NBA Rookie Rankings: Mitchell reaches new heights; Jackson gives meek Suns hope

How many teams are kicking themselves that they didn't take Donovan Mitchell in June's draft? Denver is probably one of them, since they ended up trading the pick to Utah for Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles, but they're certainly not the only ones.

Hindsight is 20/20, but, man, is this guy good. Mitchell put on a signature show against the Suns this week, making him the easy selection for No. 1 even though he was hobbled by the flu for the rest of the week. Mitchell does some things on the court that we've never seen before from a first-year player, and he's making his case for Rookie of the Year.

We've also got a few first-timers on this week's list, with Nets center Jarrett Allen, Lakers guard Josh Hart and Jazz forward Royce O'Neale joining the ranks.

Here are this week's NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

This week's NBA Rookie Power Rankings

Last week: 1
Stats this week: 17.0 points, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals

At this point, only the flu can stop Donovan Mitchell. In case there was any doubt, he sparked a legitimate campaign for Rookie of the Year by becoming the first rookie to ever score 40 points while making seven 3-pointers and shooting over 70 percent from the field. Yes, he did it against the lowly Phoenix Suns, but he joined the ranks of players like James Harden, Steph Curry, Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili as the only ones to accomplish the feat. If the Jazz keep up their winning ways and make the playoffs, it's going to be hard to vote against Mitchell for ROY.
Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers PG

Last week: 2
Stats this week: 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.0 steals

The Sixers went 2-1 this week, and Simmons continued his consistent ways with a plus-10.7 net rating in those three games. He had also done a much better job taking care of the ball -- just one turnover in three games before committing five against the Wizards on Tuesday. The 6-foot-10 Aussie had gotten much more aggressive offensively last week, and has appeared to open up other avenues of his offensive game. Defensively he continues to shine, picking up steals and blocks at an impressive clip. It's going to be quite a race between him and Mitchell as both of their teams gear up for playoff runs.
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics SF

Last week: 5
Stats this week: 14.8 points, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals

Tatum's shooting slump may officially be a thing now. He made only 30 percent of his 3-pointers this week after shooting 34 percent in the month of January -- down from nearly 50 percent in the first two months of the season. He's still at 43 percent for the season, but in such a small sample size, just 56 games into his career, you have to start to wonder if the shooting numbers from his first couple months of the season might have been a mirage. It doesn't do much to hurt his ceiling as a player, but if Boston's going to make a serious run in the playoffs, it's going to need Tatum to make 3s.
Jarrett Allen Brooklyn Nets C

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks

Welcome to the rankings, Jarrett Allen. The Nets traded away Tyler Zeller, officially ushering in the Jarrett Allen era in Brooklyn, and the young man came to play. He's now scored in double figures in his last nine games, and held his own against Andre Drummond and the Pistons, putting up 13 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal. Another thing to love about Allen? He makes his free throws. The 6-foot-11 center (probably over 7-foot with the hair) made 11 of 13 from the stripe this week, and is shooting 77 percent for the season.
Josh Jackson Phoenix Suns SF

Last week: 8
Stats this week: 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

Jackson actually led all rookies in scoring, but it was generally inefficient as he tried to fill in as a go-to scorer with Devin Booker missing a couple of games. He's certainly aggressive, but to call his offensive game unrefined would be an understatement. The great news for the Suns this week (not many sentences have started off like that this season) is that Jackson showed some shot-blocking potential. He has 21 blocks on the season, and five of them were this week. Watch on this play as Jackson gets stuck on a screen, but he doesn't give up and covers an insane amount of ground in a very short period of time to make the block at the rim.
Keep in mind the Suns were down by 49 at this point -- that kind of athleticism and effort are things you can't teach.
Josh Hart Los Angeles Lakers SG

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals

As if the Lakers' draft could look any better than it already did with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, now Hart is looking like a legitimate franchise piece moving forward. The first thing that jumps out is the rebounding, pulling down 11 boards per game from the shooting guard position, but Hart's offensive efficiency was also off the charts. He shot 63 percent from the field and 56 percent on 3-pointers while leading the Lakers to a 4-0 week without Ball in the lineup. Hart has clearly earned the trust of Luke Walton, who played him 34.5 minutes per game this week, second only to Ben Simmons among rookies.
Dennis Smith Jr. Dallas Mavericks PG

Last week: 6
Stats this week: 15.3 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals

Smith hit the low point of his NBA career in Monday's loss to the Clippers, racking up nine turnovers and making some horrendous plays down the stretch in a close game. His shooting percentages continue to be awful (34 percent field goals, 27.3 percent 3s), though he did come out aggressively on Thursday against the Warriors on his way to 22 points and just two turnovers. It still wasn't enough for coach Rick Carlisle, however, who pointed out that he needs Smith to collect more than three assists in a game.

"I know he can score, but I just think he's got to keep working on the balance of his game," Carlisle said. "We've got a lot of guys on our team that need help getting shots, and I think he can help them."

Smith too often gets caught dribbling too much (he leads all rookies with 4.83 dribbles per touch) and ends up settling for long pull-up jumpers like these two against the Warriors.
Smith needs to learn to make quicker decisions, which will come as his game keeps evolving.
Royce O'Neale Utah Jazz SF

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals

O'Neale's emergence is part of the reason the Jazz felt comfortable dealing away Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson. The 24-year-old rookie has been getting consistent minutes for the first time this season, and his production has followed suit. O'Neale had a breakout game in Utah's win over the Spurs on Monday, scoring a career-high 18 points while going 4-of-4 from the 3-point line to go along with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. He'll continue to be an important part of the rotation as the Jazz make their run toward a playoff spot.
De'Aaron Fox Sacramento Kings PG

Last week: 3
Stats this week: 12.0 points, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals

With George Hill off to Cleveland this officially becomes Fox's team, and it's looking like he's going to be able to take the reins. He's not going to be a consistent shooter any time soon, but the fact that he's limiting his turnovers (two per game this week) is a good sign that he's going to be able to efficiently run the point for a Sacramento team that's probably not going to pick up too many more wins.
Kyle Kuzma Los Angeles Lakers PF

Last week: Unranked
Stats this week: 10.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.8 blocks

Kuzma narrowly avoids missing the rankings for the second straight week after being No. 1 just a couple of weeks ago. His counting stats and shooting percentages weren't very impressive, but the Lakers went 4-0 this week and his net rating was plus-19.3, so the team has clearly been playing well when he's on the court. With Larry Nance out of the picture, Kuzma has one less frontcourt player to compete with, and the departure of Jordan Clarkson creates a tremendous need for bench scoring. The Lakers are hoping Kuzma can provide it.

Dropped out

On the bubble

Our Latest Stories