NBA: Under the Radar Rookie Watch List
This year’s draft has been one of the best in recent history. From top to bottom it was loaded with talent and that talent was put on display all season. What makes this year’s crop of rookies really special is the impact the rookie picked outside the top 10 had on their teams. This article will look at a few rookies who made some waves this season. Ones could be potential household names in the near future. The exception here, of course, is Donovan Mitchell who is already a household name.
Known around the social media spheres as the guy with the big hair, Jarrett Allen is one of the rookies who became more known as the season went on. Drafted out of Texas with the 22nd pick, the 6’10 center made some noise this year with his assortment of posterizing videos. His most well-known dunk came against the Bulls when he posterized fellow rookie and 7th overall pick Lauri Markkanen. A dunk so crazy even players on the Bulls bench were in shock. Aside from throwing down vicious dunks, Allen is also a very good defender. He leads all rookies in blocks with just over one per game. If he can put on a little more weight and improve his offensive arsenal he will be a key piece in the Nets’ rebuilding process.
John Collins caught the eyes of social media during the summer league with his highlight reel dunks and showed throughout the year that he’s much more than a high flyer. The 19th pick out of Wake Forest has been one of the lone bright spots in Atlanta’s dismal season. He’s averaging just over 10 points and 7 rebounds a night and is also 2nd among rookies in blocks. Another underrated facet of his game is his playmaking. He’s had quite a few games passing for more than 4 assists. Collins has the potential to be a DeAndre Jordan type player if he puts on a little more weight due to his great athleticism and rebounding ability.
Arguably the most impressive rookie aside from Donovan Mitchell drafted outside of the top 10. Kuzma, in fact, had a better rookie season than teammate Lonzo Ball who the Los Angeles Lakers selected 2nd overall. The Brooklyn Nets selected Kuzma #27. However, his draft rights were traded to Los Angeles in the D’Angelo Russell trade. He is a dynamic scorer with great athleticism for his size. He is second among all rookies in scoring at 16.1 ppg and is also 5th among rookies in rebounds averaging about 6.3 per game. Kuzma also shot the 3 point ball fairly well at just over 36% on the year. The Lakers are chock full of great young talent and Kuzma will find himself playing a big role in the team’s future success.
Another one of the rookies whose draft rights the Lakers acquired on draft night. Josh Hart has proven to be a valuable role player off the bench for Los Angeles. Although his numbers don’t jump off the page, his numbers are exactly what you would want from a backup guard. At 7.5 ppg and 4.2 rbg, there’s definitely the possibility of him being a Patti Mills type player. Which any team would love coming off the bench. Hart was the 30th overall selection out of Villanova.
The Miami Heat picked Adebayo with the 14th pick in the draft. Another athletic big, Adebayo has shown glimpses of being a potentially solid big man in the league. His jumping ability, strength and long arms make up for him being a little undersized at 6’10. He needs to incorporate a mid-range game into his arsenal. If he can do that then he will be a solid big man for the Heat in the coming years.