By: Kyle Morgan
Week 3 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 takes a look at who has stood out above the rest, and who is still working on finding their game.
Studs: Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls- Carter Jr., the No. 7 overall pick out of Duke, has taken advantage of increased playing time over the past few games. In 29 MPG over his last 5 games, Carter Jr. is averaging 15.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 2 BPG. At 46 perecent, his FG percentage leaves some room for improvement for a big man at his position, but he’s posting a 43 percent from three and 91 percent at the free-throw. Carter Jr. is certainly benefiting from the extended absence of front court mate Lauri Markkanen, who is nursing an elbow injury and has yet to see the floor this season. At 11.1 PPG and 7.6 RPG, Carter Jr’s. season averages have been nothing short of satisfactory for a Bulls team that looks to be heading towards another trip in the lottery.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, L.A. Clippers- The Clippers are off to a surprising 6-4 start, good for fifth in a loaded Western Conference. While Gilgeous-Alexander hasn’t necessarily stuffed the stat sheet, the No. 11 overall pick out of Kentucky has impressed with his maturity and moxie off the bench. The 20-year-old from Toronto has put up 8 PPG and 3.3 APG in just under 25 MPG, so his numbers don’t exactly stand out among the rookies in his class. However, Gilgeous-Alexander has brought a breath of fresh air to an organization that is looking to blend youth and veteran presence in its quest for a playoff berth. It remains to be seen how stable the Clippers can be amidst their fast start, but it appears the team made the right call in trading for Gilgeous-Alexander on draft night.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets- Bridges is slowly seeing his playing time increase over the past few games, which means the 12th overall pick out of Michigan State may start seeing more opportunities if the Hornets decide they can’t compete for the playoffs in the East. Bridges is currently averaging 8.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG but has posted an impressive 57 percent FG shooting. The highlight for Bridges so far in his rookie campaign was a monster slam against Atlanta on Tuesday, channeling his inner-Vince Carter, who took the floor for his opponent that night. Guard Kemba Walker has carried this Hornets team to a 6-5 record, but if first-year head coach James Borrego realizes this team isn’t good or stable enough to compete for the playoffs, then Bridges could be the beneficiary of extended playing time.
Duds: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings- If you look at the box score, Bagley III has done everything the Kings have asked of him. He’s averaged just under 13 PPG along with 6.8 RPG in 23 MPG, but that’s the problem. Sacramento has thrived in its 6-4 start to the season, pacing its offense to the 2nd highest in the league. The addition of guard Nemanja Bjelica and the rise of center Willie Cauley-Stein has blocked Bagley III from seeing additional court time. He isn’t quick enough to keep up with the pace of the offense, and he isn’t close to being a threat from the perimeter. Until the Kings cool off from their rapid start, expect Bagley III to struggle to see the floor.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers- Already making his second appearance in the ‘Duds’ category, Sexton’s situation in Cleveland has gone from bad to worse. His shooting percentage continues to drop, and he has seen below 20 minutes of playing time in each of the past two games. Furthermore, a report out of Cleveland stated that an anonymous Cavs player claimed that Sexton “doesn’t know how to play basketball”, and many teammates question the rookie’s ability to be a leader and playmaker in the NBA. Granted, Sexton is still just 19, and is just 10 games into his NBA career. Alas, it’s been as bad of a start as it gets for Sexton and the Cavs, who have plummeted to the bottom of the East at 1-9 and will be without star Kevin Love for at least a month and a half with a toe injury.
Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks- At 8-2, the Bucks are on fire and look to be a serious contender to represent the East in the NBA Finals. DiVincenzo, on the other hand, isn’t feeling so hot after struggling to produce (and stay on his feet when defending C.J. McCollum) against Portland Tuesday night. The No. 17 pick out of Villanova, DiVincenzo wasn’t expected to give Milwaukee much in his rookie year anyway, but his numbers haven’t lived up to even his low expectations. 7.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 20.5 MPG isn’t anything to scoff at, but on a Bucks team that is expected to contend in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, it would be great if DiVincenzo could provide a little more spark and production off the bench as the season goes on.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org