Top 10 NBA Rookie Rankings, Part 3
By Kohl Rast
2. Kyle Kuzma
(Last month’s ranking: 3)
If Lauri Markkanen is the player that I was the most wrong about going into the draft, then Kyle Kuzma is the player that the most people were wrong about. There are players that defy odds in almost every NBA Draft, but it is rarely as immediate as Kuzma’s effect has been on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kuzma has been impressive in a lot of aspects of the game, but primarily on the offensive end. His scoring, rebounding, and assist numbers have all been impressive to say the least and his shooting percentages have been impressive in their own right. All of this from a guy who played three years at the University of Utah with little recognition.
Kuzma deserves all the praise he has gotten this season. Although the Lakers have not been very good this year, Kuzma is quickly proving to be a key piece in the rebuild and will continue to be a focal point for their offense.
Kuzma’s stats: 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg
1. Donovan Mitchell
(Last month’s ranking: 2)
Donovan Mitchell is putting together a heck of a rookie campaign with the Utah Jazz. Despite starting the season with some really rough numbers, he has turned on the jets and is now leading all rookies in scoring, as well as completely taken over as the lead man for a team that could be in the playoff race. That is something really impressive.
As far as improvements for Mitchell go, there is not a whole lot that can be changed. He definitely could round out his game a little bit with more rebounds and assists, but his pure scoring and his solid defense have been key catalysts to the Jazz, who are missing All-Star center, Rudy Gobert. As scary as it is, Mitchell will probably continue to improve the rest of the season.
Mitchell takes the number one ranking for this top 10, although most rookie reports are going to include a guy named Ben Simmons. I haven’t included him up to this point because I believe rookies should be graded by their draft class, but if Simmons was in this post, I still think Mitchell would be ranked ahead of him. He is my midseason pick for Rookie of the Year.
Mitchell’s stats: 18.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg
Next: Ranking the NBA's Top 10 Rookies After Month Two
Another month down, another rookie ranking down. Although Donovan Mitchell has taken the spotlight after the month of December, anything can happen over the next few months. Tune in at the start of February to see where the rookies have moved from the first month of 2018.