NBA rookie power rankings: Saddiq Bey a contender for ROY

Two of the top three 2020 NBA draft picks remain sidelined with No. 2 pick James Wiseman out for the season with a meniscus tear and No. 3 pick LaMelo Ball out with a fractured right thumb. There is a chance that Ball could return this season, and he’s even been getting shots up during pregame recently.

A few players are making their first appearance in the top 10, while Anthony Edwards continues to distance himself from the rest of the rookie class and is making a strong case for Rookie of the Year honors. There won’t be much rookie talk come playoff time, but for now, some of these first-year players are giving us great performances each week.

Here’s a look at Yahoo Sports’ updated NBA rookie power rankings. All stats are through Sunday’s games.

1. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Previous rank: No. 1

18 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg

Edwards has avoided the “Rookie Wall” and is actually playing better in the second half of the season and shooting the ball more consistently. He’s put up 20 or more points in seven out of the last nine games and is the second-leading scorer for the Timberwolves in the month of April, scoring 220 points (Karl-Anthony Towns is first with 221 points). Unfortunately, it’s not helping Minnesota win a lot of games, but Edwards has undoubtedly backed his No. 1 pick status this season and will continue to be a key piece for this Timberwolves team as they look to rebuild with new head coach Chris Finch. Unless LaMelo Ball makes a comeback this season, Edwards remains the front-runner for Rookie of the Year.

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Anthony Edwards, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac defends during the first half of their game on April 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

2. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Previous rank: No. 5

11.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.2 apg

Bey set the record for most 3-pointers by a rookie in franchise history with 126 made threes, passing Brandon Knight, who made 106. That is an impressive feat for any rookie, but what’s even more impressive is that there is still a month and a half left in the season for Bey to build on that number. The coaching staff has given Bey the green light on offense with head coach Dwane Casey calling him “a coach's dream.” “The young man has made himself into one of the top 3-point shooters of the rookie class, defender, and he's just scratching the surface,” Casey said Friday. Bey isn’t a popular pick for Rookie of the Year, but he’s definitely deserving of consideration after the season he’s had so far.

3. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Previous rank: No. 3

12.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5 apg

Haliburton is leading the rookie class in assists (253) and is second in steals (67), and he’s dished out 10 or more assists in twice in the last 11 games. The Kings finally snapped a nine-game skid (for the second time this season) with a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. They are clearly struggling defensively, ranked 29th in the league in rebounds averaging only 41.6 per game. Haliburton has done his part off the bench, including 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in a loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. He has stayed consistent all season and found ways offensively to make an impact on the court whether that’s being the playmaker for teammates or knocking down open shots.

4. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Previous rank: N/A

11.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg

Quickley had nine consecutive games where he scored 10 or more points coming back from an ankle injury that kept him off the court for 10 days. He is the steal of the draft for the Knicks at pick No. 25 and continues to find ways to score even on nights when his minutes are limited. Quickley is averaging 21.7 points per 36 minutes and shooting 38.5% from the field.

5. Théo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder

Previous rank: Honorable mention

9.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been out for nearly a month with a foot injury, and the French rookie has stepped in and been impressive during the second half of the season. Maledon had a career-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers and shot 56% from the field in a loss to the Suns on April 2. He’s shown that he can score at all three levels and find teammates in the lane. The Thunder have 34 draft picks spanning the next seven years, and Maledon is showing that he can be a key rotational player down the road.

6. Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers

Previous rank: No. 9

8.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Okoro is a strong defender and that is what has kept his minutes up early in the season. Since the All-Star break, Okoro has turned it up offensively, and he’s turning into a more well-rounded player. Okoro had a nasty and-one dunk on Jayson Tatum late in the fourth quarter in a win over the Boston Celtics in March and had a stretch of games in April where he averaged 14.3 points per game. The 6-foot-5 wing out of Auburn still needs to develop an outside jump shot, shooting only 30% from 3-point range, but there’s a lot to like about his speed in transition and his mid-range game.

7. Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets

Previous rank: No. 4

11 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.1 apg

Tate might not be putting up the numbers of Edwards or Ball, but he remains one of the most consistent players in this rookie class and is the best on-ball defender. He is one steal ahead of Haliburton, recording 68 so far this season. A friendly reminder that Tate went undrafted coming out of Ohio State in 2018, he played one year in Australia for the Sydney Kings and went undrafted again this year before the Rockets picked him up. Tate is a prime example that there are many paths to being successful in the NBA.

8. Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors

Previous rank: N/A

5.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.6 apg

Flynn makes his debut in the power rankings after a hot start to April. He had a season-high 22 points in an April 13 loss against Atlanta where he hit six 3-pointers and had zero turnovers. Two games prior to that, he recorded his first double-double (20 points, 11 assists) in a win over Cleveland. Flynn dominated the G League bubble season (20 ppg, 5.5 apg) before being called back up to the Raptors, and it appears that confidence boost is what he needed for the second half of the season.

9. Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic

Previous rank: N/A

11.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 apg

Anthony returned to the Magic after sitting out for two months with a fractured rib. In his first game back, he played 26 minutes and scored 13 points and added seven assists. That is a great sign considering the Magic traded Aaron Gordon to the Nuggets for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a 2025 first-round draft pick. Anthony is averaging 12.3 points and five assists since returning and is playing well alongside fellow rookie Hampton in the backcourt.

10. Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets

Previous rank: No. 8

5.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.9 apg

Campazzo is a 30-year-old rookie who has been the most fun first-year player to watch this season. He plays only about 20 minutes each game, but when he’s in, the 5-foot-10 point guard always delivers, whether it’s hitting a step-back 3-pointer, picking the pocket of Steph Curry or finishing an and-one play off a pass from MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic.

Honorable Mention

Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder

R.J. Hampton, Orlando Magic

Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards

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