Luka Doncic has received copious amounts of praise for his stellar play this season. And rightfully so.
But other rookies are putting up good numbers every night and look to be future star players. The reason these three have gotten so little spotlight is that they play on bad teams.
Nonetheless, they are getting their due recognition here and now.
Young was a hard prospect coming into last year’s NBA draft. He had all the hype in the world surrounding him during the first part of the 2017-2018 Oklahoma season, then fell off hard in the second half. Yet, he was taken fifth overall by the Mavericks and traded for Doncic.
People did, and still do, consider Atlanta as the loser in that trade. But, the way Young has played this year, he is arguably the second-best rookie in the league. He averages 18.4 points and 7.7 assists per game, with his scoring average second on the team just to John Collins.
For a guard that scores as well as he does, the only thing to improve is his three-point accuracy,
as he shoots 33.5 percent from deep. That is not a huge concern and one that can be easily fixed, but just something to watch for his future development.
What makes him special is that he can average just under eight assists a game. Being a good scorer and ball distributor will make him valuable going forward for the franchise.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Analysts raved about Jackson Jr. on draft night. Ever since then, the attention surrounding him seems to basically be none. Nonetheless, he has proven himself as a big man in the league and will be a part of Memphis’ plan going forward.
At first, it seemed like he would be the successor to Marc Gasol, but since Gasol was traded,
Jackson Jr. may now be a partner with Jonas Valanciunas to make the best frontcourt in the
Jackson Jr. is also a versatile defender and scorer. Especially on the offensive end, he can step out and make jump shots (he shoots 35.9 percent from three-point range). Averaging 13.8 points per game as a rookie big man is pretty good, and he has room to improve to score more in the future.
One knock on him is that he only grabs 4.7 rebounds per game as a power forward. That is a pretty low number for a guy his size. If he wants to make himself better for the league, he could also work on distributing the ball more (only averages 1.1 assists per game).
He is currently out due to right quad soreness, but when he bounces back next year, watch out
Ayton may just be one more piece to the puzzle the Suns need to be, well… good again. First off, he averages 16.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. That is pretty good for a rookie big man, with so many good frontcourt players in the west.
Secondly, he can improve his scoring ability by getting his outside shot down. To do that, though, he needs to actually take some. He has only taken four threes all year and missed them all. He does not need to become Steph Curry overnight, but any big who can step outside a knock down a three is more dangerous and valuable to the team.
With him and Devin Booker showing so much promise as young, rising talents in the NBA,
Phoenix has a reason to be excited. Getting a few more pieces in the next couple of years can make this team good again.
Ayton deserves most of the credit in this process for actually being good, but a tip of the cap for
the Phoenix front office is due. They may be taking their time with rebuilding the team, but they found two good players to start.