2013-2014 PBA Rookie Ladder as of December 10, 2013

I have no doubt that when we all look back at the rookie class of 2013, we will view it with awe. I mean, this is a rookie class that has a ton of big names coming out of the amateur ranks. It has the tallest PBA draftee since EJ Feihl joined the league in the 90s, and a few potential franchise players and future superstars. Suffice to say, this rookie class should go down in history as one of the richest talent hauls the pro league has ever seen.

And that’s why we have to take a look at how these greenhorns are doing now that each team has played about a handful of games. With a few games tucked under their belts, these rookies have, more or less, shown us just what they can contribute to their teams.

Greg Slaughter has been a dominant force for Ginebra.
(image by Paul Mata/AKTV)

As always, this rookie ladder is principally based on the Efficiency Ratings (EFF) as calculated by the sublime stat website, PBA-Online.net. This means that the biggest factor I have considered is production and NOT potential. I find it easier and more believable to gauge players’ performances based on the tangible things they’ve contributed to their team’s cause instead of engaging in never-ending (and often barely logical) debate about what this or that player can or cannot do. Perhaps it really is better to have the numbers to back up one’s rankings, right?

Anyway, here they are – the top ten rookies in the 2013-2014 PBA season as of December 10, 2013:

10. Ryan Buenafe (ALA) – 2.7ppg, 2.0rpg, 50.0 FG%, 50.0 3pt%, 14.0 EFF
- The former Ateneo Blue Eagle isn’t really putting up eye-popping numbers, but he has been a serviceable back-up at the wing spots for coach Luigi Trillo. In the precious few minutes he has seen action, he has been relatively effective, hitting threes and battling for those rebounds. He has yet to really establish his identity in the pros, but I believe that in due time he will be, at the very least, a solid role player.

9. Eric Camson (AIR) – 3.7ppg, 3.3rpg, 14.3 EFF
- What I’ve noticed about the former Adamson Soaring Falcon is that the more playing time he is given, the more productive he is. Against GlobalPort last November 23, Camson played 14 minutes and scored 6 points with 3 rebounds. Against the Mixers last December 1, he dropped 6 points and 7 boards in 16 minutes. Lastly, in the Express’s first win of the season (at the expense of Barako Bull), this past weekend, he 6 points and 5 rebounds in 10 minutes if play. Should he play upwards of 20 minutes, it won’t be farfetched for him to be a potential double-double threat.

8. Jeric Teng (ROS) – 4.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.0apg, 33.3 3pt%, 14.92 EFF
- Teng has had a nice stretch of games recently, highlighted by his 10-point explosion against the Energy Cola last December 1. In his first three PBA games, the former King Tiger averaged just 2 points per game, shooting 1/6 from beyond the arc, but in his last three games, he has upped his numbers to 6.7ppg and 50% 3pt shooting. Clearly, coach Yeng Guiao has a diamond in the rough in his hands.

Jeric Teng (R) has caught fire recently.
(image by Pranz Kaeno Billones/AKTV)

7. Eliud Poligrates (TNT) – 6.2ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.0apg, 15.07 EFF
- The 27-year old Cebuano is one of the oldest rookies in this class, but he has also proven to be one of its most fearless. Jimwell Torion comparisons? Check. Daredevil drives? Check. Poligrates has the potential to be a PJ Simon or Ronald Tubid type of player, depending on whether he improves his shot selection (hence the Simon comparison) or not (and then the Tubid comparison). Should he also be consistent with his numbers, he might just crack the All-Rookie First Team by season’s end.

6. Raymond Almazan (ROS) – 3.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 83.3 FT%, 17.69 EFF
- After a slow start to the season, Almazan had a couple of great games against Ginebra and Barako Bull respectively. The former Letran big man put up 17 points and 20 rebounds total in those two games, showing the ROS fans a glimpse of his potentially bright future. His production since then, however, has really left a lot to be desired, but if anyone in the league can fire up this guy’s motor, then it’s probably his current coach, Yeng Guiao.

5. Justin Chua (GLO) – 7.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 54.2 FG%, 22.75 EFF
- Knowing how good Chua is (especially based on how awesome he was in the D-League), it should come as no surprise to astute basketball observers that, despite not being as heralded as other more matunog names on this list, he has become a solid contributor for coach Richie Ticzon at GlobalPort. With the exception of the Meralco game, Chua has been instrumental in each game the Batang Pier have played. I initially felt Chua could be a Quiñahan or Belga type of player in the PBA, but should he continue on this trajectory, heck, he might even surpass those two burly bigs.

4. RR Garcia (GLO) – 10.5ppg, 2.3apg, 1.7rpg, 1.8 triples per game, 39.3 3pt%, 23.12 EFF
- Right above Chua in the PBA’s overall EFF rankings is former UAAP MVP RR Garcia.  After a rather slow start in his first coupe of outings, Garcia has picked up his production in GlobalPort’s last few games. He has, in fact, scored in double-figures in three of the last four matches, including a 20-point outburst versus the Gin Kings last November 28. Though it’s still unclear who, between him and Terrence Romeo, is Ticzon’s preferred rookie backcourt mate to Sol Mercado, I believe Garcia has proven that he definitely can hang with the best playmakers in the PBA.

3. Ian Sangalang (SMC) – 11.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.2apg, 28.29 EFF
- Yes, the Mixers haven’t been winning a lot of games so far, but one cannot turn a blind eye to how well their prized rookie big man has been playing. After five games, Sangalang is norming about 27 minutes per game, which is second most among rookies (Greg Slaughter is first with nearly 32 minutes per game), and the former Golden Stag has really been making the most of the time he has been given. Case in point – in the Mixers’ lone win so far, a 92-83 double-overtime decision over Air21, Sangalang was the sparkplug in the second extra inning, scoring 8 of his 14 points to lead SMC to the triumph. He reminds me a little bit of Dennis Espino, and, man, is that ever a compliment.

2. Terrence Romeo (GLO) – 15.8ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3 triples per game, 29.33 EFF
- The man now known simply as “Bro” scored in double-digits in each of his first four games as a pro, but he has really slowed down of late, scoring a total of just 5 markers in GlobalPort’s last two games, both of which turned out to be wins for the Batang Pier. Does this mean coach Ticzon will be inclined to play Romeo less in favor of his former FEu running mate, Garcia? I wouldn’t be surprised, but, hey, this is Romeo we’re talking about. I am certain he will regain his stroke and his confidence, and when he does, well, the opposition better get ready because this kid can shoot the lights out.

1. Greg Slaughter (GIN) – 13.6ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.8bpg, 1.0apg, 53.2 FG%, 36.03 EFF
- Slaughter registered double-doubles in each of his first three PBA games, and though his production has dipped a bit in his last two outings, he’s still the undisputed leader among the members of the class of 2013. Despite his frontline partner, Japeth Aguilar, having a breakout start to the season, Slaughter has remained reasonable consistent with the things he has proven to be good at. These are: getting to places where it’s easy for someone like him to score, and doing the dirty work like rebounding and blocking the basketball. Greg has been so good that he is currently in the top three in both rebounding and blocks. Early ROY favorite? You bet.

Outside looking in:
Nico Salva (GLO) - 13.39 EFF
JR Cawaling (SMC) - 13.37 EFF
Alex Nuyles (ROS) - 10.83 EFF

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