Kia Rookie Ladder: Paolo Banchero leads the 1st ranking of 2022-23



1 overall pick Paolo Banchero has started strong in his rookie season.

What have you done for them lately – seemed to be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s postgame point on Tuesday night after scoring 34 points to spark Oklahoma City past the Orlando Magic and rookie Paolo Banchero .

Beyond his goals and shots (12 for 18, 10 for 11 from the line), Gilgeous-Alexander threw shade at Banchero, the league’s top rookie in the first two weeks of the season . After citing some of the attributes of the former Duke big man, noting “physical, plays inside his game, he’s got tools,” the Thunder guard added gratuitously, “Chet Holmgren was the No. 1, by the way.”

It was a nice nod to Holmgren, who actually went to OKC with the No. 2 overall pick, but is out for the entire 2022-23 season due to right foot surgery. to an off-season injury. But it was still a blow to Banchero, and above all an undeserved blow.

Yes, Banchero spat on the stretch at OKC, scoring two points on a 1-for-5 shot in the fourth quarter while Gilgeous-Alexander scored 13 to bring his team back from an 11-point deficit in the final seven minutes . Still, it’s clear that Orlando viewed the Seattle native Banchero as the centerpiece of their young core and, despite a recent dip, he performed as such.

That’s why Banchero holds the top rung of this week’s Kia Rookie Ladder.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault was more generous than Gilgeous-Alexander in assessing Banchero’s play so far and his potential.

“The combination of size and skill is what makes him unique,” Daigneault said. “He is very tricky for a young player. He has an old soul game.

Banchero’s performances brought back names from the past, like this: When he totaled 120 points, 35 rebounds and 15 assists in his first five games, he became the first rookie since Dominique Wilkins in 1982- 83 to do so. At 19 – he will turn 20 on November 12 – he moved into prestigious company when he played OKC.

Banchero encountered bumps in the rookie road. He’s shooting 28% from three, his usage rate (29.3) is well above any Magic player’s last season and at 1-7 the team on Tuesday slipped behind the start 2-6 from 2021-22. Banchero could use a shot – he’s second among league rookies in minutes (33.8) and assists (3.6), while passing newcomers in points (21.8) and rebounds (7.6).

But last week during a stopover in Cleveland, Banchero told The Athletic: “Honestly, it’s really fun. It’s really competitive. Just all the games and all the traveling and everything, you know, just learning to get enough rest. I’m learning my body even more by eating and stuff, so I’ve loved it so far.


The Top 5 this week on the Kia Rookie Ladder 2022-23:

(All stats through Tuesday, November 1)

1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Season statistics: 21.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.6 apg
Draft pick: No. 1 overall

When two games scoring 18 and 15 on 12 for 33 shooting (1 for 7 on three) qualify as a crisis, you know a rookie has done something remarkable. The No. 1 pick last June had scored 20 or more points in each of his first six games. His front line – 27 points, nine boards, five assists – made him just the third rookie since 1969-70 (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James) to hit 25+, 5+ and 5+ in their first games. If the 6-foot-10 versatile player looked tired in Dallas or OKC this week, it was understandable; Orlando has played six of its eight road games and eight overall in 14 days. Next, though: a seven-game Magic homestand.


2. Benoit Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Season statistics: 20.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
Draft pick: No. 6 overall

With Indiana trailing Chicago 17 on Oct. 26, Mathurin hurt some of the Bulls by slipping the ball and attack the basket, a type of bad form game that would have demonstrated its competitive fire. Coming off the bench for the Pacers, he matched his worst over/under (minus-18 in under 27 minutes), but he went over 20 points on three occasions, including 32 in Brooklyn on Saturday with 6-for-9 from the arc. “He’s got tools that no one else on our team has and that’s exciting,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.


3. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

Season statistics: 17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.4 apg
Draft Pick: No. 4 overall

Murray was considered by many to be the most complete player in the Class of 2022 and that showed in his overall contributions to the 2-4 Kings. Coach Mike Brown had said of the Iowa native, “He can play with the starters or he can play with the second unit. It’s going to be good either way. He just has a good feel and demeanor for a young man. After two reserve appearances, Brown moved Murray into the starting lineup and used him in both forward positions.


4. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

Season statistics: 15.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg
Draft pick: No. 5 overall

The Purdue product’s explosiveness and zeal to attack the rim have set him apart so far, with only Banchero topping him on records among rookies. Ivey was adept at finishing — hitting 71% inside 3 feet — as well as kicking wide-spaced teammates on the perimeter. Venturing further from the basket for shots was an adventure, although he hit two of his five threes against Golden State and was a plus-15 in Sunday’s win.


5. Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets

Season statistics: 11.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.9 apg
Draft Pick: No. 3 overall

One of nine Rockets players 21 or younger, Smith hit one of those multi-category random superlatives in his first eight games – only rookie to total at least 95 points, 51 rebounds, 10 blocked shots and 17 3 points in this particular sample. Cut. A bench of October 24 soaring with Jalen Green, some Houston fans wondered, competition or friction?


The next 5:

6. Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons

Season statistics: 7.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.1 apg
Draft Pick: No. 13 overall

More offensive plateaus (47) in 7 games than Detroit HOFer Bob Lanier.

7. Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers

Season statistics: 9.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.7 apg
Draft pick: 7th overall

Minutes accumulate with the first start for a 50% shooter.

8. Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs

Season statistics: 8.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
Draft pick: No. 9 overall

Normally Rudy Gobert gets rookies on the rim, not the other way around.

9. Tari Eason, Houston Rockets

Season statistics: 7.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.5 apg
Draft pick: 17th overall

Houston assistant John Lucas called him “the best Dennis Rodman”.

10. Jake LaRavia, Memphis Grizzlies

Season statistics: 7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.4 apg
Draft pick: 19th overall

Missed two games due to illness, but reached 60% of three.

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Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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