The NBA season is officially underway as players and teams around the league begin to settle in on the court with over a half-dozen games under their belts.
The early action has already provided several notable performances and other highlights from the best players in the game. With a talented group of rookies entering the league, there have also been incredible efforts from the incoming class.
No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama has looked the part of a generational player, while another 7-footer, Chet Holmgren, is also finding early success on the court. Of course, other first-year players have also started off hot with great performances of their own.
To make sense of it all, we looked at the best recent performances of these first-year players and ranked them in the Rookie Wire Power Rankings. The rankings are not for Rookie of the Year purposes but to illustrate the best players week to week.
Stats: 6.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Camara has been impactful since arriving in Portland as part of the Damian Lillard trade. Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups can’t stop saying enough good things about him and has praised him for his toughness, competitiveness and relentless playing style. He gives 110% energy seemingly on every play and does all the little things coaches love. The Trail Blazers wanted to maximize their return for Lillard, and it appears Camara has solidified himself as a key player for Billups.
Defense ➡️ Offense
Stop that, Toumani Camara. pic.twitter.com/ifivYxQCSZ
— Óscar Périz (@oscarpf15) November 2, 2023
Stats: 5.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals
Jaquez is a bit further down the rookie scoring list (16th), but the 18th pick plays a key role for the Heat off the bench. He gives the team another scoring punch with his ability to put pressure on the rim and defend at a high level. He has elite athleticism that has enabled him to blow past his defenders and get into the paint and finish. In an early sample size, Jaquez has shown that he can perform in any role, and that should prove extremely valuable for the team as the season progresses.
JAIME JAQUEZ JR. STRIPS LEBRON JAMES.
THOMAS BRYANT DUNK ON THE OTHER END.
LOUD NOISES. pic.twitter.com/SaL4LNxRCC
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) November 7, 2023
Stats: 9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1 steal
Sasser played a minor role with the Pistons to start the year but has forced Monty Williams’ hand and is playing more minutes of late. He recently had a great two-game stretch, totaling 41 points versus the Pelicans and Suns. He went 9-of-14 from 3-point range in those two games. On the other side, he often picks up full court and pesters the opposition. Sasser is quickly establishing himself as one of the top guards on the roster and in the rookie class this season.
Marcus Sasser was hooping last night:
22 PTS | 4 AST | 1 STL | 56% FG
The rook is now shooting a scintillating 59% on 3.1 three-point attempts per game.
His shot-creation attributes have been on full display early 💰 pic.twitter.com/1yVbm8UZvT
— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) November 6, 2023
Stats: 8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists
We weren’t sure how much Wallace would play to begin the year, but the 10th pick has emerged as a key rotation player for the Thunder. In his latest effort, he recorded six points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds in a win over the Hawks on Monday. He was mostly matched up with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray and held them, collectively, to two points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field as their primary defender. The team trusts him to guard some of the most lethal offensive players, and the 20-year-old can hold his own.
Great defensive possession by Cason Wallace at the end of the 3rd quarter. Love him already pic.twitter.com/h167kL2NAq
— Lorenzo Biglione (@Lorebiglio) November 1, 2023
For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire
Stats: 13.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Miller has had a productive start to the season with the Hornets and is currently third in rookie scoring. He had reached double figures in every game until Sunday versus the Mavericks in his first start and has showcased his offensive skill set in each game.
The second pick has consistently earned praise from coach Steve Clifford for his overall ability, basketball IQ and competitiveness. He has come up with some important shots, while also locking in on defense. Miller has been one of the top rookies early.
Stats: 12.6 points, 4 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Jordan Hawkins produced a career-high 31 points to lead the Pelicans in a loss to the Nuggets on Monday to become one of six rookies in team history with a 30-point game. He is also the 25th rookie in history to score at least 30 points with seven 3-pointers in a game, joining Rick Berry, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Jason Kidd and Trae Young.
The 14th pick is the second rookie this year to score at least 30 points in a game (Victor Wembanyama, 38 points). He has earned high praise from coach Willie Green and was a valued addition to the team. They believe he can do more than just shoot and will continue to rely on him to impact games in multiple ways this season.
Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons
Stats: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.5 steals
Thompson has started in each of the Pistons‘ eight games and will likely continue after his early showing to begin the year. Take this stat line from Sunday, for example, after the fifth pick recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks in a loss to the Suns. He became just the third rookie, and the first since Kevin Garnett in 1994, to reach those numbers in a game.
He is second in the league in offensive rebounds (34) among all players and is the first rookie to reach that mark, along with 15 blocks, over the first eight games of a career since Chris Webber in 1993. He has emerged as one of the top perimeter defenders with the Pistons and is often matched up with the best player on opposing teams. In other words: Find the Pistons on #LeaguePass this year.
Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks
Stats: 9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1 block
Lively has emerged as a key player for coach Jason Kidd, starting in six of the Mavericks‘ seven games. He produced his second double-double on Sunday in a win over the Hornets, recording 15 points and 14 rebounds. He was the first Mavericks rookie to haul in 14 rebounds since Luka Doncic in April 2019.
Kidd is happy with his early production.
I think, with the small sample size, he is doing everything that we thought when we drafted him — being able to roll, being able to be the anchor of that defense. He is going to grow into that. He is going to have some ups and downs, that’s just a rookie but up to this point, he is doing everything that we’ve asked him to do.
He has also shown some of his play-making ability. He dished out six assists last week in a win over the Bulls to become just the second rookie in team history to reach that mark as a center. Lively has played the right way and has provided a spark to the team and given them an interior presence on both ends.
Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
Stats: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1 steal
Holmgren has come out of the gate strong for the Thunder. He is second in rookie scoring and has registered three double-doubles, tied for the most by a first-year player. He has been dominant, at times, on both ends of the court and can affect games nightly with his size and instincts. For instance: He blocked seven shots in only his second game.
The former second pick has also been incredibly efficient, boasting a 55.7-53.8-90 shooting split in seven games. He likely won’t shoot above 50% from 3-point range all year long, but he has been nearly automatic and isn’t forcing shots up. He continues to do things unseen by 7-footers and is a key reason why expectations are high in OKC this season.
For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire
Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 1.7 assists
There probably isn’t a surprise who the top rookie has been over the first two weeks. Wembanyama, 19, leads the class in scoring and exploded for 38 points and 10 rebounds last week against Kevin Durant and the Suns. He joined LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the only teenagers to record at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in a game with the performance.
Wembanyama has had some absurd highlights, showing why he is viewed as a once-in-a-generation player. He is overwhelming the competition nightly and affecting games like no rookie has done in quite some time. Of course, there will be some learning moments with the transition from France to the NBA, but the Spurs should be must-see TV every time they take the court.
A CAREER NIGHT FOR VICTOR WEMBANYAMA.
🔥 38 PTS (career-high)
💪 10 REB
🚫 2 BLK
Spurs got the W in a THRILLER in Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/A5g7xMAXTI
— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2023
For more coverage on the Spurs, visit Spurs Wire