NBA Rookie Report: Studs and Duds from Week 1
By: Kyle Morgan
The 2018-19 NBA season is finally underway! With the most recent crop of rookies 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.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks- What a roller coaster of a ride it’s been for Young the past calendar year. From taking the college basketball world by storm with his Curry-esque shooting displays, to struggling with Oklahoma through conference play, Young has already experienced his fair share of scrutiny. That could be beneficial to the 20-year-old in the long run. Acquired by Atlanta via the draft day trade that saw the Hawks send the rights to Luka Doncic to Dallas, Young was expected to see heavy minutes at the PG spot right out of the gate, and he has not disappointed. Through three games, Young leads all rookies in PPG (23.0) and APG (8.3) in 34.7 minutes per game, while shooting an impressive 39% from 3. Expect Young to see plenty of opportunity on an otherwise dismal Hawks team.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies- The youngest member of the 2018 draft class certainly has not let his youth get in the way of his play. Jackson turned nineteen in September, but he hasn’t wasted any time in making himself comfortable in the Memphis frontcourt. The organization is stuck at a crossroads with their two aging stars, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and the team may be compelled to let either one, or both, go if they continue to struggle. However he has provided a breath of fresh air through the first week of the season. The Michigan State product needed just 26.7 minutes to average 15 PPG and 6.3 RPG, third among all qualified rookies so far. It’s still too early in the season for Memphis to decide whether or not to shoot for the postseason, or blow it all up. One thing’s for sure: Jackson has looked like the real deal.
Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks- I know, you probably didn’t expect to see an undrafted free agent perform this well so early, but that’s the nature of the NBA. Trier signed a two-way contract with the Knicks on July 3, so he will split time between New York and the Westchester Knicks, the G-League affiliate. However, he’s has wasted no time whatsoever in making an impact off the bench. The Arizona product ranks 7th among qualified rookies in PPG (10.5) and has shot a terrific 42.9% from 3. Trier is only averaging 21 minutes-per-game thus far, but with fellow rookie Kevin Knox expected to miss time with an ankle injury, Trier’s stock is pointing upward.
Duds: Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers- The 19-year-old out of Alabama was expected to see a heavy dose of action when the Cavaliers selected him 8th overall, however that has not been the case. Stuck behind veteran George Hill on the depth chart, Sexton is averaging a modest 22.7 MPG, while posting just 9.0 PPG and 1.0 APG on 37% shooting from the field. On a Cavs team that has no plans for the postseason since the offseason departure of one LeBron James, Sexton should get more chances as the season progresses. This isn’t the start Cleveland had hoped for.
Mohamed Bamba, Orlando Magic- So far, the hit rap song “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes has been played and featured more than the actual Mo Bamba. The 22-year-old from Texas entered Orlando team that has a logjam in the frontcourt, and doesn’t really seem to know what to do about it. Bamba has played just 19.3 MPG through four games, posting 4.5 PPG and RPG in that span. The bright side? He’s making his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, swatting away two shots per game in his time on the court. But until Orlando can figure out what to do with its plethora of very tall basketball players, Bamba may continue to struggle to see action.
Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls- Perhaps the most impressive rookie of Summer League 2018, Carter has failed to re-produce what we saw in Las Vegas. Coach Fred Hoiberg and compay are easing the 19-year-old Duke product into action, playing him just 23.0 MPG. But in that span, Carter is leaving a lot to be desired. The 7th overall pick is averaging 6.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG on just 43.5% shooting, while barely averaging over a block a game. It’s going to be a long rebuilding effort the Bulls, but if Carter wants to be a featured member of this Chicago frontcourt going forward, he’ll need to produce at a much more satisfactory clip, especially with teammate Lauri Markkanen nursing an elbow injury for the foreseeable future.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org