NBA Rookie Rankings: Lillard still on top
1. Damian Lillard (PG -POR): Just another week at the office for Lillard. As of now, it doesn't look like he'll ever give up his top spot. The league's most consistent rookie is playing like a seasoned veteran, and he finds ways to help his team every single night. He averaged 26.0 points through his first two games last week. In his third game, he had a poor shooting night, but helped out in other areas, racking up six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocked shots. It's going to be tough to knock this kid out of the top spot.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF - CHA): MKG continued his stat-sheet-stuffing ways last week, giving him the right to be runner-up to the seemingly invincible Damian Lillard. Kidd-Gilchrist has been contributing in tons of different ways, averaging 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks over the past week. He also averaged only .8 turnovers during that span. He's scored in double-figures in eight of his last nine games, and is a huge part of why the Bobcats currently find themselves in a playoff spot.
3. Dion Waiters (SG - CLE): Waiters bounced back from a very poor stretch of games to score 19.0 points per contest last week. His season high in assists had been 5 previous to last week, but he has dished out 5+ assists in two of his past three games. His shooting percentage absolutely needs to come up (38% on the season), but he's putting up points and learning to contribute in ways other than scoring.
4. Harrison Barnes (SF - GS): Barnes started off the week with a bang, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds last Monday. However, he didn't top 10 points in his following three games. He was limited to 15 minutes in one of those games, in part due to foul trouble. Regardless, he averaged 10.8 points on 45.7% shooting with 7.5 rebounds per game last week, so he's worthy of a top five position on this list.
5. Jonas Valanciunas (C - TOR): The Raptors may have played terribly last week (0-4), but at least they can be happy about the play of their young center. Valanciunas averaged 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.3 blocks over four games last week. He also shot a fantastic 63.9% from the field and 80% from the foul line. He seems to have earned the trust of the coaching staff (three straight games with 30+ minutes), so you can expect more consistent play out of the Lithuanian going forward.
6. Anthony Davis (PF - NO): Davis has been spectacular when on the floor, but he didn't play any games last week due to an ankle injury. Despite not playing, he's averaging 16.0 points, 8.3 boards, and 2.3 blocks on the season, and I didn't think the following players showed enough to pass him just yet.
7. Bradley Beal (SG - WAS): Beal continues to struggle mightily with his shot (31.3% last week), but like many of the aforementioned rookies, he has been finding other ways to contribute to his team. Beal is averaging 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks over his past two games, and remains 5th among rookies with 11.3 points per game on the season. I haven't watched the 0-11 Wizards play yet this year, but I'm starting to want to check them out to see what's up with Beal's shooting problems - he always impressed me during his one year at Florida.
8. Andre Drummond (C - DET): Drummond continues to be extremely raw offensively (as was expected when the Pistons drafted him), but he's averaged 12.0 rebounds over his past two games in only 21.7 minutes. He blocked three shots against the Knicks on Sunday, and shot 50% or higher in two of his three games last week. He now has per-36-minute averages of 14.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks, along with a 60.9% field goal percentage.
9. Jeff Taylor (SF - CHA): The lone newcomer to the list, Taylor got out to a slow start this season, but scored in double-figures in each of his four games last week. He's also averaged 3.3 rebounds, shot 44.7% from the field (53.8% from three), had a four assist game, and has 2+ steals in each of his past three games. He needs to cut down on fouls, but is rightfully earning more and more minutes in the Bobcats' rotation.
10. Jae Crowder (SF/PF - DAL): Crowder dropped out of my top ten a week ago, in large part due to a big decrease in playing time. Over the past week, however, Crowder has gotten 20+ minutes in each game, and responded with averages of 13.5 points (55.6% shooting), 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 steals.
Just Missed The Cut: Alexey Shved (PG/SG - MIN), Brian Roberts (PG - NO), Kyle Singler (SF/PF - DET)
Be sure to check back each Monday for the updated NBA Rookie Rankings.