Through roughly one month of NBA basketball, there isn’t much certainty around the league. A shorter preseason coupled with historic spikes in pace seem to have added more variance than ever, and it’s too early to tell whether the Celtics will really have a top-five defense all year long. Nobody knows what’s happening with the Cavs. It’s impossible to say whether the Wolves are good or bad. The Thunder are either in team-meeting mode or blowing teams out, and so on.
One early trend that appears to be sustainable, though: whether it’s Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, or Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball in L.A., we are going to spend the entire year talking about the rookies.
This is one of the deepest classes of rookie talent the NBA has ever seen, and every night, one of them pops up around the league to steal the spotlight. So to help process what’s happening, and celebrate this windfall for basketball fans and draft nerds, here is the first installment of our semi-regular rookie rankings. Let’s begin.