Power ranking Ja Morant and NBA Rookie of the Year candidates

The NBA rookie class has taken a major hit with No. 1 pick Zion Williamson having yet to make his season debut.

Even then, there’s been a ton of stellar individual performances from both high picks and those selected in the second round.

From No. 2 pick Ja Morant to stud Warriors rookie Eric Paschall, let’s rank the top-five first-year players thus far this season.

1. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

Morant has been absolutely stellar thus far this season. Outside of the highlight-reel plays, he’s been a consistent force for the rebuilding Grizzlies. That includes Morant averaging 18.9 points and 6.5 assists while shooting an otherworldly 44% from three-point range.

Morant, 20, will team up with Jaren Jackson Jr. to form an elite tandem in Memphis for years to come. It’s helped expedite the rebuild process and has the guard as the Rookie of the Year favorite.

2. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat

After spending last season in the G-League with the Golden State Warriors, Nunn signed a non-guaranteed contract with Miami late in the season. It’s worked out swimmingly for both the Oakland product and his new team.

Nunn, 24, is averaging a whopping 16.5 points on 36% shooting from distance this season. He’s one of the primary reasons Miami has shocked the NBA world with a 20-8 record on the season. We’re excited to see this wing grow as a pro moving forward.

3. Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors

Selected 41st overall pick in June, this former Villanova star has been the one saving grace for an injury-depleted Warriors team that boasts the worst record in the NBA. It’s stunning just how good Paschall has been.

The forward is averaging 15.9 points and 5.0 rebounds on 49% shooting from the field. He’s started 19 games and is playing nearly 31 minutes per outing. At this point, Paschall figures into Golden State’s long-term future as a potential replacement for the struggling Draymond Green. That’s how good he’s been.

4. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

The second Heat player to make this list, not many experts had Herro’s game transitioning to the NBA at the clip we’ve seen thus far this season. He’s been dynamite on the offensive end of the court and surprisingly good defensively.

The Kentucky product is shooting 38% from distance and 87% from the free-throw line while averaging 14 points per outing. He’s been a perfect fit as a two-guard for a Heat team that doesn’t employ a traditional point guard in its starting lineup.

5. PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets

Despite his team struggling to a 13-18 start to the season, Washington has joined in with other youngsters to play at a high level through the first third of the campaign. Selected No. 12 overall from Kentucky, the power forward seems to have a bright future in Charlotte.

The 21-year-old is averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting at a stellar 48% from the field this season. He’s also provided toughness inside for James Borrego and the Hornets.

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