The NBA season has just under two weeks left before the playoffs begin. As the season went on, the rookies were sustaining more injuries. The race for Rookie of the Year has come down to three individuals. While two of them are aiding their respective teams in a playoff push, the other is still putting up big numbers on a struggling team. With the race closer than ever, let’s see who takes the top spot after this last week.
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5. Josh Giddey, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Giddey will miss the remainder of the 2021-2022 season with hip soreness, the Thunder announced Saturday. He hasn’t played since February 24th. Head coach Mark Daigneault said this rehab process would last longer than the two weeks that are left in the regular season. “It’s a tricky injury that’s a little unpredictable,” Daigneault said. “I would not say it met or didn’t meet an expectation. We didn’t really have an expectation.” Despite missing the last month and a half of the season, Giddey had a solid first year. The Melbourne, Australia native will finish his rookie season with averages of 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in 54 games. Some achievements in his first year include being named Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Jan 2nd. against the Dallas Mavericks.
4. Franz Wagner, SG, Orlando Magic
Wagner and the Magic started the week on a high note, defeating the Golden State Warriors with a four-point victory. Wagner was a huge part of the winning, scoring 18 points to go along with three assists. The Berlin, Germany native also iced the game in the closing second. He made three free throws with just over 12 seconds left. He then dunked an inbound play for the final points. Wagner and the Magic would lose the next two games despite the win. In an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings, Wagner scored a team-high 19 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
3. Scottie Barnes, SF, Toronto Raptors
This week, Barnes and the Raptors got some much-needed wins as they are trying to position themselves in the playoffs. They defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to shorten the gap for the sixth seed. Barnes scored 11 points, along with six rebounds and four assists. The West Palm Beach, Florida native, scored 19 points as the Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers by 40 points. They secured their third straight win Monday night as they knocked off the Boston Celtics.
2. Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons
While the Pistons have been eliminated from playoff contention for some time, Cunningham hasn’t stopped performing at the top level. He had 17 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds in a win against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday. He followed up with 22 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards Friday. Sixteen of those points came in the second half. The Arlington, Texas native is surging at the right time as he tries to capture up Rookie of the Year.
1. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Mobley and the Cavaliers have suffered back-to-back losses to start the week and worsen their playoff position. Mobley scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Cavaliers were picked apart by the Raptors. The Cavaliers then lost to the Chicago Bulls in a game where Mobley could not score double-digit points. He, unfortunately, sustained an ankle injury Monday night against the Magic. He was forced to leave the game early. The condition of Mobley’s ankle will be a massive factor in the playoff push these last couple of weeks.
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Main Image Credit: via Cleveland.com