Rookie Wire Power Rankings: Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley lead the way

·8 min read

With two weeks in the books, the NBA has had the opportunity to take an extended look at the incoming rookie class and which prospects have made strong early impressions.

The group entered the season with plenty of star power, and those players have each had moments of brilliance to this point. In addition to those individuals, others have also stepped up and turned in strong debuts for their respective teams.

No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham was a notable omission on our first rankings of the season after just debuting on Saturday. He has had a historically slow start with the Detroit Pistons but we fully expect him to knock the rust off and bounce back.

To make sense of it all, we took a look at the best recent performances of these first-year players and ranked them in the first edition of the Rookie Wire Power Rankings. The rankings are not for Rookie of the Year purposes but, rather, to illustrate the best players week to week.

Herb Jones, New Orleans Pelicans

AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: Six points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals

After logging just three minutes in the Pelicans’ season opener, Jones has since started in each game for head coach Willie Green. He is averaging 6.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a starter and has given the Pelicans another strong defender in the lineup. His numbers don’t jump off the page but it is clear he has made an impact on defense. In fact, the Pelicans are minus-11.5 when Jones is off the court. Not bad for a rookie.

Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 2.1 assists

Sengun has demonstrated an elite ability to read defenses and make plays to open the season. He is a willing passer, which has enabled the offense to run through him at times. Sengun also has been above average on defense. He is tied for second in the league with four charges drawn and is fourth in deflections per-36 minutes with 5.7 per game. There is a contingent of Rockets fans that want Sengun to be a full-time starter, a movement we can get behind.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 9.1 points, 2.9 assists, two rebounds

Mitchell is coming off just his second double-digit outing of the season with 18 points, four rebounds and two assists in a loss to the Utah Jazz. With his offense still coming around, Mitchell has impressed on a nightly basis with his defense. He has drawn the task of guarding several elite players, including Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic, and has had strong moments against them. Of course, stopping those players is nearly impossible but Mitchell has made life difficult for them and made them earn every point.

Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 13 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and one steal

Suggs has experienced a rather slow start to the season and has struggled to find a consistent shot, converting on just 30.8% from the field and 23.9% from 3-point range. He is generating good looks for himself and it will only be a matter of time before he knocks them down. He will have the opportunity to play through his mistakes on the rebuilding Magic, which should ensure steady progress throughout the season.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 11.3 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals

Giddey recently produced his first career double-double in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers with 18 points and 10 assists, becoming the second-youngest to dish out 10 assists in a game (LeBron James). The Thunder may not win very many games this season but the play of Giddey, which can be electric at times, is certainly worth a watch on League Pass. He has also shown that he can play late in games and recently had a strong fourth-quarter effort in a close contest versus the Los Angeles Clippers. His willingness to get his teammates involved with his flashy passing makes him one of the most entertaining rookies this season.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 14.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists

The second overall pick has been rather inconsistent so far but has one 30-point game under his belt, the most in a game by a rookie this season. He is coming off of a 24-point effort on Tuesday in a two-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Though he hasn’t performed as the top rookie yet, Green has flashed his overall skillset and has offered glimpses of his dynamic scoring ability. Once he can score on a consistent basis, Green will prove to be a threat to score 20-plus points every night and could become the top first-year player.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic

AP Photo/John Raoux

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals

Wagner is coming off of a career-high 28-point performance to lead the Magic to a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. He has emerged as a key player for Orlando and has been credited with doing the little things on the court that helps make winning plays. He has emerged as a strong defender and gives the team versatility on that end of the floor. Wagner hasn’t looked scared of the moment and looks to be improving just about every time he steps onto the court, a good indication that he’ll have a big year. He also just threw down perhaps the dunk of the season so far, one that went viral on social media.

Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists

Duarte produced one of the best rookie debuts in history after recording 27 points on Oct. 20. In fact, the performance set the Pacers franchise record for a rookie debut as Duarte has continued that effort in each game. He has earned the trust of head coach Rick Carlisle, who called him a fearless player. He is playing in crunch-time situations and has helped deliver some big shots to this point of the season. He gives the Pacers a dynamic scoring option and should continue to be a focal point on the court.

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 13.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals

Mobley currently ranks fifth in rookie scoring but the third overall pick has brought so much more than his offense to open the season. He was nominated for Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, three assists, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.7 steals over his first three games. He also became just the second player in history to record at least 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in a debut game. He has dominated at times on the defensive end of the floor with his athleticism and ability to switch onto smaller players and appears to be in for an excellent rookie campaign.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: N/A

Stats: 18.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, two assists

Barnes opens up the season atop our power rankings after a dazzling start with the Raptors. He leads the rookie class in scoring and rebounding, and is second in double-doubles with two. Barnes is seemingly getting it done on both ends of the floor and brings high effort and energy to the court each time he checks into the game. He recently became just the second rookie in Raptors team history to record at least 100 points through his first six games, joining Damon Stoudamire, who was the Rookie of the Year in 1996. We’re not saying Barnes is also going to win Rookie of the Year this year but we’re also not saying he won’t win it.

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