By: Osiris Diaz
With all of the NBA having played at least a quarter of their games, now is a reasonable time to begin evaluating the NBA’s freshmen. Keeping in mind that the 2016 draft class headliner and number 1 pick, Ben Simmons, has yet to make his debut, the draft class has overall struggled.
As of December 19, 2016, Joel Embiid leads all rookies in scoring, rebounding, and blocks (18.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg respectively) and is putting together a great year. The only problem is that the talented Sixers’ centerpiece was a part of 2014 draft class, and is only a rookie due to injuries that had not let him step on the court till this last opening day. The Sixers also have arguably the 2nd best rookie in Dario Saric, 3rd in scoring and 2nd in rebounding amongst rookies with 9.4 ppg and 5.8 rpg. Just like Embiid, Saric was also a part of the 2014 draft class.
In fact, the 2016 draft class currently has zero double digit scorers, being lead by Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray and his 9.5 points per game. For comparison, last year’s draft class sported 8 double-digit scorers. While it isn’t fair to compare this year’s class to one highlighted by Towns, Okafor, and Porzingis, no draft class in this millennium has shown such a lack of scoring. Since then the lowest scoring class came in the year 2000 with 3 double digit scorers, with Marc Jackson (13.2), Kenyon Martin (12) and Mike Miller (11.9 ) leading the way.
Now I know scoring isn’t everything, but it’s the main thing and the draft class pales in comparison across the board statistically. This class’ leading rebounder is currently Lakers forward and number 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram at 4.0 boards per game. That average would also be the lowest of the millennium, worse than previous low, 5.4 by Sheldon Williams of the 2006 class. Isaiah Whitehead’s 3.1 assists per game has .2 lead on the 2000 class for worst in that category. Timberwolves guard Kris Dunn’s 1.08 steals per game would also rank 2nd worst to Jamario Moon’s 1.03 from the 2007 class. And Raptors forward Pascal Siakam’s .81 blocks per game would also rank as worst.
In no way am I saying that this draft class is failure or even that this season will be a failure, as we are barely a fourth of the way through the campaign. But this draft class has started off slower than any in recent memory and is definitely something to keep an eye on.