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The pool of players who will participate during the Rising Stars Game at All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis was announced earlier this week, and 11 NBA rookies were named as part of the event. There were no real surprises, with the list being highlighted by Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, and it showed how deep this rookie class is. Here's the list of the rookies who will be participating:


Victor Wembanyama

San Antonio Spurs

Chet Holmgren

Oklahoma City Thunder

Jaime Jaquez Jr

Miami Heat

Scoot Henderson

Portland Trail Blazers

Keyonte George

Utah Jazz

Dereck Lively II

Dallas Mavericks

Brandon Miller

Charlotte Hornets

Cason Wallace

Oklahoma City Thunder

Brandin Podziemski

Golden State Warriors

Bilal Coulibaly

Washington Wizards

Jordan Hawkins

New Orleans Pelicans

Now let's move on to this week's rankings. Keep in mind that these rankings will reflect a rookie's performance on a week-to-week basis only, not the collective season. These aren't Rookie of the Year standings, but rather a reflection on what the player has done over the past week. With that straightened out, here is a look at the top five performers from the NBA's freshman class:

1. Victor Wembanyama
SA • PF • #1
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I wonder when we'll start to really see teams really avoid attacking the rim with Wembanyama lurking underneath the basket, because at this point you need good luck with that gameplan. Wembanyama put up five blocks against the Magic, and on one occasion he showed why even when you think you've got him beat, he recovers incredibly well due to his length.

Jonathan Isaac made a great backdoor cut, and if the Magic were playing against anyone else outside of maybe two other guys in the league -- Rudy Gobert and Chet Holmgren -- he likely gets this easy bucket. But Wembanyama was there to stuff him at the rim.

Even when you try to slightly pull him out of the paint to get an easier look at the rim, Wembanyama's instincts are already just too good to slide over as the help defender and swat the ball away.

A good rule of thumb going forward feels like unless Wembanyama is defending out at the 3-point line, expect him to come flying in to contest the shot. Even then he covers so much space in two steps that it probably won't work anyway.

Cam Whitmore
HOU • SG • #7
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After the Rockets' beatdown of the Lakers earlier this week, Darvin Ham had high praise for Whitmore, who finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. "The kid is going to be special, man," Ham said. He also called Whitmore a "bright young superstar," prior to that game, and for good reason. His versatility as someone who can score with or without the ball in his hands is a valuable asset on the Rockets, and when he gets going downhill it's like he's been shot out of a cannon. 

The control Whitmore displays when he gets out in transition, and his ability to finish in traffic is impressive for a rookie. He also has supreme confidence and isn't afraid to back down from a challenge, even if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are surrounding him in the paint.

That little exchange at the end, where Whitmore hands the ball back to LeBron as a bit of showmanship was just the icing on top of what was a standout performance from the Rockets rookie. Oh, and Whitmore's become a reliable 3-point threat for the Rockets, which they sorely need as the rank 27th in the league in that category. But Whitmore is shooting 39.3% from deep this season, which ranks highest on the Rockets amongst players who are taking three or more attempts per game this season. 

Brandon Miller
CHA • SF • #24
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Miller has reached the 20-point mark in six of his last eight games, highlighted by a 29-point outing against the Knicks, where he shot the ball incredibly well from everywhere on the floor. There's a real smoothness to Miller's game, and he doesn't ever seem rushed or pressured when the defense collapses on him or a help defender comes over. He also reads the defense really well, and knows how to manipulate the opponent to get what he wants. Just look that this drive that led to an easy layup at the rim:

He sets this up by faking for just a split second that he was going to pull up for a deep 3-pointer, which Donte DiVincenzo read, so he jumped out to limit his space. But before the Knicks guard could really get set, Miller's already blowing past him with DiVincenzo on his hip. Then as he's driving into the middle of the paint, Miller sees he's caught the attention of Quentin Grimes who shows help by slacking off Caleb Martin. But Miller fakes a pass out to Martin at the 3-point line which causes Grimes to slide out of the paint, freeing up an open lane to the rim for the rookie. It's a high-IQ play from Miller, and atypical from what we usually see out of rookies who would either get flustered in that situation and try to force a shot up in traffic, or pass the ball out because they don't trust their abilities.

Dereck Lively II
DAL • C • #2
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I recently wrote about how important Lively's become to the Mavericks, so much so that Dallas' defense allows five fewer points when he's on the floor compared to when he sits. In the grand scheme of things that may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in that the Mavericks have a bottom-tier defense, his presence matters greatly on a nightly basis. This week, it was his offense that had a significant impact for Dallas. He had 20 points against the Orlando Magic on a near perfect 8 of 9 from the floor. He's obviously a constant lob threat, either out of the pick-and-roll, or lurking in the low post waiting for one of Dallas' many guards to toss him up something he can immediately throw down with force. But he also moves incredibly well to ensure he's always available for one of Luka Doncic's crazy passes. 

Chet Holmgren
OKC • C • #7
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Holmgren experienced his worst shooting month of the season so far, and yet he's still shot 51.5% from the field and 34.8% from deep. That's a "bad" month for the rookie, which says a lot about how elite he's been this season. But amidst the shooting "slump" -- which doesn't include the 18-point outing in a win against the Nuggets this week where he shot 53.8% from the field and went 3 of 4 from deep -- Holmgren continues to make an impact in other ways, primarily with his rebounding and shot blocking. Against the Nuggets he racked up 13 rebounds and five blocks, and it's truly crazy how even when you think Holmgren won't get to a block, he somehow winds up deflecting the shot. He did that several times against the Nuggets, proving once again that his impact goes beyond just his scoring.