The NBA season has shown us some quality rookie play and this week, the beat goes on as a few newcomers crash the party, joining a few mainstays, who once again didn’t disappoint.
READ MORE: TSL’s NBA 2021 Rookie Meter 1
Tyrese Haliburton (11.4 ppg, 4.9 assists, 47 % from three)
Last week I mentioned Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton but didn’t make him one of the top guys. This week he secures the top spot for his cerebral play. His understanding of the ebb and flow of the game is remarkable. His ability to play on or off the ball has really helped Kings star guard DeAaron Fox flourish. At some point, Luke Walton has to consider starting him.
LaMelo Ball (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.9 apg)
The neophyte Ball has maintained his solid play for the Hornets. Melo leads all rookies in rebounds and assists, steals and efficiency score (16.27). His passing is just special. His shooting is still a work in progress, but he’s a very good rebounder for his position. At some point I expect him to crack the starting lineup as well in the “Queen City.”
James Wiseman ( 11.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 50.3% FG)
The Warriors franchise piece leads all rookies in blocks and continues to show the promise that made him the second overall pick in the draft. His flashes of brilliance are noticeable and his development is starting to take shape. Having Draymond Green as a mentor is a huge advantage and cannot be undervalued or understated. I expect Wiseman to reach fringe superstar levels in his career, and it won’t take him as long to get there as some may think.
READ MORE: The Shadow League’s 2021 NBA Rookie Meter 2
The Rest Of The Best
Anthony Edwards (12.1 ppg)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft can fill it up. He leads all rookies in scoring average, but he’s been inconsistent the last 10 games, averaging just 10. 1 ppg and shooting 30.5 % from the field and an abysmal 24.5 % from three-point land.
Xavier Tillman ( 8.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg,1.4 steals)
This week the first of the new entries come by way of Memphis’ rookie big man, Xavier Tillman. Tillman has played very well for the upstart Grizzlies, who are 7-6 and in first place in the Southwest Division standings. The rookie second-round pick is providing Memphis with rebounding, rim protection and physicality and shooting over 56 % from the field, second among rookies to Miami’s Precious Achiuwa (63.77)
Payton Pritchard (7.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, 42.5 % from 3)
Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard just looks the part as a true floor leader. He’s been quiet the last three games but while Kemba Waller (injury) and Jayson Tatum (COVID-19 protocols) were out, Pritchard really played well and showed toughness in the mold of teammate Marcus Smart.
The Celtics need Kemba but Pritchard is a nice serviceable chess piece to have in the clutch.
Cole Anthony (10.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)
Anthony’s shooting percentage was hurt by a 2-for-12 performance against his hometown Knicks in New York. It was obviously an emotional evening for him, but overall he’s one of just four rookies averaging double figures in scoring.
Tyrese Maxey ( 9.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
With Seth Curry (conditioning, COVID-19) returning from a seven-game absence, Maxey moved back to the bench following a run of six straight starts that included a 39-point explosion.
Maxey played six minutes Friday in the 76ers’ 122-110 win over the Celtics, contributing two points (1-1 FG) and three rebounds.