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NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Kyle Kuzma Has Been A Huge Surprise

Fadeaway World

Fadeaway World

The NBA is about one-and-a-half months into the 2017-18 season and several rookies have already made major impacts.

Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, has been the most consistent rookie thus far. Simmons, a preseason favorite to win 2017-18 ROY Award, and Joel Embiid have the Philadelphia 76ers believing that they can make it to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen and John Collins are others rookies who have gotten off to strong starts.

The following is the first look at my top rookie power rankings this season.

Honorable mention

Brandon Paul, Sindarius Thornwell, Markelle Fultz, Milos Teodosic, Luke Kennard, Jarrett Allen, Jordan Bell, T.J. Leaf, Malik Monk and Daniel Theis

No. 15-20

20. Antonio Blakeney 19. Justin Jackson, 18. Josh Jackson, 17. Frank Ntilikina, 16. Jonathan Isaac

Top 15 Rookie of the Year Candidates

15. Bam Adebayo: 5.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 63.2% FG

Adebayo is extremely strong and possesses some exquisite footwork. But he is behind Hassan Whiteside on the Heat’s depth chart, limiting his minutes and production. The 20-year-old Kentucky product has shown some signs of potential when he has gotten minutes.

With Whiteside dealing with knee soreness the last few games, Adebayo has done some nice things. The 6-10 center has put up 29 points, 16 rebounds, six steals and three blocks over 67 minutes. He also has been extremely efficient in the two contests, knocking down 11-of-15 shots and 7-of-9 free throws.

Prior to the last three games, Adebayo had saw action for 12 minutes in two games while receiving eight DNP-Coach’s Decisions over the previous 10 contests.

Whiteside is out 1-to-2 weeks, so Adebayo should get a good portion of the playing time available.

14. Frank Mason III: 7.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 RPG, 40.6% FG, 47.6% 3PT

Mason has really come on strong. The 5-11 point guard finished in double-figures in four of his last six games in the month of November. And he doled out seven assists in two of his last four contests.

Mason averaged 7.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 43.3% from the field and 53.8% from beyond the arc for three.

13. OG Anunoby: 6.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 49.0% FG, 38.2% 3PT

Anunoby was very efficient in November. The 6-8 forward scored in double-figures in three of his last seven games. Anunoby averaged 6.6 points while shooting 57.6% from the field and 47.1% from beyond the arc as he made 1.1 trifectas a game in the month.

Anunoby is a strong defender, but he does not put good defensive numbers in terms of steals or blocks. The athletic combo forward is scoring 1.33 points per shot and has a true shooting percentage of 59.5%. He also does not turn the ball over and is averaging 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

12. Dillon Brooks: 8.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 45.0% FG, 31.4% 3PT

Brooks has started 13 of 21 games and while he has been decently efficient as a shooter, he doesn’t get to the line enough. Plus, his three-point percentage is below average.

Brooks has been held to below double-figures in six of seven games. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 44.6% from the floor in the month of November.

11. Mike James:11.0 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.0 RPG, 37.8% FG, 28.9% 3PT

James is one of the biggest surprises this year. James, who is on a two-way contract with the Suns, has cooled off after a strong start to the campaign.

Since beginning the season with 10 double-figures scoring efforts in his first 13 contests, the 27-year-old point guard has scored at least 10 points in two just of his last 10. However, he did tally a season-high 26 points during this recent 10 games stretch. His biggest issues have been on the defensive end and shooting from long-distance.

James averaged 10.1 points along with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 34.9% from the field and 21.8% on his three-point tries in November.

The Lamar product started his professional career in Europe in 2012.

10. De’Aaron Fox: 10.1 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 39.9% FG, 26.7% 3PT

Fox has failed to score in double-figures in each of his last four games as a result of a cold shooting spell. Fox has missed 22 of his last 33 shots and is shooting 33.3% from the floor, including all five of his three-point attempts, over this stretch.

He scored in double-figures in only half of his 14 games in November and averaged just 8.6 points for the month.

9. Bogdan Bogdanovic: 9.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 45.0% FG, 33.3% 3PT

Bogdanovic closed the month of November with five double-digit scoring performances in his last six games. He knocked down at least 50% of his shots in his last four contests in November. The 25-year-old Serbian has scored 10 or more points in nine contests this year, so far.

Bogdanovic produced 8.9 points while shooting 42.7% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc in 14 November games.

Bogdanovic started December off with a bang, pumping in a season-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting against Chicago on Friday.

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8. Lonzo Ball: 9.0 PPG, 7.2 APG, 7.0 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 31.5% FG, 25.7% 3PT

Ball has struggled all year with his shot. But he has produced more in the other statistical areas than perhaps every rookie besides Ben Simmons, who is No. 1 in the rankings.

Ball has compiled two double-doubles along with a triple-double in his last five games. The No. 2 overall pick averaged 8.3 points, 7.4 assists, 6.9 rebounds while shooting 30.4% from the field and 24.3% from beyond the arc in November. He has five double-doubles and two triple-doubles on the campaign.

7. Dennis Smith Jr. 14.4 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.9 RPG, 38.6% FG, 29.7% 3PT

Thus far, Smith has had an up-and-down season. The 6-3 point guard is an explosive offensive oriented player who has had trouble in multiple areas: shooting, turnovers and on the defensive end. He is also a good rebounder for his size.

Smith started out strong in November and after struggling a few games had a solid finish. For the month, the North Carolina State product averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 rebounds despite while shooting 38.3% from the field as well as 31.6% on 3-point attempts.

Smith has scored in double-figures in 15 of his 20 contests. He almost two treys a game in the month of November as he has canned multiple triples in 8 of 14 games.

Smith is committing 3.1 turnovers a game with half of his turnovers coming on bad passes and another third coming as a result of poor ball-handling. He also has just a 1.39 turnover-to-assist ratio, scoring less than a point a shot and a shooting efficiency of 43.7%.

6. John Collins: 11.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 59.2% FG

Collins is not flashy though he possesses excellent footwork and can really rebound the ball, particularly on the offensive. He is excellent scorer around the rim and very good in the low-post. Collins is a solid rim protector who can block shots.

After experiencing some inconsistencies early in November, he finished the month strong. Collins is coming off his best stretch of his career, posting double-figures in seven of his last eight contests. The 6-10 forward averaged 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 63.2% from the field in November.

The 20-year-old Wake Forest product has four double-doubles on the season. He is also a very efficient scorer (1.39 pps) and shooter (59.2%). Collins biggest issue is fouling, he has picked up nearly four fouls a game and has fouled out twice.

Collins sprained the AC joint in his shoulder against the Cavs and will reportedly miss two-to-three weeks.

5. Donovan Mitchell:16.4 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 40.2% FG, 36.8% 3PT

Mitchell had a fabulous November, tallying double-figures in 13 of his 15 contests. He topped the 20-point plateau six times and made a 3-pointer in 14 of the games this past month.While he improved his efficiency from October, Mitchell was still very not efficient in November.

Mitchell averaged 18.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 41.3% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc. He averaged 2.6 three-pointers per game for the month.

Mitchell is producing just 1.063 points per shot and his true shooting percentage 49.7% true shooting percentage, which ties him for 20th among 33 qualified rookies.
Lonzo Ball.

Mitchell exploded for a season-high 41 points, on 13-of-25 shooting, along with four rebounds and four assists against the Pelicans on Dec. 1. He made 6-of-12 3-point attempts, the second time he has made that many in his last four games, and was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.

4. Kyle Kuzma: 16.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 50.4% FG, 37.4% 3PT 

Kuzma is the biggest surprise of the 2017 draft. The No. 27 overall selection has been tremendous since appearing for the Lakers during summer league action. He missed his first game of the season on Nov. 29 with back spasms and is questionable for the team’s next game against Denver on Dec. 2.

Kuzma can score a variety of ways. He can score from the perimeter and in the paint, with either hand. The athletic 6-9 forward also has been highly efficient.

Kuzma scored in double-figures in each of his 13 games on November, 14 straight overall, and averaged 18.2 points for the month. The 22-year-old also produced four of his five double-doubles last month and grabbed over six rebounds per game. He shot 49.2% from the field and 39.0% on 3pt attempts.

3. Lauri Markkanen 14.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.4 APG 39.3% FG, 34.2% 3PT

Markkanen has been the lone bright spot for a bad Bulls team. The 7-foot power forward has shown why scouts were so high on his potential, scoring double-figures. He has scored in double-figures in 19 of 21 games and posted six double-doubles.

Markkanen’s shooting ability has been his most impressive quality. He has made multiple trifectas in every game except three. The Finland native started out strong from beyond the arc, knocking down 41.7% of his shots from beyond the arc in October though he cooled off and made just 31.7% of his three-point attempts in November.

2. Jayson Tatum: 13.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 49.3% FG, 48.6% 3PT

Tatum has been as advertised. His length and athleticism are top-notch. He is a smooth, fluid athlete who can score on all three levels. His best attribute is his shooting prowess and the biggest surprise is how good he has been on the defensive end.

Tatum has connected on 50% of his shots in 12 of 23 games. Th 6-8 small forward is producing 1.48 points a shot as his shooting efficiency rate is at 57.3%. Tatum has reached double-figures 20 times, including 11 straight.

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1. Ben Simmons: 18.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, 50.7% FG

Simmons has been better than advertised. He can do everything on the court with the exception of shooting free throws as well as from the perimeter. 94% of his shots are taken within 16 feet of the bucket.

Simmons had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday (11/29) against the Wizards, tallying season-highs in points (31) and rebounds (18). He was 8-of-16 from the floor and 15-of-29 from the charity stripe. Simmons also came up with two steals and blocked a pair of shots.

Simmons has scored in double-figures in all 20 of his games and has registered 12 double-doubles to go along with two triple-doubles.