NBA Rookie Power Rankings 6.0: Victor Wembanyama finishes season at the top of the class

The NBA regular season has come to an end and it was jam 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 is bright for the young star as the San Antonio Spurs continue to rebuild their franchise around him.

“I would say that I am currently at 15% between my first NBA game and what I hope will be my prime,” Wembanyama told Théo Quintard of Eurosport France.

Wembanyama’s record-setting rookie season did not go unnoticed and neither did a few other players, including Chet Holmgren, who played 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 2023-24 season.

Draft slot: No. 1

Previous rank: 1

Wembanyama has done things this season that no other player can do and exceeded all expectations coming into 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 this season (332) and had the highest step-back 3-point field goal percentage at 46.2% (minimum of 50 3-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 long. 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 2003-04, LeBron James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 39.5 minutes as a rookie. James is now in his 21st season and has been named an All-Star 20 times. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility to predict Wembanyama could have a similarly successful career.

Draft slot (2022): No. 2

Previous rank: 2

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

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 3-point range. He is a key part of the growing success of the Thunder, and the budding rivalry between Holmgren and Wembanyama will be must-watch television every time the duo hits the court.

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 Photograph, user is consenting 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 option on offense for the Hornets all season long and silenced all doubts about his physicality and shot creation coming into the NBA. He was so productive in LaMelo Ball’s absence this season, averaging 17.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44% from the field. Miller led all rookies in 3-point field goals made (184) and also averaged the most minutes (32.2). In any other year, Miller would be considered for the top rookie honors, but he unfortunately entered the league with Wembanyama and also had to go up against Holmgren in his first year.

Draft slot: No. 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 the entire 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 positions in the backcourt 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

Previous rank: 4

Jaquez had two of his best games of the season in back-to-back wins against the Raptors to close out the regular season. In the first game, Jaquez had 20 points (2-for-4 from 3) and nine assists and was more of an on-ball guard with the way he facilitated for 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 the adjustment to physical guard play and the pace of the NBA game.

“As a rookie my teammates always tell me, ‘You inherit the team before you,’ and they were in the Finals last year and their job is to try and get back,” Jaquez told Yahoo Sports in December. “So I’m inheriting that and trying to push and do whatever I can to help stay on top and try to make it 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 to the Warriors all season. He’s 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 went 6-2 to close out the regular season.

Draft slot: No. 16

Previous rank: 5

It’s clear the Jazz are all in on George and he really showed a lot of versatility throughout the season. In the beginning he was more of a facilitator, and by the end of the season he was more of a scoring guard. His 3-point shot has improved and he’s more than just a catch-and-shoot threat behind the arc. George capped off his rookie year finishing with 21 points (5-for-6 from 3-point range) and four assists in the loss to the Warriors on Sunday.

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 finished 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, going up against some of the best players in the league, has catapulted his development and given him the confidence to be one of the best young scoring forwards in the NBA.

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’s passing to. Lively has been so good out of the pick-and-roll all season alongside Dončić and Kyrie Irving. His footwork around the rim and the way he can catch passes in traffic are what sets him apart 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: No. 3

Previous rank: Unranked

The Trail Blazers are in rebuild mode and were patient with their point guard as he adjusted to the pace and spacing of the NBA. The future looks bright for Henderson if his final game of the season is any indication of the trajectory his career is headed. He finished with 30 points and seven assists and scored in a variety of ways. The two games prior to 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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