The 2021 NBA Rookie Class is proving to exceed expectations in the early part of the season.
With the first overall pick, Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons, and the seventh overall pick Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors making their delayed rookie debuts, twenty-nine of the thirty first-round selections have played at least one game.
Rookies that are Making their First Impression Count
Earlier this week, Houston Rockets Jalen Green was the early favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year honors.
Green had a performance to remember against the Boston Celtics as he scored 30 points while making eight three-point shots as he joined elite company in many different categories.
However, it looks like the road will not be easy as other members in his class have been tough on opposing defenders.
Many around the league have been concerned about how the Cleveland Cavaliers, mainly Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will coexist with each other.
Through just six games in the regular season, Mobley has proven to establish a key role in the organization as he leads the league in contesting the most shots on defense. Opposing players in which he was assigned to defend have a 44.7 percent field goal percentage that is good for tenth in that category.
This may come as a surprise to many executives around the league, Franz Wagner may be the better draft pick as the Orlando Magic used their second lottery pick (via Bulls).
Wagner has shot 46.3 percent from behind the arc and has shown the ability that he can drive to the rim with ease.
The Indiana Pacers may be off to a bad start this season, but the oldest player that was selected in the draft Chris Duarte shoots 42.3 percent from the three-point line.
He has also shown that he can be a solid defender as he averages 0.9 steals per game.
Josh Giddey of the Oklahoma City Thunder might have had the best single-game performance last week as he had a double-double, 18 points, and 10 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers in their comeback win.
Giddey, who spent time in Australia is showing his critics that he can thrive in this league.
Scottie Barnes is Making an Early Statement
There’s also an impression that rookies struggle on defense to begin their careers.
With Scottie Barnes helping on both the offensive and defensive end, the Toronto Raptors may have playoff aspirations once again.
Barnes is averaging 18.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 55.1 percent from the field.
His field goal percentage ranks fourth in the entire league. The Raptors may have the right decision by taking him over Jalen Suggs in the draft.
When the two rookies faced off against each other, Barnes had 21 points, 9 rebounds, and shot 9-14 from the field.
Barnes averages approximately 14 shots per game which sits right behind Kevin Durant’s numbers.
The shots that Barnes has been taking have not been easy as he shoots around traffic and makes heavily contested shots.
At his size, he has shown to be a versatile defender for his position as he has 19 deflections which rank in the top 20 in that category.
As Scottie Barnes rises to the top spot in the NBA Rookie Ladder, do you think Jalen Green will be the favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year as Scottie Barnes is slightly ahead of Green in the standings?