NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Lonzo turning corner for Lakers, but it's Kuzma's world

Showtime is back!

OK, well maybe not quite yet -- but it's back for this week's edition of the NBA Rookie Power Rankings, where purple and gold paint two of the top three spots. It's only fitting that in the week that Kobe Bryant's jersey is hung from the Staples Center rafters, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball give Lakers fans a glimpse of what the future could hold.

Meanwhile Utah's Donovan Mitchell, No. 1 for the last two weeks, took a tumble down to No. 5 as his production continued to drop. Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum remained steady in the top five, while a surprise entrant from the Nuggets came out of nowhere to claim a spot.

Enjoy the holidays with the latest edition of the NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

This Week's NBA Rookie Power Rankings
1
Kyle Kuzma Los Angeles Lakers PF

Last week: No. 5
Stats this week: 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists

Kuzmania is alive and well in La La Land. The Lakers only had two games, but they were against the best of the West, and possibly the entire NBA -- the Warriors and Rockets . Kuzma scored 25 in an overtime loss to the Warriors, and followed that up with a historic game in a huge win over the Rockets -- he became the first rookie to ever score 38 points in a game with seven or more made 3-pointers while shooting 70 percent from the field. In the two games combined, he shot 67 percent and made 11 of his 16 3-point attempts. No rookie might have a better week the entire season, so Kuzma was the easy pick for the No. 1 spot. And with confidence like showed at the end of this interview after his 38-point game, he might be back on top sooner rather than later.
2
Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers PG

Last week: No. 2
Stats this week: 16.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists

It was another solid week for Simmons, but he continues to struggle to lead his team to wins without Joel Embiid in the lineup. Embiid missed three games, but Simmons didn't take it upon himself to increase his scoring load -- he attempted only six shots all game in a bad home loss to Sacramento. Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Simmons needs to be more aggressive looking for his own shot, especially with Embiid out, but it's clearly something that Simmons isn't comfortable with quite yet. That largely stems from the fact that he refuses to shoot from outside the paint, which makes scoring difficult when the defense knows exactly what he's trying to do.
3
Lonzo Ball Los Angeles Lakers PG

Last week: No. 4
Stats this week: 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists

Lonzo continued his strong play this week, and has now scored in double figures in four consecutive games. He's making a few more 3-pointers, but that's not necessarily what Lakers fans should be excited about. Shockingly, improbably, Lonzo made a pull-up jumper ... going to his right! This is a shot that Lonzo rarely -- if ever -- takes, and he swished it like he'd done it a million times before.
This should make Lakers fans salivate. If Lonzo can start hitting pull-up jumpers consistently, it will open up all sorts of things for him on the court. It's also something that could take him from a good player to the superstar Lakers fans desperately want him to become.
4
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics SF

Last week: No. 3
Stats this week: 14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals

The Celtics are finally starting to lose some games, but it's through no fault of Tatum, who continues to be the paragon of consistency for this rookie class. If there's any knock on Tatum it's that he's sometimes not aggressive enough offensively, particularly when the Celtics are missing players. In Thursday's loss to the Knicks , Tatum finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, but he only took one shot and zero free throws in the first half. Tatum is content working within the flow of the offense, but as he gains experience and confidence he'll learn when his team needs him to take control and use his diverse offensive skill set.
5
Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz SG

Last week: No. 1
Stats this week: 16.3 points, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals

Mitchell continued to be the No. 1 scoring option for the Jazz with injuries to Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors , but Mitchell himself ended up missing the team's game against the Spurs with an injured toe. He kept his shooting percentages up, making 49 percent of his field goals and 39 percent of his 3s, but his production has dropped off from his scorching hot last couple of weeks, so he falls to No. 5 from the top spot. As Utah's other scoring options like Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson continue to get healthy, it will be interesting to see how Mitchell's role changes in the offense.
6
OG Anunoby Toronto Raptors SF

Last week: No. 7
Stats this week: 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals

If OG keeps this up, he's going to become something of a folk hero north of the border. The plus/minus wunderkind kept it up this week, finishing with an absurd plus-34.6 net rating in a 4-0 week for the Raptors . Anunoby's 3-point shooting continues to be a pleasant surprise, as his defense remains elite. He had the best offensive game of his career in Wednesday's win against the Hornets , knocking down 6 of 7 3-pointers en route to 20 points. The Raptors were happy to get him at No. 23, but even they couldn't have imagined he'd be this good this soon.
7
Lauri Markkanen Chicago Bulls PF

Last week: No. 6
Stats this week: 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists

The Bulls suddenly turned into the best team in the NBA, but saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end with a loss to the Cavs. Markkanen missed last Friday's game due to back spasms, but performed solidly in his other three games this week, including a 25-point gem in Cleveland, where the 20-year-old showed why he is so much more than a 3-point shooter. Watch as his shooting ability forces Jeff Green to close out hard on him, then Makkanen goes left into the lane, evades the defender and shows the soft lefty touch to get the and-one.
That kind of skill for a 7-footer at his age doesn't come around very often. With Kris Dunn , Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine emerging as scoring options, Markkanen doesn't have the pressure of the entire offense on his shoulders, and he's allowing the game to come to him.
8
Milos Teodosic Los Angeles Clippers PG

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 9.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds

The 30-year-old Serbian would have likely been a staple in these rankings had it not been for an injury that sidelined him for 22 of the team's first 24 games. Now we're starting to see flashes of the passing genius the Clippers brought over from Europe -- the problem is that now he has nobody to pass the ball to. He's thrown some highlight-worthy assists, but Teodosic has been surprisingly adept on the defensive end. The Clippers had a sterling defensive rating of 94.4 with him on the court this week, and according to Synergy he's among the league leaders defending the pick-and-roll (albeit in a small sample size), allowing just 0.577 points per possession in those situations. The defensive metrics will likely regress to the mean, but the fact that he's been able to make plays on offense with the roster the Clippers have been throwing out there bodes well for when Blake Griffin finally makes it back onto the court.
9
Torrey Craig Denver Nuggets SG

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks

If you hadn't heard of Torrey Craig before this week, don't worry, you're not alone. If you hadn't heard of Torrey Craig before this sentence, don't worry, you're not alone. The two-way player was the MVP of New Zealand's National Basketball League last season and has been a scoring machine for the Sioux Falls Skyforce for most of the year. He finally got some playing time with the big club this week and made the absolute most of it, energizing a stagnant Nuggets squad with his athleticism and shooting. Craig joined the Nuggets from the G League on Friday morning and started that very night, getting his feet wet in 19 minutes in his first taste of NBA action against the Nuggets. In his next two games Craig quickly found his rhythm, averaging 12 points and making five of his six 3-point attempts in two close Nuggets losses. He may not be in Denver for long, but he's certainly making it hard to send him back down.
10
Bam Adebayo Miami Heat C

Last week: No. 10
Stats this week: 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Adebayo continues to fill in center minutes with Hassan Whiteside out, providing a nice defensive yin to Kelly Olynyk 's offensive yang. The Heat know Adebayo isn't going to provide them much on the offensive end, but he creates enough of a lob threat on the pick and roll to keep defenses honest. He plays bigger than he is on defense, and helped the Heat to a 3-1 week. He put up 11 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in Monday's loss to Atlanta for the second double-double of his career.

Dropped out

On the bubble

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