Ja Morant has garnered most of the rookie spotlight in Memphis, however, Brandon Clarke also deserves just as much recognition. Between the two rookies, in addition to Jaren Jackson Jr. who is still only 20 years old, the Memphis Grizzlies have the necessary building blocks for a bright future. Morant has been an absolute sensation in his rookie season, averaging 18.4 points and 6.7 assists, and Clarke's versatile game as a stretch four who can shoot from beyond the arc at a high clip has been very impressive.
It's going to be a while before the Grizzlies begin to enjoy a lot of wins, as both players still have a ton to improve on that will only come with NBA experience. However, after offloading all of the Grit and Grind era Grizzlies players, Memphis has to be incredibly pleased with the early returns. Morant has already shown flashes of becoming one of the league's best point guards, Clarke's versatility makes him a tantalizing player that any team would be lucky to have, and Jackson Jr., has shown major improvements from his rookie campaign. The Grizzlies may be a few years away from actually competing, but in the meantime, this young core will be able to develop together and form a chemistry that will push them back into the playoff picture sooner than later.
Remember, these rankings will reflect a rookie's performance on a week-to-week basis, not the collective season, so these aren't Rookie of the Year standings.. With that straightened out, here are the latest Rookie Power Rankings for the 2019-20 season.
Last week: No. 6
After missing a handful of games last week, Clarke had the most productive week of his young career. His 25-point performance against the Washington Wizards showcased that he's much more than just an accessory piece to Ja Morant in Memphis. Clarke's been incredibly efficient from the field, managing to pull off the trickiest shots even with two players draped all over him in the paint. The rookie is shooting an absurd 64.9 percent from the field this season, which ranks sixth in the entire league, but unlike the other five players ahead of him in that category, Clarke can actually shoot from beyond the arc. He doesn't shoot them often, but he has the potential to be respectable from that range.
Last week: No. 2
The first time Morant faced the Miami Heat, in the season opener, he wasn't the main focus of that game. He was outplayed by the Heat's duo of rookies, but this week, he not only put up an incredibly efficient 20 points, but he helped the Grizzlies pull off an upset against Miami. He's been dealing with back spasms for the better part of two weeks, but against the Heat Morant appeared to be 100 percent as he contorted his body in a number of ways to finish at the rim. His 3-point shot has been improving since the start of the season, making 53.8 percent of his 3s over the past two weeks. It's perhaps the biggest weakness in his offensive game, and if he can become more consistent from there as he has been recently then Morant will become incredibly dangerous as he progresses in his career.
Last week: No. 1
More than half of Nunn's shots this season are jumpers, and while he's been incredibly effective for the Heat so far with his shot selection, it would benefit Miami if he were able to get to the free throw line more frequently. The Heat rank fourth in the league in free-throw attempts, and Nunn has the fifth-best free throw percentage on the team. However, he only attempts roughly one per game. If Nunn can get to the free throw line more often, it would just be another tool in his arsenal. He can fill it up from essentially anywhere on the floor, as evidenced from his 26-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers where he shot 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc, being crafty enough to get to the line is the next step.
Last week: No. 4
Herro hasn't been terribly efficient lately from the field. However, he's still been able to rack up points for Miami. This is an issue that carried over from last week, and he hasn't quite gotten out of his shooting slump yet. He went 4-for-14 from the field against the Dallas Mavericks, then proceeded to shoot around 35 percent in the next two games. He's been able to contribute in other ways when his shot isn't falling, mainly with his rebounding. In that game against the Sixers, he dished out seven assists, to go along with eight rebounds and nine points. While his shooting hasn't been what it was at the beginning of the season, he's still been a valuable piece in other aspects on offense for Miami.
Last week: No. 8
Barrett put up two dud performances before exploding for 27 points against the Atlanta Hawks. That might be more a product of the lack of defensive threat the Hawks pose than it speaks to Barrett's performance, however it is still his career-high, and he did it while shooting 76.9 percent from the field. Barrett is still having consistency issues, something that will likely continue throughout his rookie season as he develops his game, but if he can't break that habit of poor efficiency, it will hurt his growth in the long run.
Last week: No. 7
Hunter had a subpar week, but his 19-point outing for the Hawks was enough to push him into the power rankings for another week. He's shooting well from the field, with only a few inefficient games, however, his 3-point shooting is still a little chaotic. The Hawks are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, which speaks to the fact that, outside of Trae Young, the Hawks' young core still has a lot of work to do if Atlanta wants players like Hunter and fellow rookie Cam Reddish to be surefire shooters that Young can pass it to on the wing. Hunter has had games where he's knocked down six 3s, but he's also had games where he shoots 20 percent from beyond the arc. He's shown signs that he has range, and hopefully as the season progresses his 3-point shot will improve.
Last week: No. 5
Washington has been a pleasant surprise this season. Unfortunately, a fractured finger will keep him out past Christmas. In the lone game he played this week against the Chicago Bulls, he had some difficulty finding his shot. He attacked the rim more than he typically has this season, however, he struggled to finish a handful of shots around the basket. The Bulls do actually have pretty good defense -- they rank ninth in the league in defensive rating (105.0) -- and while Washington did struggle around the basket, it's encouraging to see him attack the rim more rather than just settling for three's. He has the strength and size to become a better scorer in the post, so with time, his numbers should improve in that aspect.
Last week: Unranked
Garland is developing into an efficient scorer in transition, and he's able to use his creativity to score in a number of ways when he's in the open court. The downside is, the Cavaliers are rarely in transition, in fact, they rank dead last in the league when it comes to transition offense. When they do get out in transition though, they rank 15th in the league in points per possession, mainly because of Garland and Collin Sexton. He ranks second on the Cavaliers in total points scored in transition, and if Cleveland were a better defensive team, Garland would be able to showcase his skills in that area more.
Last week: Unranked
Johnson's best asset to the Phoenix Suns is his 3-point shooting, specifically in a spot-up or transition capacity. Where he needs to improve is knocking down shots when coming off screens. When Johnson has to attempt a 3-point shot off-balanced or coming around a screen, his numbers aren't as efficient. In order for him to truly be a versatile threat that Phoenix can use on offense, he needs to be able to do more than just stand in one spot and knockdown 3s.
Last week: Unranked
Paschall sat out two games due to a hip injury, and in his return game against the Portland Trail Blazers, you could tell that he was a little rusty. He still put up an efficient 11 points, however it wasn't on par with the offensive performances he was putting up earlier in the season. Unfortunately, in the Warriors' next game against the Pelicans, Paschall left early due to a knee injury. His status is still uncertain, but before then he was averaging 15.9 points on the season and was a legitimate contender for Rookie of the Year.