NBA Rookie of the Year Ranking: Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes lead the race to win awards at 1/4 of the season
We’ve officially passed the quarter of the 2021-22 NBA season, so it’s the perfect time to take a look at the rookie landscape and see which top 5 players will appear in the Rookie of the Year race. happenning. The 2021 draft class is packed with talent, and that was on full display through the first 20+ games of the season. The proof is that this draft layer is much deeper than just the top four or five picks; we have seen people entering the second round like Ayo Dosunmu, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Herb Jones both had an impact on their respective teams.
While this year’s Rookie of the Year rankings will only focus on the top five guys right now, there are several others who just shyly break the list of those who deserve attention. Indiana Pacers rookie Chris Duarte definitely one of them. Oregon’s old guard got off to a brilliant start with NBA career, highlighted by a 27-point debut at the start of the season. Solid defense David Mitchell made an impact with Sacramento Kings, while Houston Rockets bigwig Alperen Sengun is proving himself to be one of the hottest rookies with every unseen pass.
Moving on to the top five rookie groups in the NBA so far, these players have stood out among the rest of their peers throughout the first quarter of the season and look set to be running to win Rookie of the Year. year at the end of the season. Season.
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Cunningham’s had a rough catch as a No. 1 overall pick. He missed the first four games of the season because of an ankle sprain, followed by inconsistent scoring and shooting performance during the course of the campaign. The first 20 games. However, there’s a reason he’s been compared to the All-Star Guardian Luka Doncic into the tournament. He has the ability to impact the game in other ways than just scoring, which is what Cunningham is doing while he’s still trying to get his score at a steady level.
He is creating opportunities for his teammates by engaging defenders and directing them to create passes and open windows, which lead to slouchs like these:
His assist rate ranks 98th in the league among wingers, per Cleaning The Glass, and his 6.5 rebounds ranks fourth among rookies. Although he still has a lot of room to improve his defence, he has clearly shown himself to be a good defender, being both a dribbler and active in passing.
There’s also the clutch element in Cunningham’s game, which is billed as going back to his high school days. He’s demonstrated that ability with the Pistons in a number of games this season, hitting a 3s clutch with the Nets and Rockets to either end the game or take the lead in the final five minutes of the game. He’s second among rookies in clutch points this season (13), suggesting he could be the man Detroit has his eyes on as the game progresses.
Although Cunningham hasn’t had the best start to his rookie season, which is to be expected for someone who has missed training camp, pre-season and the first four games of the season, he is perfecting his form. level and similar to the player many would expect him to be the number 1 overall pick.
4. Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
Here’s an interesting stat to show you how special Giddey has been so far: He’s just the third teenager in NBA history to record 100 assists and 100 rebounds in his first 20 games. The other two on that list? LeBron James and LaMelo Ball. Not terrible company for the young Australian guard. That milestone also speaks volumes for Giddey’s in-game versatility, as he can really do a little bit of everything.
If you turn on a Oklahoma City Thunder game on any given night, you can watch him pass the ball like this to his teammates:
Giddey’s presence in the reverse along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed great promise, bringing in Oklahoma City two incredibly capable players in the starting lineup who were able to not only provide assists for themselves, but also bring their teammates to life. in the right place for success. He leads all rookies in assists per game, and that number would certainly be higher if his teammates hit more shots as he ranks in the top 20 in the league for lanes. potential tectonics (11,4). The defender’s 31.2 assists rate also tops the league among wingers, per Glass Wipe. But it wasn’t just the flashy passes that made Giddey’s game remarkable; he delivers smart, well-placed passes to teammates who can catch and kick the ball in no time.
While Giddey’s pass is the best aspect of his game, he has shown so far this season that it’s not unreasonable to expect him to regularly win triples throughout. his career. He is aggressive at breaking the boards and he has no problem being able to remove defenders from the dribble and get to the belt, where he takes more than 54% of his shots.
Giddey’s efficiency is his biggest weakness so far, connecting only with 27.7% in 3s and 40% of the shot. That effect, however, is expected to wane as he earns a league start in his first season. Other than that, he’s still one of the top rookies of the year so far, and if he does start mass production, it wouldn’t be surprising if he climbs this list even further.
Wagner is one of the best rookie class surprises to date, as he quickly becomes a Orlando Magic Coach Jamahl Mosley assigned to watch the opponent’s best player regularly. The best example of this is when Wagner was assigned a guard duty Kevin Durant and James Harden when Orlando faced brooklyn network. Wagner forced Durant to make five turns in that game, and ended the night with five steals, demonstrating his ability as a tough defender with the ball.
His great instincts as a defender shine through for Magic, as he steals and messes with the opposing team by always trying to deflect the ball or swipe it away. Offensively, his versatility manifests in being able to play in any position Mosley wants and change his role in the process. He can function as a catch and shoot guy where he knocks down almost 40% of his 3s in that scenario. Or he can act as a pick-and-roll ball handle to get to the touchline, where he shoots 52% inside the penalty area. Wagner also proved to be an excellent cutter, generating 1,556 points per possession in the tournament.
Wagner’s forte in knowing when to cut, how to cut at the right angles if he’s on the flank and most importantly, switching shots when he encounters resistance at the perimeter are these the most impressive aspect of his game in the first quarter. Of the season. He won’t have nightly luminaries, but he’s proving to be Orlando’s best rookie to date and a valuable part of the team’s future.
There’s a lot to like about Barnes’ game, and at every step of this season he’s proven Toronto Raptors right in picking him with pick 4, a move that was considered controversial at the time. But through the first quarter of the season, Barnes is displaying a lot of valuable qualities for the Raptors. His skill set allows him to defend all five positions on the floor, knock out a defender from dribbling and become a threat in transition, and his physical gifts lead to the fact that he made great strides to the belt and covered an enormous amount of oceanic space in just a few steps.
Barnes won’t kill you with a horde of 3, or lull the defense with his crafty grip, but he will go to his place in the paint and punish you repeatedly around the perimeter, where he earns 63% of his shots. Then there was the relentless offensive rebound, where Barnes averaged 3.1 offensive goals a game, ranking 11th in the league as a whole. Get ahead of guys like Deanre Ayton, Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. Barnes’ ballhawk nature on the assault goggles is NS the reason the Raptors ranked third in the league in second chance points (15.7 per game).
In terms of defence, Barnes was even more impressive as his frenzied energy at the end of the floor irked opposing teams. He ranks in the league’s top 20 for tackles per game (2.8), and can cause problems for every type of player, from sentinels to big men. He is always looking to steal the ball or cause enough chaos to make the other team lose their rhythm. Barnes has had one of the best starts in his rookie class to date, and if he continues to produce and develop further there’s a good chance he’ll pick up the Rookie of the Year award next year. end of the season. His toughest competition by far is the next guy on this list.
first. Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite missing four games because of an elbow sprain, Mobley remains the most influential rookie to date this season, especially in defence. Mobley’s 17.6 goals defended per game ranked fourth in the entire league, ahead of such superstars Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. His guarded goal percentage of 43.7 is also 9th in the NBA, better than Antetokounmpo and Davis. Those are some pretty ridiculous numbers, and when you watch him play, the stats certainly fit the eye test.
Mobley has shown throughout the season that he is more likely to hit the wings and protect smaller players, and because of his endless length, he has impacted shots:
It’s actually quite ridiculous that Mobley can move so well in defence, especially when he’s protecting smaller players on the flanks. That is certainly unusual for a player of his caliber, and almost unprecedented for a rookie. His defensive impact was definitely felt in Cavaliers lineup, as Cleveland allows 8.8 points less when he’s on the floor than when he’s off. That number ranks in the 87th percentile among the majors in the league, by CTG. When Mobley went down with that elbow injury, the Cavs lost 0-4 during his absence, showing how important he is at both ends of the ring.
While Mobley’s attack hasn’t shone as much as his defence so far, he’s just as impressive at that end of the ring. One of the main highlights that shows the depth of his offensive game is against New York Knicks, where he punishes Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson to the tune of 26 career highs, nine rebounds, five assists and one steal and block each. Mobley easily removed both bigs on a couple of occasions that night, like this rotation over Noel in paint:
Or this easy trick from Mobley, where he overtakes Robinson with a rather dangerous hesitation:
Mobley has been better than advertised to start the season, and he will get better as his rookie campaign continues. He’s established himself as the beater to win the Rookie of the Year award with a quarter of the season in the books, but there are a few players struggling to get past that top spot.
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