Over the summer, the NBA ushered in a new draft class. The 2019 draft class entered the league, as all eyes are on its top pick.
In June, the New Orleans Pelicans drafted phenom Zion Williamson. Williamson was the first pick, as the Pelicans look to rebuild after trading Anthony Davis. Williamson came into the league as its most hyped players since LeBron James. Now, he has a chance to live up to the hype in the upcoming season.
On Monday, Williamson made his preseason debut. He finished the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. His first points were on a drive to the basket. Williamson was fouled on the drive and ended up making the free throw for the and-one play. Then shortly after, Williamson soared for a dunk.
Williamson will be a trending topic throughout the season, and there is a chance he’ll go home with Rookie of the Year honors. However, he is not the only rookie that will shine this season. There are others that will contribute to their teams and could give Williamson a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year race. Here are three rookies who could have great seasons.
Morant was the second pick of the 2019 draft. The Memphis Grizzlies drafted the skilled point guard, as they traded Mike Conley to the Jazz. Morant is a quick guard who can create his own shot. He can also get shots for his teammates. So, the Grizzlies have just the right player to replace Conley.
In his sophomore year at Murray State, Morant averaged 24.5 points per game, 10.0 assists per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game. His performance throughout the season led to his rise in draft rankings, as he was lightly recruited out of high school. He made a name for himself in his 2018-19 season, and it led to his current situation: being a crucial piece in the Grizzlies’ rebuild.
While the Grizzlies are bound for another lottery season, they are on the right track. With pieces like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke beside him, Morant is bound for a good rookie season.
RJ Barrett was the third pick of this year’s draft. He was the college teammate of Williamson, and like the forward, was bound to be a top pick.
In college, Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. While the attention was on Williamson, Barrett managed to make a name for himself and showed why he deserved to be the third pick. And with the New York Knicks, he has another chance to prove it.
Barrett will likely be the centerpiece of the Knicks’ future. Which means he’ll have the chance to show what he’s made of it. If the Knicks make him the focal point of their offense, he’ll likely have a good season.
Another rookie that could have a good season is Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland. Garland was the fifth pick of this year’s draft. The Cavaliers drafted him in hopes of having a backcourt of him and Collin Sexton.
Garland averaged 16.2 points during his time with Vanderbilt. While he only played in five games that year (due to a meniscus injury), he showed glimpses of his talent in that time.
Garland is an exceptional ballhandler who can finish at the basket. He is also a legitimate shooter, who shot 47.8 percent in his five games at Vanderbilt. His defense and passing are two things that may be in question. This will affect the Cavs as these are Sexton’s weaknesses. But if Garland plays to his strengths, there is a chance he’ll have a great season.
The 2019 draft class is extremely talented. Williamson will have a noteworthy season, but he won’t be the only one. These three players (and maybe more) will have notable rookie seasons. Now it is only a matter of the season getting started.
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