Troy Pierce | October 22nd, 2019
The preseason has come and gone, and the regular season is just one day away. That not only means the return of regular season NBA basketball, but also the return of the Rookie Report.
We’re going to do things just a little bit differently this year. Previously, the rookie report featured a recap of the best rookie performances from that particular week of the season, and also included a general analysis of the performance. This year the Rookie Report will still include my analysis of rookies around The Association, as well as power rankings that will be updated in each edition. Without further ado…
Many expect Williamson to take home this year’s Rookie of the Year award, and his preseason performances certainly speak to that. Untimely knee soreness, unfortunately, has him sitting on the shelf for a number of weeks. Naturally, New Orleans Pelicans’ staff are being cautious with the top rookie prospect leaving the severity of the injury up to speculation. If he continues to dominate the regular season the way he did in New Orleans’ preseason contests, it’s hard not to picture him lifting the hardware next spring.
The rookie point guard has shown enough variety in his game to overtake Kris Dunn on the Chicago Bulls’ depth chart, a role that should continue on throughout the season. While he did suffer some mild shooting woes, it seems the seventh overall pick has worked out the kinks. The point guard out of North Carolina closed out the preseason with 29 points, six three-pointers, and the win.
The self-proclaimed Point God showed good variety to his game throughout the preseason. Scoring, passing, rebounding, and making a difference on the defensive end is just what the rookie needs to do to continue that variety. Trading in ‘Grit N Grind’ for pace and space fits right in with the way the Memphis Grizzlies have retooled their roster as they embrace the next era of Grizzlies basketball. While his role on the team won’t see him putting up gaudy numbers on a regular basis, he’s a lock when it comes to the top young point guards in the league.
Herro set the NBA world on fire in Summer League and continued his sharp-shooting throughout the preseason. With many picking the 13th overall pick as a sleeper to win Rookie of the Year, that might not be possible unless he moves into a starting role.
The only obstacle in the way of MPJ having a successful rookie season is whether or not he’ll get enough opportunity to prove himself. Denver has a bit of a logjam at the small forward spot, but if Porter Jr. continues to show his ability to positively impact the game the opportunities will come early and often.
Rookie of the Year?
I still believe Morant can win the award this season. Names like Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Herro might be the popular choices, but I believe Morant offers more variety in his play-style. He can truly do it all, even making a defensive impact despite being smaller than many of the guards he’ll match up against throughout the year.
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