Updated Rookie Guard Rankings: Jan. 15-21
Greetings from a world of low field goal percentages, high turnovers, and occasional flashes of stardom. It was a mixed week for the six rookies, with Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr. leading the charge and Frank Ntilikina and De'Aaron Fox enduring their fair share of struggles. All six of the teams that these guards play for are under .500, and with the season shifting into the trade deadline period and bad teams officially recognizing that they are bad, we're seeing teams like the Kings and Mavs entrust even more into the hands of their young pieces. It's a trend to watch and could become even more apparent after the trade deadline, and it makes monitoring these players that much more interesting.
1. Donovan Mitchell (Prev. rank: 1)
The Frank-Mitchell matchup from last Friday's Knicks-Jazz game never materialized as Frank played just five minutes in the contest. Aside from that letdown, it was another week of Mitchell cruising in the top spot, highlighted by a 34-point performance over De'Aaron Fox's Kings.
2. Dennis Smith Jr. (Prev. rank: 3)
It was only a two-game week for the Mavs, but that didn't stop Smith from showing off his offensive repertoire. Since January 9, Smith has played 30+ minutes in all five games for the Mavs and that bump in playing time has surprisingly raised his efficiency. He's been averaging 21 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds on 46% shooting. Rookies need minutes.
3. Lonzo Ball (Prev. rank: 2)
Ball missed the whole week due to a sprained left knee. Get well soon, 'Zo.
4. De'Aaron Fox (Prev. rank: 5)
A lackluster week for Fox sees him leapfrog Frank because of Frank's second consecutive shitty week more so than anything Fox did. Fox has had an abundance of minutes lately, which will continue into the latter half of the season, however his combination of poor shooting and high turnovers make him a tough sell.
5. Frank Ntilikina (Prev. rank: 4)
Not too much to say here unfortunately, as Frank averaged just 18 minutes over four games and hardly made his presence felt in any of those games. One would have hoped that playing just 5 minutes against Utah would have lit a fire under his ass, and to a certain extent it did, as he posted 7 points on 3-4 shooting in his next game against the Lakers. In that game, Hornacek threw out a lineup of Burke-Frank-Hardaway to start the fourth quarter, which could be very spicy going forward. And with the Knicks defense looking like it's reverting to what we expected at the start of the year, Frank's contributions are going to become even more crucial.
6. Malik Monk (Prev. rank: 6)
As always, not much to say about this dude as he continues to ride the pine. A potential Kemba trade could elevate his role on the team though. Stay tuned.