Each week its gets harder to rank these spectacular rookies. Any of the guys on this list could be in great contention for rookie of the year in any other year. However, this is a draft class like no other. The No. 1 pick from the Detroit Pistons, Cade Cunningham, continues to elevate his game. Evan Mobley is proving to be one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best draft picks of the decade. All these rookies are balling out, but only one can claim the top spot. Who ranks highest in my list, and who got snubbed for the top five this week?
Be sure to check out our NBA Rookie Rankings from 11/30-12/6.
No 5. Josh Giddey, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
While Giddey isn’t consistently scoring the ball, he sure knows how to make an impact. With 12 points against both the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers, he gets involved with his playmaking. The Melbourne, Australia native, combined for 15 assists in the two games, really seeing and letting the game come to him. He made history following the loss to the Lakers, becoming the first Oklahoma City Thunder rookie to record four games with 10-plus points, seven-plus rebounds, and seven-plus assists. He’s settling right in as his rookie season continues.
No 4. Franz Wagner, SF, Orlando Magic
Wagner would be in intense pursuit of the rookie of the year award in any other given year. Unfortunately for him, the three players in front of him are outstanding. Wagner has picked up form recently, scoring 19 points against the Sacramento Kings before posting back-to-back 20 point performances against the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers. Even more impressive over the three-game streak is that he’s shooting 55 percent from the field. While his offensive firepower is remarkable, his defense is also very reliable. He does a great job guarding any position on the floor and keeps his man in front at all times.
“As a rookie, you are trying to learn every day and ask questions and learn from everyone around me. I’m very lucky that everybody around me is helping me a lot, and the coaches have given me a lot of confidence to try some things out there that I normally wasn’t doing in college,” Wagner said. “That’s cool for me. It’s quickened my learning curve to try some things out there.”
No 3. Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
Cunningham is the league’s future and represents a new emergence at the point guard position. The 6’8″ combo guard is in complete control of the Detroit offense, and his skillset is some of the best around the league. He’s becoming more comfortable attacking the rim, and if the defense lacks off, he will surely make you pay with his jump shot.
The Oklahoma State product scored 21 and 16 points against the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Pelicans. Then afterward, Cunningham before dropped 26 against the Brooklyn Nets. Cunningham was able to shoot 50 percent in the performance, rather impressive considering the lengthy Kevin Durant matched up with him a couple of times. While the Pistons are on a 12-game losing streak, the blame cannot be put on Cunningham.
No 2. Scottie Barnes, SF, Toronto Raptors
A quiet week for Barnes is still an exceptional one. If you’ve watched Barnes this year, you’ll know how critical he is to the Toronto lineup. He’s the ideal point forward, being able to guard anyone on the defensive end and generate on the offensive end. He’s very versatile, doing anything possibly asked of him. He had an 18 point performance against the Thunder before dropping a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds against the New York Knicks.
No 1. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
A four-game week for Mobley where he has been relatively consistent. The Cleveland Cavaliers are on a four-game winning streak where Mobley has been doing his part. His best performance of the week came with a double-double of 15 points and rebounds in the win over the Kings. Mobley’s also put up a career-high five blocks against the Chicago Bulls to start the week. His incredible length and versatility are why he’s one of the best rookies and a defensive nightmare to the opposition. Mobley and the Cavaliers look to continue their streak and get back to the playoffs.
Follow Kole Emplit on Twitter @KoleEmplit
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images