Rookie Rankings: Holmgren on Wembanyama's heels for No. 1 spot

There was plenty of discussion on how good the 2023-24 rookie class was going to be, and the players haven’t disappointed. With roughly 10 percent of the season done, there have been a number of standouts. 

Victor Wembanyama has of course taken up the bulk of the headlines, but don’t let him distract from the depth of this fantastic rookie class. Chet Holmgren has been equally as impressive, and the likes of Ausar Thompson and Dereck Lively II are already making a big impact on their respective teams.

Here are the top five rookies thus far, along with some honorable mentions. 

All statistics current through Nov. 12, 2023

Stats: 19.7 PTS, 8.8 REB, 2.5 AST, 2.4 BLK, 1.1 STL

Best game: Nov. 2 vs. PHX: 38 PTS, 10 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK, 1 STL

Wembanyama has lived up to the hype thus far. He’s already turned into an elite defender who opponents are afraid to challenge anywhere he’s near them. In the rare instances when players have tested him, he’s pinned the ball like an adult playing with a kid. 

O.G. Anunoby simply shook his head and laughed when asked why he tried to get that layup past Wembanyama. He’s not alone — Wembanyama is fourth in the entire league in blocks per game. 

Offensively, Wembanyama has figured out ways to score (throw the ball up anywhere near him, and he’s going to get up to finish lobs) despite working with less-than-stellar passing on his team. His jump shot has been a bit shaky, but he is able to get it off whenever he wants over defenders.

Wembanyama’s consistency might not totally be there yet, but he has created highlights on a nightly basis and has been must-watch through his first stretch of games. 

MORE: These photos put Wemby’s incredible height into perspective

Stats: 16.4 PTS, 7.6 REB, 2.6 AST, 2.3 BLK, 0.9 STL

Best game: Nov. 3 vs. GSW: 24 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK, 1 STL

The debate between Holmgren and Wembanyama for this top spot is a lot closer than you’d think. Wembanyama is getting all the hype, but the Chetrosexuals (don’t blame me, Thunder fans made the term up!) will tell you that Holmgren has been the far more efficient player on offense.

While Wemby gets praised for his guard-like ability, Holmgren has his own high-skill package. 

Some of those stellar efficiency numbers are due to a better fit for Holmgren, but he isn’t getting nearly enough shine for averaging 16.4 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting from the field, 50.0 percent from 3 and 89.5 percent from the line. In a normal year, he would be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year. He still might win the award over Wembanyama. 

Holmgren has been terrific defensively as well, blocking shots on par with Wembanyama. He has gotten overpowered by some of the bigger guys in the league like Nikola Jokic and Andre Drummond, but for the most part, he’s held up playing as a pure center. 

MORE: Chet Holmgren’s Rookie of the Year eligibility, explained

Stats: 11.2 PTS, 10.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.8 BLK, 1.2 STL

Best game: Nov. 5 vs. PHX: 14 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST, 4 BLK, 4 STL

NBA Rookie Rankings: Chet Holmgren on Victor Wembanyama’s heels for No. 1; Ausar Thompson continues to impress

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