With 2023 officially here, the NBA season is approaching its halfway mark. Teams now have a general idea of where they will be competing at the end of the 2022-23 season. Not only that, rookies are getting noticed and some such as Paolo Banchero look like the future of the league. Below, we'll take a look at the NBA power rankings for the rookies.
The 2022 Draft class is already making some noise in the NBA. Even though their first year won't necessarily dictate their careers, these players are certainly giving their organizations hope that they found their franchise pieces. They still have a lot to prove, but so far some of them are looking like the best players on their teams.
With that being said, here are the first NBA Rookie Power Rankings as 2023 begins.
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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 the Magic’s season opener versus the Detroit Pistons. He became the first rookie since LeBron James in 2003 to put up at least 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists in an NBA debut.
For the season, Banchero is averaging a rookie-best 20.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He is shooting 43.5% from the field, 30.8% from the 3-point line and 75.5% on his free-throw attempts. Most recently, he had a seven-game stretch with at least 20 points.
After being down in the NBA power rankings as he dealt with an injury and missing seven straight games in November, Banchero seems to be fully recovered and looks like the best rookie out of the 2022 class. Additionally, he is a big part of Orlando's recent positive sequence of six consecutive wins, including two versus the reigning Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics.
2. Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Selected No. 6 in this year’s draft, Bennedict Mathurin is the closest to Banchero in most rookie NBA power rankings. The Arizona product is second in most rookie statistics, only trailing Banchero in them. The surprising 20-17 Indiana Pacers are sixth in the East, which could certainly help Mathurin's case for the Rookie of the Year award.
He is putting up 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He is making 41.8% of his field goals, 33.7% of his 3-pointers, and 81.7% of his free throws. Mathurin is currently the third-leading scorer on the Pacers, behind Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. He was selected as the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in November after averaging 19.2 points on 40.3% 3-point shooting.
3. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
Alongside Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey is looking like a solid backcourt partner for the 2021 No. 1 pick. Widely projected to be the fourth pick in the 2022 Draft, Ivey fell to No. 5. So far, he seems like a steal for the Detroit Pistons. He is displaying good vision and playmaking as he leads the rookie class with 4.1 assists per game.
The former Purdue Boilermaker is recording 15.1 points and 4.0 boards. He is shooting 41.2% from the field, 31.5% from 3-point land, and 73.2% from the free-throw line. He is also getting a steal a night and has three double-doubles this season. With Cunningham out with a season-ending injury, Ivey should have more opportunities to shine and cement his name as one of the best players from the 2022 Draft.
4. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
Instead of selecting Ivey, the Sacramento Kings shocked the league by choosing Keegan Murray. Despite the doubts surrounding him, it seems the Kings made a good pick nevertheless. After winning the Summer League MVP, Murray quickly became an important piece for the team, even earning a starting spot just two games into the season.
The Iowa product is averaging 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. He is hitting 42.2% of his field-goal attempts, 38.2% of his 3-pointers, and 76.2% of his free throws. The power forward is part of the surprising Sacramento squad that is 19-16 and fifth 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 it. He's certainly in the mix in the NBA power rankings for rookies.
5. Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets
Considered by many as the top prospect in the 2022 Draft, Jabari Smith Jr. ended up falling to the Houston Rockets at No. 3. So far, the power forward is struggling with his efficiency in the NBA. However, he is showing signs of improvement as he made 43.4% of his shots in December as opposed to 37.4% in November.
For the season, Smith is registering 12.1 points, 7.0 boards, and 0.9 assists. He is also averaging 0.9 blocks a night. Despite Houston's poor record, Smith is becoming one of the bright spots on the floor with his solid rebounding and rim protection. Additionally, his scoring is significantly improving. Last month, he was the fourth-leading scorer on the team, only behind Jalen Green, Kevin Porter, and Alperen Sengun. This was enough to round out the top five in the first NBA Rookie Power Rankings of 2023.