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2. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics: 13.9 ppg, 1.4 apg, 5.3 rpg
Perhaps the most impressive aspect to Tatum’s budding game is his patience. He’s routinely the beneficiary of the second or third pass in an offensive sequence and is often rewarded on the weak side after one of Boston’s slashers attacks and forces the defense to collapse. In the last week he was 7 of 9 from the three-point line, and is now shooting 51% from the arc. His net rating (6.2) is also the highest among all rookies who play at least 20 minutes per night.
3. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: 16.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.1 rpg
Like we predicted in this space, Mitchell might be the most fun rookie there is. At 6-foot-3, he’s not overly imposing like Simmons, but his 6-foot-10 wingspan lets him finish from all types of angles around the rim. Couple that with his shiftiness and the Jazz have found themselves a star in the making.
4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers: 16.8 ppg, 1.5 apg, 6.5 rpg
The Lakers have hit the skids, but Kuzma continues to play with a relentless motor. He had back-to-back double-doubles in losses to the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and is second only to Ben Simmons in that category among rookies. The game was out of hand, but 16 of Kuzma’s 22 points vs. Houston came in the fourth quarter.
5. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks: 11.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.9 bpg
Collins, who moved into the Hawks’ starting lineup on Nov. 22, has had a stellar start to his career, but that campaign will be on hold after spraining his left shoulder last week vs. the Cavs. Collins is expected to miss the next two-to-three weeks recovering. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said despite his promising start, it could help the rookie to be a spectator for the time being.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Singer on Twitter @msinger.
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