The 2022 NBA draft, while not quite as lauded as the 2021 class, was considered relatively strong in terms of star power and overall depth. Only a quarter of the way into 2022-23, it's too early to make too many sweeping conclusions, but it's safe to say we haven't seen as many impactful players as we did the past two seasons at the same stage.
It doesn't help that a potential Rookie of the Year candidate, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren, is out for the season because of a foot injury. Several other first-rounders have struggled to get on the floor playing for an unusually large number of teams with deep playoff aspirations, which has limited the opportunities available for their young players to grow through trial and error. Team context is extremely important at this stage, as some franchises are more apt to throw their rookies directly into the fire with minutes and offensive responsibility than others, with other young players requiring opportunity and the need to keep veterans' trade value high going into the deadline.
Unlike in years past, the Rookie of the Year race is looking decidedly one-sided thus far, with Caesars Sportsbook anointing Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero a -400 favorite to claim the award ahead of Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin at +260. The next best odds belong to Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey at +2500, followed by Thunder forward Jalen Williams at +7500.
In this first version of ESPN's Rookie Power Rankings, we rate the top first-year players based on their success to this point. It's important to note that this is not a re-draft or based on future potential, but rather an evolving list based on which rookies have been most valuable to their teams.