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Rookie Wire Power Rankings: Scoot Henderson is proving himself as a top pick

The calendar has flipped over to 2024, and the rookie class looks to be finding its groove on the court, with several first-year players performing at a high level this season.

The top two picks, Victor Wembanyama and Brandon Miller, along with the second pick last year, Chet Holmgren, have all had strong starts to their careers. Scoot Henderson, the third selection, also looks to be settling in of late now that he has recovered from an ankle injury.

Further down the draft board, several other players have had great moments with their respective teams. These players have produced on teams both currently in the playoff picture and those teams likely headed toward the lottery.

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.

Nick Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 6.2 points, 1.1 rebounds

Smith checks in for the first time this season after recently entering the rotation for the Hornets. He has helped fill in with the team dealing with several injuries and is averaging 8.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 42.9% shooting from 3-point range over his last eight games.

He had a career-high 19 points on Dec. 23 in a loss to the Nuggets, in which he exploded for 17 points and five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, tied for the most by a rookie in a quarter this season (Keyonte George). The 27th pick is making the most of his opportunity, to say the least.

Keyonte George, Utah Jazz

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 11.1 points, 4.8 assists, 3 rebounds

After missing six games due to a foot injury, George is back in the lineup with the Jazz. He is averaging 12.3 points, 3.5 assists and three rebounds on 41.7% shooting from beyond the arc since returning. He put up his third 20-point game on Dec. 30 and looks to be getting back into a groove. The 20-year-old is becoming a productive player this season and proving himself as a consistent playmaking threat.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Golden State Warriors

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 5.9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist

Jackson-Davis is emerging with the Warriors as a replacement for Draymond Green in the frontcourt. He has scored in double figures in seven out of his last eight games, averaging 11.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, two assists and 1.1 blocks on 69% shooting from the field over that span.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr inserted him into the starting lineup in their last two games, and the 57th pick has responded by totaling 27 points and 10 rebounds. He has given the team some energy in that first group and is flourishing in his newfound opportunity.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/6212" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jerome;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jerome</a> Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

Stats: 9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 assists

Lively is back after missing four games due to an ankle injury. He returned with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Suns on Christmas Day to become just the 12th rookie to reach that stat line on the holiday. The Mavericks have greatly benefitted from his production this season, as they are 5-1 when he registers a double-double. He seemingly does all the little things needed to help the Mavericks and should be a key player for this season and beyond.

Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

Stats: 9.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1 steal

Podziemski continues to provide a lift to the Warriors in his expanded role. He has scored in double figures in a season-high six straight games, averaging 11.8 points, seven rebounds, five assists and 1.7 steals on 44.4% shooting from beyond the arc in that span.

He produced 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals in a loss on Christmas Day to become just the sixth rookie since 2005 to reach that stat line. Based on his recent production, Podziemski figures to remain a key part of the Warriors’ rotation moving forward.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

Stats: 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists

Miller looked to be playing his best stretch of the season toward the end of December but has been banged up after missing two games due to ankle and hip injuries. He had scored in double figures in a season-high 12 straight games before this recent stretch.

The second pick is second among rookies in 3s (59) and third in scoring, behind Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren. The Hornets have largely struggled this season, but the play of Miller has been one of the few bright spots thus far.

Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

Stats: 12.4 points, 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds

Henderson is in the midst of his best stretch with the Trail Blazers. He was nominated for Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds on 46.7% shooting from 3-point range in three games. He produced back-to-back 20-point outings in that span, including a career-high 25 points on Dec. 28.

The third pick has scored in double figures in five straight games for the second time this season. He has three double-doubles and is the only first-year player with two games of at least 20 points and 10 assists. He missed nine games earlier this season with an ankle injury but is healthy again and looks to be getting into a rhythm on the court.

Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat

Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

Stats: 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals

Jaquez has started five out of the last six games for the Heat, who have dealt with injuries to Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin. He is averaging 16.8 points, five rebounds, two assists and 1.5 steals on 47.4% shooting from the field over that stretch.

The 18th pick had a bit of a coming out party on the national scene in that stretch after producing 31 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Sixers on Christmas Day. He became the ninth rookie to score at least 30 points on the holiday and the first since Kyle Kuzma in 2017.

He is now fourth in scoring among rookies and one of five first-year players with a 30-point game. Thanks to his contributions, the Heat have stayed afloat amidst some injuries as he looks to be one of the top rookies this season.

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

Stats: 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals

Wembanyama continues to perform at a high level with the Spurs and put up perhaps his best game yet last week. He produced 30 points, seven blocks, six rebounds and six assists in a win over the Trail Blazers to become the only teenager in history to reach that stat line. He registered his third 30-point game, the most by a rookie this season.

The top pick is currently working through a 24-minute restriction after aggravating a right ankle injury on Dec. 23 in Dallas. However, it appears the restriction is close to being lifted, which would increase his workload and production. In any case, Wembanyama is still producing, even on a minute restriction.

For more coverage on the Spurs, visit Spurs Wire

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

Stats: 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks

Holmgren continues to dazzle with the Thunder. He has scored in double figures in 12 straight games, averaging 18.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.8 assists. He is contributing at a high level and is proving to be a complementary piece behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The former second pick is currently the favorite (minus-225) to win Rookie of the Year ahead of Victor Wembanyama (plus-150). Despite performing at a high level to start the season, Holmgren delivered a hilarious quote on Tuesday about his early success (NSFW).

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire