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In NBA Rookie Rankings, Rodions Kurucs rockets into top 5

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The numbers say it: In his last three games, Rodions Kurucs has averaged 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting 54.3 percent overall, 55.6 percent from three and 83.3 percent from line. He’s had a career high in points (24) followed by his first two double-doubles (16 and 10 and 13 and 12).

Going back seven games, to his first start, the 6’10” Latvian is averaging 12.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in 29.2 minutes and shot 53/40/90.

Now, he’s getting recognition. NBA.com ranks the 40th pick as the fifth best rookie on its Rookie Ladder this week. Not only that. Drew Packham tops his rankings with a discussion of just how good Kurucs has been. The only rookies ranked above Kurucs: Luka Doncic of Dallas; Deandre Ayton of Phoenix; Kevin Knox of New York and Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis, all top 10 picks.

“I’m just playing basketball. I was hungry. I didn’t play for years; Now I’m enjoying it,” said the 20-year-old Kurucs, the youngest foreign-born player to ever start for the Nets. “I think also the thing I wasn’t playing in Barcelona it helped me mentally to prepare myself to be together, work harder and someday come back, I just kept working on my game and that’s it.”

In fact, Peckham writes this of Kurucs...

If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Nets game, they’re playing an energetic, fun style of basketball and Kurucs seems to always be in the mix when the Nets need a big bucket or rebound. There’s no way Atkinson can keep him off the floor once Allen Crabbe returns considering the impact he’s had in the last few weeks.

Among those ranked behind Kurucs was Collin Sexton, the Cleveland point guard taken with the Nets first round pick last June, the last payment on the 2013 Celtics trade. As Peckham notes, Sexton’s numbers are dropping ... while Kurucs are rising.

Kurucs has been rising up the Ladder for the past several weeks, named honorable mention last week.