The NBA Rookie of the Year career begins to heat up as we approach the middle of the season.
What started as a two-man race with Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley leading the way has turned into a sprint that includes Cade Cunningham and the likes of Franz Wagner and Josh Giddey entering the conversation.
This is where you are the day after Christmas.
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NBA rookie ladder
1. Scottie Barnes, Raptors
Barnes remains ROY’s favorite this season, right now. That might change the next time we do this survey, but it may also not.
Barnes has had a few moments that remind us that he is still a rookie, but that he has been the most impressive rookie to date. Evan Mobley has a case to be made here, but unfortunately for him, the league’s health and safety protocols set him a bit late.
2. Cade Cunningham, Pistons
Cunningham is finding out. After starting the season slowly, he is beginning to find his way into the NBA.
In his last 10 games, Cunningham is averaging 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from 3-point range. The Pistons are still struggling to find victories and there are trade rumors surrounding the club’s favorite player, Jerami Grant, but they have something in Cunningham that they can build for the future.
3. Evan Mobley, Cavaliers
It pains me to put Mobley at No. 3, but he missed a couple of games last week in the protocols so I had to drop him.
Mobley has been everything the Cavs have wanted and more. Its versatility might be underrated at this point. He’s not afraid to play inside or outside, which has given Cleveland a chance to play lineups that probably wouldn’t make much sense on paper.
If Cleveland can stay in the top four teams in the East, Mobley will get his fair share of first-place votes.
4. Franz Wagner, Magic
If you’re a League Pass addict like me, you already know that the main reason to watch Magic games this year is to enjoy Wagner.
Wagner is averaging 15.0 points per game, which is good for third-place among rookies, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from deep. There is a gap between the trio at the top and Wagner, but that gap is narrowing with each passing game.
5. Josh Giddey, Thunder
Giddey leads all rookies in assists per game with 6.0. In my opinion, he’s already gone from being known as the best passer in the class to one of the best passers in the league. OKC is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league right now and their offense leaves a lot to be desired, but once Giddey has more talent around him, he should be near the top of the league in assists per game.