Which rising stars might appear higher in our NBArank countdown next season?
On Tuesday, we revealed the first 50 players in our top 100 for the 2021-22 season in terms of expected quality and quantity of play. Part of the fun of NBArank is guessing which players will surprise us by outperforming their projections. Everybody has a take -- even those of us involved in compiling the rankings.
Inevitably, some players will make a leap. Of this year's top 50, still to be unveiled over the rest of the week, six appeared from 51 to 100 a year ago. A seventh wasn't even in the top 100 as a rookie, making the biggest jump of all.
Let's take a closer look at some of the candidates to follow this season, focusing on two different groups in particular: Young players whose continued development could lead them into the top 50, and veterans who might get there by reminding us of their value with bounce-back seasons after relatively disappointing performances in 2020-21 that were reflected in their current NBArank.
The rookie risers
NBArank is correctly skeptical of rookies' ability to help their teams win. Zion Williamson in 2019 was the only rookie to crack the top 50, compiled before he underwent knee surgery that sidelined him much of his first NBA campaign. By contrast, there's typically a couple of second-year players in the top 50, such as both Williamson and Ja Morant a year ago.
Naturally, the most likely candidates to emerge from this group are the top two picks, both of whom rank in this year's top 100: Cade Cunningham (76) and Jalen Green (96). But which rookie could climb the NBArank ladder the fastest?