HomeSportsNBA Rookie Power Rankings 6.0: Victor Wembanyama ends the season at the...

NBA Rookie Power Rankings 6.0: Victor Wembanyama ends the season at the top of the league

The NBA regular season has come to an end and it was packed with incredible performances from first-year players. Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, did not disappoint in his rookie year and the future looks bright for the young star as the San Antonio Spurs continue to build their franchise around him.

“I would say I’m currently at 15% between my first NBA game and what I hope will be my best,” Wembanyama told Eurosport France’s Théo Quintard.

Wembanyama’s record-breaking rookie season didn’t go unnoticed, nor did a few other players, including Chet Holmgren, who was playing in his first season after sitting out last year due to injury, and second-round sleeper GG Jackson in Memphis.

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

Draft slot: No. 1

Previous rank: 1

Wembanyama has done things this season that no other player can do and exceeded all expectations in his first year. He finished the regular season leading all rookies in blocks (254), steals (88), rebounds (755), field goals made (551) and total points (1,522). He also led the entire NBA in combined blocks and steals (332) this season and had the highest three-point field goal percentage with a step back of 46.2% (minimum 50 three-point field goal attempts).

In a recent win over the Denver Nuggets, Wembanyama scored 17 points in less than 3 minutes and finished with a team-high 34 points. He is the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year and has been all season. He finished the season averaging 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 blocks, all in 29.7 minutes per game.

In 2003-2004, LeBron James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 39.5 minutes as a rookie. Now in his 21st season, James has been named an All-Star 20 times. It is not outside the realm of possibility to predict that Wembanyama could have an equally successful career.

Draft slot (2022): No. 2

Previous rank: 2

Holmgren was one of two rookies to play in all 82 regular season games this year and he also led all rookies in minutes played. If anyone was going to take Wembanyama for top rookie honors, it would be Holmgren. He was so impressive in his first year and, along with Wembanyama, is changing the way the center position is played.

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Holmgren can stretch the floor and take players off the dribble, and is also an elite rim protector with his 7-6 wingspan. During the regular season, Holmgren averaged 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 37% from three-point range. He is a key part of the Thunder’s growing success, and the budding rivalry between Holmgren and Wembanyama will be must-see television every time the duo take the field.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - FEBRUARY 29: Forward Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs guards Oklahoma City Thunder Forward Chet Holmgren #7 during a game at Frost Bank Center on February 29, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photo, user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Brien Aho/Getty Images)

Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama enjoyed historic rookie seasons. (Photo by Brien Aho/Getty Images)

Draft slot: No. 2

Previous rank: 3

Miller was the No. 1 offensive tackle for the Hornets all season, silencing any doubts about his physicality and shot creation in the NBA. He was so productive this season in LaMelo Ball’s absence, averaging 17.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44% from the field. Miller led all rookies in three-point field goals made (184) and also averaged the most minutes (32.2). In any other year, Miller would have been eligible for top rookie honors, but he unfortunately found himself competing with Wembanyama and also had to face Holmgren in his first year.

Draft slot: number 4

Previous rank: 7

Thompson finished the regular season strong with his first career triple-double in a win over the Clippers on Sunday. He was incredible all game, playing 40 minutes and posting 18 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and three steals.

Thompson was one of the best perimeter defenders this year, forcing turnovers, and he has the ability to guard both backcourt positions well. It was a slow start for Thompson, but as the game slowed down for him and he found his rhythm, he was very productive. Thompson averaged 15.8 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the final four games of the season.

Draft slot: No. 18

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Previous rank: 4

Jaquez had two of his best games of the season in back-to-back wins against the Raptors to end the regular season. In the first game, Jaquez had 20 points (2-for-4 from 3) and nine assists and was more of a ball handler with the way he facilitated his teammates. In the final game of the regular season, Jaquez scored 18 points and added five assists, four rebounds and three blocks. Jaquez was one of the oldest rookies this season, playing all four years at UCLA, and it really helped with his adjustment to the physical guard game and pace of the NBA game.

“As a newcomer, my teammates always say to me, ‘You inherit the team before you,’ and last year they were in the finals and their job is to try to come back,” Jaquez told Yahoo Sports in December. “So I’m experiencing that and trying to push and do what I can to stay at the top and try to get back to the finals and win.”

Draft slot: No. 19

Previous rank: 6

Podziemski is the only rookie to post 250+ assists and 350+ rebounds this season and has been an integral part of the Warriors all season. He is one of the best rebounding guards in the rookie class and so strong with the ball in his hands. Podziemski averaged 9.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists in the month of April as the Warriors won 6–2 to end the regular season.

Draft slot: No. 16

Previous rank: 5

It’s clear the Jazz are all in on George and he’s shown great versatility all season. Early on he was more of a facilitator, and by the end of the season he was more of a scoring guard. His three-point shot has improved and he is more than just a catch-and-shoot threat behind the arc. George finished his rookie year with 21 points (5-of-6 from 3-point range) and four assists in Sunday’s loss to the Warriors.

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Draft slot: No. 45

Previous rank: Honorable mention

There are always sleepers in the second round of the NBA Draft and the Grizzlies got a steal in the 6-9 forward. Jackson capped his incredible rookie season with a season-high 44 points and 12 rebounds in a loss to the Nuggets and set the franchise record for most points scored by a rookie. Jackson is one of the youngest rookies in his class and the reps he got this year, against some of the best players in the league, have catapulted his development and given him the confidence to become one of the top scoring forwards in the league to be. N.B.A.

Draft slot: No. 12

Previous rank: 8

Luka Dončić is third in assists and a lot of that has to do with the players he passes to. Lively has been so good in the pick-and-roll all season alongside Dončić and Kyrie Irving. His footwork at the rim and the way he can catch passes in traffic are what separates him from other young bigs in the league. Lively finished the regular season averaging 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 23.5 minutes.

Draft slot: number 3

Previous rank: Not ranked

The Trail Blazers are in rebuilding mode and have been patient with their point guard as he adjusts to the pace and distance of the NBA. The future looks bright for Henderson if his final game of the season is any indication of the trajectory of his career. He finished with 30 points and seven assists, scoring in a variety of ways. The two games before that, Henderson had a double-double in points and assists, and he averaged 19.4 points and 9.7 assists in the month of April.

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