Paolo Banchero leads the early 2022-23 NBA Rookie Power Rankings

The 2022-23 NBA season is officially underway. While there have been only two weeks of basketball, some players are already making big impacts across the league. That includes Orlando Magic youngster Paolo Banchero and other rookies who are already looking like veterans and the best players on their respective teams, so it’s time to look at some very early 2022-23 NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

The 2022 NBA Draft class is already making some noise in the league. Even though it’s way too early to say how those players will perform throughout the year, it is difficult to ignore what they have done so far. From matching NBA legends’ numbers to 30-point games, this rookie class, headlined by the likes of Banchero, Keegan Murray, Bennedict Mathurin, and Co., is giving fans hope they can develop into franchise cornerstones. With No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren out for the year, some other rookies are having more opportunities to earn the spotlight and shine right away.

But until then, the 2022 class will keep working to prove they belong in the league. Whether it will be as stars or role players, these rookies are certainly on track for future success. With that being said, here are the way-too-early 2022-23 NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

The No. 1 pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero is showing that the Orlando Magic made the right choice. Although the team started 0-5, the former Duke Blue Devil was perhaps the brightest spot on the court. In seven games, he is averaging 22.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He is leading all rookies in points and rebounds per game.

Banchero started his career with a historic stat line. He recorded 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the Magic’s season opener versus the Detroit Pistons. He became the first rookie since LeBron James in 2003 to put up at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in an NBA debut. Banchero opened his NBA career with six straight games with 20-plus points, becoming the first No. 1 pick to do so in their rookie years since Elvin Hayes and Oscar Robertson.

Having gotten off to such a strong start, it’s no surprise that Banchero is the MVP of the first NBA power rankings among rookies in the 2022 draft class.

2. Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Selected No. 6 in this year’s draft, Bennedict Mathurin is a very close second to Banchero in the rookie NBA power rankings. The two are the only rookies putting up at least 20 points a night. The former Arizona Wildcat is averaging 20.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He is shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 42.9 percent on 3-point attempts, as well as an impressive 86.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Mathurin is the second-leading scorer for the Indiana Pacers, which includes a 32-point performance against the Brooklyn Nets where he had shooting splits of 50-67-100. He is quickly showing that he could be one of the best steals of the draft, even if he was almost a top-five selection.

3. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

Sharing the Detroit Pistons’ backcourt with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey is showing flashes that the duo will be a dangerous force in the near future. The two youngsters could not only be important for the organization but for the league as one of the best young backcourts for the next decade. Widely projected to be the fourth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Ivey fell to No. 5 and could prove to be a steal by Detroit.

The shooting guard is averaging 15.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. While the numbers are quite impressive for a rookie, Ivey’s floor vision, athleticism and contributions as a playmaker are perhaps his best features so far.

4. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

One of the biggest surprises in the draft was Keegan Murray’s selection at No. 4. Fans and outlets heavily criticized the Sacramento Kings, but the rookie has quickly shown he could be the real deal. After winning the Summer League MVP, the power forward is showing his potential in the regular season as well.

He is averaging 17.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He is also one of the most effective rookies in the league, shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 39.5 percent on 3-pointers and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. Murray has been so impressive that, after two games coming off the bench, he has already earned a spot in the starting lineup, replacing three-year veteran KZ Okpala.

5. Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets

Considered by many the No. 1 pick of the 2022 draft by Jabari Smith Jr. surprisingly fell to No. 3. As opposed to Banchero, Smith was widely seen as more of a project rather than a key contributor right away. Selected by the Houston Rockets, the Auburn product is so far struggling with his efficiency in the NBA.

As a starter in all eight games, Smith is averaging 11.9 points and 6.4 rebounds. However, he is shooting a woeful 32.6 percent from the field. He’s converting 33.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, right around league average, so it’s his work on the interior that leaves plenty to be desired. Despite displaying some flaws in his offensive game, Smith is compensating with a strong showing on the defensive end. He is putting up 1.3 blocks per game and has been an effective rebounder, too.

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