MIDTOWN, Manhattan – Who is your 2023 NBA Rookie pick? The NBA season will have reached its halfway point by this time next week, when all clubs will have participated in their 42nd game overall. In light of this, now is the ideal opportunity to take a step back and examine the Rookie of the Year race in order to assess what we now know about some of the top prospects from the 2022 draft class. The breadth of skill we’ve already seen in this draft class, from potential All-Stars to significant role players, immediately leaps out.
Rookies on playoff-contending teams have already made a number of game-winning shots, and one player in particular is not only vying for Rookie of the Year but also for Sixth Man of the Year (more on that below). Even though there can only be one winner for the best rookie from this class, it’s obvious that at least 15-20 players have the ability to have successful careers in this league moving forward. Let’s now discuss the ranks.
1. Orlando Magic player Paolo Banchero
Banchero only needed one NBA game to demonstrate that he was going to be a remarkable player. Since Allen Iverson in 1996, no rookie has scored more points in his NBA debut than the rookie, who finished with 27 points. Along with LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he became the third No. 1 overall pick since 1969 to score 25 points, grab five rebounds, and hand out five assists. It was only Game 1. Since then, Banchero has more than lived up to his selection in the draft; despite a recent decline in efficiency, Banchero is still in the top half of the rookie class.
Banchero averaged 22.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range. His ability to create shots away from the hoop, use his size to score around the rim, and possess a high passing IQ make him a dangerous and versatile threat.
With 7.9 free-throw attempts per game, Banchero ranks sixth all-time among rookies since the NBA and ABA merger.
2. Sacramento Kings’ Keegan Murray
The sole player on this list, Murray, is starting for a winning team, which is a remarkable accomplishment for a rookie in this league. When the Kings selected Murray over Ivey with the No. 4 overall choice, there was some debate as to why. Although Sacramento has in the past faced justifiable criticism for its draft choices, I don’t believe it is justified in this case. While the jury is still out on who will have the better career between Murray and Ivey, I’d say the fit with Murray on the Kings has worked exceptionally well. The Kings drafted for necessity, not for the greatest player available.
Murray leads all rookies in 3-point attempts per game (5.8) and 3-point % at this point in the season (38.4 percent). With a 40% non-corner 3 percentage, he generates 1.071 points per possession on spot-up jumpers, placing him in the 86th percentile among forwards. He gives Sacramento the size to defend on the perimeter while also spreading the floor for the Kings’ offensive scheme.
3. of the Detroit Pistons, Jaden Ivey
Ivey has some of the finest counting statistics of this rookie class, but his efficiency has been a problem, which keeps him from being higher on this ranking. His efficiency stats have continually dropped, possibly as a result of him taking on more responsibility when Cade Cunningham sustained a shin injury and was forced to miss the entire season. Ivey is nevertheless demonstrating why he was selected so highly in the draft despite his low efficiency.
Although his 43.3 percent rim-finishing percentage is on the low end of the range, it’s likely to increase over the course of his career as he becomes stronger. He leads all rookies in drives per game (11.2). In addition to his goal scoring, Ivey has also displayed moments of spectacular passing, which he has been forced to rely on more heavily since Cunningham sustained a season-ending injury.