We’re now a month into the NBA season and (so far) it’s fair to say that 2017 has featured the best class of fresh faces the NBA has seen in years.
Now, It’s a little early but it may not be a stretch to say this group of guys could reach 2003 draft class levels. Yes, these players are that special.
Five newcomers are averaging at least 14 PPG and nine different players are scoring in double digits. This is just a ladder of five guys but there’s easily about 10 to 15 rooks’ who are making an immediate impact on the biggest stage.
5. Lauri Markkanen
15.6 PPG 44.7 FG% 36.7 3FG% 8.0 REB
Lauri Markkanen may one day embody what the modern NBA is all about. Spacing, spacing, and more spacing. The 7’0 Finnish big man from Arizona entered into a league that will maximize his abilities to the fullest.
Markkanen is shooting 36.7 percent from three and unlike most big man who spread the floor like he does he’s crashing the boards as well averaging 8 rebounds a game.
The Bulls may be terrible right now but they seemingly have a bright player to build around if they play their cards right.. here’s hoping.
4. Dennis Smith Jr.
14.1 PPG 4.2 REB 4.4 AST
To be quite honest here, I was torn on whether or not I should’ve included Dennis Smith Jr on this list. I mean he’s definitely worthy of being somewhere in the top ten but within the top four of the rookie ladder? It’s definitely debatable but regardless he’s here.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Smith will definitely win a slam dunk competition at some point in his career, maybe even this year as he definitely deserves to be a participant.
Smith Jr has shown supreme athleticism and explosiveness through his young career that’s given defenses fits while they struggle to stay in front of him. He has the potential to be one of the best scorers in the league but if he ever wants to solidify on that potential he’ll need to become a much more efficient shooter. 38 percent from the field and 28 from three won’t cut it, especially if he’s to ever be considered to be one of the elite guards in the league.
3. Kyle Kuzma
16.5 PPG 50.7 FG% 6.8 REB
Kyle Kuzma is the best young player the Lakers have. That includes Randle, Ingram, and Lonzo. He’s progressed much more quickly than the other three have and if you wanna include former Lakers Guard D’Angelo Russell on there too then have it.
Kuzma from his rookie season is playing how they expected their other three young stars to play right from the moment they stepped on the floor and that’s saying something because no one expected this out of him.
Kuzma is the first and only rookie this season to score 30 points in a game. Offensively he’s a stud with the potential to be a nightly 25 PPG scorer. If Kyle progresses to be just as solid on the defensive end as he is on the offensive end we could be looking at the best player in this draft class in years to come.
2. Jayson Tatum
13.9 PPG 49.7 FG% 46.0 3FG% 5.8 REB
Jayson Tatum will be one of the best catch and shoot players in the NBA as time progresses. His ability to move without the basketball is already top notch as he’s shooting 52.8 percent on catch and shoot plays and knocking down 46 percent of three pointers.
Tatum may have been drafted into the perfect situation. He’s on the best team in the NBA with a very real chance of dethroning King James in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tatum is primed to be a star offensive player in this league and he along with the presence of Kyrie, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and head coach Brad Stevens will set Boston up to dominate the Eastern Conference for years and years to come.
1. Ben Simmons
18.7 PPG 9.2 REB 7.6 AST 52.3 FG%
There may or may not have been much surprise with Simmons being number one but nonetheless Ben Simmons is the best player of the 2017 rookies.
Already one of the best passers in the league with his court vision, anticipation, and ability to feed teammates in their preferred spots is better than even Lebron James in his rookie campaign.
What’s surprised me most about Simmons is mainly his excellent shooting percentage. Scouts debated for months last year how he would be able to score in the league without a consistent reliable jumpshot but he’s proving he doesn’t need to develop it (yet) because he’s still a consistent efficient scorer without it.
Ben Simmons is undoubtedly the best player in this rookie class and I truly believe the kid is primed for super-stardom in the years to come.