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.
6. (9) Jeff Taylor (CHA): After barely playing at the beginning of the season, Taylor has been great for two straight weeks. Last week, the Vanderbilt alum averaged 10.7 points on 57.1% shooting (50% from three) and 2.3 steals. He's now scored in double figures in six of his past seven games, and has come up big for the Bobcats during the absence of starting shooting guard Gerald Henderson.
7. (UR) Kyle Singler (DET): Singler dropped from the top ten last week due to scoring six or less points in two of three games. It now seems that was a bit of a fluke, with Singler dropping 12.3 points per game on 53.1% shooting (50% from three) over the past week (four games). He also averaged 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals, and is one of the few bright spots for the struggling Pistons.
8. (7) Bradley Beal (WAS): I finally got a chance to see Beal play on Friday when he went up against my Knicks. It seemed to me that part of his shooting struggles came as a result of getting himself into tough scoring situations, going into the bodies of big men down low. Perhaps he's taking some time to adjust to the size of NBA players. Of course, his game against the Knicks was one of his better shooting nights of the season, so I didn't get to see him truly struggle. As far as last week, Beal hasn't been racking up many rebounds, assists, or steals, and he shot only 36.7% from the field. He's still 4th among rookies in scoring, so he'll stick around on the list, but he has to be more efficient and contribute in ways other than scoring to make a push towards the top five.
9. (UR) Alexey Shved (MIN): Shved dropped out of the top ten last week, but has made a return thanks to improvement in his worst area - shooting percentage. Shved, who had shot 37.3% from the field going into to last week, scored 13.7 points per game on 44.8% shooting (52.9% from three) last week. The Russian combo guard can score, pass, rebound, and force some turnovers, so as long as he can shoot efficiently, he should remain in the top ten.
10. (8) Andre Drummond (DET): Drummond simply doesn't play enough minutes (17.6 per game last week) to put up good numbers on a consistent basis, so it's always hard for me to rank him. He really struggles on the offensive end, but certainly has the size and athleticism to deliver a Tyson Chandler-type presence on the court. Though he can't create for himself, he's efficient when he shoots, knocking down 56.8% of his shots on the season. In his two games with 18+ minutes last week, he averaged 8.5 rebounds, and averaged 6.8 in all four combined. He also blocked 1.3 shots per game last week, bringing him to 1.2 blocks in only 16.8 minutes on the season.
Just Missed the Cut: Anthony Davis (PF - NO... hasn't played since Nov. 17; off the list until he gets back on the court), Brian Roberts (PG - NO), Tyler Zeller (PF/C - CLE)
Be sure to check back each Monday for the updated NBA Rookie Rankings.