Now that the first ten (or so) games of the season are complete, we have enough of a sample size to make some early judgments about this rookie class.
Victor Wembanyama is the obvious headliner worth mentioning right away, but he isn’t the only one who has come out of the gates looking strong. Even though top picks including Portland’s Scoot Henderson and Houston’s Amen Thompson are missing time due to injury, others are standing out so far.
Based on what we have seen so far during the regular season, we can offer our first official rookie leaderboard. These rankings, of course, are subject to change as players either hit a bit of a wall or become more comfortable and hit a groove in the NBA.
Victor Wembanyama remains the early betting favorite to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
One reason why: According to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, the NBA’s Rookie of the Year almost always goes to the first-year player who had the highest total combination of points, rebounds and assists per game.
As of right now, that player is Wembanyama, who leads all rookies in scoring (18.6 ppg) thus far. He also leads first-year players in blocked shots (2.4 bpg) despite an undeniably tough task as the anchor of San Antonio’s offense and defense.
As he is tossed in the deep end, we can expect mesmerizing highlights with notable productivity. But his record-high usage rate might drag down some of his efficiency numbers as begins his NBA career.
Even with his ups and downs, though, he is truly a delight any time he steps on the court and worth watching in case he does something that you’ve never seen before.
Wembanyama has some competition at the top of the Rookie of the Year leaderboard and his name is Chet Holmgren. The two players are already in the midst of a thrilling rivalry.
Even though Wembanyana currently has the top spot on our rankings, Holmgren has a ridiculously strong case. He leads all rookies in catch-all metrics like DARKO’s Daily Plus-Minus (DPM), Box Plus-Minus (BPM), Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Win Shares (WS), NBA.com’s Player Impact Estimate (PIE) and HoopsHype’s Global Rating.
His early impact is undeniable whenever he is on the court for the Thunder. Although it is Wembanyama who is getting the early buzz for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, perhaps it is Holmgren who deserves more of that attention.
Holmgren already ranks second-best among all NBA players in the all-in-one defensive metric (D-DRIP) so far this season, per Stats Perform.
He already leads the league in shots defended at the rim and total contested shots, per NBA.com. If this continues, his contested shots per game (13.1) would beat out players like Evan Mobley (12.3) and Joel Embiid (12.2) for the most on record from a rookie.
Meanwhile, on the offensive end of the floor, Holmgren is thriving in a simplified role as a spot-up threat while connecting on his catch-and-shoot opportunities. Just as he predicted, he is on pace to become the youngest and tallest member of the elusive 50-40-90 club.
Even though his jump shot isn’t connecting, Detroit’s Ausar Thompson is still achieving unprecedented success for the Pistons.
Since the start of the NBA’s 3-point era in 1979, there are just two players to ever record at least 100 points as well 100 rebounds, 15 steals and 15 blocks during their first 12 NBA games. Before this season, via Stathead, only San Anonio’s David Robinson (who would go on to win two NBA championships and an MVP) met those qualifications.
But now Ausar Thompson has joined him in this accomplishment as well. Robinson is famously 7-foot-1 while the Pistons rookie was listed at 6-foot-6 before the season began.
Yet despite his wing-sized frame, Thompson has remarkable athleticism and very good playmaking instincts. He has already managed to create second-chance opportunities at a truly phenomenal rate for the Pistons. He somehow trails only Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson in total offensive rebounds so far this season.
Thompson is a scrappy hustle player who already has twice as many loose balls recovered as the rookie with the second-most recorded in 2023-24.
He is also already earning challenging defensive assignments such as Damian Lillard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Maxey and Jimmy Butler. Through it all, he manages to become a disruptor every time he steps on the court.
During the first regular-season game of Wembanyama’s career, it was Mavericks rookie big man Dereck Lively II who played spoiler and stole the show.
Lively has continued to have an impressive season for Dallas, starting 10 of the past 11 games for the organization. He is a very low-usage big man who is going to make a living doing the little things next to superstars like Luka Doncic and Kyrie. He also maximizes his offensive efficiency whenever he is afforded the opportunity.
The rookie is currently shooting 81 percent at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass, which ranks in the 94th percentile among players at his position.
He is one of the league leaders in dunks and has shown flashes of potential as a legitimate two-way contributor who is already able to blend in with the first unit of a contender.
Oklahoma City’s Cason Wallace already looks like an incredible find in the draft for the Thunder. He has made strides as a passer and playmaker but that is far from his most impressive skill.
If it feels like Wallace never misses, it’s because he hasn’t really done that much yet. His effective field goal percentage (74.8 percent) ranks in the 98th percentile among players at his position, per Cleaning the Glass. He is 12-of-17 (71.0 percent) on corner 3-pointers and finishing well at the rim, too.
Wallace is playing more off-ball as a spot-up shooter who occasionally cuts to the basket rather than the pick-and-roll creator like we saw at Kentucky. It has allowed him to do what he does best without making many mistakes.
Thompson isn’t the only rookie who is lighting it up for the Pistons. They’ve also found a role for Marcus Sasser.
Although he is a bit undersized, with his effectiveness, the league will always find a place for sharpshooters like Sasser. He is already showing he can easily create his own unassisted jump shot off the dribble.
He is scoring well out of the high pick-and-roll and has become one of the rookie leaders in 3-pointers made. Sasser has also shown surprisingly great effort on the defensive end of the ball.
Washington has an exciting young player with Bilal Coulibaly in the mix.
While he is known mostly for his defensive prowess, the 19-year-old is already hitting his ju