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2017-18 NBA Rookie Class Ranks with the Best Ever

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2017-18 NBA Rookie Class Ranks with the Best Ever

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This year’s rookie class is regarded as what may be the best rookie class in NBA history, even better than the 2003 rookie class headlined by stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony and others. Even better than the 1996 rookie class headlined by Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash. Some of these players look promising, but others are not looking so great. Here’s a closer look at the most talked about rookies this season:

Ben Simmons-SF Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons is having a historic start to his career after missing all of last season with a fractured right foot. He is averaging 16.5 points (47.1 percent FG), 10.0 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game in his first four starts. Although the 76ers are 1-4 in their first five games of the season, Simmons is definitely not to blame. He is the second player ever (behind Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson) to record more than 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his first three games. He is also the third player to post a triple double (21 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists) in his first four career games after only Robertson and Hambone Williams. When Markelle Fultz is healthy, he should take shots away from Simmons, but Simmons will stay in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Markelle Fultz-PG Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz’s first four games were a big letdown, but don’t forget he has been playing through a shoulder injury. He’s only averaging 6.0 points on an average of 6.8 field goals per game. His assists just aren’t there. Fultz averaged 1.8 assists and 1.0 turnovers per game. He is a scorer when healthy, and unless he can average 18-20 points per game on at least 50 percent from the field, he won’t be in the running for Rookie of the Year or the all-rookie first team.

Lonzo Ball-PG Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball has had a somewhat disappointing start to what should be a great career. Although Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game in his first five career games, he’s doing so while shooting 31.3 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the three-point line. In his first career game, against the Clippers, he had a mere three points (1-6 FG), in addition to nine assists and four rebounds. He had a nice bounce back game in Phoenix with 29 points (12-27 FG, 4-9 on threes), nine assists and 11 rebounds. Ball should be able to maintain these numbers and be in the running for Rookie of the year.

Jayson Tatum-SF Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward goes down; Jayson Tatum goes up. Tatum is averaging 14.2 points (47.9 percent FG and 42.9 percent from three), 6.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in his first five starts. He has been a tremendous addition to this new Boston Celtics team headlined by Kyrie Irving. In addition, Tatum is shooting 86.4 percent from the foul line on 4.4 attempts per game. Tatum has forced himself to be a consistent starter even when Marcus Morris comes back. He will definitely be in the running for Rookie of the Year and will be on the all-rookie first team barring any major injuries or slumps.

Josh Jackson-SF Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson started the season as a starter, but in his last two games he has been coming off the bench as undrafted rookie Mike James and second year player Marquese Chriss’s have been drawing the starts. Jackson has been a great piece and an exceptional defender. In his first five games, Jackson is averaging 10.8 points (41.3 percent FG), 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 25.8 minutes per game. As a starter, he averaged 11.7 points, only 1.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 28.0 minutes per game. Jackson probably won’t be in the Rookie of the Year debate barring any major scoring streaks, but could be on the all-rookie first team because of his athletic play and great defense.

 De’Aaron Fox-Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox might be the fastest player in the NBA right now, and he has been able to utilize his speed in transition to get lay-ups and dunks inside. He is averaging 14.8 points (42.9 percent FG and 50.0 percent from three), 5.0 assists, and 4.4 rebounds in 26.8 minutes on the floor per game. The only win the Kings have is when Fox was spreading the ball and not scoring very much. He only shot 30.8 percent from the field and only had nine points, but he had 10 assists and six rebounds. This shows that he could end up playing at the level of players like John Wall and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. If Fox has more games like that one, he could win Rookie of the Year and be on the all rookie first team.

 Jonathan Isaac-SF Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac has been a little bit of a disappointment. Although the Magic have a record of 4-1, Isaac has not had the minutes to contribute to extent that he can. He has only been averaging 18.8 minutes per game, but he’s shooting 47.6 percent from the field, although he only has 5.6 points per game and 4.4 rebounds. Isaac has never scored double-digit points or has had more than eight rebounds. If he is utilized more his numbers could go up, but that is not the expectation with Nikola Vucevic doing a great job scoring and the Magic’s great record. Don’t expect Isaac to make an all-rookie team unless he gets more time on the floor.

 Lauri Markkanen-PF Chicago Bulls: Lauri Markkanen is one of the biggest surprises of this rookie class. In the preseason he averaged 11.7 points (40.0 percent FG) and 5.0 rebounds per game, but since the season started he’s averaged 15.8 points (43.1 percent FG and 40 percent from three) and 10.0 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game. He will be a big piece to the puzzle of the Bulls full rebuild. Although he has not hit the 20 points threshold, he has scored at least 13 points in every game along with at least eight rebounds. The seven-footer might be on one of the all-rookie teams but don’t expect any nominations for Rookie of the Year.

 Frank Ntilikina-PG New York Knicks: The Knicks look to be two-for-two in their early European draft picks in the last few years: first Porzingis in 2015 and now Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina has shown glimpses of a bright future in his career. “His court vision [is] crazy,” says teammate Courtney Lee. He is only averaging 4.5 points (30.8 percent FG), 1.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 15.0 minutes per game during his first two career games (he was out for two games due to a sprained ankle), but he will be a player who takes time to develop. Don’t expect any awards in his first season or two, but soon he may be the most improved player with his outstanding work ethic.

 Dennis Smith Jr.-PG Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. has started each of his first four games and has done a great job for the Mavericks. He’s averaged 13.5 points (42.9 percent FG), 3.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists during 30.3 minutes on the floor per game so far. He is tied with Wilt Chamberlain and Darrell Griffith for having the highest vertical jump in NBA history at 48 inches and has shown off his athletic ability as his first career possession was an alley-oop from Wesley Matthews. He is a highly regarded early candidate for Rookie of the year and all NBA rookie first team and should be able to maintain that status.

Malik Monk-SG Charlotte Hornets: Malik Monk is a lethal shooter and amazing scorer. He just needs to find his rhythm in the NBA. He has been averaging 8.0 points per game on just 31.1 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from beyond the three-point line. Monk has scored more than ten points just once, when he scored 17 on 50.0 percent from the field against the Denver Nuggets. Whenever he can find his rhythm, he should be having games like those very often, and if it happens soon enough he could make an all-rookie team, and possibly the first team.

 Donovan Mitchell-SG Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell has been a very inconsistent scorer but shows signs of a very high ceiling. He has scored double-digit points twice in his first five games with 10 points (27.3 percent FG and 0.0 percent from three) against Denver in his NBA debut and 19 points (35.0 percent FG and 33.3 percent from three) in L.A. against the Clippers. He is averaging 7.0 points on 25.0 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from deep. If he could get on a hot streak he could make an all-rookie team but don’t expect any nominations for Rookie of the Year.

 Kyle Kuzma-PF Los Angeles Lakers: Possibly the biggest steal of the loaded 2017 NBA draft, Kyle Kuzma is averaging 14.6 points (52.6 percent FG) and 5.2 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game. In the preseason, Kuzma averaged 17.3 points (51.4 percent FG) per game. Kuzma has a very high ceiling, but has to sit behind Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle. His versatility, though, allows him to play small forward or even shooting guard along with his natural position of power forward, which could come in handy for him and the Lakers. If Kuzma is used more, he could be a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year and all-rookie first team.

Overall this rookie class is living up to its hype. Players such as Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball, and Jayson Tatum are already looking to be future superstars in the league. This class may be the one to spread out the competition around the league the way the 2003 class did.

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2017-18 NBA Rookie Class Ranks with the Best Ever