15. Cole Anthony (11.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, 37.5/32.8/83.6 splits)
Cole Anthony is going to be out until after All-Star break but he was really coming together before his injury. He was averaging 12.3 PPG his last 10 games and was having more 15+ point game spurts. He has been really inconsistent his scoring flashes and ability to be a playmaker has been apparent. He has shown the upside of being a top playmaking priority for an offense.
14. Isaac Okoro (7.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 36.2/24.1/61.5 splits)
Isaac Okoro was drafted as a raw offensive prospect that can be a big time defensive talent in this league end that has been true. He has been a lot less efficient scoring at the rim than he was in college and that has made him somewhat of a liability on the offensive end. Even if he’s been a little less efficient than expected, it wasn’t a secret he needed time on that end and that strong defensive ability still makes him a top 15 rookie from this class thus far.
13. Peyton Pritchard (7.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 45.6/38.1/92.3)
Danny Ainge needs to be thrilled with the value he got at 26 by selection Peyton Pritchard. You can make the argument that Prichard has been the most poise rookie in the class. He hasn’t been intimidated, despite his size, he is willing to get physical by getting in the paint, he is scrappy on defense, and is a near 40% shooter from three and shoots over 90% on the line. Pritchard has a chance to be a legit piece in this Celtics core centered around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum going forward.
12. Xavier Tillman (7.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 53.2/28.2/78.9 splits)
The Memphis Grizzlies have drafted spectacularly the past couple years and getting Xavier Tillman is a part of that. Tillman has been utilized as a day one, versatile two-way weapon that’s able to finish around the basket, hit open shots and defend. He was another older rookie coming in at 22 years old but it’s showing that it’s worth taking older prospects able to contribute immediately in the early second round.
11. Tyrese Maxey (8.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 44.7/27.8/88.0 splits)
Tyrese has had arguably the best game out of any rookie this year when he dropped 39 6 and 7 against Denver. He has shown flashes as a two way player and big time scorer inside the three point with his ability to pull up from mid range and throw that beautiful floater he has inside. Despite having a super inconsistent role in a contender like Philly, he’s still shooting 44.7% from the field and averaging 18.3 PPG per 36. If he had a bigger role on a team like the Knicks, we would hear him in the Rookie of the Year discussion .
10. Jaden McDaniels (5.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG 39.2/38.0/47.4 splits)
Despite the Timberwolves having the worst record in the league, Jaden McDaniele is fourth plus-minus out of all rookies. He has been the best rookie defensive rookie in the class as well, he can guard four positions, he has active hands and has emerged as a rim protector with currently the third most blocks out of any rookie. Not to mention, he has shot 40% from three his last 10 games. McDaniels has as much upside as anyone taken in the late first round.
9. Saddiq Bey (9.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1 APG, 41.2/40.7/83.3 splits)
Saddiq Bey is the only rookie to have won a Player of the Week award for a conference, interestingly. In Bey’s last 10 games, he’s averaging 13.4 PPG on 46.7% from three, he has been arguably the best pure 3 and D rookie this season. With Bey’s ability to shoot from three and potentially defend at an elite level, we should expect to see an emerging role for Bey as his career progresses.
8. Desmond Bane (10 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 47.2/45.8/85.0 splits)
Desmond Bane has been one of the most steady and efficient rookies in the league so far. He has shown that ability to shoot an elite level immediately, he’s been able to occasionally find his shot and he’s been fantastic in terms of spacing the court for Ja. Bane may not have the highest ceiling out of rookies in the top 10 of this list, but he has lived up to the hype as a really effective role player that’s going to be in this league for a long time.
7. Immanuel Quickley (12.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 39.1/36.9/92.9 splits)
Immanuel Quickley is essentially the opposite of players such as Desmond Bane. He hasn’t been the most consistent or efficient… but he has exploded for some huge games this yeat due to incredibly shooting ability and capability of getting inside without absorbing too much contact. He already has four games where he’s hit four plus threes along with 5 where’s he’s scored at least 22. A concern I have is if players like Alfrid Payton and newly acquired Derrick Rose will diminish his role, ultimately leading to less production, in his last six games since Rose got traded to New York, he’s only shot 33.9% from the field. Hopefully he picks up where he left off in January.
6. Patrick Williams (10.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 46.6/39.4/80.3 splits)
The Chicago Bulls were criticized by many for taking Patrick Williams fourth overall but the chirps have quickly silenced. He might not have the most noticeable volume compared to other rookies, but his defensive presence and ability to score efficiently has been a reason why the Chicago Bulls are in the playoff picture. As his ability to create becomes more displayed, people will begin to notice the high upside Wilkins possesses.
5. Ja’Sean Tate (9.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.8 APG 54.4/33.9/71.7 splits)
Ja’Sean Tate is the only undrafted rookie to be on this list and that’s because his play lately has made it impossible for draft and scout junkies to not pay attention. In his last five games, he’s averaging 14.4 PPG on 56.6% as well as 6.2 RPG and 2.8 APG. He’s already one of the better finishers around the basket, he can hit open shots, find teammates, and plays with a high motor. With the way Tate is playing, he has a real shot to make All-Rookie First Team, which is something that’s only happened once since 2010.
4. Anthony Edwards (14.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 37.5/31.3/79.5 splits)
This year’s first pick Anthony Edwards has shown glimpses of absolute greatness, averaging 16 since starting, dropping 28 on Lebron’s throat, and ending a man’s career on television after a veracious, once in a decade type poster. What only has Edwards only at four is his inconsistency and inefficiency this season. He was averaging over 17 on nearly 44% on a 10 game stretch, but has only shot 22.5% from the field his last three games. The talent to be special is there, he will need to be a little more consistent, which I think we will see very soon.
3. James Wiseman (12.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 50.3/40.9/62.3 splits)
James Wiseman hasn’t played at all in February due to a wrist injury… but that shouldn’t make people forget about the talent Wiseman displayed. He emerged as a legit lob threat day one, as expected due to elite length and overall athleticism, but he shocked the league by being able to shoot threes at a 40.9% clip. His jumpshot was a mystery for the longest time but now we know it is for real. He’s also shown Giannis like flashes where he can block shots then take it coast to coast for an eye popping slam. He needs to improve on his defensive instincts still but he’s certainly a talent.
2. Tyrese Haliburton (13.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 49.5/44.4/81.0 splits)
Why wasn’t Tyrese Haliburton a top 10 pick? I have no clue. Despite being regarded by some as a top five prospect, he fell all the way to 12 for some reason… this situation reminds me of when Devin Booker was considered a top seven pick but ultimately slipped to 13, I’m sure Phoenix doesn’t regret that circumstance taking place. Haliburton is surely making some teams that were picking before 12 silly. He has been this year’s most efficient and consistent rookie. In fact, he’s so efficient that he’s top three in both scoring and assists despite only having a USG% of 16. His playmaking and decision making talent is as good as advertised, he knows how to get to his spots, he really defends, and he’s been this draft’s best shooter as he’s shot 44.2% from three on only five attempts; it seems like he’s put those shooting concerns to bed. Some people still have question whether he is able to emerge as a star caliber talent or if his best role is simply being a high-end role player, I’m personally not going to put a firm lid on his ceiling because he’s beaten the odds and proven the doubters wrong every step of the way.
1. Lamelo Ball (14.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 6.1 APG, 43.1/34.6/80.6 splits)
Lamelo Ball, who I evaluated as the clear cut #1 prospect last year, has proven me right so far. As a starter, he’s been averaging 19.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and and 6.1 APG. When he’s on the court, the entire tempo and confidence of the Hornets offense has been on a whole other level. He is proving to be a three level scorer day one, obviously we knew his rebounding and passing would translate quick, but he’s especially proving a lot of skeptics wrong that didn’t believe in Lamelo’s shot translating…. since starting, he’s shooting 40.9% from three on nearly seven attempts. Lamelo Ball has shown the flashes of being a transcendent offensive weapon that could eventually do everything on that end on at least a very good level. His off-ball defensive concentration is a project, but his length and active hands have led to him being the rookie leaders in total steals, giving me optimism he can figure it out on that end.