NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Towns Continues to Dominate

In our final power rankings update of the regular season, Karl-Anthony Towns is the easy choice for Rookie of the Year. Is anyone else close?

For the first time in several weeks in the rookie of the year rankings, we have a new face in our top five. And just in time.

This power ranking update, generated from players' nERD scores, which indicate how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team if he were a starter, will be our 10th and final update of the regular season.

5. Myles Turner

nERD: 0.7

Following a 24-point, 16-rebound performance in a win over the Pelicans, in his past three games, Myles Turner has scored just 12 combined points. It's emblematic of his season. Throughout this year, he's seen a nine-game streak of double-digit scoring games but also a stretch of three games where he failed to top nine points and shot a paltry 5-for-24. Overall, he's averaging 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds. If we look just at the games he started in, which has been all but one game since January 28, Turner posted 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds. As one of just two rookies on our list to be on a team that is likely postseason-bound, Turner could bolster his national reputation with a solid first-round series.

4. Josh Richardson

nERD: 1.4

In our final rankings of the season, Josh Richardson makes his very first appearance. After playing sporadically for the majority of the first part of the season, Richardson has seen consistent play time of late and he's made the most of it, averaging 12.8 points per game in 12 games he's played in during the month of March. He's also shot 56.8 percent from the floor including a ridiculous 33-for-52 from three-point land (that's 63.5 percent). He's made at least 3 three-point shots in six of his last seven contests, including a combined 9-for-13 shooting performance in his past three games. Given an entire season of this consistent number of minutes, Richardson could be on his way to making a solid positive impact on the Heat. He'll be a player to watch on Miami as the playoffs start up.

3. Willie Cauley-Stein

nERD: 2.3

After missing a pair of games a little less than two games ago, Cauley-Stein returned with three of his best games of the season. On Friday, he shot 11-of-19, scoring 26 points, setting a career-high in steals (with 3), field goal attempts -- his previous high was only 10 shots attempted -- and points. He followed that up with a dominant 21-point performance, connecting on 8 of the 11 shots he took. And, on Monday, he set a career-high with 14 rebounds, while notching just his third double-double of the season. Now his season averages stand at 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. This late-season burst bodes well for Cauley-Stein's sophomore season.

2. Nikola Jokic

nERD: 5.4

Nikola Jokic hung with our number-one in these power rankings for the majority of the second half of the season, but he's slowed down in recent weeks, and it looks like he'll end the year in second place. Jokic, despite his 41st-overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, proved to be one of the best rookies of the season. With only a handful of games remaining for Denver, Jokic is averaging 9.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 50.5 percent from the floor. His PER of 21.4 is second-best among rookies. 

Earlier this year, I compared Jokic's rookie campaign to that of Kevin Love. Now that Jokic's season is almost over, let's return to that comparison.

Player Points/36 Rebounds/36 Blocks/36 Assists/36 FG% PER
Nikola Jokic 17.0 11.4 1.0 3.9 .505 21.4
Kevin Love 15.8 12.9 0.9 1.0 .459 18.3

By most advanced accounts, Jokic actually had a better rookie season than Love did. The former Timberwolves' forward did see a bit more playing time (25 minutes per game compared to Jokic's 20), but Jokic by and large had a better first year than Love did. Love's turning point of his career came in his third year -- his first All-Star campaign -- when he saw his minutes jump up to around 36 per game. Will Jokic see a similar jump? We'll have to wait and see.

1. Karl-Anthony Towns

nERD: 6.7

With just eight games remaining for Minnesota, it's looking more and more likely that Karl-Anthony Towns will win the 2016 Rookie of the Year. Let's compare Towns to the recent Rookie of the Year winners. 

Rookie PER Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Win Shares/48  
Karl-Anthony Towns 22.9 113 106 .157
Andrew Wiggins 13.9 103 114 .034
Michael Carter-Williams 15.5 96 108 .026
Damian Lillard 16.4 108 112 .088
Kyrie Irving 21.4 109 110 .125
Blake Griffin 21.9 111 107 .152
Tyreke Evans 18.2 107 110 .097
Derrick Rose 16.0 108 113 .078
Kevin Durant 15.8 100 110 .040

Put simply, Towns has been one of the best rookies in recent memory. Rookies traditionally come into the league and play inefficient basketball, but Towns has played exceptionally efficiently this season. If he can keep his field goal percentage (54.7 percent) across the final eight games of the season, he'd have the highest field goal percentage for a Rookie of the Year since Tim Duncan in 1995. Add in the fact that Towns hasn't missed a single game this whole season and that he has the third-highest Usage Rate among rookies, and it's clear that Towns will runaway with this year's hardware, likely becoming the first unanimous winner since Damian Lillard in 2013.


Let's look back at how we've ranked the rookies throughout the season from the first edition through the 10th and final edition.

Ranks Through Season 1   2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  
Frank Kaminsky - - - 4 - - - - - -
Larry Nance - - - - 5 - - - - -
Kristaps Porzingis 4 2 1 5 4 5 5 5 5 -
Nemanja Bjelica 2 5 4 - - - - - - -
Myles Turner 5 - - - - 3 3 4 4 5
Josh Richardson - - - - - - - - - 4
Willie Cauley-Stein 3 4 5 3 3 4 4 3 3 4
Nikola Jokic - 3 3 2 2 1 1 2 1 2
Karl-Anthony Towns 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 1

While he had some weeks at second overall, Towns has been in charge of this race since the season tipped off, and it will be hard to imagine any way that he doesn't wind up with the trophy on his shelf.