Last week, NBA.com's Kyle Irving run through the top candidates for the MVP award. As it stands now, Stephen Curry stands atop the mountain in the MVP Ladder.
This week, it's all about the rookies in our first rookie ladder of the year.
This year's draft class has provided a handful of studs with high ceilings but who among them has separated themselves from the pack?
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Let's take a look:
If you don't have NBA league pass, the Kings are as good of a reason why you should have it. De'Aaron Fox is always worth the price of admission, I don't know what's gotten into Harrison Barnes but the dude is hoopin' and Davion Mitchell is making watching a player defend fun.
Mitchell is averaging 9.5 points, 3.5 assists per game this season, but it's his defence that will have him in and around the conversation for all-rookie first team all year long.
With Mitchell on the floor, the Kings have a defensive rating of 106.8 this season. When he sits, that rating jumps to 109.9. The Kings have the 26th ranked defence at the time of this writing and they'll need a couple more Davion Mitchells to help them remedy that issue, but having one is a start.
Especially when he's doing things like this:
It's going to be a long season in Houston, but you already knew that. Regardless, Jalen Green is worth keeping an eye on this season.
Green is averaging 14.8 points, 3.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds through his first seven games.
He put up a 30-point game against the Celtics and looked good in his last outing against the Lakers finishing with 24 points, five assists while shooting 9-for-15 from the field. When Green takes good shots he's been effective this year. He'll start to find his spots on the floor and become more efficient as the season goes along. This kid is a bucket.
Alright onto the ladder.
5. Franz Wagner
Wagner has been a day one starter for the Magic and he's been one of their most consistent players. He's averaging 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this year with shooting splits of .495/.417/.667. He scored in double figured in eight of his first nine games this year given Orlando some much-needed offence.
He's also been a joy to watch in the open floor. He'll always be a good option to spot up and take a trail three in transition but he's also shown the ability to put the ball on the deck and get the rack on his own.
His effort defensive is already there and with experience he'll grow into a plus defender for Orlando.
4. Josh Giddey
The Aussie isn't the most athletic or explosive but he's uber-crafty and attacks angles like a 10-year vet.
Giddey's best attribute was his passing and it's been on full display in the early part of the season. The Thunder rookie is averaging 6.1 assists per game leading all rookies. His assist percentage of 33.3 according to Basketball-Reference is on par with other great passers and playmakers like Nikola Jokic (34.2) and LaMelo Ball (33.1).
The issue for Giddey coming into this season, as it is for most rookies, is the defensive end. That's clearly a work in progress and where his biggest growth area will be.
3. Chris Duarte
Duarte has been a nice addition to the core group in Indiana. He's fit in like a glove averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 board and 2.2 assists through his first nine games.
He's shown the touch from deep knocking down 42.9 percent from three. There's a good balance with his 3-point shooting, Duarte is connecting on 43.3 percent of his catch and shoot triples and 40.0 percent of his pull-up long balls.
If he can continue to develop into a three-level scorer for the Pacers, they may very well have one of the steals of the draft.
2. Evan Mobley
The Sporting News' Micah Adams wrote about how Mobley's start stacks up against Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett and current stars like Anthony Davis.
It's a small sample size, but Mobley has been that good. The Cavs' big man is averaging 13.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting an efficient 49.0 percent from the field.
According to Basketball-Reference's play-by-play data, Mobley has played 46.0 percent of his minutes at small forward this season.
For a player who's just a 20-year-old rookie, trying to figure out the game and on top of that may be playing out of position - he's had an impressive start and may in the near future find himself on the top of this ladder.
1. Scottie Barnes
The Raptors got it right. Remember when there was a debate about whether or not the Raptors should draft Barnes or Jalen Suggs with the No. 4 pick? It's early and I don't want to write Suggs off, but I think Toronto is happy with their selection.
Barnes is leading all rookies in scoring averaging 18.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
If you stack up Barnes' first seven games next to that of former Raptors like Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and DeMar DeRozan in their rookie years it paints a pretty picture.
Barnes will have to sustain the production he's currently giving Toronto to be in the same class as Carter, but the start is promising.
He's been the best rookie to this point in the season, and there's truly no debating it.
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