Quote by Rookie & Sophomore Nba ladder – Week 1

04/11/2016

First issue of our weekly Nba rookie and sophomore ladder here at NcaaBasketball. The focus is on the 2015 rookie class, with the players now in their second year. This ranking considers all games played through Wednesday, November 2nd. Before we roll with the ladder, a quick word on who was left out of the top 5.

Nikola Jokic finished his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets as the third best rookie in the league behind Towns and Porzingis. Both in preseason and in this first week coach Mike Malone decided to start a big line-up with both Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, a duo with huge potential if they ever manage to complement each other but that gave poor results in the small sample of minutes from last season. Things did improve, but not enough to crack the top 5 here, and the 50-point performance by Anthony Davis in the season opener did not help.

Devin Booker finished a rookie season to remember with the Phoenix Suns and was included in the All Rookie First Team, but the team isn’t really interested in getting wins. Booker just turned 20 and the Suns have two more teenagers at roster, they aim for the future – and for a lottery seed next June. Other members of the same draft class have prominent roles with their respective franchises while Booker is still an incredibly young and talented and inconsistent volume shooter who is totally ineffective on the defensive end. And that must be taken into account.

Justise Winslow was supposed to take a big step towards stardom, a much needed development after the Miami Heat lost Dwayne Wade in free agency. He was expected to show a more well rounded offensive game and maybe some progress on his jump shot, but that did not happen, or not in any relevant measure anyway. Of course, if he will have a prominent role with a Heat team on the way to a playoff seed, he will be back in the mix. Just not yet.

5 – D’Angelo Russell, G, Los Angeles Lakers

Coach Luke Walton cured D’Angelo Russell of plenty of his biggest issues and he looks really better on the court. The starting unit that includes Russell has a +5.4 Net Rating, as opposed to a team overall Net Rating of -7.6, and the team is much better when he and Julius Randle share the court. Last season he showed he could post-up smaller guards and that is happening again, although not as often as one would think. But the Lakers stayed in the game against all of their opponents, including in a loss against the Thunder that seems much worse than what it really was. The only bad loss was the Pacers game, where foul troubles and injuries were a big factor.

4 – Jonathon Simmons, F, San Antonio Spurs

Maybe Simmons should not be part of this ladder. In the end, he is a 27-year-old sophomore. But his impact off the bench was huge for the Spurs, and it goes way beyond the opening night win against the Warriors. He did score 20 points in that game and San Antonio took the lead when he and Patty Mills subbed into the game and never looked back, but he has been great on defense and when coach Greg Popovich pares him with Kawhi Leonard the Spurs are putting up best-in-the-league numbers on defense. In fact, despite coming off the bench, when the game is on the line he is on the court, as it happened with the game against Miami.

3 – Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks

The best part of the New York Knicks in this first week, he seems to be much improved from last season. He is more at ease on offense, with the team even running plays specifically designed for him, and he seemed to have good chemistry on the floor with Joakim Noah. He averaged 18 points and 6 rebounds in his first three games. Everything was ready for KP to take over in New York. Then, team president Phil Jackson thought the team was not running enough sets from the Triangle Offense and suggested to his coach to make a few changes, and Porzingis found himself out of the flow of the offense. New York is a dysfunctional franchise, has been so for years, and might be wasting a huge talent and its only hope for the future.

2 – Karl-Anthony Towns, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

KAT dominated the Rookie of the Year race last season and he will most likely be back at the top of his draft class quite soon, but for now, the Timberwolves have to prove they can win a few games that actually matters. As scary as it sounds, he is greatly improved when compared to last season, and he will be part of every highlights every game with some astonishing move, just like the one below.  It is just a matter of time, and the Ricky Rubio injury might speed things up with a usage increase, before he takes over the team and the entire league.

1 – Myles Turner, PF, Indiana Pacers

There are plenty of reasons to justify Turner being number one, and not all of them are because of what Turner did. In no particular order, Turner played more games then Towns, and that must be taken into account when the total is three or four games. He played as well as Towns, at least in the wins, and only had one truly bad game in the Nets loss. He was effective on both sides of the floor, with a superstar performance in the opening night win against Dallas, while the loss had a lot more to do with collective defensive meltdowns than a single player’s fault. It is even surprising that the team is still playing at such a high level with a sub-par offense that raises a few questions on coach Nate McMillan. Yet, the Pacers are a better team compared to the Timberwolves as of right now, and coach Tom Thibodeau‘s team has to learn to play through Towns in crunch time of close games. Memphis rested most of its frontcourt in the Minnesota lone win. And finally, Turner started the season surrounded by questions on his expanded role, but proved that he can handle the responsibilities, especially on defense. He is the biggest surprise of the season and he should be rewarded for it.