With the midseason point approaching, it’s been interesting to see which rookies have been able to avoid that rookie wall so far. While January has been a hot month for some of the rookies, others have struggled. While Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Alexey Shved spent the majority of the season on the top half of our rookie ladder, others have outplayed them this month.
Damian Lillard’s been in the top spot all season long, but now he’s closer to getting knocked off than he’s ever been before. Not because he’s been playing any less spectacular than usual (he just put up 37 on the Warriors a few weeks ago) but because both Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters have turned it up lately.
What separates Lillard from the rest of the bunch is his ability to score and distribute at the same time. Waiters and Beal have both proven they can score, and with about three months remaining in the season it will be interesting to see if Lillard wins the NBA Rookie of the Year in the landslide everyone thinks it’s going to be.
Realistically, it’s hard to see anyone stealing the award from him in the late stages of the race, (he is leading the Blazers to a playoff run), but it’s going to be closer than a lot of people make it seem. Here are our rankings for the fifth volume of our Rookie Ladder.
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10. JOHN HENSON – Last week: 9.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.7 bpg
Vol. 4 rank: 8
Henson started off his week with a great game at Toronto, scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. As far as players who flew under the radar this year, John Henson has shown some pretty good potential. He was almost nonexistent in the month of December, only scoring more than two points one time all month, and really only seeing garbage time minutes. However in January, he’s playing up to 18 minutes a game and he’s proven capable of having pretty effective nights.
9. JARED SULLINGER – Last week: 6.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 5.0 pfpg
Vol. 4 rank: 9
Jared Sullinger has finally started to reach his potential. This month, he’s been on a tear, averaging about eight points and nine rebounds. He’s having his best month of the season by far, but the one issue with Sully has been his fouls. He’s already fouled out of five different games this month, and is averaging about five whistles a night. Although he’s been relentless on the glass, he has to tone down his aggressiveness just a tad and learn how to defend bigger players without fouling.