Time to grade the NBA freshmen again in our weekly rankings. Let’s see who’s shining in the league over the last week.
- Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavs)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a surprising 9-7, and rookie Evan Mobley has a lot to do with it. The nimble, athletic 7-footer has been great on both ends. He anchors the Cavs defense with Jarrett Allen, while averaging 14.6 points per game.
He’s been a stat sheet filler, as he’s also pulling down nine rebounds per and blocking two shots nightly. His elbow injury will force him to miss 2-4 weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Cavs do without the talented two-way rookie.
Evan Mobley is the REAL DEAL 😤 @evanmobley
— Overtime (@overtime) November 14, 2021
Scottie Barnes has given the Toronto Raptors a piece that they can build around for the future. His nightly triple-double ability is noticeable. Head coach Nick Nurse has a new toy that can score, defend (four positions), rebound, and run the offense.
He’s already earned the respect of a few stars (Kevin Durant) around the league for his all-around abilities. Barnes averages an NBA rookie high of 16 points and 8.3 rebounds and four assists nightly.
Here's the rookie ladder after 4 weeks into the NBA season.
Scottie Barnes rises to the top spot following a terrific performance on the road with the Raptors.#scottiebarnes #evanmobley #chrisduarte #franzwagner #cadecunningham #roty pic.twitter.com/XfUN4fY7eO
— Sportskeeda Basketball (@Basketball_SK) November 18, 2021
No.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham got off to a slow start after missing the first couple games this season. But since he’s taken the floor he’s been solid, showing the leadership and cerebral play that made him the top overall choice. Shooting hasn’t been nearly as good as he’s capable of, but that will come as he continues to get his legs under him.
The Pistons are awful, and he’s trying to help change the culture. Cunningham is averaging 14 points, six rebounds and four assists per night. His ceiling is very high, but he’ll need to become a bit more selfish to reach that level in the future.
4. Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)
Franz Wagner wasn’t drafted by the Magic to be their top rookie this season. That distinction was for No. 5 overall pick Jalen Suggs, who’s been solid. Wagner has been better. A big 2-3 combo guard with a sweet shooting stroke, he’s been a welcome sight near Walt Disney World. Wagner averages 13 points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals per game. His 1.6 made threes per night rank in the top five among rookies.
FRANZ WAGNER MONSTER SLAM 🤯 pic.twitter.com/TVBnGDETti
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 18, 2021
5. Chris Duarte (Indiana Pacers)
Chris Duarte has been such a find for the Indiana Pacers this season. The 24-year-old sharpshooter has teamed with Malcolm Brogdon to form one of the better backcourts in the league. His shooting ability was expected, but it’s the other things he brings that have been a bit of a surprise.
He’s a solid rebounder at almost 4.5 a game, and his 2.1 assists per night was something you didn’t see him do much at Oregon. He averages nearly three made threes a night, while shooting 40 percent from deep. The Pacers got a good, long-standing shooting guard in the 2021 NBA draft.
Josh Giddey — (OKC) They’re terrible but he has triple-double abilities. Playing alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should make a for a nice backcourt of the future
Nahshon Hyland — (DEN) With both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. injured, coach Michael Malone has turned to some youngsters. Hyland can really score. He’s averaging a solid eight points and two made threes a night off the bench in the Mile High City.