Evan Mobley (center) — Cleveland Cavaliers
Stats: 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 blocks
The Cavaliers have been a pleasant surprise this season, and rookie big man Evan Mobley is a huge reason why. The elite two-way center/forward has been wreaking havoc on both ends of the floor.
Mobley was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November. Mobley is scoring well at 13.8 per game, but it’s his defensive presence that shines nightly. He and Jarrett Allen have helped lead the 18-12 Cavs’ third-ranked defense. If they kept a stat for shot-altering Mobley would lead the league.
— NBA (@NBA) December 9, 2021
Cade Cunningham (guard) — Detroit Pistons
Stats: 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals
Cunningham came out the blocks slow after missing the beginning of the season. But he’s turned it on since, scoring in double-figures in eight straight games. CC also had four 20-point outings during a stretch of hot shooting and also shot 44.6 percent from three while averaging 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He’s showing everyone why he was easily the top pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) December 13, 2021
Not everyone in Motown is convinced that Cunningham is the franchise savior. Former Pistons great Dave Bing isn’t sold on the multi-talented new breed.
Dave Bing on Cade Cunningham
“ I think he’s going to be an All-Star caliber player I don’t think he’s a guy you build your team around… we still gotta get that guy we don’t have it yet in my opinion. I also think our weakness is the backcourt we gotta get a good point guard.” pic.twitter.com/TG1ZWLcoaG
— Pistons Talk (@Pistons__Talk) December 12, 2021
Let’s see how this plays out. Cunningham can’t take anything personally. He has to prove the doubters wrong and make the Detroit Pistons an attractive brand again.
Scottie Barnes (forward) — Toronto Raptors
Stats: 15.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game
Barnes’ ability to play and guard multiple positions like Kawhi Leonard or Scottie Pippen of yesteryear is rare. The Raptors landed a budding star with an unlimited ceiling. He’s also shooting a sizzling 47 percent from deep over the past four games.
SB4 is a stat-stuffing machine for “We The North.”
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 15, 2021
Franz Wagner (guard) — Orlando Magic
Stats: 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds. 2.9 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. Shooting 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from three
We all knew the Michigan Wolverine product could score, but it’s his ability to defend that’s got him looking like the steal of the draft. A real two-way force, Wagner has scored efficiently while also guarding the top perimeter player.
He’s scored more than 400 total points. For a team without a true No. 1 scoring option, Wagner has found ways to put up points. He’s also scored in double figures in nine of his past 12 games entering Friday. In those games he’s averaging 13.0 points and five rebounds.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 16, 2021
Josh Giddey (guard) — Oklahoma City Thunder
Stats: 10.4 points. 6.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game
Giddey is a cerebral pass-first point guard who looks to get others involved early and often. His shooting is the only real weakness in his floor game at the moment. He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November, when he also joined LeBron James and LaMelo Ball as the only teenagers to reach 100 assists and 100 rebounds in their first 20 games.
The Aussie continues to fill up the stat sheet for an OKC team searching for an identity.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 11, 2021
Chris Duarte (guard) — Indiana Pacers
Duarte has cooled off since his fast start this season, when his three-point execution had him squarely in the rookie of the year race. The sharpshooter from Oregon has picked it up again in his past five games, avergaing 14.0 points per game and 44 percent from three.
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) October 31, 2021
Alperen Sengun (forward/center) — Houston Rockets
Stats: 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals per game. All on 49 percent shooting and 41 percent from three
The Turkish sensation has shown some real skill around the rim, with elite footwork and a soft touch. There’s no doubt he can play at the NBA level. Sengun currently boasts a 53 percent effective shooting percentage and a positive plus-minus for the red-hot Rockets. Over the course of his past nine games he’s shooting 52 percent overall and 40 percent from three in under 20 minutes played per game.
This pass is unreal …
Sengun is unreal, WHAT IS THIS PASS!? pic.twitter.com/agBXk1On8P
— arxan (@arxanii) December 14, 2021
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