Kia Rookie Ladder

Kia Rookie Ladder: Saddiq Bey surges into Top 10; Anthony Edwards climbs to No. 2

See which rookies are shining the most after the first two months of the 2020-21 season.

Steve Aschburner

Steve Aschburner

Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey went 7-for-7 from 3-point range in a win over Boston last week.

Saddiq Bey ranks seventh on the Detroit Pistons in points per game, seventh in rebounds and ninth in field-goal percentage, while averaging fewer than 20 minutes nightly. That didn’t stop him from bubbling up in a very hot week to snag an award – Eastern Conference Player of the Week – not just earmarked for rookies.

The 6-foot-7 wing from Villanova did it by averaging 17.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in four games from Feb. 8-14, hitting 71.4% of his shots overall and 69.6% of his 3-pointers. And to be entirely honest, the three games in which Bey went for 15, 10 and 16 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and making 15 of 23 shots didn’t earn him the accolade that former great Pistons such as Isiah Thomas and Grant Hill never earned as rookies.

But oh, that fourth game. In Detroit’s victory at Boston Friday, Bey hit all seven of his shots from the arc to set an NBA rookie record for most 3-pointers without a miss. He scored 30 points, had 12 rebounds and saved his last three until 38 seconds remained, pushing his team’s lead from three to six points.

Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 30 points in Detroit's win over Boston.

We won’t get into a debate here about Bey winning the weekly honor over Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, who averaged 30.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting  56.3% overall and making half his 3-pointers. This, after all, is the Kia Rookie Ladder, a space dedicated to the newcomers.

The Pistons, naturally, have plans for Bey and fellow rookie Isaiah Stewart extending well beyond this season. Both are eminently coachable, with Stewart grinding inside for Detroit while Bey fills a 3-and-D role with some perimeter interchangeability at both ends.

Their work so far and promise for the future are big reasons why forward Blake Griffin, a five-time all-NBA selection, is being shopped at age 31.

Said coach Dwane Casey of Bey: “He’s still scratching the surface.”


The Top 5 this week on the 2020-21 Kia Rookie Ladder:

(All stats through Monday, Feb. 15)

1. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Season stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 6.1 apg
Since last Ladder: 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5.7 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 1

So Ball recently picked his all-time dream NBA starting lineup as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal and … wait for it … himself. Please keep in mind this is Ball’s dream, not his Mt. Rushmore or GOAT starting five. Who’s to say those legends wouldn’t enjoy playing with the kid, whose exuberance and creativity keep him atop this week’s Ladder as much as his production. Plenty of work to do on defense, but that isn’t slowing Ball’s roll as a Rookie of the Year favorite.


2. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards scored a career-high 28 points against L.A. on Tuesday.

Season stats: 14.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Since last Ladder: 16.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.7 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 3

His stats against the Lakers Tuesday – 28 points, 10 in the fourth – aren’t included above but are worth noting as Edwards’ role and confidence soar. Next challenge: Improve on-court chemistry with Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s back, now that guard D’Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) is lost for weeks. His usage rate is up to 24.4 (third among rotation rookies) and as a starter Edwards had amassed 32 assists to nine turnovers.


3. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Season stats: 12.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.2 apg
Since last Ladder: 15.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.3 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 2

Haliburton continues to be a steady contributor, even as the Kings went into a homestand skid. One area in which the sleeper pick so far of the 2020 Draft knows he needs to improve is his strength. Not to bulk up or become a specimen necessarily, but to handle this league’s day-to-day rigors. “When I got to college it was like, ‘Wow, these guys have grown man bodies.’ But when you get to the NBA, they are grown men,” the Sacramento newbie said on air, guesting Saturday during an Iowa State telecast.


4. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Season stats: 12.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.7 apg
Since last Ladder: 15.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.8 apg [plus 12.0 over four games, 21.5 mpg]
Last Ladder’s rung: 5

The anxiety of some Knicks fans over Quickley losing time and opportunities to newly acquired veteran Derrick Rose was a waste of time. The New York guard has teamed with Rose, continuing his development and offensive impact. His 26.5 usage rate tops rookies playing at least 15.0 minutes with 15 or more appearances. He averaged 21.5 minutes in the four games between Ladders, posting a plus-12.0 in plus/minus.


5. Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets

Season stats: 9.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.7 apg
Since last Ladder: 14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 9

Tate hasn’t just pushed into the top ranks of rookies statistically or on the Ladder – he ranks among the Rockets’ leaders in shooting, effective field-goal percentage and offensive rebounds. And on a squad with P.J. Tucker, the 25-year-old small forward is getting attention for his defensive prowess. Few folks at Ohio State or in Belgium or Australia saw this sort of NBA success coming.


The Next Five:

6. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Season stats: 9.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.9 apg
Since last Ladder: 17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: N/A

Stellar week vaults him back onto Ladder, though still rungs to climb.

7. Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Season stats: 9.9 ppg, 4.6 rpb, 1.0 apg
Since last Ladder: 5.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 7

Schooled by hero Kawhi Leonard, but an eager learner.

8. Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Season stats:  7.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.2 apg
Since last Ladder: 7.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: N/A

Best Boston backup on thin Celtics bench.

9. Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

Season stats: 10.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
Since last Ladder: 18.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: 8

Sharpshooter got first two starts, but out (personal) since Friday.

10. Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves

Season stats: 5.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.0 apg
Since last Ladder: 8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
Last Ladder’s rung: N/A

Leads all rookies in net rating (5.9), minimum 15 games, 15.0 mpg.

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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