It’s that time again where we rank the current “frosh” on the NBA hardwood.
Evan Mobley — Cleveland Cavaliers (Center)
Mobley continues to play a key role in the Cavs surprising season. Currently at 30-19 and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference under the tutelage of J.B. Bickerstaff, nobody saw this elevation coming. Mobley’s defensive presence is a huge reason why the Cavs have held teams under 100 points 20 times and Cleveland is 16-4 in those games.
And he’s not looking too shabby on the offensive end. Since his return from COVID-19 12 games ago he’s averaging 17.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists, while shooting 57 percent from the field.
He’s averaging a solid 15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. In a 115-99 win on Wednesday over the defending champion Bucks, Mobley went for 16/7/4/3 and put the world on notice with this posterization off reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Cavs’ performance definitely impressed “Greek Freak,” who said:
“This is not the Cleveland we knew over the past few years.”
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) January 27, 2022
Cade Cunningham — Detroit Pistons (Guard)
Since making his NBA debut in late October after missing all of training camp, Cunningham has steadily improved. Throughout the season Cunningham has shown flashes of the ability that made him the No. 1 overall pick. He’s gotten more comfortable as he’s gotten healthier, and in his past 13 games he’s averaging 17.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He’s also been hot from three over that stretch, shooting 39.5 percent. With season averages of 16.2 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, Cunningham recently went for a career-high 34 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists.
🚔 Watch out for the Motorcade! 🚔@CadeCunningham_ has taken his skills to another level setting a new career-high in both points and blocks during his last game played#Pistons Hit presented by @Draftkings pic.twitter.com/IxI2EYVUdm
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 28, 2022
Josh Giddey — OKC Thunder (Guard)
The knock on Giddey continues to be his shooting, but overall he’s playing great all-around hoops. This season the talented Aussie became the youngest player to record a triple double. He also became the third-youngest player in league history to collect 100 rebounds and dish out 100 assists in their first 20 games, joining LeBron James and LaMelo Ball. Giddey has picked it up over his last 22 outings, averaging 12.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Solid stats on a team in complete tank mode.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 3, 2022
Herbert Jones — New Orleans Pelicans (Guard)
Known as a lockdown defender, the former Alabama star has been a find for the Pelicans. Jones has excelled, even as the Pels have struggled, by taking the toughest perimeter defensive assignment nightly.
Jones has started 35 of 44 games, always making a positive impact. Lately he’s been dynamite, averaging 13.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game, on 53 perfect shooting.
Willie Green on Herbert Jones: "He guards everybody we ask him to. He makes the right play. He's gaining a lot of trust in that locker room with his teammates. It's something we saw early in him. He's taking advantage of his opportunity. Extremely proud of what he did tonight."
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) October 24, 2021
Jonathan Kuminga — Golden State Warriors (Forward)
When the Warriors drafted Kuminga No. 7 overall, they knew he had elite athleticism and great size for a wing, standing about 6 feet 9. But what they didn’t know was how hard he works and his defensive versatility. With Draymond Green down, “JK” has been asked to step up, and he has. Over the past nine games he’s averaging 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. His enthusiasm and athleticism have infused the Dubs, and his play will be vital for their title hopes.
Steve Kerr believes that Jonathan Kuminga has earned the opportunity to start in Draymond Green's absence pic.twitter.com/8qTwpoBA7j
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 19, 2022
Chris Duarte – Indiana Pacers
Scottie Barnes – Toronto Raptors
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