Resetting the NBA Rookie of the Year race: Is Paolo Banchero still on top?

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Jan 20, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) runs up the court during the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero took an early lead in the Rookie of the Year race but is he still in the top spot after an absolutely brutal shooting slump?

Paolo Banchero was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and pretty much put himself at the top of the Rookie of the Year rankings from opening night on. But he’s also in the midst of a terrible shooting slump, making just a single 3-pointer in the entire month of February, and several other rookies who started slowly have been coming on strong.

Who is leading the NBA Rookie of the Year race as the playoffs approach?

5. Keegan Murray — Sacramento Kings

Murray hasn’t been the best rookie in the league this season but he’s probably been the most consistent of the high-end performers. He played 32 minutes and scored 19 points in the Kings’ second game of the season and has basically been a fixture in the starting rotation ever since.

Murray is averaging 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, hitting 41.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s. Having his floor spacing from the 4 position has helped open the floor for Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter and really elevated the Kings’ offense. He’s still just scratching the surface of what he can do and has a lot of untapped versatility and upside for the Kings top tap over the next few seasons. But he’s already a key starter on a team that’s currently top-three in the Western Conference. The Kings couldn’t have asked for much more than that from his rookie season.

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