Ben Simmons, G/F, Philadelphia 76ers: 16.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 7.2 apg
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons No. 1 in the 2016 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, Simmons missed the entire 2016-2017 NBA season due to a broken bone in his foot. However, Simmons has shown no ill effects from his year-long hiatus. He is second among rookies in points per game and leads rookies in rebounds per game and assists per game. His numbers are eye-popping, yet they’re not indicative of how dominant Simmons can be. Simmons recorded 31 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks on Nov. 29, 2017. Simmons can dominate games as a rookie, so one can only expect great things from him moving forward.
Donovan Mitchell, G, Utah Jazz: 19.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.3 apg
Donovan Mitchell has been an outstanding member of the Utah Jazz this season. Many fans and pundits left the Jazz for dead after the departure of Gordon Hayward in the offseason and the injury to Rudy Gobert. Mitchell will not let people overlook the Jazz. He is leading all rookies in scoring. He showcased his scoring brilliance most notably in his 41-point outing against the Pelicans on Dec. 1, 2017, and he has scored 30 or more in two of his last three games. Mitchell, taken 13th in the 2017 NBA Draft, is producing at a much higher rate than the twelve players taken before him. Until Gobert’s return, the Jazz will continue to rely on him as the focal point of their offense and defense.
Kyle Kuzma, F, Los Angeles Lakers: 16.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
Taken as the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kyle Kuzma is looking like the draft’s biggest steal. Kuzma is third behind Mitchell and Simmons for the rookie scoring title and is fifth among rookies in rebounding. Kuzma’s best performance so far came against one of the league’s best teams, the Houston Rockets. Kuzma scored 38 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against Houston on Dec 31, 2017. Cause for concern exists with Kuzma because he is averaging 12.1 points per game in January 2018, whereas in November and December of 2017, Kuzma was averaging 19.5 and 18.2 points per game, respectively. The Lakers will need him to play at a high level to avoid cellar-dwelling this season.