Rookie Wire Power Rankings: James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball lead the way

Cody Taylor
·7 min read

With the 2020-21 season now two weeks old, fans have had a chance to see the stars of the NBA take the floor in what projects to be the most unique year to date.

Of course, the start of the season also gave the basketball world its first look at the incoming rookie class of players. The group has already had its fair share of strong performances to this point with most players having appeared in at least a handful of games.

Rookie Wire will keep an eye on the class on a bi-weekly basis to keep track of the top first-year players and how they performed on the court. The rankings are not for Rookie of the Year purposes but, rather, to illustrate the hottest players week to week.

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

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Stats: 11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks Aided by a quick start to the season, Wiseman has emerged as perhaps the best rookie to this point. The second overall pick recorded the first double-double of the season by a rookie when he tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday. He ranks first in rebounding and blocks among all rookies, and his 12 total blocks are tied for sixth among all players. What makes his start even more impressive is he missed the start of training camp and the entire preseason.

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

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Stats: 11.6 points, 4.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals With the exception of a scoreless debut, Ball has shown flashes of greatness at times on the court. Hornets head coach James Borrego said Ball has improved each time he has taken the court and that has looked to be the case. He is second in scoring, first in assists and first in steals among all rookies, while his 13 total steals on the season are tied for third among all players in the NBA. Ball is currently riding a streak of five straight games with five or more assists, which is the longest for a Hornets rookie since Kemba Walker in 2012.

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

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Stats: 13.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2 assists The No. 1 overall pick has scored in double figures in all but one game and currently leads the rookie class in scoring. Edwards has five games with at least 15 points through his first seven appearances, becoming the first Timberwolves rookie to reach those numbers to begin a career. Edwards has struggled to shoot some but he has admitted that it will take some time to knock off the rust. However, he otherwise looks to be off to a great start this season.

Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

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Stats: 10.6 points, 4.4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal Although a wrist injury has kept him out of the lineup over the past two games, Haliburton has looked to be among the early steals of the draft. He is fourth in rookie scoring and is converting on a staggering 50% (10-of-20) from 3-point range in five games. He has carved out a key role in the rotation, and even came up with some clutch shots in the Kings' win over the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 29. Haliburton has shown poise beyond his experience, he takes care of the ball, ranking 13th in assist/turnover ratio, and has done a lot of great things on the court.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic

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Stats: 8.7 points, 5 rebounds, 3.4 assists Anthony may enter Wednesday night ranked seventh in rookie scoring, but the 15th overall pick has helped the Magic to a 5-2 start on the season. He has emerged as the primary option at point guard behind Markelle Fultz and has done a great job off the bench with taking care of the ball. Anthony is fourth in assists among rookies and has committed just six turnovers, which puts him second in assist/turnover ratio, behind only Tyrese Haliburton. Anthony has struggled to shoot to begin the year but should only improve once he snaps out of his slump.

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

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Stats: 10.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block Williams, who has started in every Bulls game to this point, has performed well to begin the season. He has emerged as a strong defender and can contribute in a number of different ways. He almost looks like a seasoned vet on the court, whether it is that he always knows where to be or by how smart he plays on a nightly basis. Williams is tied for second in total scoring and has played the most minutes among all rookies, clearly proving that he will have a big role this season with the Bulls.

Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

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Stats: 8.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2 rebounds, 1.4 assists Pritchard is outside of the top 10 in rookie scoring but has turned in a couple of great performances. He has been largely inconsistent to begin the season but is coming off of a monster game on Monday versus the Toronto Raptors, in which he recorded a career-high 23 points and eight assists in 32 minutes of action. He became just the fifth Celtics player since 1970-71 to have at least 20 points and five assists while shooting 60% from the field off the bench. Additionally, his 23 points are the most by a rookie this season.

Precious Achiuwa, Miami Heat

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Stats: 7.5 points and 4.7 rebounds Achiuwa has made a big impact off the bench this season, despite seeing fewer than 20 minutes a game. The 20th overall pick is averaging just a shade above 15 minutes per game but ranks fifth among rookies in total rebounds and is 13th among all players in loose balls recovered per-36 minutes. He brings immense energy and effort off the bench and could see his role increase as a result.

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

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Stats: 9.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1 assist After a slow start to the season, Bane has emerged as a key player for the Grizzlies. His role changed a bit when Ja Morant went down with an ankle injury on Dec. 28 but, since then, Bane is averaging 11.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 42.9% shooting from 3-point range. The Grizzlies are even considering moving Bane into the starting lineup after he has stepped up recently. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen but the 30th overall pick has been productive since being called upon.

Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

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Stats: 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds Bey has been off to a hot start shooting the ball after converting on 41.9% (13-of-31) from 3-point range. His five 3-pointers on Jan. 1 finished one shy of the Pistons rookie 3-point record for a single game and his 12 triples through his first five games was the record for most by a Pistons rookie to begin a career. With Killian Hayes likely out for a significant amount of time, Bey could see his role increase moving forward.

Honorable Mention: Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

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Quickley missed four games due to a hip injury and has logged only three appearances to this point. However, he has gotten better each game, culminating with a career-high 16 points on Monday to help the Knicks to a win. With more playing time on the way, Quickley should soon find himself ranked among the best rookies this season.

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