NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Willy Hernangomez Makes His Entrance

Willy Hernangomez makes an appearance in the latest installment of our rookie power rankings for the first time this year. How close did he get to dethroning Joel Embiid at the top?

The NBA All-Star game is fast approaching, meaning the unofficial midway point in the 2016-17 season is upon us. While there is a certain top rookie that has gotten snubbed from a roster spot in New Orleans, it hasn't stopped him from continuing to dominate the latest installment of numberFire's Rookie Power Rankings.

Instead of using the latest hype to point out who is deserving of being one of the league's top five rookies right now, we're using math -- and we'll specifically be talking about nERD. This metric measures a player's contributions, based on efficiency. The number will indicate how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team over a full season. You can read more about nERD in our glossary.

Given the time of year, our 15-minute-per-game average requirement has been lifted in order to add players who are beginning to take on a more prominent role with their respective teams. While there's a pretty clear leader in our power rankings at this point, there is a battle brewing for the second spot.

5. Rodney McGruder, SG, Miami Heat

nERD: -1.7

Rodney McGruder has maintained his spot in the rankings and continues to get significant playing time for the Miami Heat. While averaging 27.4 minutes over his past 5 games, the shooting guard has poured in 8.8 points, grabbed 3.2 rebounds and is sinking 1.2 three pointers.

This stretch has particularly been impressive because of his efficiency from the field. He's shooting 48.4% overall during this hot streak, including 46.7% from beyond the arc, compared to his season-long marks of 39.5% and 33.6%, respectively.

4. Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Milwaukee Bucks

nERD: -1.2

Even with the presence of Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon continues playing significant minutes and is averaging 28.6 over his past five games. That kind of run hasn't lead to a ton of production, though -- he's shooting 28.6% from the field and 11.1% from three-point range. Obviously, his scoring has dipped (7.0 points per game), but he's still contributing with assists (5.2 per game) and steals (1.4).

January likely felt like two months smashed into one for Brogdon considering how much his production varied.

January Points Per Game FG%
First 8 Games 13.6 44.3%
Last 7 Games 8.2 32.3%

If he can fix his recent shooting woes, he has a good chance of moving back up in these rankings while the second half of the season plays out.

3. Pascal Siakam, PF, Toronto Raptors

nERD: -0.7

Pascal Siakam has maintained his spot here, but he's taken a significant hit on the actual court because of a drastic reduction in playing time.

Over the Toronto Raptors' last five games, he's only played in three. It hasn't been very encouraging when he's gotten in, either -- he's averaging a mere 9.3 minutes while posting 4 points and 2.7 rebounds. He had been averaging 17.5 minutes per game for the season before this began.

It appears he’s being pushed out of the rotation by the return of Jared Sullinger and the strong recent play of Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira. If it continues, he'll likely be falling out of our Rookie Power Rankings rather quickly.

2. Guillermo Hernangomez, C, New York Knicks

nERD: 0.1

Guillermo "Willy" Hernangomez has been getting more burn with the New York Knicks, which has enabled him to appear on this list for the first time all year. He can thank the past 10-game stretch, where he's playing 19.1 minutes a night and nearly averaging a double-double (9.0 points and 10.0 rebounds) while shooting 49.2% from the field.

In a spot start on Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, Hernangomez played 32 minutes and chipped in 15 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. Not bad for a player who hadn't been in that situation before in the NBA.

1. Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

nERD: 0.9

Despite Joel Embiid not making the All-Star team, his play has continued to remain rather impressive this year.

Averaging just 26.3 minutes per game over his last 4 contests, the first-year big man has managed to keep up his monster production by pouring in 24.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.5 steals.

He wouldn't have looked out of place in New Orleans with the other Eastern Conference All-Stars, but we'll just have to appreciate what he's doing in Philadelphia, providing the spark for a Sixers team that is currently just four games out of the playoffs.