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NBA rookie power rankings: Tyrese Haliburton excelling from deep

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The NBA Rookie of the Year race is heating up with LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Maxey continuing to play consistently and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards making a huge statement with the dunk of year last week. All three players are playing exceptionally well for their first season, but Tyrese Haliburton gets the edge after a 23-point, eight-assist performance against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. He is averaging 16.2 points and 5.3 per game during the month of February.

Injuries continue to plague the rookie class with James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony all out for an extended time this season.

Here’s a look at Yahoo Sports’ updated rookie power rankings.

Tyrese Haliburton with the ball in one hand, wearing a black Sacramento Kings uniform.
Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton dribbles the ball in the first half against the Orlando Magic at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, on Feb. 12, 2021. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

1. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Previous rank: No. 2

13.2 ppg, 5.4 apg

The do-it-all guard is averaging 43.3% from 3-point range and is not only leading all rookies in that category but is also 20th in the league, ranked just behind Kevin Durant. The Kings just snapped a seven-game losing slump. Haliburton was averaging two steals and only 1.5 turnovers in those outings.

“We just have to be better defensively. We get tired of talking about it every game, but that’s just it. We have to improve and get better,” Haliburton said. “We just have to get better. I don’t care what we do, blitz, drop, double, whatever it is, we just have to be better.”

Despite the midseason struggles, Haliburton has been one of the most productive guards off the bench and is lethal in the open court, averaging 6.4 assists and 15.8 points per 36 minutes. Because of his continued consistency in January and February, Haliburton edges out Ball in the current rookie rankings.

2. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Previous rank: No. 1

15.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 6.1 apg

Ball entered the starting lineup at the beginning of February after averaging 12.6 points and 6.7 assists per game in January. The 6-foot-7 point guard has always been a high-volume shooter with his percentages not being that great during his high school and overseas career, but he’s starting to make improvements on his shot selection. His on-ball defense still needs some work, but he’s shown some improvements defensively on the perimeter and continues to lead the rookie class in rebounds with 194 boards this season.

Ball recently picked his all-time starting five and named Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal and ... himself. At 19, Ball has plenty of time to prove he even belongs in the same sentence as those other four players.

3. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Previous rank: No. 4

14.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.6 apg

Edwards’ dunk on Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe broke the internet with almost every NBA player, past and present, reposting and commenting on social media. Edwards downplayed the dunk, telling reporters, “I mean, it was aight. I didn’t make any shots so I don’t really care about the dunk and I was hoping we were going to win.”

Edwards might have gone 0-for-7 from 3-point range during that game, but he’s shown some strides from deep throughout the season. He hit five threes in a loss against the Los Angeles Lakers and shot 50% from the field (8-for-16) against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Timberwolves are the worst team in the NBA and already fired Ryan Saunders and hired former Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch, but Edwards continues to put up solid numbers and will be in the mix for Rookie of the Year.

4. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Previous rank: No. 8

12.2 ppg, 2.5 apg

Just a friendly reminder that Quickley went No. 25 to the Knicks and is looking like the steal of the draft. He has one of the deadliest floaters in the lane and does whatever is asked from him coming off the bench on a young up-and-coming Knicks team. Quickley was hot during January, averaging 20 minutes and 12.8 points. His season-high 31 points came in a loss against the Portland Trail Blazers where he shot 50% from the field and had five 3-pointers.

5. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Previous rank: Honorable mention

9.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg

Bey became the first rookie in NBA history to go a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point range in a win over the Boston Celtics earlier this month. He is praised for his defense and is one of the best three-and-D guards in this draft class, but it’s his shooting offensively that has been impressive. The Pistons have taken advantage of his size (6-foot-7, 215 pounds) in mismatch situations and he’s shooting close to 50% from the field in February.

6. Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets

Previous rank: No. 10

9.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg

It’s mind-boggling to think Tate went undrafted after what he’s done for the Rockets in 31 games. His versatility on both ends of the floor have given a boost to this Rockets team that hasn’t won a game since Feb. 4. Tate has scored in double figures nine times this month and is averaging only one turnover a game. His outside shooting needs to improve, but Tate is proving to be a huge pickup for the Rockets as they look to rebuild in the post-James Harden era.

7. Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Previous rank: No. 5

10.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Williams isn’t the flashiest player in this draft class, but he might be the player with the most upside. In his rookie season, his 3-point shooting percentage is improving and he has had some key plays down the stretch. He hit a 21-foot jumper in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings and a late 3-pointer against the Detroit Pistons in a comeback win. Williams had two double-doubles in February and has averaged only two fouls and 1.5 turnovers each game.

8. Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

Previous rank: Honorable mention

9.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg

The Grizzlies deserve an A+ rating for the last three draft classes. What they’ve been able to build around a young, talented core of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant is incredible. Memphis added Bane and former Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman, and both have put up great numbers. Bane is averaging 19.8 points per 100 possessions and has seen his playing time increase as the season progresses. He is a great complementary piece to Morant in the backcourt and will be a dangerous threat as his outside shot continues to fall.

9. Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets

Previous rank: N/A

5.4 ppg, 2.1 apg

At 29 years old, Campazzo is the oldest rookie in this class and went undrafted. The Nuggets are the perfect fit for the 5-foot-10 shifty point guard who has put up solid numbers in the last five games. Campazzo nearly had a double-double in a loss to the Boston Celtics, scoring 15 points and dishing out eight assists. He also had a memorable 4-point play when he was tackled by Garrison Mathews putting up a corner three. Campazzo’s grit and willingness to do whatever it takes in his limited minutes behind Jamal Murray has been huge for the Nuggets this season.

10. Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder

Previous rank: N/A

7.9 ppg, 3.2 apg

The Thunder took Maledon at No. 34, and he continues to be productive off the bench for this guard-heavy OKC team. Maledon was out 10 days due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and since returning, he’s averaging nearly 10 points per game in 32 minutes. Maledon has excellent shooting mechanics and could end up being one of the best shooters in this draft class.

Honorable mention:

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers

Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs

Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

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