As we complete our first full week of NBA action in the new year, the rookie rankings begin to heat up. The first-year players continue to perform well, outdueling each other on a nightly basis in hopes of taking home the prestigious award. The list of rookies has a vast diversity, as some of their respective teams are competing for playoff spots while others are already looking towards the lottery. Let’s look at the rankings and the new No. 1 rookie this week.
You can find last week’s rankings here.
5. Josh Giddey, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Giddey has been named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the first two months of the NBA season. At this rate, he’s going to take home a third. The Melbourne, Australia native grabbed another double-double in Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He scored 14 points on over 50 percent shooting while pulling down an impressive 15 rebounds. The first-year forward has done a great job this past week, particularly beyond the arc. He’s shot over 45 percent from deep over the stretch while maintaining his aggressiveness on the boards.
4. Scottie Barnes, SF, Toronto Raptors
Since returning from the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Jan 2, Barnes’s numbers have declined over the next five games. Averaging 14.7 points per game with the Raptors this season, he only managed to score 11 twice in his four-game week. Since his return, his minutes are still high (averaging 35.5 per game), but he still hasn’t gotten back to form. Despite his poor scoring, the Raptors are still winners of their last six and have earned themselves a spot back in the current playoff standings.
3. Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
Cunningham had another solid week despite the Pistons going 1-2 over the stretch. Entering the draft, it was well known that Cunningham was the most NBA-ready, and it’s shown. Cunningham would always have his head down going to the basket throughout the first two months. He’s transformed into a true point guard now, setting up and putting his teammates in the best possible position to score. The Arlington, TX native scored 16 points on 50 percent shooting in a blowout loss to the Hornets Wednesday. He followed up with a career-high 29 points against the Utah Jazz Monday.
2. Franz Wagner, SF, Orlando Magic
After claiming the top spot for the previous two weeks, Wagner slides back to second. A good week for the first-year forward, continuing the impressive shooting performance we’ve seen all season. Despite the Magic losing all three games, Wagner shot 47 percent over the stretch. The Berlin, Germany native has a knack for moving off the ball and finding open lanes to the rim. Along with his excellent shooting, he is also a key piece on the defensive end. He can guard anyone and keep them in front of him at all times.
1. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Mobley reclaims his throne after his impressive three-game week. After the hot start to the season, the Cavaliers have cooled a bit and lost four of their last six games. However, this has not stopped Mobley from performing at his very best. The big man scored 18 points and helped lead the Cavaliers to a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. Cleveland does a great job getting mismatches and letting Mobley do all the work in the paint from there. The San Diego, CA native was also crucial in the one point win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday. He scored 17 points while also grabbing seven rebounds in the close win. The rankings are getting close, but Mobley remains the top dog.
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