NBA Draft

Who Deserves Early All-Rookie Consideration?

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While the 2020 NBA Draft didn’t necessarily have a Zion Williamson-type prospect, plenty of first-year players are already making a name for themselves.

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We’ve seen highly drafted prospects like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman flash early, but how will the rest of the season shape up for them? Which lower-drafted guys could join them on an All-Rookie team? Let’s take a look at who we should expect to see on the list.

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Arguably the most polarizing prospect in this class, Ball has already made a statement in his little action thus far. The former Illawarra Hawks star has proven the flashes of playmaking ability he’s known for are no fluke– he has one of the brightest futures in the game. Ball is averaging a more-than-solid 11.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game off the bench for Charlotte.

Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he’s only averaging 24.4 minutes per game, good for 167th in the NBA. After becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double and a 12/10/9 game against his brother earlier this month, it would be no surprise to see Ball land on the All-Rookie team and contend for Rookie of the Year.

Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Like many basketball fans and draft gurus, the Sacramento Kings were surprised to see the former Iowa State guard available when their picked rolled around at 12th overall. Only 15 games and one start in, Haliburton is showing he deserved the top-eight spot many were giving him before November’s draft.

An emphasis on Haliburton’s game coming in was that he was an all-around combo guard, someone who can score when needed, but just as well known for getting his teammates involved. He’s delivered so far, already with a nine-assist game against Portland and multiple eight-assist games a week ago. If he can stay consistent, Haliburton will be among the top rookies – and may see himself starting alongside De’Aaron Fox as the season progresses.

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

The situation with James Wiseman is a bit different from the others on this list, and with help from veterans Draymond Green and Steph Curry, he’s already showing flashes of what we expected when he was drafted second overall.

All rookies are facing difficult circumstances this year with no Summer League or proper conditioning time with the shortened offseason. Things become even more difficult when you’re asked to start right away for a contender.

So far this season, Wiseman has put up 12.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game in what has predictably been an up-and-down start for the 19-year-old. Once he gets more comfortable in his role and can start putting together streaks of consistency, Wiseman will find himself on the All-Rookie team with little competition.

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

It’s never easy being the first overall pick.

Luckily for Edwards, he landed in an ideal situation behind D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. The athletic guard out of Georgia has had a good start to his NBA career, averaging 13.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists off the bench for Minnesota.

Defensively, Edwards occasionally lacks effort and awareness, leading to a -4.1 defensive box plus/minus– good for last in the NBA.

It hasn’t been the smoothest transition for Edwards, but like many rookies, he needs a lot of time to adjust. The scoring potential is there, it’s just a matter of him finding his groove in the league and fit on the team. Once he gets some more experience under his belt, watch out.

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers

Coming into the offseason, Elton Brand and Daryl Morey had one job– create a team that can be successful around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Boy did they deliver.

Shortly after acquiring Danny Green in a trade that sent Al Horford to Oklahoma City, Morey and company quickly reconstructed the roster to add shooters to the lineup. Tyrese Maxey was made the 21st overall pick, averaging 9.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists over 19.4 minutes per game thus far.

Generally speaking, there isn’t much expected from rookies drafted as late as Maxey was back in November. He has already exceeded expectations in the young season, proving to be a valuable source of points off the bench. His fit in Philadelphia’s scheme is as ideal as it gets for a rookie, so hopefully Maxey can keep this pace going as the 76ers look to contend in the suddenly competitive Eastern Conference.

These rookies have certainly shown they belong in the NBA, and the list doesn’t stop there. Immanuel Quickley, Cole Anthony and Payton Pritchard are also deserving of recognition for their early season success. Patrick Williams, Deni Avdija and Saddiq Bey have shown flashes when on the court as well.

Considering the NBA season started only 34 days after the draft, we should ease our expectations just a bit. It’s still very early in the process, and most of the 2020 class is still just trying to crack their teams’ lineups. We’ll reevaluate the success of this class as whole as their careers go on, but one thing’s for sure– the 2020 class has a chance to be a special one.

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About Nick Peloso

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