NBA Rookie Rankings: Coby White’s historic scoring week puts him above the rest of his peers


Even though there’s roughly 25 games left in the regular season, there seems to be a debate bubbling to the surface over who should win Rookie of the Year. Whether it’s just fodder at this point in the season or a legitimate conversation being had, it’s worth taking a closer look. Ja Morant has been the front-runner for the award pretty much from the start of the season. He’s been the most consistent rookie this year, and if the Grizzlies can hold on to the No. 8 seed in the West, it will just be something else to add to his rookie resume. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds and has been absolutely electrifying all season. 

It’s not usual to see a player enter the ROY race so late into the season, but this is not your typical rookie. Despite missing the first 44 games of the season, Zion Williamson has bulldozed himself into the conversation. He’s been an absolute problem since his debut in late January and has lived up to the hype completely. He’s a bully in the post, his athleticism looks unbothered by the knee surgery he had at the start of the season and he’s been the reason why the Pelicans suddenly look to challenge the Grizzlies for the final seed in the West playoffs. 

If Zion can will New Orleans to the playoffs, it would only add more reason to consider him for the award. However, taking it away from Morant at this point in the season when he’s been consistent all year long would be criminal. If Williamson had been healthy from the start, then there would be a legitimate debate to be had, but it’s a little too late now. Still, it’s an interesting conversation to have.

These rankings will reflect a rookie’s performance on a week-to-week basis, not the collective season, so these aren’t Rookie of the Year standings. For a look at last week’s rankings, click here. With that straightened out, here are the latest Rookie Power Rankings for the 2019-20 season.

Last week: Unranked

Highlight of the week: White’s 35-point performance in the tight loss to the Thunder on Tuesday was the perfect ending to an absurd scoring spree he’s had over the past week. What’s most impressive about his outburst is his efficiency through his three straight 30-plus point games. He caught fire from 3-point range this week and never slowed down, and it didn’t matter what defender was on him. The Bulls did everything they could to set screens and create some space for White, and as soon as he set up his shot it was almost guaranteed to go in. He became the first rookie in NBA history to score 30 points off the bench in three straight games, adding to the evidence that Chicago coach Jim Boylen should toy around with the idea of moving him into the starting lineup given all the injuries the Bulls are dealing with. They really have nothing to lose. White can catch fire in an instant; the next step is seeing if he can sustain that for an extended amount of time, and if he could do it alongside Zach LaVine in the starting lineup.  

Last week: 2

Highlight of the week: In the 13 games Williamson has played this season, there hasn’t been a single team that’s been able to slow him down. In his first appearance against LeBron James, he came to play and finished with 29 points, continuing his streak of 20-point games, which is now at nine. As dominant of a force as Williamson has been in the paint, one cause for concern is how things might level off for him. When teams finally crack the code and discover that, aside from his first game where he went 4 for 4 from the field, you don’t have to give his jump shot a ton of respect. Developing a consistent jumper will be vital for his continued development in this league, but for now, brute force will work. 

Last week: Unranked

Highlight of the week: Nunn disappeared recently with some inconsistent play, but this week was a return to form. In the Heat’s lone win of the week, he added 24 points that featured him going 5 of 7 from deep. What will be interesting to watch with Nunn is to see how he responds when the playoffs start. We’ve seen two sides of him this season: the jack-of-all-trades guard who can work with and without the ball in his hands and knock down shots when called upon, and the inefficient player who tends to disappear in games. The Heat will need him to remain consistent throughout the playoffs if they want to be a serious threat to the top teams in the East, and this week was an encouraging sign that he may be returning to the former.    

Last week: 5

Highlight of the week: The Warriors put Poole back in the starting lineup for the first time since November, and it was a mixed bag of results. It’s obvious Poole can score, but his inefficiency is a real problem, especially from 3-point range. Despite averaging 16 points this week, he shot an abysmal 23.8 percent from deep on seven attempts. The surprising thing about Poole’s poor accuracy from 3 is that he was expected to be a deep threat coming out of college. Instead, what he’s lacked in shooting from beyond the arc he’s made up for in his playmaking and 2-point shooting. His assists have steadily climbed, and he’s significantly improved his field goal percentage from the start of the season. Perhaps his 3-point shooting could be helped in the offseason, but at least he’s shown improvement in other areas of his games as the season moves along.

Last week: 1

Highlight of the week: In perhaps the toughest week of Morant’s rookie season, he had to go against the Lakers, Clippers and Rockets. That game against the Lakers was his most polished effort as he shot 70 percent from 3-point range, but he couldn’t showcase all of his playmaking abilities after Jaren Jackson Jr. went down with an injury. Jackson is supposed to miss a significant amount of time, which will give Morant an opportunity to see if he can put this team on his back and keep the Grizzlies afloat in the playoff race as the Blazers and Pelicans are hot on their tails. 

Last week: 6

Highlight of the week: In the Wizards’ only win of the week Hachimura put up 17 points on a super efficient shooting night. He looks to be getting back to the efficiency he displayed before he was sidelined with a groin injury. That’s a positive for a Wizards team that could challenge for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference as they sit 4 1/2 games behind the Orlando Magic. He’s knocking down open 3s, displaying a soft touch around the rim and is establishing some chemistry with Bradley Beal. Regardless if the Wizards make the playoffs this season, they at least know that they got a good player in Hachimura going forward.

Last week: Unranked

Highlight of the week: Melli doesn’t always have standout games for the Pelicans, but every once and a while he’ll explode for 20 points, and it reminds you of the depth New Orleans has. That’s what happened in a win over the Warriors when he went for 20 points and five boards over the worst team in the league. Most nights Melli is just another big body the Pelicans have at their disposal to grab rebounds, but he’s also a threat from 3-point range, too. He managed to connect on over half of his 3s this week, and showed that if you don’t respect his shot he’ll make you pay.

Last week: 7

Highlight of the week: While the Mavericks were preoccupied with trying to keep Trae Young in check, they managed to let Reddish pop off for 20 points in the Hawks win. That’s what Atlanta has wished for all season from Reddish, but has seldom gotten it. If he can replicate that game on a consistent basis, it would do wonders for the Hawks offensively, especially for Young, who is expected to do everything down in Atlanta. 

Last week: Unranked

Highlight of the week: So Barrett announced to the world that he’s actually right-handed in nearly everything he does besides shooting a basketball. Not to help matters, he proceeded to put up just five points while going 2 for 11 from the field in a loss to the Hornets just hours after making that comment. Only the Knicks, right? In all seriousness, though, Barrett did put up 21 points against the Rockets on an efficient night from the floor, but you can’t help but wonder if his shooting numbers would improve if he started shooting with the hand he does literally everything else with. 

Last week: Unranked

Highlight of the week: Garland had a complete game in a win over the Heat where he finished with 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He still has a tendency to be a little erratic when he’s handling the ball, and poor shot selection, but when he’s playing composed it results in games like the one against Miami.

Dropped out

Last week: 9

Last week: 10

Last week: 8

Last week: 3

Last week: 4





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