The 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year race has several first-year hoopers showing they belong at the pro level. While we didn’t get to see Chet Holmgren make an impact after the skilled big suffered a Lisfranc injury in Summer League, plenty of others, such as No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero, are giving basketball fans a new star to talk about.
But these are the most well-known players of the 2022 NBA Draft class. We’ve also seen others who weren’t as highly touted, like OKC’s Jalen Williams flash his all-around skillset on a surging Thunder squad.
After seeing Scottie Barnes narrowly win the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year award, we’re back, highlighting ten candidates to take the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy in 2023.
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10. Tari Eason, small forward, Houston Rockets
Tari Eason stats
- 9.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 46% FG, 35% 3PT
The 17th overall pick has impressed by displaying a wide array of scoring traits, but the fact that Tari Eason ranks sixth in the NBA in steal rate, in addition to ranking 13th in offensive rebound percentage, shows he’s much more than a shooter. Eason’s one of those complementary players who fits well on any roster, but he won’t win NBA Rookie of the Year.
9. Jalen Duren, center, Detroit Pistons
Jalen Duren stats
- 8.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 63% FG
It took 30 games for Jalen Duren to get into the starting lineup, and ever since, he’s averaged 10.3 rebounds per game. He’s also scored 10.1 points per game, settling into averaging a double-double. Keep in mind he’s just 19 years old. Even as a rookie, Duren ranks sixth in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage, giving Pistons fans flashbacks of Andre Drummond. We can’t wait to see what else he has in store for his NBA career.
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8. Jeremy Sochan, forward, San Antonio Spurs
Jeremy Sochan stats
- 11 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 45% FG, 24% 3PT
We had Jeremy Sochan in our early NBA Rookie of the Year watch list, but a cold spell in early December cooled off his steam. But Sochan is a complete player who does all the dirty work, hustling for loose balls and causing problems for opponents. While Sochan still has a long way to go offensively, his effort keeps him on the floor and climbing up the ranks.
7. Jabari Smith, forward, Houston Rockets
Jabari Smith stats
- 12.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 40% FG, 30% 3PT
While the third overall pick’s inconsistency has been maddening, Jabari Smith is just 19 years old and has been surging lately. We see impressive traits, such as blocking nearly a shot per game, but the early offensive production has been nowhere near what Houston hoped for. Knowing he needs to continue improving his efficiency, we’ll take the fact that Smith’s defense is mostly holding up, as it’s only a matter of time before the shots start falling, hopefully.
6. Keegan Murray, forward, Sacramento Kings
Keegan Murray stats
- 12 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 44% FG, 41% 3PT
The fourth overall pick has the best three-point percentage of all rookies with at least 125 attempts from distance. He also continues to get more in the mix defensively, averaging a combined 1.3 blocks/steals per game. Averaging 2.6 3PT FGs per game, Murray will end the season as the best rookie perimeter shooter of all time.
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Top 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year candidates
5. Bennedict Mathurin, wing, Indiana Pacers
Bennedict Mathurin stats
- 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 43% FG, 32% 3PT
Unlike many other top NBA Rookie of the Year candidates, Bennedict Mathurin has done his damage while coming off the bench. In fact, he ranks second in the NBA in bench scoring this season, showing he’s primed to succeed in a much bigger role in the near future. While he’s one of the best rookie scorers, Mathurin doesn’t quite match the other intangibles many other rookies are displaying. It’s hurt his chances of staying near the top of our ROTY rankings.
4. Jaden Ivey, guard, Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey stats
- 15.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.9 APG, 41% FG, 33% 3PT
It’s not hard to find jaw-dropping Jaden Ivey highlights. Whether it’s his incredible passing vision, wicked hops, or ability to adjust at the rim, this 20-year-old is poised to become a superstar. He may not be the top ROY candidate this year, but Ivey has become a must-watch player for the Pistons.
3. Walker Kessler, center, Utah Jazz
Walker Kessler stats
- 8.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 72% FG
Originally drafted to be the Minnesota Timberwolves’ eventual rim protector, Walker Kessler was sent to the Utah Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade. You wouldn’t even know that the Stifle Tower left town, as Kessler ranks second in the NBA in block percentage. He also knows his offensive limitations and plays to his strengths extremely well, leading the entire NBA by shooting 72% from the field. Kessler is soaring up these NBA ROTY rankings thanks to his increased role since the Jarred Vanderbilt trade, but his spot at No. 3 might be secure heading into the final stretch.
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2. Jalen Williams, guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
Jalen Williams stats
- 13.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 51% FG, 35% 3PT
After being out of the rotation, not even playing in four of the team’s first five games, Jalen Williams has become a reliable starter for the surging OKC Thunder. He’s done so, thanks to showing a fairly-polished all-around skillset led by a scoring spark in a 27-point performance in his 18th career game. But the 6-foot-6 shooting guard has also contributed in other ways, such as averaging a combined 2.5 blocks/steals in his past 40 contests. Still, he has too much ground to make up to reach No. 1.
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1. Paolo Banchero, forward, Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero stats
- 19.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 42% FG, 28% 3PT
After shooting just 37% from the floor in February, Banchero has smashed through the rookie wall and is back up to 43% in March. Banchero is well on pace to become the first No. 1 pick to win NBA Rookie of the Year since 2018. He leads all other first-year players in scoring by over three points, and being that he’s had just four games where he’s scored in single digits, it’s not hard to see why. Banchero has clearly been the best rookie this season and is well on his way to winning the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy, otherwise known as the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
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