NBA Rookie Watch – NBADraft.net

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With a quarter of the season in the books, there is a solid sample size to get a feel of this year’s NBA rookie class. It’s apparent a number of rookies are beginning to get comfortable and their production and efficiency is showing improvement. Here is a look at the top 10 rookies, including stats on the season and over the past week.

10. AJ Griffin – F – Atlanta Hawks

Season Stats: 8.8 PTS, 2.0 REB, 48.2 FG%, 39.0 3P%

Week Average: 4 G, 12.0 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 45.9 FG%

Griffin squeaks onto the list after a solid week of scoring, beating out Trailblazers guard Shaedon Sharpe who is beginning to show flashes but scored 1.8 points over the week. With 12.0 points over four games, Griffin is scoring when given the opportunity. In each of his games where he’s played 30 minutes or more, Griffin has recorded outings of 17 points (2x) and 24. It’s beginning to become clear that he was one of the steals of the mid first round.

9. Jalen Duren – C – Detroit Pistons

Season Stats: 6.3 PTS, 7.2 REB, 56.2 FG%

Week Average: 5 G, 5.0 PTS, 6.6 REB, 52.6 FG%

Duren hasn’t scored over 10 too often, but he often grabs as many rebounds as points. Duren has the framework of a big man who can eventually get the team consistent double-doubles, he’s just not there yet, which is expected since he’s a rookie. The Detroit center grabbed five or more rebounds over the five games he played this week and has four games this season with 10 or more. He’s a slow burner but he could very well reach near double-double territory by the year’s end which is promising for the future of Detroit basketball.

8. Jeremy Sochan – F – San Antonio Spurs

Season Stats: 8.1 PTS, 4.1 REB, 2.0 AST, 47.3 FG%

Week Average: 4 G, 10.5 PTS, 4.3 REB, 2.5 AST, 46.3 FG%

With a San Antonio franchise that ventures into uncharted territory, Sochan is carving out a role as the team’s power forward. Over his last four games, Sochan shot 46.3% from the field and managed 4.3 rebounds per game. The former Baylor Bear’s shot from beyond the arc isn’t there yet, but Sochan is attempting them as the season and his minutes progress. This week, the versatile forward stuck around his averages and saw a promising point production uptick.

7. Jalen Williams – G – Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Stats: 9.9 PTS, 2.9 REB, 2.7 AST, 50.0 FG%

Week Average: 4 G, 12.0 PTS, 2.8 REB, 1.5 AST, 44.4 FG%

Williams has stuck around the middle of the rookie pack for much of the season. The former 12th overall pick is on the cusp of becoming the sixth rookie to average double-digit points, though the season is still young, and many averages will fluctuate. With 12.0 points per game across four games, Williams had one of the better weeks amongst his rookie class. Though it’s low volume for an eight-win Oklahoma City squad, Williams is shooting 50.0% from the field in 16 games. It’s likely the 21-year-old rookie guard remains around the middle of the class in scoring, but one hot week could put him near the top.

6. Tari Eason – F – Houston Rockets

Season Stats: 8.5 PTS, 5.3 REB, 41.9 FG%, 37.8 3P%

Week Average: 3 G, 10.7 PTS, 7.0 REB, 41.9 FG%

Eason started the week against Golden State by recording his season-high in points at 19. During the contest, Eason shot 8-for-14 (57.1%) while also collecting eight rebounds for the Rockets. In three games, the Portsmouth, Virginia, native grabbed an average of seven rebounds that helped guide Houston to a 2-1 record. Though he was selected outside of the lottery at 17, Eason is beginning to climb the rookie ladder and put his name next to some of the top five picks of the draft.

5. Keegan Murray – F – Sacramento Kings

Season Stats: 10.4 PTS, 3.9 REB, 1.0 AST, 39.9 FG%, 31.9 3P%

Week Average: 4 G, 5.5 PTS, 4.8 REB, 19.4 FG%

Murray had a rough week offensively for the Kings but was able to contribute through rebound work. Murray grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds during Friday’s loss against Boston but struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket during his other games. After scoring 13 points against Detroit on Nov. 20, the 22-year-old forward saw outings of two, four and three points over his last three games to end the week. It’s interesting to see a complete shift in Murray’s scoring, which we know he can do after he averaged 18.8 points over the first four games of his NBA career. Murray saw a dip in minutes this week which could be the factor for the low scoring, but another week at this rate would also see a decline in the rankings.

4. Jabari Smith Jr. – F – Houston Rockets

Season Stats: 11.7 PTS, 7.4 REB, 34.2 FG%, 32.2 3P%

Week Average: 3 G, 19.3 PTS, 9.7 REB, 45.2 FG%

Smith Jr. exploded this week and looks to be turning a corner after an up-and-down start to his rookie campaign. Clocking in over 30 minutes in each of his three games this week, Smith Jr. crushed his season averages in points and rebounds. The former Auburn Tiger scored a season-high 22 points against Golden State on Nov. 20. Smith Jr. followed that performance with a 21-point, 9-rebound outing against Atlanta and then grabbed 13 boards the next day against Oklahoma City. Smith Jr. has run into some scoring struggles but seems to be trending in the right direction after a hot week.

3. Jaden Ivey – G – Detroit Pistons

Season Stats: 16.2 PTS, 4.9 REB, 4.3 AST, 42.1 FG%, 31.8 3P%

Week Average: 3 G, 15.7 PTS, 5.0 REB, 4.7 AST, 42.1 FG%

Ivey started the weekly term strong with a 24-point outing against the Kings where he shot 57.1% from the field and nailed all four of his attempted 3-pointers. After his third game of the week that saw him drop 16 points and pick up a win against the Jazz, the Detroit guard ran into an injury bug and has been sidelined with a knee injury. The former Purdue Boilermaker is already a stat-stuffer 19 games into his career with averages of nearly five rebounds and five assists to go along with the 16 points he puts up each night.

2. Bennedict Mathurin – G – Indiana Pacers

Season Stats: 18.8 PTS, 3.8 REB, 1.6 AST, 43.8 FG%, 42.1 3P%

Week Average: 4 G, 18.0 PTS, 3.8 REB, 42.0 FG%

Over four games this week, Mathurin stayed consistent with his season averages in points and rebounds. The former sixth-overall pick has quietly become one the more efficient players of the rookie class with shooting splits above 40% from the field and 3-point range. Mathurin had three nights this week where he finished with 20-plus points. There are only two occasions across 19 games where Mathurin has scored under double-figures and there are nine instances where he’s scored 20 or more. Mathurin has the potential to make the Rookie of the Year race competitive with Paolo Banchero through his efficient scoring.

1. Paolo Banchero – F – Orlando Magic

Season Stats: 22.8 PTS, 7.4 REB, 3.4 AST, 45.5 FG%

Week Average: 2 G, 18.5 PTS, 2.5 REB, 2.0 AST, 41.4 FG%

After suffering an ankle injury a few weeks back, Banchero (pictured) returned to Orlando’s lineup for a two-game set against Philadelphia. In his first game back, Banchero dropped 19/4/3 and followed with 18 points in the second match. Banchero’s points and efficiency remained near average upon his return, though his rebounding took a significant dip. However, the 6’10”, 250-pound forward leads his rookie class in points, rebounds and is second in assists while also playing the most minutes. The Seattle, Washington, native remains on top of the rookie ladder, right where the Magic expected him to be when they selected him first in the 2022 NBA Draft.

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