By Hocine LOUKKAF on 1/25/2021

After a lot of critics besides Zion and Ja, several 2019 picks have proved they deserve respect. Let’s take a look at how the sophomore class is performing this season.

#1 Zion Williamson, PF, New Orleans
Stats : 23.4pts 7.9rbds

As he is the only one among our top four to have played more than six games, Zion was the obvious choice. On offense, he still is the same powerful bruiser who always fins a way to the rim (at least 20pts in each game in January). Problem is that’ it’s not enough to win more games (mainly due to guard play). The other problem is that I expect better from Williamson. His outside shooting is non-existent (two 3pts made this year) and such a leaper and athlete should average better than 0.4bl and 1st.

#2 Ja Morant, PG, Memphis
Stats : 22.6pts 7rbds

Morant looks like a top 5 PG for the next decade if he stays healthy. His 44pt-9as-1to perf against San Antonio was a demonstration of how dominant he could be. Contrary to Zion, he also has a good nucleus of players around him. If he can improve his 3pt shooting, he will become unstoppable.

# DeAndre Hunter, SF, Cleveland
Stats 17.4pts 5.8rbds 39% 3pt

For his sophomore season, Hunter has emerged as the second best scorer for the Hawks and justified his draft hype. He scored at least 11pts in each game and his FG percentage has risen from 44% to 54% from December to January as he has been to the foul line almost four more times per game in a matter of weeks.

#4 Michael Porter Jr, SF, Denver
Stats 16.5pts 7.3rbds 1.2bl 44% 3pt

After a slow start from Denver during which he averaged almost 20pts per game, Porter Jr came back last week for two wins against Phoenix during which he was less impactful with 10.5pts and 8.5rbds. He needs to stay consistent to help reach the top of the conference.

#5 RJ Barrett, SF, New York
Stats : 17.4pts 7.1rbds 3.4as

Struggling with his efficiency at the beggining of the season with seven games under 35% FG, Barrett may have understood how to be a good NBA player with seven games scoring at least 44% from the field and a combined 9/22 from three. The Knicks have improved in the process as they target a spot in the playoffs.

#6 Tyler Herro, SG, Miami
Stats 17.6pts 6.7rbds 3.8as

As Covid19 has disturbed Miami’s season, Herro has had more reponsability with Butler often on the health safety list. The Kentucky alumni has improved in every category except for his 3pt %. Herro also needs to improve his defensive numbers while cutting down his turonvers ti help Miami win more games.

#7 Brandon Clarke, PF, Memphis
Stats 13.2pts 6.2rbds

With five wins in a row and a starting spot, Clarke has been one of the most consistent sophomore lately with 14.7pts 6.6rbds 2.2as 1.3st and 0.8bl in January. Improving his 3pt shot is the next step in his development.

#8 Keldon Johnson
Stats 14.2pts 7.3rbds 2.2as 35% 3pt

From playing only 17 games last year to being a starter in the 17 games he’s played this year, Johnson has emerged as one of the good surprises of the sophomore class. His motor and rebounding makes him a good contributor for the Spurs. He still needs to work on his overall consistency (five games under  37% FG) and 3pt shooting to be even more impactful.

#9 Darius Garland, PG, Cleveland
Stats 14.8pts 5.8as 38% 3pt 92% FT

After a strong start in December during which he averaged 19pts and 7.2as on 50+% from three, Garland has been injured after a poor performance against Atlanta. Since he came back last week, he’s still struggling ith an awful 5/22 FG and only 8as in two games.

#10 PJ Washington, PF, Charlotte
Stats 12.9pts 7.1rbds 3a 1.4bl 36% 3pt

Despite multiple double-doubles this month, PJ Washington’s percentages are still too low with six games with 40% or less from the field. His 3pt percentage is a part of the problem with a poor 33%. The Hornets will need a better PJ to reach the playoffs.

Honorable mention

Coby White, PG/SG, Chicago
Stats 15.9pts 5.9as 35% 3pt

Starting at PG for an improving Bulls team, White has the same issue since he was a draft prospect. A streaky shooter (seven games with at least two 3pt attempts and under 34%) who is not a pure PG, he contributes but is not the best PG you could find. His defense also is an issue and maybe having him as a 6th man with a better starting PG (Haliburton in  the draft?) would have been the best choice.

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