As we near the 25-game mark of the 82-game NBA season, it’s time to once again rank the top NBA rookies. Thunder forward Jalen Williams and Pacers wing Bennedict Mathurin have been establishing their presence future NBA stars in the month of November.
1. Jalen Williams — Thunder, Wing
The former Santa Clara product has been the surprise of the 2022 NBA draft. The rangy, athletic Williams was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November after averaging 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists, on 54 percent shooting. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping, his effect on the game has been noticeable in his 18 games played. Williams win gives the Thunder five Rookie of the Month winners in the past six months, with point guard Josh Giddey winning it the last four months of last season.
Thunder rookie Jalen Williams looks like the real deal.
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) December 1, 2022
2. Bennedict Mathurin — Pacers, Wing
Mathurin has been as good as advertised for the surprising Pacers. On Wednesday the former Arizona Wildcats star was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November. Mathurin has been consistent, averaging 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists, with shooting splits of 44/42/81. He led all frosh with 381 points this season entering Thursday night’s action.
Mathurin made news when he said “LeBron” would have to prove to him that he’s better. In their first matchup he outplayed James in a Pacers’ buzzer-beating win on Tuesday.
LeBron vs Mathurin
21 PTS 23 PTS
7 REB 8 REB
3 3P 3 3P
Benn is undefeated against LeBron. pic.twitter.com/8C4kjWTCOx
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 29, 2022
3. Paolo Banchero — Magic, F
The top overall pick got off to a blazing start this season. And while he’s continued to light it up with a 22/7/4 slashline on 46 percent shooting, the team is awful at 5-16. Banchero missed seven consecutive games in November with an injury.
With the Magic in clear rebuild mode, Banchero has already proved that he can be the cornerstone of that. Head coach Jamal Mosley raves about Banchero’s versatility and likens it to that of a young LeBron or Carmelo Anthony — Paolo’s favorite players growing up.
“There’s such a dynamic ability to not just play the 1 through 5, there’s such a versatility in the way he can play offensively.”
4. Keegan Murray — Kings, F
Murray’s shooting ability and natural feel are a huge reason the Sacramento Kings hope to end their league-longest record playoff drought of 16 seasons. Currently at 10-9 and firmly in the thick of the playoff race, it’s Murray’s ability to play either forward position that’s allowed first-year head coach Mike Brown to mix and match his lineups.
Murray is a good shooter who’s struggled a bit early on from the floor but is still averaging 11 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. The assists are what make Brown encouraged, because it gives the team another playmaker not named DeAaron Fox, Domantis Sabonis or Davion Mitchell.
5. Jaden Ivey — Pistons, G
Ivey’s unique skillset has a been a welcome sight in the Motor City. With the ability to play either guard spot, Ivey has elevated responsibility with 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham sidelined. Head coach Dwayne Cas,ey whose seat is probably very warm, told Ivey early in the season to slow down and the talented rookie seems to have taken heed.
This season he’s averaging 16 points, five rebounds and nearly five assists per game. The assists are tops among all rookies.