By Hocine LOUKKAF on 12/15/2022

Banchero keeps leading the rookies and displaying his nice versatility while Jabari Smith Jr is slowly living up to the hype and his #3 draft pick.

Paolo Banchero, 6-10 PF, Orlando Magic
Stats : 21pts 6.9rbds 3.8as

After a streak of nine losses that Banchero closes with two bad games offensively (2/8 and 4/16 FG), Banchero has been better recently with four 20+pt games, but above all four wins against the Atlanta, Clippers and Toronto (twice). Banchero has been a versatile PF with seven of his last nine games with 4as or more while getting often to the foul line and hitting 80+% FT.  3pt efficiency is the only thing that prevent him from being a superstar as Banchero has only shot 20% in December.

Jabari Smith Jr, 6-10 PF/SF, Houston Rockets
Stats : 12pts 7.1rbds 1bl

After shooting below 38% FG in October and November, Jabari has been better recently with seven of the last nine games with 41+% FG including seven games with 37+% 3pt (despite recording 6pts on 1/9 FG against Milwaukee). Above all, Smith Jr has helped Houston rack impressive wins against Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Phoenix twice.

Jalen Williams, 6-6 SG/SF, OKC Thunder
Stats : 10.9pts 3.1rbds 2.6as

Another steal for OKC, the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November has been averaging 55% FG to start December after averaging 51% FG in November. He’s also keeping his turnovers low and is posting a 2+a/to ratio. 3pt shooting is his main weakness with seven of the last ten games with 25% 3pt or less.

Keegan Murray, 6-8 SF/PF, Sacramento Kings
Stats : 12.7pts 3.7rbds 39% 3pt

After hitting the rookie wall at the end of November with four of his last seven games under 34% FG and an awful 5/31 3pt combined, Murray had started December better with four games with at least 53% FG and 37% 3pt. Yet, he struggled again for two games with 5/17 FG including 3/12 3pt. The Kings will need a consistent Murray to reach the playoffs.

Jaden Ivey, 6-4 SG/PG, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 16.1pts 5rbds 4.1as

After a streak of eight games where Ivey has shot 40% or less (including six games with at least four attempts from outside and below 29% 3pt) despite the good results of Detroit (four wins against playoffs contenders), Ivey bounced back last night with 13pts 4as 2tos on 5/9 FG and a win against Charlotte. The former Boilermaker also needs to improve his barely positive a/to ratio in December as it was at least 1.5a/to in the two previous months.

Dyson Daniels, 6-7 PG, New Orleans Pelicans
Stats : 5.7pts 3.7rbds 2.5as 0.8to

Daniels’ stats may not be the most impressive. Yet, over the last eleven games, he’s played at least 19min a night while recording at least 50% FG in seven games. He’s also showcases flashes of excellent passing and ballhandling as he had four games with at least 6as including an impressive 8as 0to win against Phoenix and averaging a 3+ a/to ratio.

Walker Kessler, 7-0 C, Utah Jazz
Stats : 5.4pts 5.3rbds 1.7bl in 15min

If you thought Markannen was the only steal in Gobert’s draft, take a loot closer at the former Auburn Tiger. After recording his first 20-10 game (20pts 11rbds) against Indiana, Kessler is averaging a double double in december with 10.8pts  (on 76% FG !!) 10.3rbds and 2.7bl in only 22min (sic) and may already be Utah’s starter for the next decade.

Andrew Nembhard, 6-4 PG, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 6.6pts 3.4as 1.1to 40% 3pt

After his breakout game against Golden State with 31pts and 13as, Nembhard has a streak of three games averaging less than 34% FG and only 4as in 30min. He’s one of the reason the unexpected Pacers are ranked 7th in the Eastern Conference.

Bennedict Mathurin, 6-6 SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 19.9pts 3.9rbds 2.3as 45% 3pt

Another Pacers with the inconsistent Mathurin, capable of shooting 4/16 FG against the Warriors and less than ten days later, recording 24pts 6rbds 3as on 8/14 FG against the same Warriors. Shooting has been with 21% on almost five attempts from three in the first half of December.

Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 6.6pts 7.7rbds 0.9bl

Duren has started December with improved FG and FT percentages while almost reaching 10rbds a game. He’s also hit 70% FG or more infive of the last eight games but has not been consistent blocking shots.

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