NBA Rookie Rankings: Big names slumping
Note: in parentheses next to the player's current ranking is their previous week's ranking.
1. (1) Damiam Lillard (POR): If there was ever a time to knock Lillard off the top, it was this past week. Lillard shot only 32.8% from the field last week, and had the same number of points as shot attempts. Even so, Lillard averaged 16.0 points, and he continues to impress in other areas, averaging 6.5 assists, 3.5 boards, and 1.3 steals last week. He also shot 92.3% from the charity stripe. If any of the other top five rookies played exceptionally over the past week, they would have had a shot at taking Lillard down, but still averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists on the season, Lillard played well enough to remain No. 1.
2. (3) Dion Waiters (CLE): With the injury to Kyrie Irving, Waiters has been forced to become a volume shooter, starting alongside second year man Jeremy Pargo in the backcourt. I don't believe that chucking up shots plays to Waiters strengths, but you do have to give credit to the young man for putting up 16.0 points per game last week, tied for first among rookies. Unfortunately, those points came on 17.3 shot attempts per game and a 31.9 field goal percentage. He has excelled in other areas, however, averaging 6.0 assists and 1.8 steals last week. He's third among rookies in scoring, and is doing all he can to help the Cavaliers cope with the loss of their best player.
3. (2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA): There aren't many bigger MKG fans than me, so I was disappointed to see this young man's minutes drop last week. He played five less minutes per game last week than he did two weeks ago, and -maybe not coincidentally - the Bobcats lost all three of their games. He averaged only 7.0 points (33.3% shooting), 3.0 rebounds, and not much else through his first two games last week, but put up 10 points (5-10 shooting) and 8 boards when he got some more minute's in last week's final game.
4. (6) Jonas Valanciunas (TOR): After a stellar run of games, JV's minutes decreased in each of his three games last week. However, he still managed 50% shooting and 5+ rebounds in two of those three games, and had three blocks in the other game when he was struggling offensively. Averaging 9.2 points on 51.2% shooting with 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks on the season, Valanciunas has been the most valuable big man of this rookie class so far.
5. (4) Harrison Barnes (GS): Barnes really didn't do much of anything last week, making three of eleven shots over his two games. He averaged 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and .5 steals, not giving the Warriors much help in other areas. Of course, that's only two games - you can't expect a rookie to dominate consistently, every single night. Barnes is only two weeks removed from a 20 and 12 performance, so I won't drop him too far for a two game slump.