NBA Rookie of the Year ladder: Big rise from Brandon Miller in Week 4

With a bigger opportunity than most, it's time to start paying attention to Brandon Miller in the Rookie of the Year race.

Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets
Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets / Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
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Forward. player. 2. . 29. . Spurs. Victor Wembanyama. Victor Wembanyama. 2

The San Antonio Spurs are 3-13. Only the Pistons and Wizards have worse records. The Victor Wembanyama era isn't off to the smoothest start. We're starting to hear grumblings about Gregg Popovich's outmoded tactics and the Spurs' lack of proper talent around Wemby.

Thing is, the Spurs' god-awful record almost feels like it's by design. The decision to start Jeremy Sochan over Tre Jones at point guard has been catastrophic. The Spurs are fairly competent when Jones shares the floor with Wemby. When it's Sochan and not Jones, San Antonio's offensive rating plummets. It's a simple, obvious adjustment. If not to tank, there's no justifiable reason for the ongoing commitment to Point Sochan.

But, the Spurs probably deserve patience. Rookies hardly ever lead contenders out of the gate. Wembanyama is clearly the best player on the team and he's going to be a superstar before long. The defense is mind-bending (2.6 blocks and 1.0 steals), and the offensive flourishes are unlike anything we've ever seen.

The Spurs often rely on Wembanyama to bail them out of poorly manufactured situations, but he's averaging 19.0 points on .431/.267/.821 splits to lead all rookies in scoring. The 3-point efficiency is going to come around eventually and he will get better inside the arc once the Spurs decide to pick his spots better. Wemby deserves leeway to test his limits and explore the breadth of his shot-making, but asking him to constantly create from scratch after the halfcourt offense stalls is a flawed recipe.

In terms of volume of production, Wembanyama easily clears his peers. It's a simple matter of efficiency and, frankly, team context holding Wembanyama back. If he were in the same position as his No. 1 counterpart in these rankings, he would probably look a whole lot more polished.