once cleared, expect Davis to go right back to his shot-blocking ways.
Last week’s rating: N/A

3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

This is easily the surprise of the week for NBA Rookie Class.  While most assumed that Waiters was over-drafted at No. 4 by the Cavaliers, especially after the Summer League and Preseason performances that Waiters had, Dion has be quick to prove his doubters wrong.  Through five games, the Cavs newest shooter is averaging 15.4 ppg as well as 2.6 apg.  While the secondary numbers aren’t the most impressive, if Waiters continues to score (i.e. 28 points vs. Clippers, 10-of-17 FG, 7-of-11 3PT), I don’t think that Cavs fans will mind very much.
Last week’s rating: N/A

4. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

After taking time last year to continue to work on his skills overseas, America (well, Canada, actually) is getting its first look at Valanciunas, and Toronto fans couldn’t be happier.  Valanciunas is doing something that hasn’t been seen by a Raptors big man in quite a long time: playing defense.  While the defensive numbers aren’t there yet (only 0.8 bpg), Valanciunas is contributing with 8.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg to a very young Toronto squad.  Yet Jonas’ biggest attribute to the team is his defense, and regardless of the numbers, he should continue to see plenty of minutes in Dwayne Casey’s system.
Last week’s rating: N/A

5) Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks, SF

Dallas’ dreaded man has contributed immediately to a Mavericks team that has needed him to do so.  A second-round pick, Crowder has already started this season (in place of the injured Shawn Marion), and could be fighting for starters minutes by season end if the Mavs’ season turns sour.  Crowder’s numbers of 8.6 ppg and 3.0 rpg aren’t breathtaking, yet his efficiency has been: 50% from the field and 50% from three-point land.  Expect Crowder to continue to impact the Mavericks with his high energy, and crazy-awesome hair.
Last week’s rating: N/A

6) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Davis’ Kentucky teammate Kidd-Gilchrist finds himself slightly lower than his former Wildcat, yet MKG is establishing himself nicely on a young Charlotte team.  MKG has been able to come in and provide high-energy immediately, something that Charlotte is desperate for.  Kidd-Gilchrist’s numbers (8.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 spg, & 2.0 bpg) aren’t as impressive offensively as some would expect from a No. 2 overall pick, but his defense (i.e. 1.7 spg & 2.0 bpg) are incredible.  If Kidd-Gilchrist can keep those numbers, expect them to translate to more offensive opportunities, and a few votes for Defensive Player of the Year down the road.
Last week’s rating: N/A

7) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF

Singler, our second super-rookie (second year rookie with first year playing experience) to make the list, has played well in the early season.  The Duke product is averaging 9.4 ppg and 2.8 rpg off the bench for a Detroit team that is still searching for answers.  Singler’s most impressive asset to the Pistons this year has been his three-point shooting, where he is shooting 45.5%.  Should the Motown team continue to struggle, head coach Lawrence Frank may look to give Singler a few starts in due time.
Last week’s rating: N/A

8) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, PF

Sullinger’s season began on the bench after starting much of the preseason for the Celtics.  Yet, after an 0-2 start for the team, Doc Rivers placed Sullinger in the starting line-up, and the C’s have gone 2-0 since.  While Sullinger’s numbers haven’t been jaw-dropping (4.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), he’s carried himself well, especially while having Kevin Garnett barking out orders on the court.  Sullinger’s numbers will continue to rise as his confidence and self-awareness on the court do too, and he may be moving up this list with ease by midseason.
Last week’s rating: N/A

9) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, SG

Beal, who was taken before Waiters in the Draft at No. 3 overall, has struggled some early in the season.  While the numbers look decent from the outside (8.7 ppg and 2.3 apg), Beal’s field-goal percentage has been quite the opposite (.286).  Beal has the added pressure of trying to make up for the lack of John Wall early for the Wizards and has had to face a difficult Celtics team twice already.  Expect both sets of numbers (averages and percentages) to rise with some time, patience, and the return of John Wall.
Last week’s rating: N/A

10) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

While the numbers aren’t anything to write home to mother about (8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg), especially for someone who was dropping buckets back at UNC, Barnes has adjusted to the NBA well.  He’s started in all five contests for the Warriors, and his percentages are decent (48% FG, 30% 3PT).  Once Barnes gains more confidence in his abilities at the next level, expect all of these numbers to rise.  Barnes is a talented shooter whose confidence is key to his overall play.
Last week’s rating: N/A