NBA Rookie Rankings: Return of The Brow
Note: In parentheses next to each player's ranking is his previous week's ranking.
1. (1) Damian Lillard (POR): Lillard had quite an inconsistent week, with a great night, mediocre night, and bad night in his past three games. He made up for his sub-par nights, however, with an exceptional performance against the Spurs, in which he led all scorers with a career-high 29 points as his Trail Blazers pulled off the upset victory. He was the NBA's leading rookie scorer once again last week, and continues to consistently help out his team in some way during each game.
2. (2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA): Charlotte may be on an 11 game skid at the moment, but MKG continues to be a bright spot for the struggling Bobcats. Kidd-Gilchrist's highlight of the week was on Monday when he went off for 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block. He finished off the week with a tough shooting night (1-4 from the field), but still managed five rebounds and three blocked shots in only 21 minutes. When MKG can't put points on the board, he still finds ways to contribute to his team, and that's what has him 2nd in my top ten for the second straight week. Among rookies, MKG ranks in the top ten in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, and turnovers (and is 11th in free throw percentage).
3. (3) Dion Waiters (CLE): Waiters didn't play any games once again last week, but he is set to practice today (Monday) and play in the Cavaliers' game on Tuesday, so I'll leave him here for the time being. He's still 2nd among rookies in scoring, 3rd in assists, and 1st in steals. The Cavs are certainly looking forward to having him back on the court.
4. (4) Bradley Beal (WAS): Beal got significantly less minutes in one of his four games last week (was in foul trouble), but in his three games with more than 22 minutes, he averaged 18.0 points per contest. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals over all four games. Though he struggles to shoot at a good percentage, he has shown a lot of potential to become a very good NBA scorer, and is adept at getting to the foul line (six free throw attempts in four of his past six games).
5. (5) Alexey Shved (MIN): Like Beal, Shved was struggling mightily with his shooting percentage early in the season. Recently, however, he has been much more consistent with his shot, which has expectedly resulted in a better overall scoring output. He shot 50% or higher from the field in two of his past three games. He was fourth among rookies last week in scoring and first in assists. He finished the week averaging 13.0 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.0 steals over three games.
6. (8) Andre Drummond (DET): Finally, we have a shakeup in the top ten. Drummond has turned into a monster on the glass and the defensive end of the court in his limited minutes. He's not a threat to create on the offensive end, but is learning to produce efficiently with limited shot attempts. He reminds me more and more of Tyson Chandler every week, and he has the potential to become that sort of presence on the floor. In his past three games, Drummond is averaging 8.7 points (63.2% shooting), 9.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks.
7. (UR) Anthony Davis (NO): Davis finally returned from the ankle injury that sidelined him for over three weeks, and quickly returned to playing the same number of minutes he was playing before the injury. He's scored in double figures in all four games since returning, and has three blocked shots in two of those contests. Last week, Davis averaged 12.5 points (51.5% shooting), 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 steals. He's going to have to prove to me that he can stay on the court to make another run at the top spot like he was earlier in the season.
8. (6) Jonas Valanciunas (TOR): Head coach Dwane Casey said he was going to be limiting JV's minutes, and despite a 15 point (6-6 shooting) night, Casey followed through on his word, as Valanciunas has played only 30 minutes over the past two games combined. He averaged 6.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game last week, but barely playing over the past two, he got jumped by Drummond and Davis. JV is still very effective when he's on the court, but it seems Casey wants to bring him along slowly.
9. (7) Harrison Barnes (GS): Barnes showed us a flash of his upside Saturday, putting up 19 points on 8-14 shooting, but that was after being unable to top eight points in any of his first three games last week. He shot only 40.5% from the floor over all four of last week's games, and his 2.8 rebounds per game were quite disappointing for a 6'8'' player. He keeps occasionally reminding us why he was drafted 7th overall, but I'll need to see more consistency out of him if he wants another run at the top five.
10. (UR) Andrew Nicholson (ORL): The St. Bonaventure product is finally getting some consistent minutes, and he's proving that he deserves them, scoring in double figures in three of his past five games. Over his past six games, he's averaging 12.0 points on 60.8% shooting. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in his three games last week. As long as he keeps getting a decent amount of minutes, he has a real shot of becoming one of the top rookies in the league.
Just Missed the Cut: Jeff Taylor (SG/SF - CHA), Kyle Singler (SF - DET), Tyler Zeller (PF/C - CLE)
Be sure to check back each Monday for the updated NBA Rookie Rankings.