NBA Rookie Power Rankings 5.0: Can Chet Holmgren catch Victor Wembanyama in the Rookie of the Year race?

By | March 4, 2024

For almost the entire season, it has been a two-man race at the top between Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama for NBA Rookie of the Year. The dueling 7-foot-plus hybrid centers have been impressive all season, especially in the three games the duo have faced off. In the last match it was Wembanyama and Spurs who achieved victory. The 7-4 Frenchman finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks, while Holmgren added 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Throughout the season, Wembanyama has topped the leaderboard in most categories, but Holmgren has had more impact in winning matches. Wembanyama leads all rookies in points, rebounds, blocks and steals, but is also No. 1 in turnovers. Holmgren has the better shooting percentage and his plus/minus is much better, so the race for Rookie of the Year is not over yet.

Twins Amen Thompson (Houston Rockets) and Ausar Thompson (Detroit Pistons) are back in the top 10 after stellar defensive performances over the past month, while the offensive performance of Heat’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jazz guard Keyonte George propel them into the top 5.

Here’s an updated look at Yahoo Sports’ rookie rankings for the 2023-2024 season.

Draft slot: No. 1

Previous rank: 1

Every night, Wembanyama does something that no other player can do, and even though Spurs have only won 13 games so far this season, he is becoming a must-watch. In February, he averaged 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.9 blocks in less than 28.9 minutes. To put these numbers in perspective, in LeBron James’ rookie season in 2003-04, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 39.5 minutes.

Whether it’s going head-to-head with Holmgren or battling James, Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wembanyama has quickly gained respect around the league.

“He [Wembanyama] is a very good basketball player, so it’s always fun to go against players who are not only very good, but also play very hard and he gets the best out of you,” Holmgren said during All-Star Weekend. “He’s high level competitor. You can see that in how hard he plays and the emotion with which he plays.”

Draft slot (2022): No. 2

Previous rank: 2

Holmgren’s impact this season alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams has lifted this young OKC team from rebuilding mode to a real threat in the Western Conference. He trails Wembanyama in almost every stat line, including blocks, rebounds and field goal attempts. Wembanyama has had more exciting games where he completely filled the stat sheet, and that could be the difference in determining top rookie honors.

Draft slot: No. 2

Previous rank: 3

If Wembanyama and Holmgren weren’t in this draft class, Miller would have a strong case as the top rookie. In February, he led all rookies in points, minutes played, three-point shot attempts and three-point shots made. He recorded his first double-double of the season on Sunday night, finishing with 26 points (4-for-8 from 3) and 10 rebounds, while adding three assists and one block.

Draft slot: No. 18

Previous rank: 10

After an offensive slump in January, Jaquez has bounced back after the All-Star break. He had 26 points, plus five rebounds, four steals and two assists, in a win over the Kings on Feb. 26 and has improved his shot selection in the second half of the season. The Heat are now 4-1 since the break and have a healthy Jaquez back in the lineup after suffering a minor groin injury in January.

Miami Heat guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, appears to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.  defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, February 29, 2024, in Denver.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)Miami Heat guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, appears to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.  defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, February 29, 2024, in Denver.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. is averaging 12.7 points and 3.9 rebounds this season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Draft slot: No. 16

Previous rank: 4

George has had two 30+ point games in the past month and is really starting to find his rhythm offensively. At the start of the year it was his passing and playmaking that got him early minutes and now he has become more of a scoring threat as he gets better and more consistent at shooting off the dribble. George has hit 12 three-pointers in his last three games and appears to be a steal for the Jazz at No. 16.

“The game is definitely slowing down for me,” George told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve been watching games around the league and seeing how other guards got into their spots and just trying to figure out my spots and my shot selection.”

Draft slot: No. 19

Previous rank: 6

Podziemski leads the 32-player roster this season and has become a seamless addition to a Warriors team full of veterans. Even with the emergence of Jonathan Kuminga, Podziemski has found ways to complement him offensively and is playing well within the system, averaging 3.9 assists per game. He is tough defensively and remains one of the best starting rebounding guards.

Draft slot: number 4

Previous rank: not ranked

In the Rockets’ most recent win over the Suns, Thompson finished with nine points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists and zero turnovers in 21 minutes. Both Amen and his twin brother Ausar were placed in the top five last year for their defensive versatility – particularly the way they defend on and off the ball and can fend off turnovers with their size. Amen is already becoming one of the best defenders in the league with the way he locked down both Devin Booker and Kevin Durant and even blocked center Bol Bol on a 7-3 run.

Draft slot: No. 12

Previous rank: 5

Lively remains a threat on the perimeter, even after breaking his nose just before the All-Star break. He recorded nine blocks in his last four games and saw more offensive performance in the loss to Boston on March 1, when he went 7-for-7 from the field for 15 points.

Draft slot: number 5

Previous rank: Honorable mention

Among rookies, Thompson is second in steals (66) and the top blocking guard, with 56 blocks this season. He had a season-high five steals in a loss to the Cavaliers on March 1, while adding 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Thompson’s biggest area of ​​development remains his three-point shot, which saw him shoot just under 30% last month. The Pistons are one of the worst teams in the league, but Thompson is getting the reps he needs offensively and, like his twin brother, is proving to be one of the best perimeter defenders.

Draft slot: No. 13

Previous rank: not ranked

Dick spent the beginning of the season in the G League, but he rejoined the Raptors in January and has been seeing solid rotation minutes. In the month of February, he averaged 11 points while shooting 55% from the field and 50% from three-point range. Dick plays an average of twenty minutes and has only turned the ball over six times in the last fifteen games. His best game of the season came on February 5, when he scored 22 points (4-for-8 from 3), four rebounds and two assists in a loss to the Pelicans.

Honorable mention

Cam Whitmore, Houston Rockets

Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder

GG Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies

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