NBA Rookie Rankings: Beal, Shved on the rise
Note: in parentheses next to the player's current ranking is his previous week's ranking.
1. (1) Damian Lillard (POR): Lillard got off to the hottest start of all the rookies, and is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. He led all rookies in scoring again over the past week, putting up 19.7 points per game. He reached nine assists in two of his three games, and averaged 8.0 per game in all three combined. Lillard is the far and away frontrunner for rookie of the year at this point in the season.
2. (3) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA): As we frequently saw in college, MKG fits into whatever role his team is in need of. A lot of No. 2 overall picks would feel entitled to chuck up a lot of shots, but Kidd-Gilchrist was content all last week with only 6.8 per game, which he made at a 66.7% rate. He contributes in plenty of other ways too - he had a game with eleven rebounds last week, and followed up the next night with six assists and three blocked shots. The Bobcats lost all four of their games last week, but it wasn't MKG's fault.
3. (2) Dion Waiters (CLE): Waiters missed all of last week's games with an ankle injury, but no one besides MKG played well enough to pass him in the rankings. Waiters remains third among rookies with 15.2 points per game, and has been greatly improving in other areas throughout the season.
4. (8) Bradley Beal (WAS): Beal didn't play much (17 minutes) when the Wizards shocked the Heat last week, but he certainly contributed to pulling off the upset. Beal put up ten points and three assists with no turnovers in the Wizard's four point win, and it seemed to get him going in the next two games. He followed his performance against the Heat with 18 points against the Hawks and 17 points against the Warriors - he added six assists and six rebounds in the latter game. His field goal percentage remains a concern, but he is slowly improving (shot 40% last week). If he can learn to score more efficiently, he could be a fantastic all-around player.
5. (9) Alexey Shved (MIN): Shved tied Beal for the biggest jump in the rankings this week, and it's in large part due to more efficient scoring. Shved really struggled shooting the ball early in the season, but is shooting it at 45.8% over his past five games. He's scored in double figures in four of his past five games, and puts up a solid amount of assists and rebounds for a combo guard. His biggest concern right now should be turnovers, but he's been a nice find for the Timberwolves, who signed him as an undrafted free agent.