Due to COVID-19, the 2020-21 NBA season didn’t begin until December 22nd, after finishing in mid-October for the NBA finals. That also meant the 2020 NBA Draft didn’t occur until late November.
So basically rookies weren’t afforded the summer league and other off-season preparation needed as they made the jump from the collegiate level to the pros.
With the lack of time to get adjusted to the speed and physicality of the NBA game, we knew there’d be growing pains for pretty much every rookie. But even in the midst of all the challenges faced, the eye test reveals those diamonds who just have the “IT” factor.
That begins with #3 overall pick LaMelo Ball who was drafted by Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets. What can’t be denied is his innate passing ability and elite size at 6’8. He’s averaging (11.5 PPG) along with (4.5 RPG and 4.0 APG) while playing (23.0 MPG).
He needs to improve on his 42% field goal percentage, shot selection and shot balance, but he’s had some games where he has flashed the awesome potential he clearly has. Ball also has to improve his scoring through contact around the rim, but sooner than later he’ll unseat Devonte’ Graham as the starter.
The lanky 6’5 guard from Iowa State has probably been the best NBA rookie thus far helping the “Cowbell Ringing” Kings get off to a pretty good start.
Haliburton, also the most cerebral rookie of the bunch, is averaging (10.6 PPG) along with (4.4 APG) while shooting a very respectable 52% from the field and 87% from the charity stripe.
He’s also making 2 triples a game on 5 attempts. He seems to be the most NBA ready and fits nicely in the Kings small ball three-guard lineup that also includes DeAaron Fox and Buddy Hield. Rese already gained the trust of head coach Luke Walton and it shows in him being on the floor in late game situations.
Warriors rookie James Wiseman only played 3 collegiate games at Memphis, before being declared ineligible for receiving impermissible benefits. That didn’t stop the “Dubs” from taking the 7’0 athletic specimen with the No. 2 overall pick.
He’s shown some real flashes early in the season, especially on Christmas Day against the Nets and in a matchup against reigning two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I see a lot of Chris Bosh in Wiseman — with a dash of David Robinson. I know those are lofty comparisons but I really believe he has those skills. Wideman is averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. His shooting percentage has to improve (44%), but he also averages 2 blocks while providing some upgraded rim protection for “The Bay”.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has shown some real flashes on both ends, but his real potential has been seen on the defensive end of the floor.
He’s accepted the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best perimeter player and held his own in doing so. Being a 6’5 wing with an NBA build and elite athleticism helps immensely. But he has some real toughness and grit about him that makes him a solid defender.
I see no reason why he can’t be All-NBA defense numerous times in his career. His offense isn’t something to overlook because he can go off at any moment. With improved shot selection, he will increase his current average of 13.2 ppg.
The Chicago Bulls surprised many when they chose former Florida State Seminoles small forward Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick.
Thus far he’s been solid playing alongside Wendell Carter Jr and Lauri Markkanen in the “Windy City” Bulls frontcourt. His versatility is evident and the eye test tells you why the Bulls drafted him so high. His ceiling as a possible elite 3 and D player is inevitable and I see some All-NBA defensive teams in his future.
Deni Avdija – (Wizards) Shows some real skill and fluidity to his game. Gotta get stronger and tougher to really reach potential.
Obi Toppin – (Knicks) Has all the athleticism needed to play in the NBA but needs to work on many other areas of his game.
Payton Pritchard – (Celtics) Has been huge for the “Leprechauns” thus far, especially with Kemba Walker being out. A lot of flavor and moxie to this kid.
Cole Anthony – (Magic) A perfect compliment to Markelle Fultz down at the “Magic Kingdom”.
Still believe he should’ve gone higher in the draft and teams will see as he continues to become more and more comfortable in the league. Huge upside.