By Kyle Morgan
Week 4 of the 2018-19 NBA season has come and gone. With the most recent crop of rookies being heralded as one of the most talented in recent memory, KCOU Sports’ Kyle Morgan looks at who has stood out above the rest, and who is still working on finding their game.
Studs: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks- The Hawks are 3-11, and that’s perfectly fine for a team that has its eyes set on a top-3 pick in the 2019 draft. Young, on the other hand, has been blossoming as he has taken the reins of this young Atlanta team. His 3-point shooting has taken a bit of a hit (27 percent), and his turnovers per game are creeping up near four. Young’s subpar shooting numbers are to be expected given the volume of shots he takes, but the encouraging signs are in his maturity and growth as a team leader. On the team’s current West Coast road trip, it took a Herculean effort from LeBron James and newcomer Tyson Chandler for the Lakers to defeat the Hawks, 107-106. The following game, a trip to Oracle Arena to face the Warriors, Atlanta hung around the entire game before finally giving in to a 110-103 loss. The positive signs for Young aren’t necessarily showing up in the box score, but he’s growing and developing before our eyes, and that’s exactly what you want to see from a top-5 pick.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers- What a difference a week makes. After appearing in the “Duds” category last week for his dreadful start to the season (prompting a veteran Cavs player to say Sexton doesn’t know how to play basketball), Sexton has balled out ever since. In the past 3 games, the Alabama rookie has posted 17 PPG and has increased his FG and 3PT percentages up to 42.5 and 47.1 percent, respectively. His FT shooting has rose to a blistering 91.9 percent, and it appears as if he’s earned the trust of interim coach Larry Drew. Sexton still needs to work on his facilitating (just 2.3 APG), and his defense is nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, Sexton seemed to hit rock bottom last week, but he has bounced back admirably.
Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks- Welcome back to the “Studs” column, Allonzo Trier. The undrafted rookie out of Arizona has benefited greatly from fellow rookie Kevin Knox’s prolonged ankle injury. Trier has appeared in all 14 games thus far, posting 11.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and a .48/.39/.88 line in 23.9 MPG. His breakout performance, perhaps, came in Dallas against the Mavs, where Trier flashed a career-high 23 points on 8-10 shooting from the field. He followed that up with a 21-point outing against the Bulls two games later. Knox has since made his return from injury, which has cut into Trier’s playing a bit. But if Trier can continue to put up impressive point totals on hot shooting numbers, it’ll be hard for head coach David Fizdale to keep Trier out of the lineup.
Duds: Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks- The Knicks are bad, and what do bad teams usually do? They play as many young guys as they can, and hope that at least one of them looks to flash some serious potential. Count Robinson as one of the guys that has NOT shown any potential yet. Fizdale gave Robinson the starting a couple weeks ago over Enes Kanter, and let’s just say that Robinson still has some work to do before he is fit to be an NBA-caliber center. He’s averaging 5.1 PPG on 62.5 percent from the field, which is respectable, but it’s Robinson’s defense and lack of body control that makes it hard to keep him out there for extended minutes. Swatting away 1.8 shots per game isn’t bad in 18.5 MPG, but Robinson countered that with 2.3 fouls per game. He has flashed some potential, but until he can learn to control his body on defense, Robinson just isn’t quite ready to see some extended run.
Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns- The 31st pick out of France has struggled to see serious minutes on a Suns team that is once again camped out in the cellar of the Western Conference. In just 15.1 MPG, Okobo is shooting a paltry 37.7 FG percent and 26.9 3PT. Expected to compete for the starting point guard job on a team that is in dire need of one, Okobo has been nothing short of a disappointment. He’s averaging 6 PPG, and he has struggled to reach that mark. The Suns had high hopes for Okobo when they took with the 1st pick of the 2nd round, but so far, the 6’2” guard has shown that he has a lot of work to do before he can be a serious NBA-caliber player.
Landry Shamet, Philadelphia 76ers- Shamet saw 43 minutes of playing time last Saturday against the Grizzlies in Memphis, and we thought it might be the start of a trend for the 26th pick out of Wichita State. Alas, Shamet rewarded coach Brett Brown’s faith in him by shooting a measly 2-13 from the floor, including 1-11 from 3, in a 5-point, 5-rebound performance. That Memphis game was the epitome of how this season has gone for Shamet. In 21.7 MPG, the 6’5” guard has shot just 38.5 percent and 34.2 percent from 3. Furthermore, he has failed to produce in other categories besides scoring. As contenders, Philly wasn’t leaning on Shamet to produce much this year anyway, but it’s still not an encouraging sign for a team that spent a 1st round pick on a player who has struggled this much.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org