NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Jamal Murray Gains Ground
Welcome to the third installment of numberFire’s Rookie Power Rankings. We now have six 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 that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game since we’re only six weeks into the season. Jaylen Brown has dropped out of our rankings because his minutes per game have dropped below 15, and Malcolm Delaney is also a thing of the past. However, we added Jamal Murray for the first time -- as we anticipated in the last installment -- and Kris Dunn is back.
So, without further ado, let’s see who are the top-five rookies, per our metrics, at this point in the season.
5. Jamal Murray
Murray is averaging 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He’s also shown an ability to put up big numbers when given the opportunity -- such as his last game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Murray played 24 minutes in that one and poured in 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including a trio of three-point field goals.
However, in contrast to that performance, his four prior games yielded an average of only 5.0 points per game on basically the same amount of minutes. Game-to-game consistency seems to really be Murray’s greatest problem right now in moving up the rookie power rankings.
4. Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn's overall season averages are pretty plain vanilla as he’s averaging 4.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Dunn, however, has some entrenched talent in front of him with both Ricky Rubio and Zach Lavine seeing big minutes.
However, over Dunn’s last three games he’s shooting 11 of 15 from the field and averaging close to 10 points and 4.3 assists per night. If he can continue playing at that level, there is a chance his minutes rise as the season progresses. This may be even more true if the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t turn their season around since they’re currently 6-15 and last in the Northwest Division.
3. Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis continues to start at power forward for the 14-8 Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaging 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.0 three-pointers and 1.5 assists per game. While he continues to start for the Thunder, Sabonis is still playing second-team minutes, seeing 21.7 minutes per game. To make more of an impact in his rookie campaign, Sabonis will need to earn more minutes.
2. Joel Embiid
Embiid is still a part-time player (because of his prior injuries) as he’s only played in only 14 out of the 22 total games have played, but his minutes have started to increase over the past couple games. He’s played 26.5 minutes per game his last two games versus his season average of 23.3 minutes per game.
He’s also putting up huge per-36 minute numbers of 28.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.8 blocks per game. It's become pretty apparent that the sky is the limit for Embiid-- if he can stay healthy.
1. Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam retains the top spot in our power rankings with a nERD of 0.3. He is showing consistency game-to-game as he averages 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 57.1% from the field.
His minutes per game are starting to go up, as well. Over his last five games, Siakam has averaged 22 minutes per game, and he’s increased his scoring during that span to 8.6 points per game while shooting 64.5% from the field. Most importantly, the Toronto Raptors are 14-7 with Siakam starting every game, and the Raptors are the top team in the Eastern Conference, per our team power rankings.