Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

We've flipped the calendar to another year, and though there are still many players in the NBA's health and safety protocols, several rookies have returned from their quarantine stint over the past week. For some, the time away gave them an opportunity to refresh and come back even stronger, while others are making the most of the opportunity while other players on the roster are still out. 

Moving on to this week's rankings, remember that these will reflect a rookie's performance on a week-to-week basis only, and not the collective season. These are not Rookie of the Year standings. With that straightened out, here is a look at the top-performing rookies around the league.

1. Evan Mobley
CLE • PF • 4
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At the start of last week, Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma mentioned Mobley's name in the same breath as Hall of Famer George Gervin in a tweet, comparing the young rookie's game to the legendary "Iceman." If you watched Mobley in the 32 minutes he played that night, you could understand why Kuzma was heaping that level of praise on him. You can also understand why Kuzma gave Mobley a high-five in the middle of the game after this up-and-under layup ripped straight from Gervin's archives:

But that's just been par for the course in Mobley's return since missing four games in the league's health and safety protocols. His defense is what got him immediate attention at the start of the season, but what we've seen from him lately on offense is just a glimpse into the future of what we should expect from him for years to come.

Against the Pacers, Mobley was a menace in a variety of ways on offense, showing how he can impact that game beyond scoring, similar to his versatility on defense. You can tell that the Cavaliers are running more plays through him, and the Pacers were having a difficult time keeping up with all the off-ball movement Mobley was doing during that game.

Just look at at this perfectly angled cut in the first play of the game, where he not only catches Domantas Sabonis on his hip by coming around a screen set by the much smaller Kevin Pangos, but he sinks an incredibly tough fadeaway mid-range jumper to end this well-designed play:

He knew when to take advantage of smaller defenders, like this alley-oop opportunity off a pass from fellow 7-footer Jarrett Allen:

Then there's his passing, which, outside of Ricky Rubio and Darius Garland, no one on the Cavaliers has assisted on more shots than him. Not all 7-footers, especially rookies, are making passes like this every day:

Mobley's progression is moving at an incredibly fast pace, and it's been one of the key reasons Cleveland's been so successful this season. 

2. Franz Wagner
ORL • SF • 22
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The Magic -- like almost every team in the league -- have been dealing with a bunch of injuries and players out due to COVID protocols, which has resulted in the loss of several guards in Orlando's backcourt. But while guys like Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz have been in and out of the rotation, it's allowed Wagner to show off his abilities as a primary ball-handler. Spoiler alert: It's been awesome to watch.

No one could've predicted that Wagner would be this good off the dribble this early on, mainly because with the number of ball-dominant guards on Orlando's roster there wasn't going to be significant opportunity to showcase that aspect of his game. But the past few weeks have shown that he's not just an excellent player off the ball, as he can take a defender one-on-one with positive results. 

Wagner's not going to kill you with speed or a handle that's going to leave a defender dizzy, but he is great in angling his body perfectly to get by his defender just enough to get to the rim. Look at how he disposes of DeMar DeRozan on this play:

Or this angle he catches Lonzo Ball on for the easy drive and finish at the rim:

He's not doing anything fancy here. Instead, he's just using some geometry to get his angles that will allow him to get to the basket, where he's shown no fear in trying to finish over the top of people, even if it doesn't always work out. Though Orlando would surely like to have Anthony and Suggs healthy to handle the ball, the Magic now know that Wagner is capable of handling those duties, and it should be a focal point of their offense going forward.

3. Herbert Jones
NO • PF • 5
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Jones is the silver lining in this season for the Pelicans. Just look at this end-to-end play where he not only comes away with the tough steal from Donovan Mitchell, but then proceeds to lead the break and finish at the rim.

To make it even sweeter, that's Rudy Gobert he finished over on that play, which isn't an easy thing to do, especially for a rookie. But confidence isn't something Jones is desperately seeking; if he has an open look or a situation where he thinks he can create something, he's going to take it. 

On defense, he's already been ran through the gauntlet of having to check Mitchell, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Paul GeorgeBradley Beal and other players of that stature. He's had varying levels of success guarding all of them, and while he's not a lockdown defender (yet) his perimeter defense has been impressive to watch. Jones may not be as tantalizing of a player to watch as Zion Williamson surely is, but on most nights you watch him play he's always impacting the game in a positive way, which is something the Pelicans surely need a lot of right now. 

4. Jalen Green
HOU • SG • 0
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Green made his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month, and since coming back, we've been seeing some much-improved efficiency from the No. 2 overall pick. Green could always rack up the points this season, as he ranks fourth among all rookies in points per game (15.3). But the doubts of him being a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer were starting to creep in after he started the year shooting 38.2 percent from the field and just 27.8 percent from deep before he went down with that injury. 

Yet in the past handful of games since he's been back, Green's showed improved efficiency across the board. Save for a poor shooting night against the Philadelphia 76ers where he went 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 5 from deep, Green's been shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from deep since coming off the injured list. 

Not much has changed in the types of looks Green's been getting, because he's already shown his elite ability in creating shots for himself, but he looks to be more settled into the game, and not rushing through his jumper or finishing frazzled at the rim. 

You can see Green's continual improvement over a month-to-month basis this season:

















Granted, he only played in three games in December due to that hamstring injury, but it's still noted improvement and a positive sign that he's trending in the right direction with his efficiency. 

5. Aaron Wiggins
OKC • SG • 21
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There's a surplus of young depth on Oklahoma City's team, and at any given time it feels like each one of them are taking their turn in the spotlight. Right now that honor goes to Wiggins, who due to injuries and COVID has been elevated to the starting lineup, where he's been making opposing teams pay with his 3-point shooting. When he's running with the second unit he gets more opportunity to show his playmaking skills with the ball in his hands, which is a luxury for the Thunder to have yet another guy who can create and generate points in one way or another. 

Honorable mentions: Omer Yurtseven, Miami Heat (11.8 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals), Luka Garza, Detroit Pistons (9.3 points, 9.0 rebounds), Duane Washington Jr., Indiana Pacers (14.0 points, 3.0 rebounds)