We are about 1/8th through the season, meaning it’s time to judge the young guns who are still learning the game. Some rookies spark interest immediately and eventually fizzle out being unable to live up to the early hype they created. Others start slow and take some time to develop into the player they were initially anticipated to be. Let’s go through some players and check up on them.
#1 Overall Pick: Deandre Ayton
Being the number one pick is never easy. You are instantly thrown into the league with boatloads of hype and are expected to live up to it immediately. Fortunately, Ayton is playing like a monster in the Suns’ first bunch of games. So far, he’s averaging 16ppg, 11rpg and 3.4apg. His fit next to Devin Booker has been phenomenal. The pick and roll magic have worked tremendously in opening up scoring opportunities for the both of them. His assist totals are much higher than I expected and that offers up a lot of confidence of him becoming a complete player in the near future.
#2 Overall Pick: Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley seems like a really good fit with the Kings being an athletic big man. The Kings have found early success, just not due to the play of their rookie. Bagley is averaging 12.8ppg and 6.5rpg. At his size, he should easily be able to average more rebounds within the 23 minutes a game he is playing. If the Kings were struggling, we would hear more about how their rookie isn’t living up to the potential. In due time, Bagley will figure it out and be a good player I have no doubts. Just as of now, he is not doing as well as we would all hope.
#3 Overall Pick: Luka Doncic
I had my doubts about Doncic’s game translating to the NBA early on. Doncic shut me and those doubts up real quick by being a stud with the Mavericks. To voice my opinion, Doncic has been the best rookie thus far. He’s averaging 20.2ppg, 6.5rpg, and 4.2apg. His overall play is just amazing to watch. He’s already one of the best passers I have ever seen regarding creativity. With a few more scorers around him, a Doncic led offense in Dallas could lead to great success.
#5 Overall Pick: Trae Young
Trae Young also gave me doubts coming into the NBA. I thought maybe his college successes were only due to him going up against less intelligent college defenses. He shut me up with his scoring and court vision. His lethal passing is what will make him a huge threat to defenses. Everyone knows about his scoring, but he’s unable to be doubled as he would find the open man no doubt each time. Trae Young is averaging 18.6ppg and 8.1apg. It’s fair to say that the Doncic-Young trade worked out well for both ends.
#6 Overall Pick: Mo Bamba
Mo Bamba may have a super hype song named after him, but he’s been playing just okay. Nobody expected him to wow everyone with his offense, but rather his defense. His defense is on point as he is leading all rookies in blocks per game at 1.6. He’s playing just under 20 minutes a game with averages of 6.1ppg and 5.6rpg. The rebounding numbers need to improve as he has the longest wingspan in the NBA. Even with his limited minutes, he should be able to get near 10 rebounds per game. He has shown some range with his shot and I believe he will get his rebounds higher in the near future. He just needs a few adjustments before being a solidified star for the Magic.
#8 Overall Pick: Collin Sexton
The most notable times the Cleveland Cavaliers picked in the lottery, they drafted Lebron James and Kyrie Irving. Ginormous shoes to fill for Sexton. With that hype around him, fans have expected much more than they have gotten. Sexton is averaging 10.9ppg, 2.1apg and 2.3rpg. As a point guard, those assist numbers need to be much higher. His teammates have been quoted as saying “He (Sexton) doesn’t know how to play”. Clearly not anything you want to hear about your young rookie who everyone hopes can bring some success to the team. With some development, I believe Sexton will be fine and end up being an average to above average point guard in this league.
#9 Overall Pick: Kevin Knox
Kevin Knox stunned us all during the Summer League. Based off that, people were literally projecting him to be the rookie of the year this season. Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. Knox has struggled this season with averages of 6ppg, 0.2apg and 1.2rpg. Yikes. This guy is not producing anything and even considering his ankle injury, this is disappointing. This could be a case of the hype getting to his head and him performing poorly as a result. He has the intangibles it seems to be a good player in this league. I envision him filling his role as a scorer by the middle of the season when things begin settling down.
I only went over 7 of the rookies, but there are many more that deserve some attention as well. Every few weeks I will be doing a rookie update to see how everyone is doing and when they inevitably hit their rookie wall. Stay tuned for more rookie news here at Couchguysports.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)
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