NBA Rookie Rankings: Does Anyone Want to Win Rookie of the Year?

Throughout the course of the 2013-14 season, HoopsHabit will be presenting an NBA rookie power ranking, letting you see who has the best shot at winning the Rookie of the Year Award at season’s end.

Does anybody actually want to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award this season? In last week’s edition, Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams were neck-and-neck for the top spot in the recent Rookie Rankings. That’s still the case, but one of them has widened the gap a bit more. As for the rest of the rankings …

It’s a two-man race for ROY honors at this point and not one rookie has a realistic shot at catching either of them unless something changes dramatically. Of course, it isn’t quite December yet, so it’s still early, but with how underwhelming the rookie class was coming into the season, none of them have been trying to silence the doubters of the draft class. For the prime example, just look at the top overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett.

1.) Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

Michael Carter-Williams has the Rookie of the Year race right where he wants it. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Carter-Williams has grabbed on to the top spot in the Rookie Rankings and doesn’t appear to want to let it go. He’s led Philadelphia to a respectable 6-11 record so far this season. OK, so the record isn’t exactly eye popping, but considering just how disastrous the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division are this season, the Sixers are only one game out of a playoff spot behind 6-9 Toronto.

MCW has better scoring, assist, steals and shooting numbers than he had in his best season at Syracuse, allowing himself to silence his doubters for the time being. He has been battling a foot injury lately, but as long as it doesn’t keep him out for an extended period of time, MCW won’t be giving up the top spot in the Rookie Rankings any time soon.

2.) Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo may have something to say about the Rookie of the Year race. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Since MCW has the number one spot locked up, it’s going to take a miracle for somebody to catch Victor Oladipo for the second spot in the Rookie Rankings. Oladipo has come off the bench for the Magic so far this season and helped them to a 6-10 record. Again, not a sexy record, but it’s about on par with where Orlando hopes to be for the rest of their season. Keep in mind that Orlando only had 20 wins all of last season. So far so good for the Magic.

Oladipo has averages of 13 points, nearly four rebounds, four assists and two steals per game this season. Solid averages all around for a rookie coming off the bench. At this point, Oldaipo is likely to be inserted into the starting rotation sooner rather than later. Orlando doesn’t have a realistic shot at the playoffs and the Magic will look to mold him into their point guard of the future. Until such time comes, however, it is a long shot for Oladipo to catch MCW for the top spot in the Rookie Rankings.

3.) Trey Burke, Utah Jazz

Nov 25, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) reacts during overtime against the Chicago Bulls at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 89-83 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the smallest sample size of any rookie this season, but Trey Burke’s return from injury has already helped the Utah Jazz double their win total this season (from one to two!!). In only five games played this season, Burke is averaged just over nine points, three rebounds and three assists per game.

Sure, it may be a bit premature to bring Burke into the third spot of the Rookie Rankings, but considering he is still fresh to the NBA and what he will be expected to do for the Jazz, it’s not unreasonable to say Burke is the most likely candidate to challenge for the top spot throughout the rest of the season.

Burke’s shooting averages are mediocre at best, shooting just 35 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3-point range, but that can be attributed to his rust and recovery from the wrist injury that forced him to miss the start of the season. Burke’s numbers should excel as he becomes more comfortable with his teammates and the pace of the NBA.

4.) Nate Wolters, Milwaukee Bucks

Nov 25, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks point guard Nate Wolters (6) is defended by Detroit Pistons point guard Will Bynum (12) in the second quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Still not the go-to player for the Bucks, Nate Wolters has been the most consistent player in Milwaukee. Unfortanately for Wolters, his playing time could see a significant dip as the Bucks begin to get their entire roster healthy.

He hasn’t seen a lot of playing time since Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight‘s return, but Wolters makes the most of his time on the floor, still maintaining averages of over seven points, four assists, two rebounds and narrowly over one turnover per game. Respectable numbers to say the least, but what direction those stats take with the decrease of playing time remains to be seen.

For now, Wolters maintains the fourth spot in the Rookie Rankings. The rest is up to coach Larry Drew and the direction he wants to take after Milwaukee’s horrid 2-13 start.

5.) Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

Nov 29, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) dribbles the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers during the overtime period at Sleep Train Arena. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-98 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most interesting rookie this season, Ben McLemore is already at a crossroads in his career. He’ll go from having a great offensive outing one game to playing poorly his next game to receiving limited minutes the game after that. Nobody really knows what McLemore can bring to the table for the Kings right now.

One of the main reasons McLemore’s career is at a crossroads is the rumor that the Sacramento Kings have been in discussions for a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Dion Waiters. Cleveland wants to trade Waiters and Waiters is open for a trade. Couple that with the fact Sacramento has not hidden their interest in making trades this season plus McLemore’s inconsistent play and you have the possibility of a trade moving the rookie out of Kansas before Christmas.

Of course, that’s all strictly speculation at this point, but stranger things have happened, especially when Sacramento is involved. Until then, McLemore can sit comfortably at No.5 of the Rookie Rankings.

Other Rookie Notes:

* Still no update on Washington Wizards rookie Otto Porter Jr. His hip seems to be worse off than expected at the time of the announced injury.

* Anthony Bennett is still not No.1 pick worth and has even more people wondering what the Cleveland Cavaliers were thinking at the time of the pick.  In their defense, Bennett has a better three-point shooting percentage than Wolters (17 percent for Bennett to Wolters’ nine percent).

* Mason Plumlee keeps seeing his playing time and numbers increase if only because the Brooklyn Nets consistently get blown out of the water by the opposition.

 

 

Topics: Ben McLemore, Michael Carter-williams, Milwaukee Bucks, Nate Wolters, NBA, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Rookie Rankings, Sacramento Kings, Trey Burke, Utah Jazz, Victor Oladipo

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