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NBA Rookie of the Year rankings: Wemby pulls away


With just over a month left in the regular season, Victor Wembanyama has pulled away from the rest of the competition for Rookie of the Year. The Frenchman's two historic performances in February leave the other rookies in need of some monumental displays to usurp him.

5. Keyonte George, Utah Jazz

2023-24 season averages

55 39.4 44.7 82.2 2.8 4.5 12.2

Previous: N/A

With Dereck Lively and Brandin Podziemski either injured or struggling, it's Keyonte George's time to join the leaderboard. The Jazz point guard's playing time fluctuated earlier this season but has steadied to just over 30 minutes per game since the trade deadline. Over those 12 games, the former Baylor product averaged 16.3 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 42.2% from deep.

While his overall shooting from the field leaves a lot to be desired, his 3-point accuracy and ball movement make him an ideal fit alongside star forward Lauri Markkanen. He looks to be the franchise's guard of the future.

4. Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat

Bart Young / National Basketball Association / Getty

2023-24 season averages

54 49.2 31.8 80.9 3.9 2.6 12.7

Previous: 4

Jaime Jaquez's 3-point shooting dipped from 36.5% in 2023 to 23.1% in 2024. Rookies often hit a wall down the stretch, and Jaquez's participation in the All-Star Weekend's Slam Dunk contest prevented the draft class' No. 2 minutes-getter from enjoying some much-needed rest.

That doesn't mean Jaquez hasn't had his moments, though. He put together an absolute gem of a game against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 26, with three of his teammates suspended for a brawl the game prior and guards Terry Rozier and Tyler Herro also sidelined. The UCLA product scored 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting, adding five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in his 38 minutes of action, willing Miami to a massive road victory.

3. Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets

2023-24 season averages

54 44.0 37.7 82.9 4.1 2.4 16.7

Previous: 3

Brandon Miller may be having one of the most underappreciated rookie seasons in recent memory. The two stars atop this list clearly overshadow him, and he also plays in one of the league's smallest markets, with the Hornets sinking down the league's standings. But Miller has quietly put together a tremendous campaign.

Chet Holmgren, Steph Curry, and Damon Stoudamire are the only other rookies to ever average at least 16 points and four assists while making at least 100 threes at a 37% clip or better. Miller has learned from his mistakes on a bad team, playing 34.5 minutes per game and hitting at least two 3-pointers in all but two games in February. He even put up 25 points or more four times last month.

2. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Michael Gonzales / National Basketball Association / Getty

2023-24 season averages

60 54.4 39.7 78.5 7.8 2.7 17.2

Previous: 2

There's no shame in coming second.

Chet Holmgren's chances of winning Rookie of the Year seem to have evaporated thanks to Wembanyama's brilliance. The Thunder center averaged 18.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.5 assists, and a steal in just over 30 minutes over the past 10 contests. Yet Wembanyama still bested him on Feb. 29, dropping 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks - including a big-time rejection on Holmgren.

The Thunder rookie still has things going for him in this race. His shooting from the field and his 3-point rate are better than Wembanyama's, largely due to his role behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. The Thunder are also knocking on the door of the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, while Wemby's San Antonio Spurs are basement-dwellers. But unless Holmgren can top Wembanyama's triple-double with blocks or his 5x5 game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the award is destined to go to the French phenom.

1. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

2023-24 season averages

55 47.0 33.3 81.5 10.2 3.4 20.9

Previous: 1

There isn't much more left to say about Victor Wembanyama. While many rookies hit a wall later in the season, he seems to be getting more comfortable with each game. Compare his game tape from the season's opening weeks to now, and the differences are glaring. Part of that is the Spurs' coaching staff putting him in better spots to succeed, but it's largely down to Wembanyama's exceptional work ethic.

Yet the one nitpick remaining is the Spurs' struggle to actually win games. Though his team went just 2-10 in February, Wembanyama finished with an even or positive plus-minus in six games. The Frenchman's passing has been a big part of wins, too, with the Spurs going 6-6 when he dishes out five or more dimes, versus 5-25 when he has three or fewer.

Aside from his team's record, there aren't really any bones to pick with one of the greatest first-year players in league history.

Honorable mentions: Dereck Lively (Dallas Mavericks), Brandin Podziemski (Golden State Warriors), Cam Whitmore (Houston Rockets).

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