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SportsPulse: Trysta Krick breaks down the never ending soap opera that is the NBA. USA TODAY Sports

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USA TODAY Sports spotlights one rookie each week as part of our weekly Rookie Power Rankings.

If you weren’t aware of the hype buzzing around Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell, consider last Friday his coming out party.

Mitchell has had a few scoring outbursts prior to his franchise record-setting night, but his 41-point effort against the Pelicans, dragging the Jazz back from 16 points down, put him in rare air.

The only other active NBA players with a 40-plus point game as a rookie are LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Steph Curry and Blake Griffin.

Mitchell, the No. 13 pick whom the Jazz traded up with the Nuggets to select, has eased the pain of losing Gordon Hayward this summer. He’s the third-leading scorer among rookies at 16.6 points per game, and though his shot selection still leaves something to be desired, he’s as exciting a rookie as there is in this year’s class.

He drilled the Pelicans from outside (6 for 12 on three-pointers) and used his freakish length to swerve around DeMarcus Cousins in the paint.

“What didn’t he do?” Cousins quipped to the Salt Lake Tribune. “He had a hell of a game. Super impressive coming from a rookie.”

If the Jazz, winners of six in a row, somehow sneak into the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference, they’ll have Mitchell to thank for shouldering so much responsibility so early. What’s interesting is that the Jazz’s winning streak has coincided with injuries to Rudy Gobert (who returned from a knee injury Monday night) and Rodney Hood (ankle). Mitchell and Alec Burks have each stepped up significantly in that span.

Though Mitchell has the ability to take defenders off the bounce and score on his own, the Jazz, with their injuries, are doing this democratically. The Jazz rank second in the NBA in passes per game and have the ninth-best offensive rating in the league. Their net rating is fifth, behind only the Warriors, Rockets, Raptors and Celtics.

If Mitchell can continue leading the Jazz like this, expect more praise similar to what Clippers guard Austin Rivers offered after last week’s game.

“That dude’s a rookie,” he said to reporters. “He’s crazy. He’s the best rookie in the NBA if you don’t count Ben Simmons. … That (expletive) is out there leading a team as a rookie. You know what I mean?”

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1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers: 18.0 ppg, 7.1 apg, 9.3 rpg

At this point in Ben Simmons’ career, it’s a blessing for the rest of the league that he’s not a consistent shooter. He powers past guards who try to stop him (hence, the LeBron comparisons) and spins deftly around big men once he gets near the hoop. On the other side, Simmons’ steal percentage is already in the top 10 of the NBA as is his block percentage among fellow guards.

2. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics: 13.9 ppg, 1.4 apg, 5.3 rpg

Perhaps the most impressive aspect to Tatum’s budding game is his patience. He’s routinely the beneficiary of the second or third pass in an offensive sequence and is often rewarded on the weak side after one of Boston’s slashers attacks and forces the defense to collapse. In the last week he was 7 of 9 from the three-point line, and is now shooting 51% from the arc. His net rating (6.2) is also the highest among all rookies who play at least 20 minutes per night.

3. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: 16.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.1 rpg

Like we predicted in this space, Mitchell might be the most fun rookie there is. At 6-foot-3, he’s not overly imposing like Simmons, but his 6-foot-10 wingspan lets him finish from all types of angles around the rim. Couple that with his shiftiness and penchant for hitting big three-pointers and the Jazz have found themselves a star in the making. 

4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers: 16.8 ppg, 1.5 apg, 6.5 rpg 

The Lakers have hit the skids, but Kuzma continues to play with a relentless motor. He had back-to-back double-doubles in losses to the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets and is second only to Ben Simmons in that category among rookies. The game was out of hand, but 16 of Kuzma’s 22 points vs. Houston came in the fourth quarter.

5. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks: 11.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.9 bpg

Collins, who moved into the Hawks’ starting lineup on Nov. 22, has had a stellar start to his career, but that campaign will be on hold after spraining his left shoulder last week vs. the Cavs. Collins is expected to miss the next two-to-three weeks recovering. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said despite his promising start, it could help the rookie to be a spectator for the time being.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Michael Singer on Twitter @msinger. 

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