By Hocine LOUKKAF on 12/23/2018
The hype around Doncic is not going to stop, above all after his clutch game against Houston. Huerter, Knox or Robert Williams are some of the rookies who used the december games to improve their stock.
Luka Doncic, 6-8 SF/SG, Dallas
Despite five losses in a row and a tough early december with six games under 40% FG, Doncic has been able to bounce back with 25.4pts and 7.7as over his last four games. Doncic is allowing, with DeAndre Jordan, the Mavericks to compete for a playoff spot and had a coming out party agains Houston as he scored 11pts in the late fourth to win the game. He still must down his turnovers and become a more consistent outside shooter (six games with at least 4 3pts attempts but under 33%). Yet, his creativity and rebounding make up for his lack of consistency. Clearly the leader for rookie of the year.
DeAndre Ayton, 7-0 C, Phoenix
With four wins over the last five games, Phoenix is helping Ayton’s case for rookie of the year. The center has averaged 22pts and 15rbds over the last four games. Ayton needs to show more agressiveness on offense as he had six games with 2 or less FT in december, which is just not acceptable from a 7ft center playing almost 30min a game, but also on defense as he had only two games with more than 1bl and allowed Wizards’ center Thomas Bryant to shoot 14/14 from the field.
Trae Young, 6-1 PG, Atlanta
While everybody’s talking about how good Doncic is, we should not underestimate Young. Asked to score and create for his teammates, Young has averaged 15.4pts and 6.1as since the beginning of the month and had three 10as games. He still must be more consistent from outside with only 26% and cut down on his turnovers as he lost four balls or more four times over the last eight games.
Kevin Huerter, 6-7 SG, Atlanta
The Red Mamba 2.0 has been a nice surprise for the Hawks. Despte being one of the youngest players in the League and having room to gain weight, Huerter has been very consistent with 12.1pts 2.6as and an almost perfect 49-43-91 from the field, a quite impressive feat for a rookie. Huerter has been decent also on defense with 0.8bl and 1.1st in december. A nice pick at 19 for ATL and probably Young’s backcourt’s mate for the years to come.
Robert Williams, 6-10 C, Boston
In six games, the 27th pick of the last draft has proved why he was a steal, averaging 4.8pts 5.1rbds and 3bl in only 16min over the last six games, including 8pts 8rbds 5bl against Phoenix or 7pts 11rbds 3bl against NOP. In the process, he shot 13/17 from the field, bringing another option in the Celtics’ frontcourt. If he stays healthy, Williams will be a nice complement to the core of scorers Boston has as he doesn’t need the ball much and brings more rim protection than the aging Horford.
Jaren Jackson Jr, 6-11 PF, Memphis
Memphis has struggled a lot in december with 8 losses and that has also been the case for Jackson. Four games under 10pts, not one with 10rbds or more, the young PF has too many tools to be that inconsistent. He still has been better than his classmates with 10.8rbds on 49% FG and 1.5bl.
Kevin Knox, 6-10 SF/PF, New York
Until december, Know was as inconsistent as you could find. Somehow, he kind of found his mojo as he started the month with a 26pts 4as 4rbds in a win against Milwaukee and is averaging17.6pts 6.1rbds on 39% 3pt for the month. Things are not perfect as the Knicks have won only two games this month and Knox’ defense (0.4bl 0.6st) has been less than average while he shot 45% or less in six of his last eleven games.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6 PF, LA Clippers
The Clippers are struggling with 5-7 during december but Gilgeous-Alexander is doing ok. Of course he had six games with under 10pts but shot only twice under 40% and had more than two turnovers only once. SGA must work on being a better passer as his 2.6 average for the month is pretty low even if he doesn’t force things (54% FG for the month).
Collin Sexton, 6-2 PG, Cleveland
The stats for the month look nice with 15.8pts on a decent 44% from the field. Yet, Sexton is still inconsistent with four games under 36% including a trashy 5/18 against Milwaukee. His passing is also a problem as Sexton had only one game in december with more than 2as and had troubles defending against both Kemba and Van Fleet in his last two games.
Rodion Kurucs, 6-10 SF, Brooklyn
Last year, the Latvian forward was mostly playing in Spanish second division where he averaged only 10.7pts and 2.6rbds. Well, he has transitioned pretty well to the League as he has helped Brooklyn win seven of its last eight games while averaging 10.7pts over the last six games. Kurucs must work on his versatility as he had only one game with more than one assist in december and scored more than one three pointer only once.
Wild card : Marvin Bagley, 6-10 PF, Sacramento
Bagley played only four games before getting injured with a knee injury against the Warriors. Put aside a game against Indiana where he was fouled out after 10min on the court, Bagley averaged 16.6pts in the three other games but has two games with 1 and 2rbds, far too low numbers for such an athletic freak. Consistency and toughness is the key for Bagley who has the talent o be one of the best PFs in the League.
Best of the rest : Mikal Bridges (6-7 SF, Phoenix) is enjoying some success with the Suns which have won four of their last five games while Bridges has averaged 9.5pts and 4.2rbds for the month. Landry Shamet (6-5 SG/PG, Philadelphia) is far from being consistent (four games with 4pts or less, 4 with 10pts or more) but his 40+% from three are what the Sixers are expecting from him. Mohamed Bamba (7-0 PF/C, Orlando) has struggled from the floor with 38% in december but his 6.3pts 5rbds 1.4bl are noy different from his seasn’s averages. Finally, Wendell Carter (6-10 C, Chicago) has slowed down with 7.9pts 5.7rbds 1.1bl in december but at least he’s not forcing things with only three games under 50% FG and none under 40%.
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