As All-Star weekend approaches, the NBA rookie crop continues to stand out and represent the league’s future. They have proven to be leaders on their squads. Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham are significant pieces in their team’s success. Scottie Barnes is helping to get the Raptors into a strong playoff spot. Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner have proven to be reliable options down the stretch. All of these players have a bright future, and it’s on full display, as we have seen this season.
Make sure to check out last week’s rankings.
5. Scottie Barnes, SF, Toronto Raptors
Two 17-point performances this week for Barnes, and he is starting to look like his old self. The first outing came against the Thunder Wednesday night as they battled against Giddey. Barnes and the entire Raptors squad were dominant, coming away with the 117-98 victory. The Raptors need Barnes to stay at his top level as they make a push for a higher seed in the playoffs.
4. Josh Giddey, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Giddey’s standout performance came Monday night against the New York Knicks in a five-game week. Giddey had a career night, tallying a 28-point triple-double. He added 12 assists and 11 rebounds in the overtime win. The Melbourne native has made it clear he will find ways to impact the game in all aspects. We will continue to see this from him in the future.
3. Franz Wagner, SF, Orlando Magic
It was a slow week for Wagner, but still a productive one. In four games, he scored a week-high 26 points against the Denver Nuggets Monday, adding eight rebounds and four assists in his performance. The Berlin, Germany native has been sensational for this young and upcoming Magic squad. While they don’t have playoffs in their sights for this season, Orlando could be a dangerous team in the East sooner rather than later.
2. Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
While Cunningham has missed five games recently due to a minor injury, the Arlington, TX native has established himself as a top point guard in the league going forward. With two back-to-back 12-point performances in his first games back, nothing flashes out, but keep in mind he’s coming off an injury. Cunningham continues to improve his overall game, which shows with this week’s ranking.
1. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Mobley has continued to take the league by storm. Another dominant performance Wednesday, as he had 18 points and 12 boards for another double-double. The 7-foot center from San Diego has proven to be a big problem for his opposition. He’s too quick for the larger and slower centers to give him space. Too much space, and he will make you pay with his shot. If you cramp him, he’ll go around you. On the block, he’s lengthy enough to throw a hook shot over you, but if you react too quickly, he’ll go around you into the paint for an easy layup. Mobley has been a significant part of the new-look Cavaliers squad and will try to get them the highest playoff seed possible.
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Main Image Credit: via Mudgins.com