Kia Rookie Ladder: Victor Vembanyama is better than expected

Victor Wembayama’s career-high 38-points led San Antonio to a 132-121 victory over Phoenix.

Soon after Kia climbed the rookie ladder in the 2023-24 season, the team found itself in a quandary.

There’s no denying the obvious: Victor Wembayama looks like the biggest lock for Kia Rookie of the Year, at least as far as Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns (who received all 130 ROY first-place votes) In 2015-16) Again, handing out an award is ridiculous, especially with so many strong first-year contributors already emerging.

So don’t look to the ladder for the fabricated tension in its ranks. But know that it will still feature other rookies that will have a profound impact on their teams’ performance and the class of 2023.

Weekly review

The last rookie to record the streak Victor Wembayama has accomplished over a full season was David Robinson of the Spurs in 1989-90, 14 years before Wemba was born.

Sade Holmgren’s late start (he missed 2022-23 after foot surgery) aligns him with Wembaniyama in more ways than one. First two NBA players to make at least 10 blocks and 10 3-pointers through their first six appearances.

Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller and Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson are the next two picks after Wembey in June. However, both faced early hurdles: a bench role for Miller and a sprained ankle for Henderson.

If you thought you only had to pay attention to those top four rung-holders, guess again. Detroit Pistons’ Ausser Thompson (who has jumped ahead of his Houston counterpart, Amen), Dallas Mavericks center Derek Lively II, New Orleans Pelicans sharpshooter Jordan Hawkins and several other promising rookies are on the list. Further

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A must watch storyline

Vembanyama hit Manhattan on Wednesday night as the NBA’s biggest buzzer made its debut at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) before the next ladder match, where he and the Spurs face the Wolves and Heat, who will face new rival Holmgren in an in-season showdown in Oklahoma City next Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT)

This week’s Top 5 on the 2022-23 Kia Rookie Ladder:

(All figures till Monday 6th November)

1. Victor Wembaniama, San Antonio Spurs

Season Stats: 19.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.7 apg
Draft Selection: Number 1

The French freak of nature, who leads all freshmen in scoring, field-goal attempts, free throws and blocks, poses a challenge unlike any other to individual opponents. Knicks center Mitchell Robinson gets points for creativity in anticipation of Wembley Wednesday against his minutes: „I’m going to play him like he’s one of those Kristaps Porzingis types. [bigs]. Who else plays like that? Like like? You have to mix the two together.”

2. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Stats: 17.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.7 apg
Draft Selection: No. 2 (by 2022)

Redshirting, what would have been his freshman season stats to help OKC center, it’s not like Rookie of the Year winners Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons flourished after starting a year late. But some of the things Holmgren showed weren’t simply sitting in film sessions or watching practice from the sidelines. He is shooting 55.7% overall, 53.8% on 3-pointers and 90% on free throws.

3. Auser Thompson, Detroit Pistons

Season Stats: 12.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.8 apg
Draft Selection: Number 5

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The leading rebounder in the ’23 class at 6-foot-7 gives up nine inches and five inches to Vembaniyama and Holmgren, respectively. The duo was already ahead of his brother Amen in securing a spot (and was born a minute earlier). The elite athlete and pesky defender is already drawing attention as a future „5×5” box-score stuffer. (Okay, let’s tackle this now: this uh-SARR And Um- humans.)

4. Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets

Season Stats: 13.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 apg
Draft Selection: Number 2 overall

To the relief of Hornets fans, Miller has already cleared the low expectations he set for the season. However, he will continue to face challenges in individual NBA premierships. On Sunday, it will be his first back-to-back, his first start and the first time he will have to guard Kyrie Irving. Results: Just seven points on 3-for-12 shooting in loss to Dallas.

5. Derek Lively II, Dallas Mavericks

Season Stats: 9.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.1 apg
Draft Selection: Number 12

Lively is one of the keys to the Mavericks’ 6-1 start and, at 7-foot-1, is arguably the biggest. He has developed court chemistry with Irving and Luka Doncic, attacks the offensive glass and is a rim protector in Dallas’ improved defense. Former Mavs center Tyson Chandler, who recently worked with the team’s big men, had the highest praise for Lively: „He reminds me of me.”

Next 5:

6. Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans

Season Stats: 12.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.7 apg
Draft Selection: Number 14

Only two rookies have scored 30+ points in the game so far: Wembey and this guy.

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7. Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers

Season Stats: 8.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.6 apg
Draft Selection: Number 3

He will miss his third straight game (ankle) Wednesday vs. the Kings.

8. Marcus Chaucer, Detroit Pistons

Season Stats: 9.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.8 apg
Draft Selection: Number 25

The four-year college guard is earning minutes (and trust) in Detroit.

9. Julian Strather, Denver Nuggets

Season Stats: 6.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.5 apg
Draft Selection: No. 29

He already has more 3-pointers (9) than Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyrie Irving and Khris Middleton.

10. Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Stats: 8.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg
Draft Selection: Number 10

68.8% overall while shooting with tough cards tested (and 6-for-11 on 3-pointers).

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Steve Ashburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, find his archive here and Follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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