It’s early, but it’s safe to say 2015 gave us a much better draft class than any of us expected. It’s been both top heavy with stars, and loaded with deep talent, which makes it an important season for rookie rankings!
1. Karl-Anthony Towns — Towns has been fantastic. Dare we even say … he already might be the Wolves’ best player? With Andrew Wiggins on the roster, that’s saying something that he’s even in the conversation. KAT is averaging 16.1 points, 10.5 boards and 2.6 blocks per game in less than 30 minutes, and has already exploded for a 28/14/4 game. This kid is legit.
2. Kristaps Porzingis — Towns may not be a shock at the top of the list, but this guy certainly is. Porzingis’ potential was obvious, but nobody thought he would be making an impact like this right away — 11.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 rejections — while barely playing over half the game. All those predictions of the best player in the draft are looking a lot more promising for ‘Staps now …
3. Jahlil Okafor — Okafor has been a pretty one sided player, as expected, but he’s been that good on the offensive side of the ball. He plays nearly 34 minutes per, but is still producing 20.6 points to go along with nearly seven boards and 1.6 blocks. Clearly Okafor’s production stems from Philly’s lack of a competent roster, but Okafor is already one of the best scoring bigs in the league. That has to count for something.
4. Emmanuel Mudiay — Mudiay is just NBA-ready when it comes to his body and athleticism. He shows Derrick Rose-like flashes at times, and has the potential to be a similar player. Turnovers all killing him, but his improved of late — only three in his last two games. Those also happened to be career games for him: 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and then 16 points and 11 dimes.
5. Justise Winslow — Winslow hasn’t done anything too eye-popping yet, but it’s very clear that he’s going to be a good player. His best game on the offensive end came against the Pacers with 13 points and eight boards, but it’s more what he did on defense, giving Paul George a tough time. Justise has also drawn LeBron on the defensive end already, and stepped right up to the challenge. At No.10 overall, this kid was a steal.
6. D’Angelo Russell — For some reason Byron Scott seems to give Russell a really hard time, so maybe that’s led to some of his inconsistencies. Regardless, it’s not hard to tell Russell is going to be a really good player — I tagged him as the best player in this draft back in June. His averages of 9.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists will get better once he finds his stride on an awkward Lakers squad.
7. Stanley Johnson — Like Russell, Johnson has been wildly inconsistent as have his minutes. But hey, these kids are less than 10 games into their NBA careers after one year in college. Johnson is averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds, but that’s highlighted by a 20-point, seven-rebound game at Golden State. This kid can score, and has great energy on defense.
8. Willie Cauley-Stein — Stop me if you’ve head this one before, but play and minutes have been scattered all over the place for “Trill” so far this season — partially due to DMC’s injury. I’ll keep it short a sweet. WCS posted 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in his second career game on 7-of-8 shooting in 30 minutes. His ceiling is high.
9. T.J. McConnell — Who? This guy wasn’t on anybody’s radar, but count on the Sixers to make him their starting PG. He’s rewarded them, though, and been a pleasant surprise. In his third and fourth NBA games, McConnell had two near triple-doubles, with a combined 24 assists to one turnover. He’s not a star, but McConnell could have a job as a backup PG in the NBA for a long time if he continues his success.
10. Nemanja Bjelica — I won’t pretend I can say his name, but the dude is good. Minnesota just keeps finding good, young pieces, and NM (as we’ll call him) is one of them. He’s averaging 8.8 points and 7.6 rebounds on a surprisingly good Wolves team. His 17-point, 11-rebound, 5-assist game in which he played 40 minutes in a win over the Bulls appears to be no fluke.
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