By Hocine LOUKKAF on 4/5/2023
While Jalen Williams is turning into SGA’s right hand man, some rookies in weaker teams like Sharpe or Ivey are getting a free pass to play and make mistakes.
Jalen Williams, 6-6 SG/SF, OKC Thunder
Stats : 14.1pts 4.5rbds 3.3as 1.4st 52% FG, 19.8pts 6.1rbds 4.5as 1.7st 46% 3pt in March
Month by month, Williams appears as the biggest steal of the last draft as he averaged almost 20pts in March, displaying also great versatility and defense. He’s also proved he could be a good shooter, averaging 46% from three and 87% FT. He had his best game against Utah with 32pts 5bds 5as on 4/5 3pt and 80% FG.
Walker Kessler, 7-0 C, Utah Jazz
Stats : 9.2pts 8.4rbds 2.3bl 72% FG, 13.8pts 10rbds 3.2bl 76% FG in March
Another player who has seen his stats and role improve throughout the season, Kessler impressed in March despite the so-so results of his Utah team. He’s at his best against teams lacking a real center as he had 18rbds and 7bl against OKC or 12rbds and 5bl against San Antonio. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season due to concussion and may already have finished his rookie year.
Paolo Banchero, 6-10 PF, Orlando Magic
Stats : 20pts 6.9rbds 3.7as, 20.7pts 7.5rbds 4.3as in March
After hitting the rookie wall in February (37% FG and 3% 3pt on 3 attpts per game), Banchero bounced back pretty well by shooting 37% 3pt and helping the Magic have a neutral record (7-7) in March. Consistency could be improved as he had five games under 40% FG but he knows how to make up for it with his versatility (5/14 FG vs Miami but 10rbds and 9as).
Keegan Murray, 6-8 SF/PF, Sacramento Kings
Stats : 12.2pts 4.6rbds 42% 3pt, 12pts 4.3rbds 40% 3pt in March
One of the main reasons the Kings have reached the playoffs, Murray still could improve his consistency as he shot under 30% FG in the five games where he scored less than 10pts. Yet, he made history against Portland by breaking the rookie record for 3pt made while shooting 40+% for the season.
Shaedon Sharpe, 6-5 SG, Portland Trailblazers
Stats : 9.6pts 2.9rbds 37% 3pt, 13.8pts 3.7rbds 2.2as 43% 3pt
3/23, that’s the day Portland decided to unleash the Sharpe, giving him full freedom to play and make mistakes as Portland gave up any chance to reach the Play-in. Over the last six games of March, which resulted in five losses including four blowouts, Sharpe averaged 22.7pts and shot a combined 22/50 3pt. Since then, he has been displaying his great combination of incredible vertical leap and consistent outside shooting, the tools to become not only a good player, but a star in the league.
Andrew Nembhard, 6-5 PG, Indiana
Stats : 9.3pts 4.3as, 13.6pts 4.9as 39% 3pt
With Haliburton in and out in March due to ankle issues, Nembhard had more playing time and responsability to lead the Pacers, and did it pretty well with wins over OKC, Toronto or Milwaukee, and only three games under 40% FG. He has had some impressive stats sheets against Milwaukee (win with 24pts 5as 0to, loss with 15pts 15as 0to) or against Toronto (win with 25pts 10as 2tos). A perfect team player for someone with such a cheap contract.
Jabari Smith Jr, 6-10 PF, Houston Rockets
Stats : 12.2pts 7.1rbds, 12.1pts 7.4rbds 2as in March
After dealing with decent to mediocre monthly shooting percentages since the start of his rookie season, Jabari Smith used March to have his first positive month, shooting 46% FG and 35% 3pt, which he will need to improve in the future to justify his draft pick. He’s still very inconsistent though as he had a streak of five games during which he shot 13/23 3pt, including a win against Boston, before finishing the month with 2/16 3pt over the last four games.
Jaden Ivey, 6-4 SG/PG, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 16pts 5.1as 3.9rbds, 18.3pts 7.1as in March
No win in March, nine games with four assists or more, it’s hard to put Ivey on the top of the Rookie Ranking. Yet, the former Boilermaker is learning to create more for his teammates (7.1as) and had some impressive games (26pts 12as vs Washington, 32pts 8as vs Milwaukee). If he could work on controlling more his turnovers and his shot selection (39% FG 4.3tos), he could become more of a scoring PG than the combo he is now.
Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Detroit Pistons
Stats : 9.1pts 8.7rbds 0.9bl, 11pts 8.4rbds 0.9bl in March
Despite the addition of Wiseman in the roster, Duren has kept proving he was a steal, recording 50% FG or more in all ten games he played and having five double-doubles. FT shooting is the thing he needs to work on the most (57% in March) but he should help quickly the Pistons win more games.
Bennedict Mathurin, 6-6 SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Stats : 16.6pts 4rbds, 13.4pts 3.2rbds in March
Here we go again, nice scoring on 50% FG but inconsistent outside shooting (29% on 3attpts) and limited creation for his teammates with only 1.1as in 28min. The Canadian swingman is only a rookie but already seems to show his limitations. Developing at least one of these two aspects of the game would definitely change the view on his future development.