06 Dec 2021 | 09:31
By this time next week all rookies will have played at least 20 games, officially marking the quarter point of the 2021-22 NBA season. That’ll give us a legitimate sample size to work with to start forming some more concrete opinions on these first-year players we’ve observed for several weeks. So far we’ve learned the 2021 NBA class is pretty deep, as we’ve got second-round picks in Ayo Dosunmu and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl making an impact on their teams early in the season. The first round is also littered with quality talent from top to bottom, which has made this season an exciting one to watch all the rookies. With that in mind, let’s dive into this week’s NBA Rookie Rankings.
Keep in mind that these rankings will reflect a rookie’s performance on a week-to-week basis only, and not the collective season. These are not Rookie of the Year standings. With that straightened out, here is a look at the top-performing rookies around the league.
After starting the season slow in part because of an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for five of the first six games of his rookie campaign, Cunningham has started to consistently show flashes of why he was taken with the No. 1 overall pick. This past week he was doing a little bit of everything: scoring, grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists and being engaged on defense, which resulted in some timely steals. His 13-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple-double — the first of his young NBA career — against the Lakers was overshadowed by the altercation that broke out between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart, but Cunningham had a solid all-around game:
He’s shown a great deal of improvement as the season chugs along, but his efficiency remains the area that needs the most work, as he’s shooting just 35 percent on the season and 25.3 percent from deep.
Giddey’s been one of the most entertaining rookies to watch this season, and he’s quickly shown himself to be a reliable backcourt mate next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The way he processes the game has been a delight to watch because he never seems rushed or sped up by the defense, and he’s always poised when he has the ball in his hands — something that can’t be said about a lot of rookies. He’s had games where he’s come close to putting up triple-doubles on several occasions, showing that as time goes on he has the potential to rack up those stats with regularity. But his passing specifically has been the standout gem of his game this season so far: