By Hocine LOUKKAF on 1/5/2023

December has been tough for Banchero but he still helped his team win games and looks like a surefire ROTY  while Jalen Williams and Walker Kessler are on the rise.

Paolo Banchero, 6-10 PF, Orlando Magic
Stats : 20.9pts 6.7rbds 3.9as, 19.1pts 6.5rbds 4.1as 41% FG in December

Despite shooting almost 34% 3pt in December, Banchero had his first month below 20pt with a poor 40.7% FG. The good point is that Orlando had its first positive month with an 8-7 record and wins against the Clippers, Atlanta or Boston (twice).

Jalen Williams, 6-6 SG/SF, OKC Thunder
Stats : 11.4pts 3.7rbds 2.6as, 12.3pts 4.2rbds 2.7as in December

With ten out of fourteen games with at least 50% FG in December, Williams is as efficient as you would hope for a rookie, despite still inconsistent shooting (32 % 3pt 69% FT). He’s becoming OKC’s third man behing SGA and Giddey.

Walker Kessler, 7-0 C, Utah Jazz
Stats : 6.9pts 6.5rbds 1.8bl, 9.5pts 8.7rbds 2.1bl 74% FG in December

9.5pts (on 74% FG) 8.7rbds 2.1bl for a month is not bad for a rookie whose stock represented maybe 10% of a trade. Yet, Kessler struggled a bit with inconsistency like his team (6-9 in December) as he was in double digit in all six wins while he was in single digit in six of the nine losses.

Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 7.3pts 8.4rbds 0.8bl, 8.4pts 9.9rbds 68% FG in December

With more playing time, Duren has been more impactful (10rbds per game in December in 27min) while being more consistent with only one game under 50% FG (against Charlotte as he racked 19rbds). FT shooting and blocks could be better but he’s proving he’s been a steal being picked 13th.

Jabari Smith, 6-10 PF/SF, Houston Rockets
Stats : 12.1pts 6.9rbds 1bl, 12.7pts 7rbds 0.9bl in December

Smith Jr is an enigma as he shot far better in December than the previous months while having his worse 3pt shooting month, 3pt shooting being his forte. The Rockets need him to be good everywhere from the floor, above all from three while improving his rebounding and overall defense.

Keegan Murray, 6-8 SF/PF, Sacramento Kings
Stats : 11.5pts 3.7rbds 38% 3pt, 12.7ppts 3.5rbds 46% 3pt in December

Murray has seen his 3pt percentage rise to 46% but his inconsistency still hurts him (four games under 8pts). Rebounding is another field that needs to be developed to help the Kings clinch a playoff spot.

Adrian Griffin Jr, 6-6 SF, Atlanta
Stats : 10.3pts 2.3rbds 37% 3pt, 12.8pts 2.8rbds 36% 3pt in December

AJ Griffin has been one of the only bright spots for the disappointing Hawks. He shot 60% FG or more in three of Atlanta’s five wins in December so his good stats often translate to wins. If only he could bring more to the table than his shooting, that would give him more dimension than only being a potential 3 and D.

Jeremy Sochan, 6-9 PF/SF, San Antonio
Stats : 8.9pts 4.7rbds 2.4as, 11pts 6.2rbds 3.2as in December

The Spurs have been a bit better in December and Sochan has  been a part of this “success”. He had 3as or more in seven games and had three games with 9rbds. He’s becoming the kind of glue guy you want in your roster. Shooting is a work in progress (28% 3pt 61% FT in December) but hitting 30% 3pt/70% FG is a reasonable goal to set.

Jaden Ivey, 6-4 SG/PG, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 15pts 4rbds 4as, 13.8pts 3.8as 3rbds in December

Ivey has decent stats and but still struggles to improve his shooting percentages (40% FG and 31% 3pt in December). His turnover number has also gone up despite playing five minutes less than in November. Ivey needs to find a way to refine his IQ.

Bennedict Mathurin, 6-6 SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 17.3pts 3.9rbds 1.4as, 14.7pts 3.8rbds in December

Indiana had an 8-8 record in December as Mathurin’s only 50% FG games were in Pacers’ wins. The Canadian rookie need to be consistent to help his team rack as many wins as possible as he had eight games under 35% FG and 8/59 3pt combined in the games where he attempted at least three three-pointers.

Honorable mentions

Tari Eason, 6-7 PF/SF, Houston
Stats : 8.3pts 5.4rbds 37% 3pt, 8.9pts 5.6rbds 41% 3pt

Let’s be controversial, what would be Eason’s stats if he had Jabari’s playing time, or worse, could Eason be a better player right now ? One thing is for sure, Eason is shooting better overall, albeit on a far lowest sample from three while nearing Jabari’s other stats playing ten minutes less. He has struggled offensively to end December with six games between 6 and 9pts but also had two games with 8 and 13rbds.

Andrew Nembhard, 6-4 PG, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 8pts 3.8as 38% 3pt, 9.2pts 4.6as 36% 3pt

Nembhard keeps getting minutes and tried to make the best of it with 9.2pts 4.6as on 48% FG. He had a breakout game against the Warriors with 31pts 13as 8rbds but ended December with four games with 6pts or less despite playing at least 22min in each of these games.

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