8th Edition (2016-17)
This week’s edition of “NNT” is going to consist of all of our recently published “Rookie Reports”. Every week we highlight a rookie and write a profile on them to see how they are transitioning into the NBA.
Here are our “Rookie Reports” up until 12/27/16/.
Let’s take a look at how some of the NBA rookies are adjusting from college to the NBA. We all know making the jump is very hard as it takes longer for some players than others to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game. And not to mention the difference of talent they are playing against on a nightly basis.
Joel Embiid is leading all rookies in scoring. Although drafted in 2014, Embiid missed his first 2 seasons because of injuries, which as led him to reclaim his rookie status. He also leads all rookie in rebounds. So far in the early going, the former Kansas star is averaging 18.5pts, and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Point Guard Kris Dunn is leading all rookies in assists through the first 2 weeks of the regular season. The former Providence star and Minnesota Timberwolves rookie is averaging 4.6 assists per game. Dunn was our pre-season pick for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield came into the NBA after a stellar career at Oklahoma. After guiding the Sooners to the Final Four last season, the 6’4″ shooting guard was selected with the 6th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was asked to come in and provide help for All-Star Anthony Davis.
Hield has struggled in the early going, along with the Pelicans, who are off to a 1-9 start. While the 22-year old is averaging 10.2pts per game in 21 minutes, he is only shooting 38% from the field and 24% from the 3-point line. We believe a big part of his struggles relate to his below average ball-handling ability, which makes it hard for him to create his own shots.
With the absence of PG Jrue Holiday, who is attending to his ailing wife, the former All-American hasn’t found his groove yet. With this being said, we still have faith that he will adjust to the physicality of the NBA and start doing what he does best, which is put the ball in the hoop.To read a previous full length featured article on Buddy Hield, please CLICK HERE.
SIAKAM STANDING OUT
One of the more pleasant surprises among NBA rookie so far has been the play of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam. The number 27th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft has played very well for the Raptors and has provided needed rebounding and athleticism in their front-court.
The 6’9″ PF from New Mexico State is averaging 5.8pts and 4.3reb in about 19 minutes per game. The 22-year old wasn’t a highly recruited player coming out of high school but worked hard enough to become the WAC Player of the Year in 2016. Siakam is excellent in transition and is a very good shot blocker with a developing offensive game.
It looks like Toronto has found a player who will be in their future plans. In what was an average 2016 NBA Draft class, it looks like Siakam is proving the teams that passed on him wrong. He has the looks of becoming a good NBA player.
JAYLEN BROWN UPDATE
When the Boston Celtics went to the podium on draft night this past June, there were more than a few people surprised with the name that was called, which included us. As Jaylen Brown was selected with the 3rd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Celtics and general manager Danny Ainge tried to downplay the expectations that would be placed upon the rookie for this season.
After 1 year at CAL, the 20-year old is finding playing time hard to come by on a very talented Boston team who are looking to find their groove as they are currently 9-7 on the season. Head Coach Brad Stevens is slowly working the very athletic youngster into the rotation. The Georgia native is averaging 5.8pts, and 2.3 rebounds so far in 14 minutes per game.
Are these numbers that you or a franchise would expect from the 3rd overall pick. Of course not, however, Brown is a player that the Celtics are counting on in the future, not necessarily in the present. He is a work in progress, as his overall shooting and ball-handling need to improve.
As the season progresses, we expect Brown’s game and playing time to do the same thing. He is already a very good defender and is excellent in transition. While he still has a ways to go, we like the way Stevens is handling this situation. He is not rushing Brown’s development, which will bode well well for his long-term future.
JAMAL MURRAY SLOWLY IMPROVING
Although the Denver Nuggets have struggled this season with a current record of 7-13, they have the looks of a promising back-court. Emmanuel Mudiay, who was the Nuggets first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, is a very talented player (14pts, 4,7reb, 4.4ast) and is only 20-years old.
In the 2016 NBA Draft, the Nuggets selected Mudiay’s back-court mate for the future. With the 7th overall pick, Denver tapped former Kentucky star Jamal Murray as that player. We were very high on the 6’4 SG coming out of college after he had a stellar freshmen year for the Wildcats.
Murray started the season off slow, however he has started to show off his talents that made him such a high draft pick. He is averaging 9.9pts, 2ast, and 2.8reb, while playing 22 minutes per game. There were thoughts among NBA personnel that the Canadian born Murray would be able to make the conversion from SG to PG. The Nuggets so far haven’t been playing him at the PG position and we believe he won’t. His ball-handling and play-making abilities, in our opinion, are not strong enough at this time to make that happen. Also, Mudiay is proving that he has the talent to become a full-time PG in the future.
What Murray is best known for is his shooting. He was regarded as one of the best shooters in the 2016 NBA Draft. While he is shooting an underwhelming 38% from the field, we don’t have any long-term concerns about him. He has a beautiful shooting stroke and should improve upon his % once his ball-handling improves. He has had problems creating his own shot so far.
We believe Jamal Murray is going to be a fine NBA player. At only 19-years old, he is one of the youngest players in the NBA. Once he gains more experience and improves upon his deficiencies, him and Mudiay are going to form a fun tandem to watch.
BROGDON PROVING TO BE A 2ND ROUND STEAL
While watching the Virginia Cavaliers play the last 2 years, one player always stood out to us. This player could do everything on the basketball court and do it well. That player was Malcolm Brogdon. The 2016 ACC Player of the Year was somebody who we believed was worthy of being a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. His slip to the 2nd round (36th pick) was a surprise and the Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time calling his name at the podium. It is turning out to be a very smart decision.
The very mature 24-year old shooting guard has been getting valuable minutes for head coach Jason Kidd, who has seemed to taken a liking to the rookie. The 6’5″ Brogdon is averaging 7.9pts, 2.8ast, and 2.2reb in 21 minutes of playing time per game. His versatility and very good defensive skills has made him a key back-up for the young and talented Bucks.
In what is turning out to be a disappointing draft class in terms of overall performance, the 4-year UVA standout is turning out to be one of the draft’s best players. We believe Brogdon will enjoy a solid 10+ year career, due to his sound overall game. We bet there are a few teams who are regretting on passing up the chance to draft him. He is playing his way onto the NBA All Rookie First Team as of right now. Let’s see if he can keep it up. We believe that he can and will.
FROM UNDRAFTED TO STARTING
In what has been a dreadful start to the 2016-17 season for the Dallas Mavericks, there has been 1 player who has pleasantly surprised the coaching staff and might be a part of the teams’ much needed rebuilding process.
When the 2016 NBA Draft was taking place in June, we kept waiting and waiting for a name to be called. As picks 40 and then 50 went, we still thought that this players’ name would be called. As the last pick of the draft came and went, we were very surprised that Dorian Finney-Smith was not selected. However, what might have been a huge disappointment to him at the time has ended up being a positive. That is, because he was now a free agent, the former Florida Gator star had his choice of signing with a team that he had a good chance of making.
Let’s just say that the 23-year old made a great decision. As the Mavericks have been without future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki due to injury, this has given younger players a chance to play without any pressure on them. Finney-Smith has taken full advantage of his opportunity.
The 6’8″ small forward is a very good defender with good athletic ability. He has the prototypical size that NBA personnel look for in a SF. While his shooting and ball-handling need to improve, it looks like he can become a solid player off the bench for years to come.
While we believe he will be a role player in the future, due to the lack of talent on the Mavericks, Finney-Smith has started 18 games as the team is off to a 7-20 start and are looking like they might be drafting in the top 5 in the very talented 2017 NBA Draft.
In 21.6 minutes per game, he is averaging 5.2pts, 2.7reb, and 1ast, while playing very good on ball defense. In what is turning out to be a weak 2016 draft class in terms of overall production, Dorian Finney-Smith has been a nice find for the dreadful Mavericks.
Here are all of our previous editions of “NNT”. Remember, we publish this post every Tuesday.