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NBA Rookie Rankings Vol. 4

Barnes and Mobley remain at the top, while Cade tumbles as the list of qualifiers increases

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Vol. 4 of our NBA Rookie Rankings! The time has come to see how the rookie class stacks up after another month of data.

If you missed Vols. 1, 2, or 3, or want a refresher on where players ranked, you can find the previous editions below: (Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3).

Otherwise, we will briefly, describe the methodology below.

Methodology (condensed)

  • Players make the list based on a minutes per game criteria of 20. Any player earning fewer than 20 MPG will not be included in the dataset—even if they made a previous Vol.
  • Players are ranked based on traditional and advanced stats—points, AST%, TS%, rebounding, turnover, and defensive rating.
  • players on the list must have played at least 30 games as of the time of this writing. This will help reduce any outliers due to a small sample size.
  • Lastly, we rank the player against the group in each of these categories and then average their ranking, anointing the player who most consistently finishes at or near the top of our statistical categories as the “leader” or “best rookie.”

Stats for this article, and future articles in the series will be compiled from Basketball Refence’s NBA rookie page and NBA.com’s advanced statistics page.

Let’s hop in!

Traditional Stats

Per Game Stats Ranked by MPG

RK Player G MP TS% USG% AST % DEF RTG
RK Player G MP TS% USG% AST % DEF RTG
1 Scottie Barnes 49 35.4 53.6 18.2 14.2 108.7
2 Evan Mobley 50 34.1 54.7 19.8 11.7 103.6
3 Franz Wagner 60 32 55.7 20.8 14.9 111.3
4 Cade Cunningham 44 31.8 48.9 26.2 27 112.5
5 Josh Giddey 53 31.4 47.8 21.8 32.8 109.1
6 Jalen Green 43 30.4 51.6 22.7 12.5 118
7 Herbert Jones 56 29.9 59.1 13.4 9.9 109.8
8 Chris Duarte 50 28.7 54 20.7 11.4 109.9
9 Jalen Suggs 39 28.2 46.2 24.7 24.4 108
10 Davion Mitchell 53 26 47.8 19.4 20.4 108.9
11 Ayo Dosunmu 54 25.9 61.1 13.1 15.6 111.8
12 Kessler Edwards 28 24.6 48.8 12.8 3.4 114.5
13 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 44 23 50.6 14.6 6.6 110.9
14 Aaron Wiggins 34 22.4 56.1 13.4 7.3 108.1
15 Ziaire Williams 40 21.5 53.5 13.8 5.3 110
17 Austin Reaves 39 21.3 62.6 10.9 7.9 104.2
19 Tre Mann 45 20 49 20.2 8.5 106.4

Advanced Stats Sorted by Usage % (RK indicates MPG rank)

RK Player G MP TS% USG% AST % DEF RTG
RK Player G MP TS% USG% AST % DEF RTG
1 Austin Reaves 39 21.3 62.6 10.9 7.9 104.2
2 Kessler Edwards 28 24.6 48.8 12.8 3.4 114.5
3 Ayo Dosunmu 54 25.9 61.1 13.1 15.6 111.8
4 Herbert Jones 56 29.9 59.1 13.4 9.9 109.8
5 Aaron Wiggins 34 22.4 56.1 13.4 7.3 108.1
6 Ziaire Williams 40 21.5 53.5 13.8 5.3 110
7 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 44 23 50.6 14.6 6.6 110.9
8 Scottie Barnes 49 35.4 53.6 18.2 14.2 108.7
9 Davion Mitchell 53 26 47.8 19.4 20.4 108.9
10 Evan Mobley 50 34.1 54.7 19.8 11.7 103.6
11 Tre Mann 45 20 49 20.2 8.5 106.4
12 Chris Duarte 50 28.7 54 20.7 11.4 109.9
13 Franz Wagner 60 32 55.7 20.8 14.9 111.3
14 Josh Giddey 53 31.4 47.8 21.8 32.8 109.1
15 Jalen Green 43 30.4 51.6 22.7 12.5 118
16 Jalen Suggs 39 28.2 46.2 24.7 24.4 108
17 Cade Cunningham 44 31.8 48.9 26.2 27 112.5

Rookie Ranking Vol. 4 (Updated thru Feb 18th)

overall Rank Player PTS REB AST % TS % TOV DEF RTG Total Average
overall Rank Player PTS REB AST % TS % TOV DEF RTG Total Average
1 Evan Mobley 3 1 9 6 13 1 5.5
2 Scottie Barnes 5 3 7 8 12 6 6.8
3 Franz Wagner 2 6 6 5 10 13 7.0
4 Austin Reaves 17 14 13 1 1 2 8.0
5 Josh Giddey 8 2 1 15 16 8 8.3
6 Herbert Jones 10 9 11 3 9 9 8.5
7 Aaron Wiggins 14 11 14 4 3 5 8.5
8 Chris Duarte 6 8 10 7 11 10 8.7
9 Cade Cunningham 1 5 2 13 17 15 8.8
10 Ayo Dosunmu 12 13 5 2 8 14 9.0
11 Jalen Suggs 7 10 3 17 15 4 9.3
12 Davion Mitchell 9 15 4 15 7 7 9.5
13 Tre Mann 11 16 12 12 5 3 9.8
14 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 14 4 15 11 4 12 10.0
15 Jalen Green 4 12 8 10 14 17 10.8
16 Ziaire Williams 13 17 16 9 2 11 11.3
17 Kessler Edwards 16 7 17 14 6 16 12.7

Takeaways from Vol. 4

With 17 players, Vol. 4 features our largest number of rookies who meet the criteria. This is a seven-player difference from Vol. 3.

The additional players who met criteria had a strong impact on players who have elite strengths, but glaring weaknesses. Take Detroit Pistons No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham for example.

Cade is no. 1 in points, 5 in rebounds, and 2 in assist percentage. However, he is 13, 17, and 15 in true shooting, turnovers, and defensive rating. Now, for those who have been with us since Vol. 1, we all know that Cade has been near the bottom of the rankings in these categories all season. However, the list of players who met criteria has been much lower in past iterations in comparison to Vol. 4.

Since Cade now ranks near the bottom of a 17 player list in these categories, his total rank average is much lower than before. This is one of the problems with taking a strict data approach in evaluating success of a player. Cade has arguably the toughest role of any rookie due to the enormous responsibility on his shoulders as the primary initiator of the offense, and to make matters worse, he has perhaps the worst supporting cast.

This, of course, leads to a great deal of inefficiency.

However, the data is what it is, and the data says Cade puts up good numbers on poor efficiency on a bad team.

Conversely, players without large swings in the chosen categories tend to benefit from this model of evaluation. For example, the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes ranks no higher than third in any category and no worse than 12th, which is why he grades out just below the Cleveland Cavaliers Evan Mobley.

While its obvious that the Indiana Pacers’ Chris Duarte, Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green, and Cunningham are better than Austin Reaves (who ranks higher in this model than any of these players), it is noteworthy that Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner all rank in the top-5. In spite of the obvious omission of Cade, I think most would agree that those rookies belong in the top-5 this season.

If I had a vote for rookie of the year, I would vote for Cade. Not because I am a Pistons fan, but because he has arguably the most difficult job of all the rookies, and his impact on his team’s performance is second to none (though Mobley is a close second).

Nonetheless, analyzing the data this way illustrates player’s strengths and weakness, and how noticeable those strengths and weaknesses are in contrast to their rookie counterparts.