Logan Collien’s Rookie Rankings #1



This is an absolutely loaded rookie class. While most years look to be purely developmental for the majority of the rookie class, this class looks ready to a make sizable impact the moment it takes the floor. Because of this classes sheer depth and talent, I will be releasing bi-weekly, updated rankings of this rookie class, accounting for all of the surprises this class is sure to entail. These predictions are not solely based on talent, but a combination of talent, chemistry, and opportunity.

  1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers.

CBS Sports

After a prodigious freshman season at LSU, Simmons was dubbed by some as “the best prospect since LeBron James.” Then he missed all of the 2016-17 season with an ankle injury and his name all but disappeared from the lips of critics. But after growing two more inches to stand at 7’0, the Simmons buzz is starting to grow as his brilliant preseason play triggered the memories of those who once labeled him a prodigy. If his jump shot, his biggest knock coming out of college, has improved considerably, there is nothing stopping Simmons from being the clear-cut ROY. Just keep on Trusting The Process.

2. Lonzo Ball, Los Angles Lakers


After a spectacular summer league and notable moments in preseason, Lonzo is geared up to answer to what may quite possibly be the largest hype-train we have ever seen. The 6-6 point guard is ready to take the keys to one of the most storied franchises in the league, and if his preseason is indicative of Lonzo’s ability, this hype might just be justified. Prepare yourself for the upsurge of unorthodox shooting, court-side Lavar, and $400 kicks, because the Zo Show is upon us.

3.  Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks


When watching Smith Jr., you can’t help but compare him to a young Russell Westbrook. So many aspects of his play style–from his freakish athleticism to elite playmaking ability–resemble that of Westbrook. But perhaps the most advantageous component of Smith Jr’s rookie season will be his playing time, which he will be getting a great deal of for a very mediocre Mavs team. He will no doubt have free reign in Dallas, where the spark-plug floor general has the chance to do some major damage surrounded by a youthful core.

4. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

NBC Sports

Tatum is getting the starting nod for a Celtics team that is looking for answers after a gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward. In addition to Hayward missing substantial time, Marcus Morris is out the first few weeks of the season with a knee injury. This leaves a door gaping open for Tatum to establish himself as one of the marquee rookies on a highly competitive team. For someone who advanced offensively and has astonishingly good footwork for a rookie, stepping into a larger than expected role shouldn’t be a problem for Tatum. Before the Hayward injury, Tatum would be leaning towards the bottom half of this list, but an opportunity has presented itself to Tatum, and the Duke product hopes to capitalize on this unfortunate circumstance.

5. DeAaron Fox, Sacramento Kings


Fox would be much higher on this list if not for the King’s acquisition of George Hill in free agency. He may have to fight for minutes behind the talented vet, although the Kings could sample of a lineup that includes both Hill and the nimble rookie, with Hill most likely playing the 2, as Fox’s 24.6 percent three-point mark is the only glaring weakness in his game. But the electrifying guard looks to be ready for a season of pick-pocketing and coast to coast drives in a nanosecond.

6. Kyle Kuzma,  Los Angeles Lakers

Yahoo Sports

Its not often that the 27th pick is in the ROY conversation before the season even begins. But this kid is special. Not only did he light up summer league with his diverse offensive arsenal, but he continued this play into preseason, where he totaled the 13th highest ppg of any NBA player. He has played so well that rumors have started circulating of the possibility of Kuzma getting the starting job over Julius Randle. On a Laker’s team with a plethora of talented frontcourt prospects like Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Larry Nance Jr., Kuzma has the chance to outshine all of them and become the budding star that no one saw coming.

7. Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia 76ers


Fultz could pretty easily end up being the best player in his draft class on his way to becoming a superstar in this league. But with Simmons running the offense and Embiid grabbing some well-deserved spotlight, Fultz might have to settle for an off-ball role that won’t bode well for his ROY campaign. He is going to come off the bench to start the season, with limited preseason play cited as the reason behind this decision. Expect some inconsistency and reduced assist rate as he adjusts to not being the first option ball dominant player he was in Washington.

8. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz


For someone who was drafted on the premise of defensive ability, Mitchell could have a more versed offensive game than anyone suspected. His three-point shot improved by 10 percent from his freshman to sophomore year at Louisville, and expect that trend to continue as his mechanics appear nearly flawless. Don’t expect an influx of playing time with a pretty deep Jazz backcourt, but the versatile and physically gifted combo guard is too good to not establish a role this year.

9. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks


Collins biggest asset for his ROY campaign is not an aspect of his game. His largest asset is that the Atlanta Hawks are going to be ATROCIOUS this year. And that means Collins will get the green light and a chance to carve out a starting role for a team bound for an early lottery pick. Don’t sleep on Collins game though. The Wake Forest product could be a walking double-double with eccentric dunks and plenty of highlight reels.

10. Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns


Out of all the ultra-talented lottery picks, perhaps no one is a better fit for their team than Jackson, who has the two-way potential that GMs salivate for. He brings elite athleticism to the table, which should mix well with the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, and the Sun’s fast-paced offense. His shooting struggles should hide for now behind Booker’s lethal stroke, but could still be an ongoing issue for Jackson. If nothing else, Jackson’s rookie season should consist of lockdown defense with plenty of lob catching and the occasional poster.


Honorable Mentions:

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets

Lauri Markannen, Chicago Bulls


About Logan Collien

From Madison, WI Twitter: @lcollien

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