NBA Rookie Rankings Vol. 3: Evan Mobley continues his place atop rankings

Detroit Bad Boys

Welcome to Vol. 3 of our NBA Rookie Rankings! The time has come to see how the rookie class stacks up after another month of data. Vol. 3 does not disappoint.

If you missed Vols. 1 & 2, or want a refresher on where players ranked, you can find Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 here and here. (If you want a more comprehensive deep dive on the methodology used to derive these rankings you might also consider clicking on those links).

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.
  • Because we finally have enough games played we are also going to introduce a new criteria—players on the list must have played at least 25 games as of the time of this writing. This will help reduce any outliers due to a small sample size. (Think Jalen Suggs who is injured or a rookie who played in a single game and scored 20 points, 5 assists, etc).
  • 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.”

One of the main reasons it is beneficial to review the data this way is it takes all the volume and efficiency data into account when deriving the rankings. Additionally, it normalizes things that we may subjectively put too much stock into. For example, if player A averages 35 points a game, but has horrible shooting splits, a bad defensive rating, and doesn’t impact the game in a meaningful way in other statistical categories, that player is likely to find himself near the bottom of our rankings.

Conversely, a player averaging 10 PPG, 6 ASTs, 5 REB, 1 TOV, who shoots efficiently from the floor and plays good defense will likely find himself near the top of our rankings.

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

Player G MP FG% 3P% FT% FGA 3PA PTS TRB AST TOV STL BLK
Player G MP FG% 3P% FT% FGA 3PA PTS TRB AST TOV STL BLK
Scottie Barnes 33 35.5 0.476 0.308 0.714 403 78 14.5 7.9 3.5 1.91 1.03 0.88
Evan Mobley 35 34.2 0.506 0.294 0.713 423 51 14.9 8.1 2.7 1.86 0.83 1.71
Cade Cunningham 32 32.4 0.390 0.321 0.848 474 218 15.5 5.8 5.3 3.75 1.31 0.59
Franz Wagner 43 32.3 0.455 0.358 0.848 560 151 15.7 4.7 2.9 1.60 1.00 0.51
Josh Giddey 36 30.6 0.404 0.280 0.681 423 143 11.5 7.3 6.4 2.83 1.06 0.47
Jalen Green 29 30.3 0.391 0.306 0.821 373 186 15 3.2 2.2 2.41 0.55 0.17
Herbert Jones 39 28.8 0.487 0.387 0.824 271 62 8.8 3.7 1.9 1.08 1.46 0.97
Chris Duarte 35 28.5 0.429 0.343 0.688 403 181 12.9 3.9 2.1 1.69 1.03 0.14
Davion Mitchell 39 24.6 0.383 0.290 0.647 368 145 8.9 2.3 3.1 0.95 0.64 0.28
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 37 22.8 0.412 0.341 0.692 238 123 7.2 5.6 0.9 0.84 0.51 0.32

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
3 Cade Cunningham 32 32.4 49.3 25.6 27.9 109.3
6 Jalen Green 29 30.3 51.9 23.1 12.1 116.2
5 Josh Giddey 36 30.6 46.7 21.2 33.8 111.3
4 Franz Wagner 43 32.3 54.7 21 14.4 110.5
8 Chris Duarte 35 28.5 56.2 20.9 10.5 107.3
1 Scottie Barnes 33 35.5 53.6 20.1 14.6 108
2 Evan Mobley 35 34.2 53.5 19.4 12.4 102.2
9 Davion Mitchell 39 24.6 45.2 18.2 19.3 106.9
10 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 37 22.8 51.9 14.5 6.1 111.7
7 Herbert Jones 39 28.8 57.2 13 9.2 108

Rookie Ranking Vol. 3 (Updated thru Jan. 15)

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 4 1 5 3 6 4 3.8
2 Franz Wagner 1 6 8 2 4 8 4.8
3 Scottie Barnes 5 2 9 1 7 6 5.0
4 Cade Cunningham 2 4 2 8 10 5 5.2
5 Chris Duarte 6 7 7 6 5 1 5.3
6 Davion Mitchell 8 10 1 9 2 3 5.5
7 Herbert Jones 9 8 4 4 3 6 5.7
8 Josh Giddey 7 3 10 6 9 2 6.2
9 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 10 5 3 10 1 9 6.3
10 Jalen Green 3 9 6 5 8 10 6.8

Takeaways from Vol. 3

Not a lot of change at the top. Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley makes his second consecutive finish as the leader of the rookie class, and the top-4 players from Vol. 2 remain top-4 in Vol. 3. However, strong play from Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner has pushed him to his highest ranking on the season at No. 2 overall, passing the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes.

The two areas that keep the Detroit Pistons’ No. 1 pick, Cade Cunningham from topping the list are the two areas we’ve harped on the last two editions—shooting efficiency and turnovers. Cade continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, and until he improves in that area over a large enough set of games, he is going to continue find himself behind this group of players.

Focusing on the group as a whole, I stand by my statement in Vol. 1—this class is really good. Wagner and Giddey have assimilated to the NBA game quicker than I think most of us would have predicted. Mobley has been even better than advertised, and despite utilization changes with Scottie Barnes, he has displayed the immense potential the Raptors saw in him when they took him No. 4 overall. And we haven’t even begun to discuss Jalen Green whose been on a nice pace since returning from injury.

The Magics’ Jalen Suggs was exciting before his injury, and Indiana Pacers Chris Duarte and Sacramento Kings Davion Mitchell have both shown that they belong.

As the rookie class continues to mature, I think we are going to look back at this talented group of players and consider them one of the better classes we’ve seen.

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