NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Joel Embiid Climbs Toward the Top
Welcome to the second installment of numberFire’s Rookie Power Rankings. We now have four weeks of the season under our belts, so let’s take a look at the rookies who have performed the best.
As usual, we’ll be using our nERD metric to evaluate which rookies have been helping their teams the most throughout the season. nERD indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team over a full season.
We are still limiting our consideration to players who have averaged at least 15 minutes per game because we’re only four weeks into the season. You will also see that a couple of players dropped out of our rankings this week (Kris Dunn and Brandon Ingram), but we added Malcolm Delaney, who is manning the back-up point guard spot for the Atlanta Hawks, and it looks like Jamal Murray may be soon joining our power rankings based on his game last night, in which he scored 24 points with 6 rebounds in a Denver Nuggets win.
So, without further ado, let’s see who our top five rookies are at this point in the season.
5. Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City Thunder
Domantas Sabonis continues to start at power forward for the 8-7 Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaging 22.1 minutes per game while chipping in 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.1 three-pointers, and 1.5 assists per game. The most notable statistic for Sabonis is his three-point attempts.
He’s a true outside threat as he’s taking 2.9 three-point field goals per game and making 39.5% of them. Remember, Sabonis is 6'11", so he's definitely bringing the man guarding him outside and helping to clear the lane for Russell Westbrook.
He’s also seeing a slight uptick in his minutes, as he’s averaged close to 24 minutes per game over his last five games.
4. Malcolm Delaney, Atlanta Hawks
Our one new addition this week is Malcolm Delaney, a point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s averaging 17.2 minutes, 5.9 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game.
On top of that, he’s shooting 94.1% from the free throw line, but he does have a couple of weak links, which are his 37.3% field goal percentage and 1.8 turnovers per game. Over his last 5 games, Delaney has averaged 17.6 minutes (about the same as his season average) 5.2 points, and 3.2 assists per game. He’s the second-string point guard on a good team (the Hawks are now 9-5), but we’ll have to see whether he carves out more minutes as the season progresses.
3. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown moved up one spot to number three this week.
However, over the past two weeks, Brown has been seeing inconsistent playing time. Over his last eight games, he’s played anywhere from 7 minutes to 23 minutes, and that has led to games where he’s scored up to 11 points, but he’s clearly struggling to find a meaningful role.
His statistics have dropped overall during the past two weeks, so he’s now averaging 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game. We’ll have to see if Brown can reassert himself and raise his minutes per game from 16.3 currently to over 20 if he wants to compete for Rookie of the Year.
2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid has moved up the rookie ranks over the past two weeks, going from number six up to number two. He continues to easily look like the Rookie of the Year (even though it's early), averaging 18.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game.
His minutes continue to be monitored (he's only playing 22.2 minutes per game), but he’s leading the way for the Philadelphia 76ers, who have now won two games in a row and improved to 4-10 overall (but 4-4 over their last eight games).
He’s way out ahead of anyone else right now for Rookie of the Year on statistics alone.
1. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam tops our latest power rankings for rookies with a nERD of 0.1. He continues to start for the Toronto Raptors and is maintaining averages of 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s only averaging 18.4 minutes per game as the Raptors continue to give most of the power forward minutes to Patrick Patterson (30.6).
However, Siakam is shooting a blistering 54.4% from the field and a respectable 75% from the free throw line while putting up similar points per game (6.6 for Patterson) and rebounds per game (5.6 for Patterson) on substantially fewer minutes.
Maybe, there is room for Siakam to gain additional minutes this season. The Raptors continue to lead the Atlantic Division with Siakam as their starting power forward.