After roughly a week in the NBA, some rookies have already started making an impact. Though some have only played sparingly so far, others have taken on significant roles with their team. Additionally, some rookies have actually been with a team for multiple seasons, but are just seeing the court now (cough, cough, Philadelphia).
Leading the rookie class in points per game so far this season is Joel Embiid. This is great news for 76ers fans, as they have waited what seems like years for Embiid to finally hit the court. Embiid has managed to average 17.3 PPG while on a minutes restriction, which also means he is one of the most efficient scorers in the rookie class. There’s also more good news for Philly, as Dario Saric is the second leading scorer with 10.3 PPG. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Philadelphia doesn’t exactly have anyone else that they can play. Coming in third is the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who is averaging 8 PPG so far.
It should be no surprise that the rebounding category is also headed by Joel Embiid, who goes into tonight’s action averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. The big man towers over the other members of the rookie class, and he’s been a huge help for Philadelphia. Up next on the list is 6’9” power forward and fellow Cameroonian Pascal Siakam. Taken by the Raptors in the first round, Siakam has helped increase size on a team that just lost Bismack Biyombo. Much like the 76ers had 2 of the top 3 rookie scorers, Toronto also has 2 of the top 3 rebounders, with Jakob Poetl taking the third spot.
Minutes, perhaps, are the most important number as the season transpires for rookies. Minutes indicate how much a team relies on you, and some of these teams will need to rely on their rookies a lot. Andrew Harrison currently leads all rookies in minutes with 31 per game, but is only scoring 7.3 PPG. Harrison was drafted in 2015 by the Phoenix Suns and traded to the Grizzlies, where he spent his entire first season playing for the Iowa Energy of the D-League. Dario Saric is next in minutes, averaging 28.4. The Turkish player has been in professional basketball for several years overseas, but is now finally getting his first crack at the NBA. Rounding out the top 3 is Wade Baldwin, also a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Baldwin and Harrison are in a minutes battle of sorts, but both have been playing frequently thus far.
Overall, this rookie class still needs a lot of time to develop. Later in the season, we could see Ben Simmons hit the court, and he should be spectacular. Additionally, there’s always a group of rookies taken in later rounds that eventually get their chance to shine. Embiid is the best so far out of the gate, but his long-term health is still in question and the 76ers are treating that situation very carefully. As the season continues, we will continue to monitor the rookie class and see how they develop.