We’ve been into the NBA season for over a month and the rookies are beginning to find their balance at the next level.
Some hot starts have cooled down, some surprising starts have returned to Earth, and other first-year players are still establishing their roles on their team.
And then there’s No. 1 pick overall, Cade Cunningham, who missed the first four games of his rookie season with an ankle injury before needing a few games to get rid of rust and adjust, now looking like the player who it was projected to be.
He’s on the hunt for the top spot on this week’s rookie ladder, putting pressure on some of his classmates who stole the headlines to start the year.
Where did Cunningham end up? Take a look and find out below.
NBA Rookie Ladder 2021-22
5. Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Statistics: 14.0 PTS, 3.1 REB, 2.3 AST, 38.2 FG%, 27.8 3P%
The best game: October 24 vs. BOS – 30 points (11-18 field goals, 8-10 3 points), four rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal
One thing you should know: As you would expect from a No. 2 pick overall playing for one of the worst teams in the league, Green is looking at the best defender from each team.
According to NBA statisticsTheir four most frequent matchups up to this point in the season (in terms of match minutes and partial possessions) have been Avery Bradley, Luguentz Dort, Marcus Smart and Mikal Bridges. While Bradley is past his prime, he and Smart are still twice members of the Defensive Team, and Dort and Bridges are widely recognized as two of the best perimeter defenders in the league today.
Green is struggling in some areas that were considered weaknesses heading into his rookie season, such as shooting consistency and efficiency, shot selection and defense, but he also doesn’t have much help around him and is playing without a real point guard to place it. for a better appearance.
Even though Green is not quite ready for the start of the Rookie of the Year caliber that most people expected, he has still had some extremely promising flashes and it would have felt bad to leave him out of the top five on this ladder because of the attention. that he receives from rival defenses every night.
The best is yet to come from the 19-year-old.
4. Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
Statistics: 10.8 PTS, 7.3 REB, 5.8 AST, 1.0 STL, 40.7 FG%, 28.6 3P%
The best game: October 27 vs. LAL – 18 points (7-13 field goals, 2-5 3PT), 10 assists, two rebounds, one steal
One thing you should know: Giddey is the best passer in this draft class.
The Australian guard was already known as an elite playmaker after leading the NBL with 7.4 assists per game last season, taking home Rookie of the Year honors. Early in his NBA career, he seems like a lock for the assists crown among his fellow rookies.
Giddey has 105 assists in 18 games, the most by a mile among first-year players (Davion Mitchell is second with 68). With his strong start as a passer and rebounder, Giddey has placed himself in an elite company in NBA history.
The only other teenagers to add at least 100 assists and 100 rebounds in his first 20 NBA games? LeBron James and LaMelo Ball.
Looking at passes like this below, it’s not hard to see just how talented Giddey is when it comes to grooming his teammates.
3. Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Statistics: 13.1 PTS, 6.2 REB, 4.9 AST, 1.2 STL, 33.9 FG%, 25.0 3P%
The best game: Nov. 19 vs. GSW – 19 points (6-12 field goals, 3-8 3PT), six assists, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks
One thing you should know: Cunningham is just getting started.
An ankle injury kept the No. 1 pick on the overall pick for the first four games of his NBA career, and he didn’t look 100 percent on his return, either. Some really poor shooting performances, like a 1-for-21 start to his career from 3, destroyed his divisions early on, but Cunningham is starting to find his groove.
He had a five-game streak in which he averaged 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game, looking like the No. 1 pick. He had the first triple-double of his rookie class, with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against the Los Angeles Lakers, demonstrating his ability to do it all.
Since then he has had some poorer shooting performances, which is typical for a rookie, but Cunningham still seems more composed with each passing game.
The 20-year-old may have started the Rookie of the Year career behind the 8-ball, but he is on the hunt for the award in the future.
2. Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Statistics: 14.8 PTS, 8.4 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.0 STL, 48.6 FG%, 26.3 3P%
The best game: October 22 at BOS – 25 points (11-17 shots from the field, 1-2 3PT), 13 rebounds, two assists
One thing you should know: Barnes is the only rookie to rank in the top five in points (1st), rebounds (1st), assists (5th), steals (T-5th) and blocks (T-5th) per game.
The No. 4 overall pick got off to a great start to their career, posting two 20-point double-doubles in their first seven games. Since missing a couple of games due to a sprained thumb, the 20-year-old has calmed down a bit, but it’s also worth noting that during that span, All-Star forward Pascal Siakam returned to the lineup.
|PPG||% FG||Role playing game||APG||SPG||BPG|
|First 10 games||17.0||53.3||8.5||2.6||1.1||0.6|
|Last seven games||11.6||40.7||8.3||4.3||0.9||0.4|
Barnes is still impacting the game in other ways with his versatile, high-level defense, his effort on the glass and his increase in assists, but his score and efficiency have declined. He was in an early season battle with Evan Mobley for Rookie of the Year and had a chance to gain some ground with Mobley offside, but Barnes didn’t do much to capitalize and now, Cunningham is right behind him.
The rookie forward has still been stellar and plays a vital role for the Raptors, but he did not hold the top spot on the ladder this week.
1. Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
Statistics: 14.6 PTS, 8.0 REB, 2.5 AST, 1.6 BLK, 1.0 STL, 49.4 FG%, 30.8 3P%
The best game: October 23 vs. ATL – 17 points (7-12 field goals), 11 rebounds, four blocks, two steals, one assist
One thing you should know: Mobley is one of four NBA players this season – joining Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns – to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal per game.
Now, of course, the rookie is averaging the fewest points per game in the group by a significant margin, but he’s still an impressive company.
Mobley was tremendous for the Cavaliers before his injury, making Cleveland look like a competitive team in the Eastern Conference. According to NBA statistics, when Mobley is on the court, the Cavaliers have a defensive rating of 99.6, which would be the best defense in the NBA. When he’s off the court, his defensive rating inflates to 108.8, which would be a top 10 defense in the NBA.
Mobley’s ability to protect the rim but also go out on the perimeter and hold his ground has made it a seamless transition between him and the other great pillar of the Cleveland franchise, Jarrett Allen.
Starting Nov. 16, the 20-year-old is expected to miss two to four weeks to a sprained elbow, giving these other rookies time to catch up on the awards race – but no one. it has done so far.
Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic: Wagner has been a player of all trades for a struggling Magic team, averaging 12.4 points per game while also providing a bit of play and tough defense.
Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers: Duarte has calmed down from his brilliant start, but the rookie is also dealing with a role change, now coming off the bench with the return of Caris LeVert. He’s still averaging 13.3 points while shooting a strong 37.9 percent from 3.
Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings: Mitchell breaks this list strictly for your defense, take on difficult tasks for Kings like Stephen Curry, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard.
Herb Jones, New Orleans Pelicans: Jones is also recognized for his defense, providing a skill set not possessed by many other Pelicans players. According to NBA statistics, New Orleans is 22.0 points per 100 possessions better when the defensive specialist is on the floor.
NBA Rookie Leaderboard 2021-22
|Points per game leader||Scottie barnes||Raptors||14.8 PPG|
|Game Leader Rebounds||Scottie barnes||Raptors||8.4 role play|
|Assists per game leader||Josh giddey||Thunder||5.8 APG|
|Steals by game leader||Herb Jones||Pelicans||1.3 AAP|
|Blocks per game leader||Evan mobley||Gentlemen||1.6 BPG|
Views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.