NBA Rookie Efficiency Rankings: Bam Adebayo Heats Up
Rookies are exciting. They bring hope and energy to floundering teams while also providing a glimpse of what future the league may hold. First-time players in the NBA routinely struggle to adapt to the pace of the professional game, but there are always a few standouts every year who look and play like seasoned vets from the start.
Our rookie rankings here at numberFire are not subjective or influenced by the latest hype -- we put our faith and trust in our algorithms. Every two weeks, we’ll list the top five rookies in the Association based on our nERD metric, which measures a player's contributions based on efficiency, and indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team over a full season. So while names like Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Lonzo Ball are in the conversation for Rookie of the Year Award (and rightfully so), you won't see them below, because their high volume of minutes and usage ultimately has rendered them less efficient, statistically speaking, than the players listed here.
To make sure we only include players regularly contributing to their team, we are limiting ourselves to considering rookies averaging at least 15 minutes per game.
Let's dive into the most efficient rookies with our top-five players of the 2017-18 season so far.
5. Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Previous Rank: NR
After starting the year with plenty of DNP-CDs, Jarrett Allen has found himself firmly in the Brooklyn Nets' rotation over the past month. Since December 17th, the 6'10" Allen has played an average of 18 minutes per game as the backup center to Tyler Zeller. The former Texas Longhorn has been quite productive, too, averaging 14.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes.
Just two games ago, Allen showed what he could do in a more substantial role as he dropped 16 points and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes with Zeller out of action, his third double-digit scoring night in 2018. He is shooting 65.0% in his eight games played since the calendar flipped to January.
While his offensive game is improving, Allen has been a solid force in the middle -- he ranks in the top three among rookies in rebounds and blocks per 36 minutes and top five in defensive rating.
4. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Previous Rank: 4
Bam Adebayo's minutes continue to fluctuate this season, and no other time was it more evident than in the last two weeks. In his first three games of 2018, the Miami Heat rookie averaged just 10.8 minutes. Even as he barely saw the court, Adebayo impressed by pulling down 7 boards in only 14 minutes against the Knicks. Despite the limited playing time due to a crowded Heat frontcourt, the 20-year-old power forward showed he was ready to contribute at a high-level as he enjoyed the best game of his young career on January 9th.
Playing over 31 minutes off the bench, Adebayo scored 16 points while grabbing 15 rebounds with 5 blocks in a 1-point Heat win over the Toronto Raptors. His defense on the Raps -- 10.7% block percentage and 87.7 defensive rating -- was impressive. On the next night, his offense shined again, dropping 15 points and 5 assists.
When given the minutes, Adebayo has not disappointed. He is averaging 10.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 0.8 blocks in the 12 games he has played at least 25 minutes. Overall, the former Wildcat ranks in the top four among rookies in rebound percentage (14.2%) and win shares per 48 minutes (.163) while posting a 61.3% true shooting percentage.
3. Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors
Previous Rank: 2
Since making his first appearance here in our last edition, Jordan Bell has been relatively quiet for the Golden State Warriors. The reserve big man has seen more than 20 minutes in just one of his last six games while racking up a pair of DNP-CDs this week. On Monday, Bell got the start against the Cleveland Cavaliers but played only 13.5 minutes. The lack of playing time is no knock on Bell's ability, either -- playoff-bound teams like the Dubs routinely have a hard time finding minutes for rookies when they are trying to tune up for the postseason.
It's not to say Bell didn't have any shining moments this month. Against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 6th, he dished out 5 assists in just 16 minutes. Bell also had a 6-point, 8-rebound performance in only 18 minutes against Denver.
For the year, the Bell leads all first-timers, who have played at least 14 minutes per game in true shooting percentage (67.3%), net rating (14.9), block percentage (5.8%), and win shares per 48 minutes (.199).
2. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
Previous Rank: 3
As with most rookies, John Collins has had trouble finding consistency in his game and minutes recently. The Atlanta Hawks' big man has averaged just 17.5 minutes in his last six games and has struggled to grow on the offensive end of the floor.
Collins has shot 51.4% from the floor in January, which may sound impressive on its own but is a dramatic drop from the 59.7% rate he posted in the first 30 games of the season. In 2018, the Hawks have Collins working on expanding his range. He's taken five threes in his last six games, while nearly a third of his shots came from beyond 10 feet. In his first 30 games, nearly 85% of his shots came from within 10 feet of the basket.
In his last time out, a tough matchup with a veteran-laden San Antonio, Collins showed off why he has been ranked so high on our rookie list this season, posting 12 points and 8 rebounds in just 22 minutes. He was 5-for-8 from the floor while posting a 20.0% rebound percentage, a plus-30 net rating, and a 14.11 nERD rating, per numberFire live.
1. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Previous Rank: 1
Jayson Tatum has had an eventful 2018 despite playing just five games. The 19-year-old became a father, welcoming a newborn son into the world. He made a trip across the Atlantic as his Boston Celtics played in the NBA London Game, where the forward suffered his first injury scare, limiting him to just 24 minutes played, his third-lowest total of the season. Tatum also enjoyed a 14-point, 6-rebound, 3-steal, and 6-block night against the Nets on January 6th, setting a new career-high in swatted shots.
Overall, Tatum has slowed down from his hot start offensively, likely hitting the proverbial rookie wall. Over his last six games, the former third overall pick is shooting 41.9% from the field and 36.8% from three for an average of 11.3 points per game. While his offensive game is in a slump, Tatum's defense continues to be on point, averaging 1.2 blocks per game while posting a 93.7 defensive rating, during the same stretch.
He sits at the top of our list among our top-five first-timers in nearly all advanced metrics including VORP, win shares per 48 minutes, and offensive and defensive rating. He is also at the head of the class in win shares (offensive, defensive, and total) and of course nERD.