The NBA’s Rookie of the Year race is starting to heat up as we approach the halfway mark of the season.
What began as a two-man race with Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley leading the way has turned into a sprint that includes Cade Cunningham and the likes of Franz Wagner and Josh Giddey entering the conversation.
Here is where it stands the day after Christmas.
NBA Rookie Ladder
1. Scottie Barnes, Raptors
Barnes is still the front-runner for ROY this season — right now. That could change the next time we do this poll, but it also may not.
Barnes has had some moments that remind us he’s still a rookie but he’s been the most impressive rookie to date. Evan Mobley has a case to be here, but unfortunately for him, he’s been slowed down a bit by the league’s health and safety protocols.
2. Cade Cunningham, Pistons
Cunningham is figuring it out. After starting the season slowly, he’s starting to find his way in the NBA.
In his last 10 games, Cunningham is averaging 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from 3-point range. The Pistons are still struggling to find wins and there are trade rumors swirling around the club’s go-to player Jerami Grant, but they have something in Cunningham that they can build around for the future.
3. Evan Mobley, Cavaliers
It pains me to put Mobley at No. 3, but he missed a couple games this past week in protocols so I had to drop him down a peg.
Mobley has been everything the Cavs have wanted and more. His versatility might be underrated at this point. He’s not afraid to play inside or outside, which has given Cleveland the opportunity to play lineups that on paper probably wouldn’t make a ton of sense.
If Cleveland can remain amongst the top four teams in the East, Mobley will get his fair share of first-place votes.
4. Franz Wagner, Magic
If you’re a League Pass junky like me, you already know that the main reason to watch Magic games this year is to enjoy Wagner.
Wagner is averaging 15.0 points per game, which is good for third amongst rookies, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from deep. There is a gap between the trio at the top and Wagner, but that gap is shrinking with every passing game.
5. Josh Giddey, Thunder
Giddey is leading all rookies in assists per game with 6.0. In my opinion, he’s already graduated from being known as the best passer in the class to one of the best passers in the league. OKC is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league right now and its offense leaves a lot to be desired, but once Giddey has more talent around him, he should regularly be near the top of the league in assists per game.
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