Happy 2023! A new year calls for a new edition of the NBA sophomore watch, highlighting the best players from the 2021 NBA Draft. This edition welcomes two new faces after Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers and Jose Alvarado of the New Orleans Pelicans fell off the list. There has also been a shakeup within the top five players from the last list, but the throne remains the same. Without further ado, here is the next batch of the NBA sophomore watch!

10. Jonathan Kuminga – F – Golden State Warriors

Season Stats: 7.5 PTS, 3.2 REB, 1.7 AST, 47.2 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 13 G, 10.8 PTS, 3.8 REB, 3.0 AST, 52.9 FG%

Last Ranking: N/R

Jonathan Kuminga has earned a spot on the main list at the No. 10 spot. Earlier this season, it seemed like Kuminga was going through a sophomore slump after he had a strong rookie year averaging 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. In his first 20 games this season, the Golden State Warriors forward was averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds. A significant step back. After seeing those stats, it’s wild to think he could even make the sophomore top 10 list. But, here we are. Across his last 13 games, Kuminga is up to 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 52.9% from the field. He’s not quite at his rookie season averages just yet, but Kuminga is trending in that direction, which is promising for the 20-year-old.

8. Bones Hyland – G – Denver Nuggets

Season Stats: 13.4 PTS, 2.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 40.8 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 14 G, 12.6 PTS, 2.6 REB, 3.5 AST, 41.8 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 9

Bones Hyland made the previous sophomore list at No. 9 and remains in the same spot this ranking. As a bench guard for the Denver Nuggets, Hyland gets around 20 minutes a night and makes the most of his time on the floor. In his last 14 games, the Delaware native is averaging 12.6 points on a 41.8 field goal percentage. Recently, Hyland has been collecting more assists for his squad, with a 20-point, 11-assist highlight game on Dec. 28 against the Sacramento Kings. Hyland is not the go-to guy on his team like some of the other sophomores on this list, but he plays a role on the bench for a title-seeking Nuggets team.

8. Trey Murphy III – F – New Orleans Pelicans

Season Stats: 12.7 PTS, 4.2 REB, 1.0 STL, 48.2 FG%, 42.3 3P%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 13 G, 11.9 PTS, 4.0 REB, 48.1 FG%, 44.6 3P%

Last Ranking: No. 7

Trey Murphy III is a vital piece to the New Orleans Pelicans squad, who have seemingly exceeded preseason expectations. They just click on all cylinders. Over his last 13 games, Murphy III is shooting 48.1% from the field and 44.6% from 3-point land. He scores when he’s called upon and does so efficiently. His season 3-point percentage sits at 42.3%, which is 16th in the entire NBA among qualified players. He’s a shooter, and his name sort of plays along with his role. Trey, III, an efficient 3-point shooter. Get it? Bad play on words? Sorry. Anyway, Murphy III plays his role accordingly and it earns him the No. 8 spot. Trey MurTHREE III, anyone? That one was bad, I’ll stop.

7. Quentin Grimes – G – New York Knicks

Season Stats: 10.1 PTS, 3.3 REB, 2.1 AST, 46.2 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 13 G, 14.8 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.5 AST, 47.1 FG%, 40.9 3P%

Last Ranking: N/R

Quentin Grimes joins Jonathan Kuminga as the newest addition to the list. Rightfully so. Since Dec. 5, Grimes has averaged 14.8 points a game, which ranks fifth among sophomores. The Houston, Texas, native is up to 10.1 points on the season after scoring just 6.0 during his rookie year. The guard helped the New York Knicks enjoy a seven-game winning streak where he checked in at double-figures in scoring in five games. During this stretch of games, Grimes set a career-high 33 points in a loss against the Dallas Mavericks. The 22-year-old also grabbed six rebounds and distributed four assists during the match. Grimes could easily become a regular on this list if he keeps his scoring up.

6. Alperen Sengun – C – Houston Rockets

Season Stats: 14.4 PTS, 8.6 REB, 2.6 AST, 55.5 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 13 G, 13.1 PTS, 8.6 REB, 3.1 AST, 54.5 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 5

Alperen Sengun was knocked down one spot since the last ranking. Compared to his season averages, the second-year center is down in points and field goal percentage across his last 13 games, but not by much. His best game since Dec. 5 came in a win against the Chicago Bulls where Sengun put up 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Sengun also had a 16-rebound double-double during this stretch of games. For Sengun to move up on the list going forward, he’s going to need a big stretch of games.

5. Evan Mobley – F – Cleveland Cavaliers

Season Stats: 14.6 PTS, 8.9 REB, 2.8 AST, 1.3 BLK, 55.7 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 12 G, 13.6 PTS, 8.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 53.9 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 3

Like Sengun, Evan Mobley fell since our last sophomore ranking. It’s not that the Cleveland Cavaliers center is performing at a lesser rate, it’s just that others ahead of him are on fire. With the addition of Donovan Mitchell, shot attempts were bound to go down for the second-year player, however, Mobley has managed to score at a similar rate to his rookie campaign. Through 36 total games, Mobley is up to 14.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. His shots are down from 12.0 per game to 10.5, but Mobley is shooting better at a 55.7% clip. Mobley remains one of the best sophomore players in the class, he just hasn’t taken a significant jump yet.

4. Scottie Barnes – F – Toronto Raptors

Season Stats: 14.8 PTS, 7.0 REB, 4.7 AST, 44.9 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 14 G, 15.6 PTS, 7.2 REB, 4.3 AST, 45.3 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 6

Scottie Barnes clocked in at No. 6 last ranking after a rough stretch of games. Luckily, Barnes turned the dial to put himself back on track for a solid year. From Dec. 5 until Jan. 2, Barnes sits third in points among sophomore players behind the likes of Jalen Green and Franz Wagner. The Raptors forward also ranks fifth in rebounds and second in assists among second-year players. Five double-doubles in 14 games boosts you up to the No. 4 spot. Barnes also had a night where he notched 17 rebounds. This came against the Los Angeles Lakers where the 21-year-old also scored 13 points. The former Rookie of the Year looks like he’s beginning to level up in year two.

3. Josh Giddey – G/F – Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Stats: 14.9 PTS, 8.2 REB, 5.4 AST, 46.7 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 11 G, 15.4 PTS, 9.0 REB, 5.1 AST, 49.0 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 2

Oh, Josh Giddey, how can a player do this well in multiple aspects of the game in just their second year? Despite falling one spot since the last ranking, the Melbourne, Australia, native has performed better than his season averages across this 11-game stretch. Giddey is scoring in double-figures, grabbing just under double-figures in rebounds, dishing out at least five assists a game and putting the ball in the net at an efficient rate. The 20-year-old had six double-doubles in his last 11 games played. He’s like that and he’s only getting better.

2. Franz Wagner – F – Orlando Magic

Season Stats: 19.9 PTS, 4.0 REB, 3.5 AST, 48.0 FG%,

Averages Since Last Ranking: 13 G, 21.5 PTS, 4.1 REB, 3.0 AST, 46.2 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 4

Franz Wagner is really close to Jalen Green in terms of the best sophomore player, like really close. It’s closer than the separation between the best rookie, Paolo Banchero, and the next best. Wagner keeps up with Green in scoring, rebounds, assists and shoots the ball more efficiently than the Rockets guard. The German-native forward has performed exceptionally well since the last ranking, skyrocketing him from the four spot to No. 2. Wagner has averaged 21.5 points across the previous 13 games and exploded for a 34-piece against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 9. Come next ranking, Wagner could threaten Green for the No. 1 spot.

1. Jalen Green – G – Houston Rockets

Season Stats: 21.4 PTS, 4.4 REB, 3.6 AST, 41.4 FG%

Averages Since Last Ranking: 14 G, 21.6 PTS, 5.0 REB, 3.1 AST, 41.4 FG%

Last Ranking: No. 1

Admittedly, it’s going to be hard to dethrone Jalen Green, but Franz Wagner is certainly making it interesting. Green is at the one spot again in this ranking because of his scoring since Dec. 5, which is the date between the last ranking and now. Out of his last 14 games played, Green has scored 20 or more points in 10 games including a 30-point, seven-rebound win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 11. Off of his season averages, Green is scoring more while maintaining the same efficiency and is also grabbing more rebounds. There might not be a dedicated award for the best sophomore player, but it’s been Green this season.


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