Along with our Race to the MVP Ladder, the first week of December marks the beginning of Dime’s Rookie Ladder. So far it’s been quite an interesting year for this rookie class. There are underachievers and overachievers; some are struggling, and others are just coasting through. Much of finding your rhythm depends a factor you can’t control — like what team you get drafted to — and then there’s also that old injury bug to contend with.
Some players have flourished in the absence of their team’s best player, while others have struggled in the same situation being given more latitude to make plays. Cleveland’s Dion Waiters has stepped up with Kyrie Irving out with injury, but Bradley Beal hasn’t really been able to do the same for his Wizards in the absence of John Wall. We expected New Orleans’ Austin Rivers to get off to a better start, but he’s been struggling in the absence of Eric Gordon and fellow rookie Anthony Davis.
There are a lot of factors that can cause movement on the Rookie Ladder, but the main one is minutes. In the MVP race, it’s pretty much assumed that everyone is playing the same minutes. On the rookie ladder that isn’t the case. Those who play the most are usually going to produce the most, and getting minutes isn’t always guaranteed as a rookie. Guys such as Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb haven’t even gotten their turn yet in Oklahoma City.
It’s a long season and in the oncoming months there will be some surprises. Stay tuned because it’s shaping up to be a great race to the Rookie of the Year this season.
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10. JONAS VALANCIUNAS (8.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg) MPG – 23.6
Valanciunas has been proving himself so far in Toronto. He’s solidified his spot in the rotation by having solid games. He’s also shown he’s capable of having big nights, and he fits perfectly into Toronto’s system. So far he’s recorded three double-doubles and although he isn’t exactly a savage on the glass, he makes up for Andrea Bargnani’s lack of aggression. If he can begin to deliver on a consistent basis, Valanciunas could rise up the rookie ladder quickly.