After a lengthy All-Star break with some teams getting as many as 9-10 days off the NBA is back in full swing. It must be said that the rookies that participated in All-Star weekend did not disappoint. Mudiay, Russell, Okafor and Kristaps were among the many rookies putting on a show for the fans of Toronto in the USA vs World game to kick off All-Star weekend. Karl Anthony Towns even pulled off probably the biggest upset in All-Star weekend history winning the Skills Competition. A little later on the night Town’s teammate Zach Lavine won what is perhaps the best slam dunk contests in recent history.

It honestly can’t be said enough just how good Karl Anthony Towns is. Since the All-Star break Towns has been an even bigger monster on the court than before. In his last 5 games since the All-Star break he is averaging a double double with 22 ppg and 10.6 rebounds per game. The exclamation mark during this stretch was his game last Saturday against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans where he dropped 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while adding 4 assists. Towns has now pushed his season average up to 17.4 points per game which is only .1 behind Jahlil Okafor and is averaging a whole 3 rebounds more than the next rookie. Towns now is now in the top 5 in double doubles on the season with over 30. Mylez Turner is truly proving himself in his new role on the Pacers. Against the Knicks last week he dropped 24 points in a 3 point victory. With Paul George returning to stardom and the improving play week in and week out, the Pacers may have building blocks for the near future. Speaking of the Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis isn’t just rejecting people from prom but he’s rejecting them on the court. In a blowout loss to the Heat he had 4 blocks channeling his inner Hassan Whiteside. Porzingis did have one of his poorer games of the season when he went up against fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Karl Anthony Towns and the Minnesota T’Wolves. He finished with 6 points and only 2 rebounds compared to Towns’ 24 points and 8 rebounds. Some other rookies having a strong start to the second half of the season have been Justice Winslow and Nikola Jokic. Winslow in his 5 games since the break has had a 15 and 14 point game as well as grabbing 13 rebounds against the Knicks. Jokic has had two double doubles in this stretch of games and has proven a solid scoring outlet on a struggling Denver Nuggets team.

The Spurs have long been considered one of the best run organizations when it comes to scouting, and that case is solidified with Jonathon Simmons. Simmons who has bounced around overseas and in the D-League is finally getting a chance with the injury to Ginobli and is making coach Pop proud. Providing solid defensive play he is also averaging just under 7 points in his last few games. The beginning of the second half of the season hasn’t been kind to all rookies however. Devin Booker and Emmanuel Mudiay have struggled in the handful of games after the break. Although Booker has scored double figures in 4 of 5 of theses games his shooting percentage was abysmal, shooting under 30% in 3 of them. Mudiay has struggled with turnovers all year and had 4+ turnovers in 3 of his last 5 games. One bright spot for Mudiay is that his scoring has greatly improved since the start of the season. Unfortunately for Cameron Payne his recent good play won’t be enough to maintain his minutes with the arrival of veteran guard Randy Foye at the trade deadline. And for Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell its merely counting out the clock and waiting out the spectacle that is the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.

Rookie Rankings:

  1. Karl Anthony Towns
  2. Kristaps Porzingis
  3. Jahlil Okafor
  4. Mylez Turner
  5. Justice Winslow
  6. D’Angelo Russell
  7. Bobby Portis
  8. Nikola Jokic
  9. Willie Cauley-Stein
  10. Devin Booker

 

-JT

 

photo credit:  http://media.philly.com/images/600*400/sixxxer.jpg

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