By Hocine LOUKKAF on 3/13/2023

Walker Kessler is our rookie of February as he’s proving that his play may be enough to justify trading Gobert.

Walker Kessler, 7-0 C, Utah Jazz
Stats : 8.5pts 8.1rbds 2.3bl 72% FG, 10.6pts 11.4rbds 3.2bl 69% FG in February

Kessler is confirming he’s already one of the best rim-protectors in the League, all the while shooting a high percentage from the field. He’s been very efficient against teams lacking a real big with 18rbds 7bl against OKC or 17pts 14rbds 7bl against Toronto. The Jazz can thank Minnesota for the Gobert trade (once again).

Jalen Williams, 6-6 SG/SF, OKC Thunder
Stats : 13.3pts 4.2rbds 3.1as 52% FG, 14.9pts 5.3rbds 3.9as 2.2st 38% 3pt in February

After starting February pretty poorly (8pts on 2/9 FG and 2pts on 0/3 FG), Williams had nine games with at least 40% FG including four 20+pt games. He’s also improved his 3pt and FT shooting and could become SGA’s luxury right hand man for the future.

Jaden Ivey, 6-4 SG/PG, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 15.4pts 4.9rbds 3.9as, 16.4pts 5.8as 42% 3pt in February

Despite the losses, Ivey is learning and improving at the PG position with five 6+as games, including 10as Toronto, and a 2+ a/to ratio. The shooting still is very inconsistent (2/20 3pt in games where he doesn’t shoot at least 40% 3pt) and the defensive numbers could be better considering Ivey’s physical tools.

Keegan Murray, 6-8 SF/PF, Sacramento Kings
Stats : 11.9pts 4.6rbds 41% 3pt, 11pts 5.4rbds 38%  3pt in February

After starting the month with three subpar perfomances, combining 7pts on 2/21 SG in 81min, Murray has been nothing but solid as the Kings went 12-4 and should secure a straight playoff berth. He also had his best scoring night of the season against Houston with 30pts on 8/12 3pt.

Mark Williams, 7-0 C, Charlotte Hornets
Stats : 8.2pts 6.4rbds 1.1bl, 10.3pts 8rbds 1.7bl on 69% FG in February

A bit like Kessler, Williams has used the Plumlee trade to prove he could be useful as a rim-protecting/highly efficient finisher big man. Indeed, he had multiple double doubles including 18pts 20rbds in 29min against Miami. Likely Charlotte’s defensive anchor for the future.

Paolo Banchero, 6-10 PF, Orlando Magic
Stats : 20.1pts 6.6rbds, 16.6pts 7.5rbds 3.3as in February

If you don’t know what a rookie wall is, Banchero shot 37% FG and 3% 3pt (yeah you read it right), recording a combined 1/33 from three in February. He made up a bit for it by helping his team recording 6-5 with wins over Denver or at New Orleans, as he played 34min per game for the month.

Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 8.5pts 8.7rbds 0.9bl, 9.4pts 9.9rbds 1.1bl in February

Before being sidelined for an ankle injury, Duren had some interesting performances as he recorded 30pts 17rbds 4bl against the Spurs or 14pts 9rbds 2as 3bl against Cleveland. He may already have been hurt as he had three poor games recording  a combined 10pts on 4/13 FG.

Bennedict Mathurin, 6-6 SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 16.6pts 4rbds, 13.4pts 3.7rbds in February

Mathurin has been scoring pretty consistently since the start of the year, the problem is that he still has lapeses and is not creating much for his teammates. For example, in February, after a streak of six games with at least 14pts, he closed the month with 6pts on 1/7 FG and only one assist in 26min against Dallas.

Jabari Smith Jr, 6-10 PF, Houston Rockets
Stats : 12.2pts 7.1rbds, 12.1pts 7.4rbds 2as in February

A lot more is expected from Smith as his 37% FG and 25% 3pt are far too low for a top five pick whose shooting is supposed to be his forte. He sometimes has flashes like against Miami as he scored 22pts on 8/16 and grabbed 9rbds but needs to find a way to be consistent before the end of the year.

Jeremy Sochan, 6-9 PF/SF, San Antonio
Stats : 10.7pts 5.2rbds 2.6as, 11.5pts 5.2rbds 2.8as in February

Sochan only played six games in February during whih he struggled in terms of offensive efficiency (36% FG). Yet, his versatility rebounding and passing the ball (5.2rbds and 2.8as) still make him a good team player.