Last season featured a slew of impactful rookies. From Paolo Banchero to Jalen Williams to Jalen Duren to Keegan Murray, so many of last year's first-year players left their mark and helped their respective teams. While there may not be as many impactful rookie talents as there were last season, there are still several players who are making a difference and standing out through their first few months in the league. At the very top of this year's NBA Rookie Rankings are Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holmgren and San Antonio Spurs first overall pick Victor Wembanyama, two outstanding talents battling it out in the race for the Rookie of the Year award.

Once thought to be Wembanyama's race to lose, Holmgren has solidified himself as one of the best big men in the Western Conference because of all the little things he does to help the Thunder win games. Along with averaging 2.7 blocks per game, tied for the third-most in the league this season, Holmgren alters and impacts so many more shots. This has helped the Thunder become one of the best defensive teams.

As far as all the noise and attention being thrown at Holmgren goes, the Thunder rookie has remained focused on the task at hand. The only thing Holmgren cares about is winning, which is why the spotlight of many calling him the best rookie in the NBA hasn't impacted his play.

Over in San Antonio, Wembanyama has continued to captivate the entire NBA with his length and playmaking abilities. Recently, Wemby became just the second rookie in NBA history to record at least 30 points, five rebounds, five assists, and seven blocks, joining Spurs legend David Robinson. In this game against the Portland Trail Blazers last week, Wembanyama also became the first player in league history to have at least seven blocks in less than 30 minutes.

While he has been dealing with an ankle injury, the Spurs rookie has looked every bit like an All-Star in his first NBA season, which is why he is still right in the thick of things with Holmgren in the rookie rankings.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Brandon Miller are two other rookies who have played their roles to perfection. Whereas Miller has started to come into his own on a struggling Charlotte Hornets team, Jaquez has been instrumental in the success of the Miami Heat. Fresh off their run to the NBA Finals last season, Jaquez has proven to be an extremely important part of the Heat's roster. Impact matters in the rookie race, and Miami surely has one of the most impactful rookies in the league this season.

The new year has brought a new look at the NBA Rookie Rankings, which feature Holmgren over Wembanyama for the top spot.

1. Chet Holmgren – Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder's Chet Holmgren with lightning bolts around him

2023-24 season stats: 32 games, 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 54.3 FG%, 40.7 3P%

Holmgren is now the new No. 1 in the NBA Rookie Rankings. Aside from his individual performances, Holmgren has positively impacted the Thunder, helping them become arguably the best team in the league in many people's eyes. The Thunder are now 23-9 on the season after taking down the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, a game in which the rookie big man had 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. Constantly altering shots and amongst the league leaders in blocks, Holmgren is not just in the running for Rookie of the Year, but Defensive Player of the Year as well.

Scoring in double figures in all but two games this season, including 12 straight games, it is not hard to make the claim that Holmgren is the Thunder's second-most important player behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

What stands out for Holmgren over Wembanyama in the rookie race right now is that the Thunder big man is positively impacting his team's chances of competing for the top spot in the Western Conference. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Chet isn't actually a “rookie” given that he had the chance to grow off the court in the NBA over the last year. Remember Donovan Mitchell vs. Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year?

While not necessarily Wemby's fault, the Spurs rank amongst the worst teams in the league and have only won five total games. Winning matters in award races and right now, and Holmgren is putting up numbers we have not seen from a rookie in quite some time.

2. Victor Wembanyama – San Antonio Spurs

Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama looking hyped

2023-24 season stats: 29 games, 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 1.2 steals, 44.4 FG%, 29.4 3P%

When he plays his full amount of minutes, Wembanyama looks like an All-Star and puts the Spurs in a position to at least try and win near the end of games. However, Wemby has been on a minutes restriction as of late due to an ankle injury he suffered near the end of December. Not only has the Spurs rookie missed three of the team's last eight games, but he has not eclipsed 26 minutes in any of these matchups.

Just to get more playing time, Wembanyama had to check himself back into a game recently, only for Gregg Popovich and his staff to pull the rookie from the game!

“I wasn't allowed to sub in but I still did it,” Wembanyama told reporters after subbing himself in the other night against the Memphis Grizzlies. “The coach sent me out right after.”

Wembanyama is clearly frustrated with his minutes restriction and just wants to play basketball. If the Spurs want to have any chance of their young star taking home the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season, they are going to need to play him more. At 19 years old, it's actually a little pathetic that the Spurs are already monitoring Wemby's minutes.

3. Jaime Jaquez Jr. – Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra saying "Rook can play" next to Jaime Jaquez Jr.

2023-24 season stats: 33 games, 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 50.4 FG%, 35.4 3P%

When it comes to impacting winning and making a difference for his team, Holmgren obviously stands out amongst all the rookies this season. However, what Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been able to achieve is remarkable, especially considering that he wasn't supposed to be a main rotation player like Holmgren and Wembanyama.

The Heat began the 2023-24 season searching for answers alongside Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo, especially since both Max Strus and Gabe Vincent departed in the offseason. With the team dealing with injuries, major question marks surrounded the Heat's ability to once again be contenders in the East. Miami still has a lot to prove, but Jaquez has been a major bright spot for them, rapidly emerging as the secondary contributor they have been in need of.

From shooting threes to rebounding to taking on the responsibilities of initiating plays at the top of the arc, Jaquez is a matured, older rookie whose elongated college experience is paying dividends in the NBA. Don't let Jaquez's stats fool you, because he is making a similar impact as the other two rookies ranked ahead of him in these rankings.

4. Brandon Miller – Charlotte Hornets

Brandon Miller shouting with fans cheering

2023-24 season stats: 28 games, 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 43.3 FG%, 39.6 3P%

Expected to be eased into a role out on the wing for the Charlotte Hornets this season, Brandon Miller has been tasked with being the team's second scoring option due to the team being without LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward at times. Although he himself has also missed some games, Miller has been really solid offensively, scoring at least 15 points in four of the last five games he has played in. That fact that he's shooting just under 40 percent from three-point range is also extremely impressive.

As time goes on, Miller is only going to continue to grow on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to being a factor on the glass given his length. When Ball returns from injury, Miller will also see more scoring opportunities as a catch-and-shoot option on the perimeter. The Hornets should be very pleased with how their second overall pick has played.

5. Dereck Lively II – Dallas Mavericks

Dereck Lively II with Luka Doncic saying "I trust the rook"

2023-24 season stats: 28 games, 9.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 72.8 FG%

When Dereck Lively II plays, the Dallas Mavericks have gone 16-7. This is no coincidence, especially given how Lively commands the paint on both ends of the floor.

Compared to some of the other rookies on this list who tend to play freely, Lively has a set role with the Mavs that he plays to perfection. He sets screens for Luka Doncic and others on the perimeter, crashes the glass hard for rebounds, and is oftentimes open on lob attempts coming off of his screens. Lively has helped give his team a presence on the interior, something Dallas has not had in quite some time.

While it is hard to see Lively doing enough to get in the discussion for Rookie of the Year, he has proven to be one of the main factors in the Mavs' overall success this season. Head coach Jason Kidd and Doncic constantly rave about the rookie's impact, which is why Lively has been one of the best first-year performers in the NBA.

6. Keyonte George – Utah Jazz

2023-24 season stats: 28 games, 11.1 points, 4.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 36.5 FG%, 33.6 3P% 

Many are overlooking the Utah Jazz right now, yet this team is still very much in the running to get a play-in tournament spot. Keyonte George has been a big part of Utah's success this season and was the team's starting point guard before dealing with a foot injury. Whether he is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, George has proven to be a great facilitator who is only going to get better as a scorer.

7. Brandin Podziemski – Golden State Warriors

2023-24 season stats: 27 games, 9.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 47.3 FG%, 41.4 3P%

The Golden State Warriors truly got the best player who fits their system in the 2023 NBA Draft with Brandin Podziemski. Acting as a glue guy this season who can do just about everything, Podziemski has drawn eight starts to this point and is fourth on the team in rebounding behind Kevon Looney, Dario Saric, and Draymond Green. His 41.4 three-point percentage ranks only behind Cason Wallace and Marcus Sasser for the best out of all rookies in the league, minimum 70 attempts.

8. Ausar Thompson – Detroit Pistons

2023-24 season stats: 33 games, 9.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 46.2 FG%

For some reason, Ausar Thompson's role has declined with the Detroit Pistons. He has only averaged about 14.2 minutes per game over his last four contests despite exhibiting his defensive prowess early on in the season. The Pistons are awful, so hopefully they will give Thompson some more chances to prove himself in Year 1 moving forward.

9. Scoot Henderson – Portland Trail Blazers

2023-24 season stats: 23 games, 12.4 points, 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds 37.3 FG%, 28.9 3P%

Recently returning from injury, Scoot Henderson is beginning to show everyone why he was one of the first players to come off the board during the 2023 NBA Draft. Henderson has scored at least 17 points in four straight games and has also recorded 11 assists in two of those four games. He recently received a nomination for Western Conference Player of the Week.

10. Bilal Coulibaly – Washington Wizards

2023-24 season stats: 31 games, 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.9 steals, 51.3 FG%, 40.5 3P%

Like the Pistons, the Washington Wizards are terrible. Nonetheless, Bilal Coulibaly has been one of their bright spots. Coulibaly has shown flashes of his abilities to attack on offense, while his length makes him a very intriguing defensive prospect. The Wizards could not ask for a better rookie to build with right now, especially with the French teenager shooting over 40 percent from deep.