As the NBA continues to rack up COVID cases, some rookies have been among those whose seasons have been affected by the new variant. With protocols in place, the beat goes on.
1. Scottie Barnes — Toronto Raptors (Forward)
Barnes recently entered COVID-19 protocols, but before that he was still doing it at both ends for the Raptors. His uncanny playmaking on the offensive end and his defensive prowess on that end of the floor make him a viable Rookie of the Year favorite. His shooting, which was the weak link of his game, has gradually gotten better in his rookie campaign. Masai Ujiri got himself a good one with this pick.
Barnes is shooting a respectable 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. With season averages of 16/8/4, he’s put himself right in the thick of the race.
⭐️ 1 RT = 2 Votes pic.twitter.com/hJGalb7OHV
— jonny ❄️ (@Raptqrs) December 26, 2021
2. Evan Mobley — Cleveland Cavaliers (F/C)
Mobley returned from COVID-19 protocols to score 22 points and grab seven rebounds on 75 percent shooting. He continues to be a force on both ends of the floor for the young Cavaliers. His rim protection and ability to switch onto guards on the perimeter make him a perfect fit in today’s era of basketball. Mobley is a true pace and space big. With season averages of 14/8/3 on 48 percent shooting, big Evan looks the part on the shores of Lake Erie.
No rust for the rook!
22 PTS | 7 REB | 9-12 FG
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 29, 2021
3. Franz Wagner — Orlando Magic (Guard)
Wagner continues to show that his early-season success was no fluke. The former Michigan Wolverine has demonstrated an ability to play at a high level on a terrible Magic team. The Magic don’t seem to know which way they’re headed based on many of their personnel decisions.
But the decision to draft Wagner looks brilliant. A big guard with a smooth shooting stroke and sneaky athleticism, Wagner will only get better in a league that’s all about position-less basketball. He fits perfectly with his unique and undefined skill set and went for a career-high 38 against the defending champion Bucks on Dec 28.
For the season, he’s averaging 16/5/3 on 45 percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent from three.
ROY, respectfully 😌 pic.twitter.com/MdVJi0Imoa
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 29, 2021
4. Herbert Jones — New Orleans Pelicans (Guard)
The knock on Herbert Jones coming out of Alabama was his shooting, which hasn’t improved much at the next level. It’s his intangibles and basketball IQ that makes him unique. The last week he’s averaged 16/6/4.
He’s become one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league, and he enjoys taking on the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best shooter. He’s a quality shot creator for others. If Jones ever becomes a 35 percent three-point shooter watch out.
HERBERT JONES OMG
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 9, 2021
5. Josh Giddey — OKC Thunder (Guard)
Giddey plays with a lot of pizazz and spunk. He’s a great floor general who understands the angles of the floor. Although he’s currently in COVID-19 protocol, before it he posted a double-double without scoring a single point.
He’s capable of controlling games in various ways. He’ll need to become a more consistent shooter at some point, but his skill set at 6 feet 8 is pretty dynamic. The Aussie has proved he belongs. OKC has some quality young pieces and a ton of draft capital for subsequent drafts. Future’s bright on the Plains.
Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons — Budding star in COVID-19 protocol.
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