While it’s only a few weeks into this season, some rookies have already started grabbing our attention. Here is a grade I have given to each rookie taken in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
*The base grade would be a C, so someone who has stepped onto the court, but barely played would be somewhere around there.
1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Unfortunately for all NBA fans, Zion couldn’t even make it to opening night after he suffered a torn meniscus that will keep him out approximately eight weeks.
2. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant immediately took the Grizzlies’ starting point guard role, and he’s made the Grizzlies a watchable team again. He is putting up 19.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.5 steals on 53.4 percent shooting from the field. His signature moment so far was his block on Kyrie Irving to send the game against the Nets to overtime. His only negative is that he’s turning the ball over at an alarming 21.6 percent rate.
3. R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks
Coming into the league with concerns regarding his shooting, R.J. Barrett has quieted those critics at least for the moment as he is scoring 18.3 PPG on 43.4 percent from the field through seven games. With Dennis Smith Jr. out, Barrett has also been given looks at point guard by head coach David Fizdale.
4. Deandre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
Before he got drafted, I labeled Deandre Hunter as not a complete bust, but a “glorified Trevor Ariza” who wouldn’t ever be the best player on a team. I’m staying true to this prediction as Hunter has been very inconsistent with his shooting through five games.
5. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Garland has turned the ball over too much and isn’t shooting well so far this season. However, this rookie season from Garland reminds me a lot of what De’Aaron Fox did in his rookie season. Coming into the league as a point guard like Garland, it’s tough to get adjusted to NBA defenses, so give Garland time, and he can develop into an excellent player.
6. Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves
A standout in his one season at Texas Tech, Jarrett Culver has gotten off to an underwhelming start to this season. After scoring just 3.0 ppg through his first four games, Culver helped the Timberwolves beat the Wizards on November 2nd with 20 points.
7.Coby White, Chicago Bulls
After averaging 21.0 PPG in his first two games of the season, Coby White has cooled down, now putting up 10.4 PPG on 35.9 percent shooting for the season. With Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn each playing poorly, the Bulls may want to consider elevating White to the starting lineup.
8. Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans
If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you know how high I am on Hayes, and to be completely honest, he’s done more than I expected. I figured he wasn’t going to play almost at all this season; but after Derrick Favors got hurt, Hayes has stepped in and played well. Foul trouble remains a big issue.
9. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards
Given that the Wizards are rebuilding, they had no issue with allowing Rui Hachimura to get significant minutes. Having started all six games he’s played in, Hachimura is putting up 14.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG on 47.6 percent shooting from the field.
10. Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks
This rating isn’t to say he won’t get better, but Cam Reddish has been an absolute travesty! I’m honestly surprised the Hawks decided to start him, given how undeveloped he is. Shooting an atrocious 5.6 percent from three, his offensive rating of 63 is one of the worst in the NBA. This play pretty much sums up how Reddish has been doing so far.
11. Cam Johnson, Phoenix Suns
Many questioned the Suns’ decision to drop down to the eleventh pick to take Cam Johnson, someone who wasn’t even a first-rounder in some mock drafts. While the Suns are off to their best start in years at 5-2, Cam Johnson has been quiet, scoring just 5.2 points-per-game in 12.6 minutes a night.
12. P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets
With Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb no longer in Charlotte, someone had to be able to do the scoring. Washington looks like a great pick at pick 12 as he is putting up 15.0 PPG, and lighting it up from three, shooting 50.0 percent from deep on 28 attempts.
13. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
Herro was one of the best shooters in the nation last season and was taken by the Heat for his ability to create shots and get open looks. His best performance was on October 29, where he scored 29 points to help down the Hawks.
14. Romeo Langford, Boston Celtics
Through five games, Romeo Langford has appeared in all of 14 seconds for the Celtics.
15.Sekou Doumbouya, Detroit Pistons
The youngest player in the NBA, Sekou Doumbouya, won’t turn 19 until just before Christmas, so the Pistons won’t play him until he’s ready.
16. Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic
The Magic are red-shirting Chuma Okeke as he will miss this entire season recovering from a torn ACL.
17. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans
While he is young and it’s certainly a small sample size, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has gotten off to a very rough start to his career, shooting just 23.9 percent from the field so far.
18. Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers
Goga Bitadze likely won’t play a massive role for the Pacers this season, but he’s shown sparks of talent. With Myles Turner out, Bitadze will probably have a more prominent role on this team.
19. Luka Samanic, San Antonio Spurs
Samanic became an intriguing prospect after his performance at the NBA Draft combine, but he’ll likely spend most of this season in the G-League.
20. Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers moved up in the draft to acquire Matisse Thybulle because of his defensive ability. While he’s very tentative on offense and hasn’t shot the ball well, he has a keen knowledge of swiping passes as his 2.3 steals-per-game is tied with Kawhi Leonard for second best in the NBA.
21. Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies had high hopes for Brandon Clarke coming into this season after he won Summer League MVP. Clarke has been excellent, putting up 10.2 PPG, and 6.2 RPG in 22.5 minutes off the bench.
22. Grant Williams, Boston Celtics
Williams has been somewhat quiet but dependable in the minutes he’s seen so far this season. His best play this season has been when he plays power forward, but he hasn’t played as well in looks Brad Stevens gives him at center.
23. Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder
A legend on Twitter for imitating Kawhi Leonard’s “hey, hey, hey,” Bazley has been solid off the bench for the Thunder, scoring 5.0 ppg on 47.6% from the field in 17.4 minutes per game.
24. Ty Jerome, Phoenix Suns
Traded along with Aron Baynes from Boston on draft night, Ty Jerome will miss up to four weeks with a right ankle sprain.
25. Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers
Little has played just two minutes and missed his only shot attempt so far this season.
26. Dylan Windler, Cleveland Cavaliers
A sharpshooter out of Belmont, Windler is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his leg.
27.Mfiondu Kabengele, Los Angeles Clippers
Mfiondu Kabengele has appeared in three games and eight minutes in blowout situations so far this season.
28. Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
Thanks to the injury-bug, Jordan Poole has gotten thrown into the fire. Despite having some solid moments offensively, he’s been very inefficient, and his BPM is a horrendous -8.7 in seven games.
29. Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
Along with Samanic, Keldon Johnson will likely spend most of his rookie season in the G-League.
30. Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
Someone who many thought would outplay his draft status, Porter has had a rough start to the season. More notably, he was suspended one game by the league for making contact with a ref.