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Juicy Fruit Rookies

Rookie Ladder presented by Juicy Fruit: Trae Young ends Luka Doncic's run at the top of the rankings

Juicy Fruit Rookie Ladder FTR.jpg
NBA Rookie Ladder (NBA.com Illustration)

To keep tabs on this season's rookie class, we've been showcasing the NBA Rookie Ladder presented by Juicy Fruit throughout the season.

Rather than taking a season-long approach, however, our rankings are based on who has performed the best over the most recent two-week period. We want to open opportunities for other first-year players to shine.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the five rookies who have impressed the most since Feb. 7.

1. Trae Young, G, Atlanta Hawks

Stats since Feb. 7: 18.0 points, 9.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game

Trae Young knocks Luka Doncic out of the No. 1 spot for the first time this season.

The two rookies put up similar numbers over the last two weeks, but Young boosted his case by coming up big in a win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 12. In 38 minutes of play, Young scored 22 points, handed out 14 assists and pulled down six rebounds.

It marked the eighth time this season that Young has posted at least 20 points and 10 assists in a game, double the amount Doncic has.

While the Hawks lost the four other games they played since we last checked in on the rookie class, Young reached double figures in each game and dished out double digit assists in two of them.

If Young can maintain that level of play through the final 24 games of the season, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him finish second behind Doncic in Rookie of the Year voting.

2. Luka Doncic, G/F, Dallas Mavericks

Stats since Feb. 7: 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 0.3 blocks per game

It's a testament to how great Luka Doncic already is that a "down week" for him sees him average close to a triple-double.

Following a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 8, Doncic led the Mavericks past the Portland Trail Blazers with 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He then went for 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Houston Rockets, followed by 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists against the Miami Heat.

So why isn't Doncic in the No. 1 spot this week? His shooting percentages are down and the Mavericks were outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court in those four games. (Slightly worse than the 17.7 points per 100 possessions the Hawks were outscored by with Young on the court).

Dallas is now five games out of the Western Conference playoff race after losing three of their last four games, a tough margin to make up this late in the season.

It doesn't hurt Doncic's chances of being crowned the best rookie at the end of this season. It just opened the door for Young to move up this week's ladder.

3. Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns

Stats since Feb. 7: 19.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks per game

Deandre Ayton has played only three times since Feb. 7, but he played well enough in those games to join Trae Young and Luka Doncic at the top of this list.

Ayton got things started with 23 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and one block against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 8. He scored 16 points on an efficient 8-for-10 shooting two days later against the Sacramento Kings and came close to another double-double with 20 points and eight rebounds in his last game before All-Star Weekend.

Ayton now has 17 20-point games on the season, putting him behind Doncic (31) and Young (19) for the most in his class. He also has 30 double-doubles, the most in his class by a large margin.

Unfortunately for Ayton, he hasn't been able to end Phoenix's losing streak, which is now up to 15 games. The Suns will look to snap it on Thursday, Feb. 21, when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

4. Mitchell Robinson, C, New York Knicks

Stats since Feb. 7: 11.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 0.8 steals per game

Mitchell Robinson has been a shot blocking machine all season long. Despite only playing 17.9 minutes per game, he leads all rookies in total blocks (89) and blocks per game (2.1).

Robinson has been particularly dominant in that regard lately, blocking 16 shots in his last five games. After swatting four shots in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 13, Robinson came up with four more in the second night of a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks.

It helped the Knicks get their first win since Dec. 14, bringing an end to their 18-game losing streak.

Robinson has been doing more than just blocking shots lately as well. Over his last six games, he has scored at least 10 points five times and pulled down at least 10 rebounds twice.

The No. 36 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Robinson is proving himself to be a tremendous steal for the Knicks.

5. Collin Sexton, G, Cleveland Cavaliers

Stats since Feb. 7: 21.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 0.3 steals per game

With 21.8 points per game, Collin Sexton is tied with Luka Doncic for the highest scoring average among first-year players over the last couple of weeks. He scored 20-plus points in three of the four games he appeared in and led the Cavaliers to a win over the New York Knicks on Feb. 11 with a team-high 20 points.

Sexon has been rather efficient during this recent stretch, too, shooting 44.0 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from 3-point range and 78.6 percent from the free throw line.

Expect more of the same down in the comings weeks after Sexton missed out on playing in the Rising Stars Challenge over All-Star Weekend.

"I'm just gonna use it as motivation," Sexton told Cleveland.com. "Got to. It's just more fuel for me."

Honourable Mention

Jaren Jackson Jr. - 15.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game

Marvin Bagley III - 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks per game

Landry Shamet - 13.3 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game

Josh Okogie - 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 assists per game

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - 10.5 points, 3.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game

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