The Shadow League NBA Rookie Meter 9

These NBA “FROSH” or “DIAPER DANDIES” continue to shine as many others are beginning to hit that proverbial rookie wall.

LaMelo Ball keeps us traveling down I-95 via I-77 where the youngest of the Ball brothers continues to show why he should have been the No. 1 overall pick.

Ball has been one of the best rookies we’ve seen hit the league in a while. Since being inserted into the starting lineup on February 1st, the No.3 overall pick has been one of the most captivating multi-faceted performers in the NBA.

He not only has a robust skillset, but he understands how important flair is to the game of hoops. Melo’s averaging 20.0 points, 6.8 assists, and 6.3 rebounds in 17 games as the starter. He’s also been a flamethrower shooting 46% from distance. As of now, he’s the runaway NBA Rookie Of The Year favorite and it’s not even close.

The play of Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton has been a bright spot in another not-so-great year in the state capital of California. Haliburton has struggled a bit since returning from injury, but in his 11 games prior, the 12th pick by way of Iowa St was averaging 16.4 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 52% from the field.

He remains the closest challenger to Ball for “ROY” honors.

The Knicks drafted the Uber athletic Obi Toppin with the 9th pick and the expectancy was he’d provide some real punch. He hasn’t, but Immanuel Quickley has been a real find as the lead guard.

Many believed the team trading for Derrick Rose would have a negative effect on Quickley, but it hasn’t. He’s averaging 13.4 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 44% from the floor. Consistency has been an issue at times, but the eye test says he is a foundational piece for the future.

Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards is balling like a No.1 overall pick after getting off to a slow start. In many ways, his early struggles weren’t all his fault. Minnesota expected to have Karl-Anthony Towns and DeAngelo Russell as lead scoring options, but they’ve been in and out of the lineup, causing a lot of the scoring burden to fall on Edwards.

He’s actually only played one game this entire season with both on the court. He’s averaging 22.2 points and 6.8 rebounds over his last eight games.

For Warriors rookie big man James Wiseman it’s been an up-and-down rookie season. In part because of his inexperience (played only 3 college games) and the Warriors’ failure to commit to winning or tanking.

The uncertainty has stunted some of his growth this season. But when he plays he’s been exceptional and shows flashes of a potential All-Star. He did miss 11 games due to injury and a missed COVID-19 test left him in head coach Steve Kerr’s doghouse.

He’s still averaging 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a rookie. He’s also one of the league leaders on a per-minute basis as it pertains to altered shots.

Saddiq Bey of the Pistons has been the only thing in the “Motor City” not named Jerami Grant worth talking about. The Pistons chose to sit Blake Griffin prior to him being bought out and Bey received the bulk of those minutes. He earned Eastern Conference Player Of The Week back in February and continues to play at a high level. The Villanova product is averaging 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 42% from distance the last 15 games.

Honorable Mention

Desmond Bane – The Grizzlies rookie is still scorching the nets from distance at 46% while averaging 10.0 points. The TCU product can fill-it-up.

Patrick Williams – Bulls have them a real “3 and D” player, who has shown flashes of brilliance. Zach LaVine and the “Windy City” Bulls have cherished Williams’ shot-making and ability to guard the opposing team’s best player.

Cole Anthony – The NY product was showing some promise after the season-ending injury to Markelle Fultz. In fact in 17 starts before his own injury, Anthony was averaging 12.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

The Knicks should’ve drafted him over Obi Toppin, my guy JR Gamble was correct.

Jae’Sean Tate – Although he’s playing on a Rockets team that has inexcusably lost 16 in a row, he’s been a bright spot. The undrafted rookie averages 13.7 points, and 7.0 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 58% from the floor during that stretch. The team is downright putrid and now with point guard John Wall out after a knee scope, one has to wonder if Williams’ numbers dip minus the pass-first point guard to feed him in his spots on the floor.

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