Detroit Pistons: An objective ranking of NBA rookies

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As the regular season comes to a close, the Detroit Pistons’ record makes the present look bleak. But a closer look at what is happening reveals a much brighter future.

Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart are near the top of the Rookie of the Year standings, Killian Hayes has shown a massive amount of potential following his injury rehab, and Saben Lee has shown himself to be a serviceable player already, with the potential to go down as a second-round steal.

But how good are these rookies, really? Bey has been compared to Paul George and Stewart to Motor City legend Ben Wallace. All the rookies are putting up decent or better stats, depending on the player and the category. The only thing this team is lacking is wins, but those will come soon.

The question has to be asked: where do all of Detroit’s rookies rank among all the other rookies from the 2020 draft class?

Detroit Pistons: Ranking the 2020 NBA Rookies

Is there an objective way to determine who is the best? No, there isn’t, but there are ways to come close. I surveyed 100 basketball fans who follow different teams, not just the Detroit Pistons.

I had them rank sixteen statistical categories and assign points to each one based on how important they thought each category was when it came to being “good.” it should be noted, only 96 polls were accepted, as four were incomplete.

The Stats                                                             Points of Importance (out of 100)

Field Goals Made                                                                                   50
Field Goal Percentage                                                                          66
Free Throws Made                                                                                43
Free Throw Percentage                                                                       64
Three-Pointers Made                                                                           51
Three-Point Percentage                                                                      63
Points                                                                                                        63
Assist/Turnover Ratio                                                                          61
Defensive Rebounds                                                                            50
Offensive Rebounds                                                                            50
Total Rebounds                                                                                      55
Assists                                                                                                      67
Steals                                                                                                        47
Blocks                                                                                                       47
Turnovers                                                                                                60
Double-Doubles                                                                                    27

After that, I averaged the number of points each category received and looked at how every rookie stacked up, considering which categories were the most important and by how much.

I was able to rank every single rookie from best to worst in every statistical category and weigh each category by how important the NBA community has deemed it, so the best players in the ranking would be the best at the most important aspects of the game.

As you can see, defense and double-doubles were not highly valued, and shooting percentages and assists were the most coveted statistical categories.

After taking each category and assigning the values given by the 100 fans, it is easy to determine which rookies are the “best.” And it looks very good for the Detroit Pistons! No Pistons are inside the top three, with LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, and Jae’Sean Tate taking the top three spots.

Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey both finished very well. Beef Stew finished fourth overall, and Bey was not far behind at number seven. This is almost a reversal of their latest Rookie Ladder rankings. Saben Lee came in at 19, and the long-injured Killian Hayes came in at 37, although he was one of three players to play less than 20 games and finish in the top 40.

Here are some of the more intriguing rankings.


LaMelo Ball


Tyrese Haliburton


Jae’Sean Tate


Isaiah Stewart


Saddiq Bey


Saben Lee


Killian Hayes

What do these rankings mean? Isaiah Stewart ranks so highly despite defense not being coveted because he is incredibly efficient when it comes to his scoring. He has not been a consistently high-volume scorer, but the shots he does put up tend to go in.

Bey is in a very different situation. His field goal percentage is not great, but he doesn’t take a considerable hit anywhere else. Saben Lee does not put up eye-popping numbers, but he is not a negative asset like a lot of first-year players at this point in their career, so he ranks highly. Hayes finished below average, but it should be noted that his playing time has been incredibly limited and it is far too early to pass judgment on him yet.

The survey I ran allowed me to see past the “major” stats and look at what fans think is important, and look at individual players through that lens.

While most of the basketball world sees Detroit as an afterthought, it is interesting that their priorities put Detroit in a great position moving forward. The Kia Rookie Ladder claims it uses the “eye test.” I am a big believer in the eye test, but with the survey I ran it was totally removed and it was as objective as possible.

The results are mostly the same, so if you’re a stathead or an emotional fan, the Detroit Pistons have a bright future either way.

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