By Hocine LOUKKAF on 1/6/2020
It’s always interesting to see how rookies evolve into their second year. While Doncic has become one of the best players in the league and Young still performs, albeit for a weak team (Ayton just returning from a doping-related suspension), others like SGA or the more surprising Duncan Robinson are playing at an higher level than expected.
#1 Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks (29.4pts 9.7rbds 8.9as)
Is there a better way to prove your value than having nice stats while playing for a winning team. As Dallas is still in the race for a playoff spot, the Slovenian has been phenomenal with already ten triple doubles and several records like being the youngest to have multiple 30pts-15as games or the longest 20-5-5 streak. Doncic still could improve his shooting consistency (fifteen games under30% 3pt) and cut down on turnovers (4.3tos per game). Yet, Cuban knows he has his star for the years to come to pair with Porzingis, probably already a shiniest star than Nowitzki?
#2 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG, OKC Thunder (19.9pts 5.3rbds 2.8as)
Who thought SGA was gonna be this good, this fast, and would win games with OKC. The Canadian has had only two games under 15pts over the last seventeen and OKC has a surprising 20-15 record in the toughest-as-ever Western Conference. We can even wonder if he wouldn’t have been a better fit than Paul George to pair with Kawhi, two opponents he may face in a potential first-round matchup.
#3 Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks (28.8pts 8.3as)
Young is not far from his two classmates but his lack of size may hurt him and force him to shoot even more threes with almost ten attempts per game on 37%. Moreover, the poor results of the Hawks (the worst NBA team as of now) are another reason to rank Young below SGA. Young needs to be even more efficient offensively, cut down on his turnovers like Doncic and pray to be transferred ina better situation to see experience more winning.
#4 Jaren Jackson Jr, PF, Memphis Grizzlies (17.8pts 4.8rbds 1.4bl 40% 3pt)
While JJJ’s FG percentage has a bit decreased, the Grizzlies’ PF has shot much more from three and with a far better percentage (40.9 to 35.9 last year). Now, Jackson Jr needs to improve his rebounding as 4.8rbds in 28min is not exactly what you expect from your starting PF. With only one game under 14pts over his last eighteen and a 43pts performance against the Bucks, JJJ is displaying room to become a much better player.
#5 Duncan Robinson, SF, Miami Heat (11.9pts 3.1rbds 46% 3pt 96% FT)
As usual, the Heat has turned a non-drafted player into a legit NBA starter. With only fifteen games played last year for an averaged 3.3pts (on 29% 3pt), nobody thought the former Wolverine could become one of the best shooters in the league (46% on seven attempts). Now, he will need to add other weapons to his game as hes’ a bit too unidimensional (0.9as, only 0.6 FT attempts per game) as he proved it in his last game (2/11 FG, 2/11 3pt, 0as, 0 FT attempt).
#6 Devonte Graham, PG, Charlotte Hornets (19pts 7.9as 39% 3pt)
When you’re on the list of the players who averages at least 19pts and 7as with James, Doncic, Trae Young, Lillard, Harden and Westbrook, you must be more than a decent player, above all when you averaged only 4.7pts and 2.6as the previous year. Graham has benefited greatly from Walker trade to the Celtics as he has been paired with Rozier in the starting lineup. Even if he has improved both his overall and 3pt percentages, He’s averaged only 38% from the field (compared to his 38.9% 3pt), numbers he needs to improve to help his team win more games.
#7 Aaron Holiday, PG, Indiana Pacers (10.8pts 3.5as 42% 3pt)
Playing twice more minutes than last year, Holiday has doubled all his stats while improving greatly his 3pt % from 34% to 42%. He has also been a better passer recently with at least six assists in five of his last six games. With the Pacers a contender in the Eastern Conference, the former Bruin deserves a spot among the best second-year players in the NBA.
#8 Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Milwaukee Bucks (8.1pts 4.6rbds 2.3as 1.5st)
Playing seven more minutes than last year (22 to 15), DiVincenzo has almost doubled his stats (even tripled his steals from 0.5 to 1.5) in every category and is now part of the starting lineup in most games for the favourite in the Eastern Conference. He still has room to improve as he has shot a weak 32% from three, a number which has yet vastly improved compared to last year’s 26%. A team-first player who could be a long-term asset for the Bucks.
#9 Mitchell Robinson, C, NY Knicks (10.3pts 7rbds 1.9bl)
Already a surprising rookie as a second round pick, Robinson is confirming despite somewhat similar stats compared to last year except for improved scoring (7.3pts 6.3rbds 2.4bl). Robinson may never be a star but his profile as a solid defensive starter with high offensive efficiency (70% FG) makes him a potential target if the Knicks don’t become winners before the end of his very cheap contract.
#10 Wendell Carter, C, Chicago Bulls (11.9pts 10rbds)
Bothered by injuries during his rookie season, Carter Jr has almost played as many games as last year. Despite improved scoring and rebounding stats, WCJ has struggled to be more impactful on defense (0.9bl to 1.3 last year) and display the stretch five potential he was supposed to have coming into the league (21% 3pt).