Welcome back to our weekly rookie rankings. With 2016 behind us, we now enter a new year where some rookies hope for a fresh start. This week Brooklyn Nets guard, Isaiah Whitehead, cracks his way into our top-five. Remember to check back with us every week to see where we rank this year’s draft class.
1. Joel Embiid, Center, Philadelphia 76ers
Just when we thought Embiid could not add another aspect to his already polished offensive repertoire; he has now become a 3-point threat for the Sixers, he is shooting 38.6 percent from behind the arc. His ability to stretch the floor should give the Sixers easier opportunities to find easy baskets. Embiid is averaging 19.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game this season. Only Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson have finished a rookie season with that stat line.
2. Malcolm Brogdon, Guard, Milwaukee Bucks
The month of December was a good one for Brogdon; he shot 50.6 percent from the field and 51.6 from three-point land. He has scored in double figures in his last three games including a triple-double against the Chicago Bulls when he finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. He has shown that he might be the best steal of the draft after being selected in the second round.
3. Dario Saric, Forward, Philadelphia 76ers
Even though the frontcourt of the Sixers has been a traffic jam, Saric has played at least 25 minutes in three of the last four games. In last Friday’s win over the Denver Nuggets, he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Even though his shooting percentage has decreased to 36.4 percent on the season, he still ranks second in scoring and rebounds among rookies.
4. Isaiah Whitehead, Guard, Brooklyn Nets
Whitehead has been a really nice addition for the rebuilding Nets. He is averaging a 6.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. In his last seven appearances, including a 12-point six rebound game against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, he has shot an impressive 54.2 percent from the field. If he keeps playing like the way he has he will find himself being among the better rookies of this year’s class.
5. Brandon Ingram, Forward, Los Angeles Lakers
Although Ingram has struggled offensively this season, the trust Luke Walton places in him because of everything else he does keeps him as an overall positive. He only shot 34.1 percent from the field in December, which is nearly identical to his 34.5 season average. He has especially struggled from the behind the arc, shooting a woeful 24.1 percent. Hopefully he can start fresh in 2017 and starts to play the way fans had hoped for.
Honorable Mention: Pascal Siakam, Jamal Murray, and Buddy Hield