As the regular season is coming to a close, NBA rookies are trying to elevate their teams to a playoff position. Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes’ teams sit one seed apart. It will be a thrilling ending to see where the two end up. For the other rookies, they are trying to help convert their growing teams into future playoff threats. The Rookie of the Year race is close, but only one can walk away with the prize.
You can find last week’s installment right here.
5. Josh Giddey, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Giddey had been dealing with an injury at the end of February. Hip soreness was the initial pain, but he managed to play through it before missing four straight games. That soreness flared up on February 25, and Giddey was a late scratch from the lineup versus the Indiana Pacers. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault announced that the team had ruled him out for the next two weeks to deal with the injury.
“We’re trying to balance development but also being cautious and being wise with how we handle every player in every circumstance. We’ll know a lot more in a couple of weeks to see how he responds to the treatment he is getting right now,” Daigneault said.
It will be an interesting timetable for when the Thunder can get their star rookie back on the court.
4. Franz Wagner, SF, Orlando Magic
In a down week for Wagner, he still continued to make an impact as the Orlando Magic went 2-2 over the stretch. The former Michigan Wolverine scored 15 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, which was his highest scoring total of the week. Wagner continues to be an impressive defender and will be a crucial piece for this rebuilding Orlando Team. With Jonathan Isaac set to miss the remainder of the season, Wagner will have to step up.
3. Scottie Barnes, SF, Toronto Raptors
The rookie helped lead his team to a 4-0 record this week, as they try to take a jump out of the play-in position and into the sixth seed. Barnes started off the week with a 20 point performance and a win over the San Antonio Spurs. He also added eight assists, which really displayed how he operates as a point forward. Barnes is so quick going coast to coast off the rebound, and opposing defenses struggle to contain his breakaways. He also played a near-perfect game in the win against the Denver Nuggets. Another double-double for Barnes, as he scored 25 points with 10 assists. He was two rebounds away from a fantastic triple-double. Barnes is keeping himself in the race for Rookie of the Year.
2. Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
Despite the Pistons losing all three of their games this week, Cunningham has continued to perform. Not once this week did he score less than 20 points. The Arlington, TX native scored 22 against the Bulls while also adding six assists. He has a true knack for getting on involved on the offensive end. He also put up a fanatic stat line of 27 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the loss to the Boston Celtics. While Detroit may be struggling, Cunningham has been excelling.
1. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
If you want to talk about a fantastic look, look no further than Mobley. He had two 20-plus games as the Cavaliers went 2-2 during the stretch. He had another double-double against the Pacers last Tuesday, scoring 22 points to go with 12 rebounds in the win. However, his biggest night of the week came in an overtime win against the Los Angeles Clippers. He scored a game-high 30 points, as the Cavaliers won 120-111 in extra minutes. There’s a star in the making from this rookie class, and he resides in Cleveland.
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Main Image Credit: via Jett Lindsay Blogspot