Paolo Banchero still on top

Paolo Banchero still on top

The 2022-23 NBA season is fast approaching as we begin February. All eyes are on All-Star Weekend and the upcoming Feb. 9 trade deadline as teams try to find the final pieces of their puzzles. While some organizations scrutinize the market, others have the future in their hands with their recruits like the Orlando Magic with Paolo Banchero. That means it’s time to update the NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

The NBA Draft 2022 class is already making its presence felt across the league. Although they still have a lot to prove, some of these players are already among the best in their teams. If they continue to grow, the future of the NBA looks bright.

That being said, here are the latest NBA Rookie Power Rankings as we approach the 2023 trade deadline.

Previous NBA Rookie Power Ranking: January 2 | November 30 | November, 1st

1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Paolo Banchero entered the season full of expectations as the No. 1 pick. The former Duke Blue Devil made a big first impression with 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in Game 1 of the Magic season against the Detroit Pistons. He became the first rookie since LeBron James in 2003 to register at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in his NBA debut.

For the season, Banchero is averaging 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He shoots 42.9% from the field, 30.6% from the 3-point line and 75.9% on his free throw attempts. He currently leads the Magic in points and minutes per game.

Banchero is headlining the 2023 Jordan Rising Stars and even finished seventh in the Eastern Conference frontcourt in voting for the All-Star Game as a starter. Notably, he ranked higher than former All-Stars Bam Adebayo and Julius Randle.

2. Benoit Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Selected No. 6 in the 2022 draft, Bennedict Mathurin is closest to Banchero in most NBA Power rookie rankings. The Arizona product is second in most rookie statistics, trailing only Banchero. The Indiana Pacers are currently in the qualifying tournament zone despite once being projected to finish bottom of the standings, which could certainly help Mathurin’s case for the Rookie of the Year award.

He has 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He makes 42.6% of his field goals, 32.3% of his 3-pointers and 82.3% of his free throws. Mathurin is currently the Pacers’ second leading scorer, only behind Tyrese Haliburton. He was selected as Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in November after averaging 19.2 points on 40.3% 3-point shooting.

For his performances, Mathurin is not only a candidate for Rookie of the Year but also for the Sixth Man of the Year trophy. Of his 52 appearances so far, he has come off the bench in 46 of them.

3. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

Instead of selecting Jaden Ivey, the Sacramento Kings shocked the league by selecting Keegan Murray. Despite the doubts surrounding it, it seems the Kings nevertheless made a good choice. After winning the Summer League MVP title, Murray quickly became an important part of the team, earning a starting spot just two games into the season.

The Iowa product is averaging 12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and one assist. He managed 44.4% of his field goal attempts, 41.3% of his 3-pointers and 78.7% of his free throws. The power forward is part of the surprising Sacramento team that is 29-21 and third in the Western Conference. The team could finally return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and Murray is a big part of that as he continues to solidify his place in these NBA Rookie Power rankings.

4. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

Widely projected as the fourth pick in the 2022 draft, Ivey has dropped to No. 5. So far, he appears to be a steal for the Detroit Pistons. He displays good vision and good play as he leads the rookie class with 4.5 assists per game.

The former Purdue Boilermaker is recording 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He shoots 41.5% from the field, 31.8% from outside the arc and 72.5% from the free throw line. With Cade Cunningham out with a season-ending injury, Ivey is getting more contact and showing he could be the right backcourt partner for the No. 1 pick of 2021 going forward.

5. Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Although the team is in a rebuilding phase, the Oklahoma City Thunder are only 1.5 games away from a place in a qualifying tournament. With No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren missing all season, another rookie ended up having more opportunities to impress alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Selected at No. 12 from Santa Clara, Jalen Williams is emerging for OKC as he secured a starting role less than two months into his rookie campaign.

The shooter is recording 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He made 50.8% of his baskets, 31.7% of his 3 points and 75.3% of his free throws. He’s the only player outside of the top 10 in the Class of 2022 to average double-digit scoring, earning him last place in these NBA Rookie Power rankings.

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