NBA Rankings: Week 3's Rookie Ladder

Kristian Winfield@@KrisWinfield_Correspondent IIIJanuary 16, 2012

NBA Rankings: Week 3's Rookie Ladder

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    Hey all, thanks for checking into this week's NBA Rookie Rankings.

    As usual, Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving are ahead of the pack with MarShon Brooks not too far behind, but we have some unusual contenders this week vying for a position atop the ladder.

    Some are looking like busts, while others look like musts.

    Let's see who made the most of their playing time this week.

Rookies 25-20

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    25. Jimmer Fredette: G, Sacramento Kings 23.8 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 2.2 APG, 30 3PT%

    I had such high expectations for this BYU product, but it looks like he's just another J.J. Redick (before 2010)—or just another Adam Morrison. This college superstar's skill set clearly hasn't transitioned into the NBA, and as a result he's slowly but surely losing his backup PG role to Isaiah Thomas. He's getting the minutes and he's getting the looks, but the shots just aren't dropping.

    24. Klay Thompson: G, Golden State Warriors 17.5 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.3 APG

    Klay Thompson's been a bust. Plain and simple. The former Washington State star can't buy a bucket, and his jumper looks worse than my old high school's girls junior varsity team (sorry, guys.). If he doesn't snap out of this cold spell soon, he might find himself in the NBDL.

    23. Terrel Harris: G, Miami Heat 13.7 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.2 APG

    Terrel Harris should get a lot more burn with Dwyane Wade's nasty ankle injury sidelining him for a few days. He was unproductive this week, but he should be back to his glass-crashing self soon.

    22. Bismack Biyombo: C, Charlotte Bobcats 11.4 MPG, 2.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 BLKPG

    Biyombo is second in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes at 5.51. I know B.J. Mullens has finally cashed in with his post play, but as athletic and defensively savvy as Biyombo is, he should be getting some more PT.

    21. Josh Selby: Memphis Grizzlies 13.3 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 RPG

    Selby earned the backup PG role over Jeremy Pargo this week. He dropped nine points and two assists in 15 minutes against the Knicks, but I doubt he'll see more PT than that, as Mike Conley has at least 30 minutes wrapped up each night.

    20. Alec Burks: G, Utah Jazz 11.3 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG

    Burks finally got some PT and scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field in 18 minutes against the Denver Nuggets Sunday night. He's a dangerous scorer, and I think if he keeps getting 18 to 22 minutes per game, his numbers will steadily increase.

Rookies 19-14

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    19. Nikola Vucevic: C, Philadelphia 76ers 13.4 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG

    Vucevic started the week off on the right foot, dropping 11 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of play, but he hasn't had the same scoring touch since. He's always on the boards, which is great for a center, but he needs to up his points to get some minutes over Spencer Hawes.

    18. Ivan Johnson: F, Atlanta Hawks 13.2 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG

    Johnson played a huge role in Atlanta's 93-91 win over Minnesota by knocking down all eight of his free-throw attempts and scoring his only bucket in the fourth to help the Hawks seal the victory. He also recorded his first double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds to accompany his 10 points and two steals. Ivan Johnson's on the rise.

    17. Enes Kanter: C, Utah Jazz: 13.6 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG

    Kanter's gotten fewer minutes than most other first-round draft picks, but he's still doing his job on the glass. I hope he gets more PT, but it'll be hard to fight Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap for minutes.

    16. Josh Harrellson: PF, New York Knicks 20 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 34.3 3PT%

    Harrellson's had a really solid week, knocking down seven of his 14 three-point attempts and getting on the boards equally as well. With Carmelo Anthony out nursing an ankle injury, the rookie's been on the receiving end of more playing time, and he's been making the most of it.

    15. Isaiah Thomas: G, Sacramento Kings 13.4 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 RPG

    Isaiah Thomas has been a godsend for the Kings this week, exploding for 20 points and six assists in 24 minutes against Toronto. When Marcus Thornton was out with a thigh injury, Jimmer Fredette got the start, but Thomas left his mark, putting up 13 points and five assists. He's already outplaying his highly regarded counterpart.

    14. Brandon Knight: G, Detroit Pistons 30.5 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 3.1 TOPG

    Brandon Knight's done a good job scoring and a better job rebounding, but it's never, EVER good to average more turnovers than assists. That's where he's at right now.

    He had a stellar shooting night against Milwaukee, scoring 20 points off 7-of-9 shooting from the field, but he's turned the ball over 18 times in the last five games.

    Something's gotta give.

Rookies 13-6

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    13. Derrick Williams: F, Minnesota Timberwolves 19.8 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG

    I like Rick Adelman, but the coach is starting to tick me off by not giving Derrick Williams the minutes he deserves. He's been getting progressively fewer minutes all week, and that's not something you do to the second overall pick in the draft—especially not if you want him to stay.

    Williams is a great talent, but he just isn't getting the PT to show what he can really do. I know there's a lot of competition with Michael Beasley and Kevin Love fighting for minutes, but he's got to fit the rookie in there somewhere.

    12. Chandler Parsons: F, Houston Rockets 20.6 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 STLPG, 1.0 APG

    There's a position battle going on in Houston at the small forward spot between Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger. Once Kevin McHale gets his rotation set in stone, we'll start to see consistent production out of Parsons.

    11. Norris Cole: G, Miami Heat 22.2 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 STLPG

    Cole's cooled down a bit after that 20-point explosion a few weeks back, but he's still been a valuable part of the Miami bench. He scores here and there, but he mainly does a good job of running the offense, which usually means getting the ball to LeBron or Wade and getting out of the way.

    10. Greg Stiemsma: C, Boston Celtics 11.3 MPG, 2.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.8 BLKPG

    Why an aging team like the C's doesn't give this guy more minutes is beyond me. Not only is Stiemsma a surprisingly good talent, but he leads the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes with a ridiculous 7.58. That's better than Kevin Garnett ever did!

    I mean, the kid was in the game for one minute and got a block. If that's not efficient, I don't know what is. He's something special, and if Boston doesn't capitalize, it might be sitting on a potentially game-changing kid.

    9. Jon Leuer: F, Milwaukee Bucks 19.0 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 APG

    Leuer looked really solid on the floor in his first start earlier in the week against Detroit when he put up 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The more minutes he gets, the better his numbers are.

    If he keeps starting, I think Milwaukee will be quite content with its Wisconsin product.

    8. Tristan Thompson: PF, Cleveland Cavaliers 17.8 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.3 BLKPG

    Tristan Thompson won't be able to show his full potential until he gets more minutes in Cleveland. He's doing all the right things, but he's still wafting around the 16- to 20-minute mark in these games. Move Omri Casspi to the bench, Antawn Jamison to the 3 and Thompson to the 4, and watch how the Cavs' production picks up.

    7. Kemba Walker: G, Charlotte Bobcats 22.2 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 TOPG

    I was really pulling for Kemba Walker to get it going, and I'm glad he finally got his stuff together. In his first-ever NBA start against the Golden State Warriors, Walker put up 23 points (8-of-15 shooting, 2-of-4 3PT), five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 39 minutes of play—his best performance as a Bobcat thus far.

    He got a vote of confidence from Paul Silas, who said he will continue to start. While nothing done against the Warriors defense can be trusted, it's this type of explosion that can get a high-octane scorer like Walker going.

    6. Iman Shumpert: G, New York Knicks 30.8 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.8 STLPG

    I'll keep it funky with you guys: I do NOT like seeing Iman Shumpert run the PG for the Knicks offense. It's weird. He's 6'5", 220 pounds solid, and built like a grown man. It was a good move for Mike D'Antoni to start Mike Bibby at the point and move Shumpert to the 2.

    Either way, the rookie had a terrible shooting week, shooting for a combined 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) from the field. He's got to pick it up to stay high on my list.

Top 5 Rookies in the NBA

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    5. Kawhi Leonard: G/F, San Antonio Spurs 23.8 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.2 STLPG

    Week of January 9th, 2012

    PHX 33 12 (4-8, 2-4) 1 8 1 (1)
    POR 35 11 (5-9, 1-1) 1 5 2 (0)
    HOU 38 11 (5-12) 0 8 0 (2)
    MIL 33 19 (9-12, 0-1) 2 3 4 (1)

    Kawhi Leonard got his second start on Sunday for the injured Manu Ginobili, and I really got to dissect his game somewhat. Boy, was I impressed.

    Not only did he knock down a pair of threes—something the scouts said he couldn't do—but he brought an unmatched energy and electricity to every play.

    It pains me to see an aging, veteran team like the Spurs land a talent like this at the cheap price of George Hill, but Leonard's got the makings to be a Gerald Wallace-esque player in this league.

    4. Markieff Morris: PF, Phoenix Suns 21 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.7 STLPG, 0.6 BLKPG

    Week of January 9th, 2012

    SA 25 14 (6-10, 2-6) 1 3 0 (0)
    NJ 18 3 (1-3, 0-1) 0 1 0 (0)
    CLE 23 13 (5-9, 2-2) 1 8 1 (1)
    LAL 16 2 (0-4, 0-1) 1 3 4 (0)

    Markieff Morris plays better, clearly, when he gets more minutes. The longer he's in the game, the more likely he is to get into a rhythm and start getting some numbers on the board. He's dangerous from three, but he didn't really show me too much this week.

    Still, he's doing better than most rookies are right now.

    3. MarShon Brooks: SG, New Jersey Nets 26.9 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.2 APG

    Week of January 9th, 2012

    UTAH 29 11 (3-6, 1-3) 3 3 2
    PHX 36 20 (8-15, 2-4) 1 5 3
    ATL 30 10 (4-11, 1-4) 3 2 0
    DEN 41 19 (7-14, 3-6) 2 10 0

    I think MarShon Brooks is finally settling in and learning the NBA game. He's becoming more fluent in his movements, and he's moving the ball around, something he wasn't doing in weeks prior. 

    Brooks can put the ball in the basket, and I'd like to see him get the green light, just to see how high the ceiling is for him. Still, he has a tendency to hold on to the ball like Joe Johnson does. He needs to make his move quicker without running so much time off the clock.

    Oh, and his first ever double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds is not a bad look at all.

    2. Kyrie Irving: PG, Cleveland Cavaliers 27.1 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, 3.3 TOPG

    Week of January 9th, 2012

    LAL 28 21 (8-16, 2-3) 4 (4) 0 2
    PHX 28 26 (11-17, 2-4) 6 (6) 3 2
    UTAH 27 20 (7-14, 1-4) 5 (2) 0 0

    Kyrie Irving has really been handling the pressure of being a franchise centerpiece well. I'd like to see him do a better job distributing (he's yet to record over seven assists this season, which could probably be attributed to the lack of talent surrounding him), but he's absorbing most of the responsibility for the Cavaliers, which is rare to see out of such a young player.

    I'd like to see him take better care of the ball, but for a rookie he's raised quite a few eyebrows with his play as of late. He's picked up the scoring and is really trying to revive the Cavaliers into a semi-contender.

    1. Ricky Rubio: PG, Minnesota Timberwolves 30.8 MPG, 11 PPG, 8.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 2.0 SPG

    Week of January 9th, 2012

    ATL 35 18 (7-15, 2-3) 12 (4) 4 5
    NO 44 12 (3-7, 0-2) 9 (2) 6 3
    CHI 36 13 (6-11, 0-1) 12 (5) 4 4
    TOR 30 10 (2-9, 1-2) 6 (2) 4 3

    You know, I watched Ricky Rubio play against Atlanta on Saturday, and I have to say I was so impressed that I had to put him atop this week's rookie ladder. He's so mature for a rookie in the NBA, and 100 percent of that is attributed to his Euroleague play at a young age.

    Rubio is one of the more solid PGs not just in his class, but in the league. He gets the ball to and runs the offense through Kevin Love and trusts his teammates to make open shots that they, half of the time, don't make.

    He's silenced the critics who said that he couldn't shoot by knocking down 47.6 percent of his three-point attempts and is averaging two steals per contest, perfectly rounding out his game.

    Getting the first two starts of his career this week, Rubio's winning over coach Rick Adelman's heart, and I'm sure he'll get some more freedom in the near future. Now, here's a question for you:

    Is Ricky Rubio the next Pistol Pete?

Week 3 NBA Rookie Rankings

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    Rank Player Pos PER CHG
    1. Ricky Rubio PG  19.30   
    2. Kyrie Irving PG  21.40   
    3. MarShon Brooks SG  19.36   
    4. Markieff Morris PF  17.92   
    5. Kawhi Leonard G/F  16.84   
    6. Iman Shumpert G  10.91   
    7. Kemba Walker G  17.17   
    8. Tristan Thompson PF  15.49   ---
    9. Jon Leuer PF  17.76   
    10. Greg Stiemsma C  16.95   
    11. Norris Cole PG  12.34   
    12. Chandler Parsons SF  15.68    
    13. Derrick Williams F  14.25   
    14. Brandon Knight G  11.50   
    15. Isaiah Thomas PG  15.60   
    16. Josh Harrellson PF  12.80   
    17. Enes Kanter C  16.29   
    18. Ivan Johnson F  13.09   
    19. Alec Burks SG  15.67   
    20. Nikola Vucevic C  18.57   
    21. Josh Selby PG  8.65   
    22. Bismack Biyombo C  7.21   
    23. Terrel Harris SG  14.25   
    24. Klay Thompson SG  6.11   
    25. Jimmer Fredette G  8.40   

    Thanks for reading! If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a note below, and I'll answer all of them.