With the 2020-21 NBA season set to tip off in about a week, there are a handful of rookies who I am very excited to watch. Some will have to have more of an impact than others, while others have the green light to try to rebuild a franchise. But here are some rookies who I am personally excited to watch this season.
First and foremost, the most coveted and talked about player in the draft – LaMelo Ball. He doesn’t need an introduction and Jordan was clearly high on him to take him at 3. He has been absolutely electric and looks GREAT in the preseason. Granted, I did say the same about Lonzo but I think LaMelo is different. He just looks a lot more confident than Lonzo did as a rookie and he already has pro basketball experience by playing down in Australia.
LaMelo Ball’s first three in the NBA. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CHPfI2rQzG
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 15, 2020
I mean the jumper needs some work but he’s got some swag too him, and not to mention he’s already connecting with Miles Bridges.
LaMelo Ball ✈️ Miles Bridges pic.twitter.com/8UHQRhtmpj
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) December 15, 2020
I like Charlotte a lot this season. They are a really young, fun to watch team and have a solid veteran leader in Gordon Hayward. I wouldn’t be shocked if this team is contending for a playoff spot this season.
Of course I had to have a Celtic on this list and there might not be another rookie in the league that has more pressure than Nesmith. Unlike a lot of these rookies, Nesmith has to come in and be the shooter the Celtics desperately need. Of course he can have a learning curve, but ultimately the Celtics need him to produce now. If he can continue his shooting touch from college then he will be fine. But if he suddenly forgets how to shoot and transitions into a more slasher type player than he would have failed to fill his role for the Celtics. At Vanderbilt, he shot 52% his sophomore year, and the only Celtic to come close to that last year was Tatum with 40%.
I’ll be honest with you I know nothing about this dude. Not a single thing – except that he is from Israel and played in the EuroLeague. But he is a stud from all aspects of the game. He is big, can shoot, has pro experience, and fills an immediate need for the Wizards. For the last two seasons, he has played for Maccabi Tel Aviv he only averaged 4ppg but I guess Washington took him for the upside. Which I think will be high. They also drafted him ninth and from his first preseason game, he looked pretty solid.
Deni Avdija looks like a golden find by the Wizards! 🧙♂ pic.twitter.com/O7wBQkFSWH
— Wizards Nation (@WizardsNationCP) December 14, 2020
And not to mention, it’s really hard to pass on these Europeans. There is a reason they always go in the top 10 of the draft, whether they pan out or not. But it is because they can play and fill roles very nicely. They usually have long careers as great role players who can produce when needed. I am not sure the Wizards took Avdija to be “the guy” I think they took him because he was the best player at nine and can fill many different roles.
I watched a lot of Isaac Okoro last year because I was high on Auburn. Big Bruce Pearl fan too. All year they said Okoro was this great player who was going to be a top pick, in which he was. But I don’t know if he is this great player. Like I said I don’t mind him as a player and he has a ton of upside but I can see some bust on this kid.
The good thing he has going for him as a rookie is that he is in Cleveland. No one expects them to do anything so he will have some time to learn and grow in the league. But, similar to Avdija, I don’t ever see him being “the guy.” I think he can fill spots nicely but to what extent? At Auburn, he was a horrible three point shooter (29%) and in today’s league a guard/forward has to be able to shoot the ball. Also, in plenty of Auburn games you pretty much saw Pearl and his teammates get on him to be more aggressive and to take the big shot.
He was Auburn’s best player last year. He averaged about 13 points a game game but it was visible he didn’t have that killer instinct. Obviously, it’s not something to get on him about especially as a freshman in college and certainly not yet as a rookie. But let’s say 2-3 years down the line and he’s still who he was in college. Then we might have a conversation for being a little overhyped and highly drafted.