NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Lonzo's roller coaster vs. Simmons' bullet train to stardom

Even though they play the same position, Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball couldn't be more different -- both in the way they play and the path that they've taken so far in their rookie season.

Simmons is a 6-10 freight train who takes control of the game and intimidates the defense through sheer force. Lonzo is more passive, waiting for the game to come to him and never forcing the issue. So far it's worked well for Simmons, who is putting up numbers that we haven't seen from a rookie in quite some time -- his 7.7 assists per game would be the most from a first-year player since Chris Paul in the 2005-06 season.

Meanwhile Ball's struggles have been one of the biggest story lines of this NBA season, fairly or not, even as the Lakers haven't been as bad as expected. His historically bad shooting coupled with Lakers coach Luke Walton's choice to leave him on the bench for a couple of fourth quarters have some screaming "bust" while others vehemently defend him. The truth is Ball's rookie ride has been a roller coaster -- not one that gradually goes up and down, but one that reaches incredible heights only to see the bottom suddenly fall out as the riders plummet back down to earth.

Lonzo's highs have been incredibly high: He became the youngest player ever to record a triple-double and also became the only Laker other than Magic Johnson to record multiple triple-doubles in his rookie season. But the lows have been lower than any rookie who's gotten as many minutes as he has. So the question is, which is the real Lonzo Ball?

Simmons has spoiled us into thinking that a rookie destined for stardom should be dominant from the start, but it doesn't always work that way. It's clear that Lonzo's road will be much rockier than Simmons', but their destination might end up being one in the same.

Here are this week's rookie rankings.

This week's NBA Rookie Power Rankings
1
Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers G

Last week: 1
Stats this week: 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists

What else can you say about this guy? Simmons has played with the composure of a veteran while delivering a level of consistency rare for 21-year-olds. More important than the gaudy numbers is the fact that he's leading Philly to wins -- something the city has been craving since "The Process" began. The Sixers went 2-1 last week and are now 10-7 on the season, but Simmons' most impressive performance of the season might have come in a loss. In his biggest test so far as a rookie, Simmons put up 23 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, was a plus-7 for the game and shot 11-for-15 from the floor as Philly watched a big lead wither away against the Warriors.
2
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics F

Last week: 2
Stats this week: 15.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks

What continues to separate Tatum from the other rookies is the fact that he's doing what he's doing as a 19-year-old for the best team in the NBA -- and he's doing it on both ends. The Celtics finally lost a game, but it was no fault of Tatum's -- he scored 18 points on 3-for-4 3-point shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four assists in Boston's loss to Miami. His net rating was highest among rookies this week, so there's no reason to drop him in these rankings.
3
Kyle Kuzma Los Angeles Lakers F

Last week: 5
Stats this week: 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists

Kuzma continued his consistent play this week and bumped his 3-point shooting up to 48 percent as the Lakers went 2-2. Luke Walton has tasked Kuzma with trying to get his teammates involved a bit more, but that's difficult for a young player who can score as naturally as Kuzma. He already might be the third-best rookie in the class, and if he can improve his playmaking and defense he could be a lot closer to Simmons and Tatum than we think toward the end of the season.
4
Lonzo Ball Los Angeles Lakers G

Last week: 8
Stats this week: 9.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists

Lonzo became the second Laker ever to record multiple triple-doubles during his rookie season, and it's likely not the last we'll see from him. His field goal percentage was still brutal this week at 37 percent, but he actually made a few 3-pointers, which could help get him going from beyond the arc. Despite the horrid shooting thus far, it's hard to say that a player who flirts with a triple-double on a nearly nightly basis is a disappointment. But games like his six-point stinker in a home loss to the Suns prove that the youngster has a long way to go before he's the steady point guard the Lakers hope he will be.
5
John Collins Atlanta Hawks F

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals

Collins re-enters the rankings with a fury this week, posting a huge week despite three Atlanta losses. The bouncy 6-10 stat machine didn't disappoint after a bump in minutes, as he shot a remarkable 83 percent from the floor in nearly 33 minutes per game this week. In his first start of the year against the Clippers, Collins filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists in 38 minutes. If he can defend at a decent level, Collins could permanently make his way into the Hawks' starting lineup.
6
Lauri Markkanen Chicago Bulls F

Last week: 9
Stats this week: 14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists

Markkanen's shooting has leveled off since his hot start to the season, but he's still the Bulls' most effective and consistent scorer -- not saying much, but it's something. He shot just 36 percent from the field, but he improved his rebounding average to 10.3, proving that he can find ways to help the team even when his shot isn't falling. His 26-point performance against the Suns on Sunday was offset by his awful game against the Jazz to end the week, in which he scored just three points on 1-for-9 shooting.
7
Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz G

Last week: 3
Stats this week: 12.0 points, 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds

Mitchell's lower in the rankings this week thanks to a significant drop-off in scoring and shooting percentage (30 percent from the field, 27.8 on 3-pointers), but he was able to showcase his playmaking ability in a start at point guard with Ricky Rubio out of the lineup. Mitchell had the two highest assist totals of his career this week (eight vs. the Nets, seven vs. the Bulls), so if he can successfully combine setting up teammates with his proven scoring ability, he could become an even bigger asset for the Jazz.
8
De'Aaron Fox Sacramento Kings G

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 11.3 points, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals

Welcome back to the rankings, De'Aaron Fox! The speedy Kings point guard dropped out after a rough week, but bounced back nicely as he shot 48 percent from the field and made all four of his 3-point attempts. In the first NBA game he's played against college rival Lonzo Ball, Fox had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Kings came away with a blowout win.
9
Frank Mason III Sacramento Kings G

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 9.8 points, 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds

Not sure we thought we'd be seeing Frank Mason in the rookie rankings all season long, but here we are. The Kings' second-round pick was steady off the bench this week, averaging 22 minutes per game with a net rating of 10.2, which was third among rookies who averaged at least 20 minutes per game. He scored in double-digits in three of four games this week after doing it only once before, including a career-high 13 in 20 minutes in a loss at Portland.
10
Dennis Smith Jr. Dallas Mavericks G

Last week: 4
Stats this week: 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Smith was phenomenal last week and appeared to be turning the corner in terms of efficiency, but he followed that up with near catastrophe this week. Smith averaged less than double-digit scoring while shooting an atrocious 29 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3-point range. He was able to limit his turnovers, however, and was only a minus-1 overall as the Mavs went 2-2. Smith is sure to be inconsistent this year, and we'll just chalk this up to a bad week.

Dropped out

Dillon Brooks F / Grizzlies
OG Anunoby F / Raptors

On the bubble

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