The LG Hoops team is back at it again with our own NBA Award picks and All-NBA team selections. This season has been amazing with competitive play, emerging superstars, and stellar rookies which has lead to a few very intriguing award races and All-NBA team decisions. So we tried our best and took a poll with the below results!
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Most Valuable Player
The most talked about MVP race in the past few years, it seems as though Joel Embiid has finally locked up this years award – pulling away from Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the past few weeks. And if we weren’t sure of it, Embiid’s 52 point 13 rebound performance against the Celtics this week all but solidified his campaign.
Embiid is playing at the peak of his career, as the 29 year old is the NBA’s leading scorer at 33 PPG, is hitting 3’s at 33% clip, and is continuing his rebounding and strong defensive play. When you put all that together and place Embiid on a title-contending Philadelphia team, then you have this years MVP. Embiid can spot up and hit 3’s, take guys off the bounce, shoot in the mid-range, and still bully other bigs in the post. Whichever way he plays, Embiid is the 100% most dominating player in the league at this moment and deserves his 1st MVP award.
The other contenders of this years MVP race were pretty much Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, with a hint of Jayson Tatum at the beginning of the year. These players have 100% played at an All-World level, with Jokic continuing his historic offensive output, Giannis consistently playing at a top 3 level, and Tatum taking that next step as an elite superstar. But at the end of the day, Joel Embiid has rightfully claimed what’s his as the Most Valuable Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Early on in this season Jaren Jackson Jr. was running away with the DPOY award with his absurd blocks and steals – 3 BPG and 1 SPG is INSANE for a mobile big with switchability. But then the controversy, or should I say conspiracy, of the Memphis scorekeeper stat-padding Jackson’s defensive stats (this was later confirmed to be false) opened up the door for other candidates such as Brook Lopez, Nic Claxton, and Bam Adebayo to step in and stake their claim to the sought-after award.
Lopez continues to anchor the elite Milwaukee defense and grade out as an All-NBA defender. Claxton has emerged as one of the next elite rim protectors in the game with mobility to pair with it. And Bam Adebayo will continue to display a defensive range unlike most others.
But, as the season has gone on, JJJ has continued to display ridiculous defensive awareness, roaming the paint and switching out on the perimeter; impacting the game all over the floor versus just in the paint. And this eye-test pairs well with all of the well-respected advanced metrics that place Jaren Jackson Jr. as a TOP TIER defensive player in this league. The 23 year old (which is absolutely crazy to be this good at a young age) deserves this award.
Rookie of the Year
Paolo Banchero, a jumbo four with fluid skill and superstar upside. Chet Holmgren, a skyscraping unicorn. Jabari Smith Jr., the annual Kevin Durant comparison with a lethal outside shot and All-Defense potential. Who would go first overall? Even Woj and Shams, who sit in the pantheon of NBA reporters, couldn’t figure it out. The Orlando Magic ended up selecting Banchero out of Duke. The 19-year-old offered the optimal blend of an astronomical ceiling and the ability to contribute right away that made him worthy of the honor and, as a bonus, fit right in with Orlando’s collection of versatility in the front court featuring Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., and the rarely healthy Jonathan Isaac.
Once the regular season tipped off, Banchero came out of the gate head and shoulders above the rest of his class and never looked back. The main reason he’s found success so quickly is his grown-man frame. Standing 6’10” and weighing in at 250 pounds, the rookie already overmatches most of the league physically and he’s so good at using his size to his advantage. When powering to the hoop he’s like a freight train flying down the track and defenders are left helpless, forced to foul to prevent a layup. Banchero attempts over seven free throws per game, an astounding rate for a freshman.
Banchero’s bulldozing escapades have allowed him to flourish from day one, but it’s his skill and feel for the game that make him such a tantalizing prospect. His footwork is excellent for a guy of his size and he can create space in the mid-range. His interior presence collapses defenses and he’s a heads-up passer who can capitalize on the advantages he creates. His jump-shooting percentages are lacking now but once they come along Banchero will be a genuinely special offensive talent. Additionally, his physical tools should make him a formidable defensive force once he has a few years of pro experience under his belt.
While Banchero was the unanimous rookie of the year pick for us at LG Hoops, Jalen Williams and Walker Kessler deserve all the flowers for the years they’re having. Jalen “J-Dub” Williams was one of the more slept-on prospects heading into draft night where he ended up in Oklahoma City. There, he has displayed poise as a ball-handler and shot-creator reminiscent of his teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander while also utilizing his sneaky athleticism to be a vertical threat off of timely cuts. Williams ranks inside the top forty in the league in total dunks which is ridiculous for a 6’6” wing. He’s the human embodiment of the word versatile and has a bright, bright future ahead of him. Walker Kessler, the 22nd pick, has already exceeded all expectations placed upon him. Rookies are rarely impactful defenders, but we’ve seen exceptions to that in recent seasons (Evan Mobley, Herb Jones) and Kessler is one of them. He’s a master shot-blocker, already rivaling the best in the league, using flawless fundamentals and verticality to erase offerings at an absurd rate. Even if the picks weren’t included, Kessler alone made the Rudy Gobert blockbuster worth it for Utah.
6th Man of the Year
Even though Jalen Brunson is getting a lot of credit for the Knicks successful season (rightfully so), Immanuel Quickley’s emergence as one of the league’s best 2-way guards also had a huge impact on their winning season. Quickley is averaging 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal for New York, playing in all but one game this season. His play has only improved as the season has gone on though, averaging 19, 4, and 4 since the All-Star break.
IQ may be the Knicks’ sixth man, but many nights he is one of their best and most impactful players. Many times he is running the second unit as their main ball handler and facilitator. He is excellent at keeping his dribble alive, allowing for dribble penetration that opens up options for his patented floater, a dump down to his big, a skip pass, or an acrobatic finish. Speaking of finishing, Quickley is shooting a career high 68.5% at the rim, contributing to his career high 44.5% from the field. Only being 6’3, he’s learned how to absorb and finish through contact, adding to his already versatile finishing package. Immanuel is also one of the Knicks best three-point shooters, shooting 36% on over five attempts per game. 36% is league average, but IQ always seems to hit the big momentum shots. He is never afraid of the moment, which is a great quality to have when you play in New York.
Quickley has also taken a huge jump defensively this season, putting up a career best 2.2 defensive win shares, and +0.5 defensive box plus-minus. In his first two seasons, Quickley would be relegated to guarding the corner on majority of possessions. Things are different this season though as he has taken on a more active, roaming defensive role. Quentin Grimes and Josh Hart usually guard the top two perimeter opponents, but that’s no knock on Quickley, the Knicks just have a multitude of perimeter defenders. This allows IQ to show off his defensive instincts, like knowing when to send a double, rotate to the help side, or swipe at the ball and poke it free.
The best quality of IQ is his endless and high motor. Whenever he is on the court you know that he is giving you 110% effort and will do anything the team needs for him to impact winning.
It was not a runaway victory for IQ though, Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon and Sacramento’s Malik Monk also have had incredible seasons coming off the bench. Brogdon has come off the bench in every game he’s played for Boston, giving them 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists a game. He is super efficient running the Celtics second unit, being fourth in the league in three-point percentage at 44%. He allows Boston to have a serious offensive weapon and creator beyond Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. With Monk coming off of a career year with the Lakers last season, he reunited with his college teammate De’Aaron Fox and has continued his play. Averaging 14, 3, and 4, Malik’s “spark plug” archetype fits in perfectly with the Kings’ fast pace (and league best) offense. He is able to come in, and do what he does best, shoot the ball. Monk has also been very good in crunch time this season, something the entire Kings roster seems to also possess. While both Brogdon and Monk are very important to their team’s success, without Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks would most likely be in the play-in tournament.
Most Improved Player
This season Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen took a leap that took the NBA by shock. The former 7th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft had a phenomenal season for the Jazz.
After spending his first four seasons as a serviceable forward with the Chicago Bulls, Markkanen was then traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three team trade back in 2021. After one season in Cleveland, Markkanen was then a part of the blockbuster deal that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers.
This trade put Markkanen in a position to shine, and that is exactly what he did. Prior to the 2022-23 season, most fans thought the Utah Jazz would be at the very bottom of the standings after trading away two of their best players in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The Jazz essentially blew it all up and went into rebuild mode. This decision and new environment provided an opportunity for Markkanen to grow, which he did at an insane rate.
After a dominant season with the Jazz, Lauri Markkanen made a huge leap both on the court and on the stat sheet. In his first season in Utah Markkanen averaged an impressive 25.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 1.9 apg on 50/39/87 splits.
Here is a breakdown of the change in statistics from last season with the Cavaliers compared to this season with the Jazz:
- + 10.8 PPG
- + 2.9 RPG
- + 0.6 APG
- + 5% FG on 5.8 more FGA
- + 3% 3PT on 1.5 more 3PA
This season Markkanen has averaged the 2nd most career points per game by a Jazz all time. Adrian Dantley currently holds the record as he averaged 29.6 ppg in his seven seasons with the Jazz.
Markkanen’s leap to stardom was unexpected by most, if not all NBA fans. He became a scoring machine while improving his efficiency from both the field and beyond the arc, increasing his volume in both areas as well. It is not often that you see a player in year six increase his scoring by ten points per game.
Markkanen is a clear cut choice for the Most Improved Player award after making substantial leaps in almost every major category. He stepped into a foggy situation amongst an organization that had just traded away two All Stars, and still found a way to shine. The former Arizona Wildcat looks like a whole new player in Utah, and his future in the NBA should be exciting to watch.
Runner Up: Jalen Brunson
After receiving a life changing payday this past offseason, Jalen Brunson proved he is worth the controversial 4-yr/$100 million contract. Brunson was the Robin to Luka Doncic’s Batman in his time with the Dallas Mavericks. He provided a ton of production for the Mavericks throughout their 2022 playoff run, and it was clear the former Villanova guard could be huge for any contender.
In his first season with the Knicks, Brunson became a superstar in The Big Apple. The Knicks finally acquired a true point guard who can play make and score at an elite level.
Here is a breakdown of the change in statistics from last season with the Mavericks compared to this season with the Knicks:
- + 7.7 PPG
- – 0.4 RPG
- + 1.4 APG
- – 1% FG on 4.8 more FGA
- + 4% 3PT on 1.5 more 3PA
Brunson has completely elevated the New York Knicks into a serious playoff team. The Big Three in New York could make some noise in the postseason, with an experienced and improved Jalen Brunson leading the way.
Third Place: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Also receiving votes: M. Bridges, N. Claxton, T. Haliburton, D. Vassell
Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander quickly became one of the best guards in the entire NBA. SGA is currently top five in the NBA in points per game, averaging an efficient 31.5 ppg. He has become one of the best slashing guards in the league, and gets to the line very often, shooting an eye-opening 10.9 free throws per game.
SGA is the definition of a pure bucket. At only 6’6 he is shooting 51% from the field this season on 20.4 field goal attempts per game. The electrifying point guard has taken this Thunder team from a tanking nightmare to a team fighting for a play-in spot.
Here is a breakdown of the change in statistics from last season compared to this season with the Thunder:
- + 7.0 PPG
- – 0.2 RPG
- – 0.5 APG
- + 6% FG on 1.6 more FGA
- + 5% 3PT on 2.9 less 3PA
It seems like SGA and the Thunder are beginning to find their identity on the court. If SGA continues to improve as a scorer and floor general, Oklahoma City has one of the brightest futures in the NBA.
Clutch Player of the Year
What makes a player clutch? In essence it’s the ability to elevate one’s game when their team needs it the most. A player who can do what’s needed as the clock is dwindling and the score is close. Could this be from playing excellent defense or grabbing crucial defensive boards? Absolutely, there are definitely some all time clutch plays made on the defensive end and the boards. However, scoring in crunch time is the highest form of clutch basketball. Players who can get a basket and put their teams ahead in crunch time are extremely valuable. That is why the NBA has added a Clutch Player of the Year award to its post season awards docket. Awarded to the player that “best comes through for their teammates in the clutch” and aptly named after Jerry West.
How do we determine which players have the most clutch time buckets? Luckily for us the NBA defines clutch time and gives us the player statistics for the season. The NBA defines the clutch as “minutes when the scoring margin is within 5 points with five or fewer minutes remaining in a game.” We can use the NBA’s database to find which players score the most during clutch time and how efficiently they do so. The top 10 in total clutch baskets made is De’Aaron Fox, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Jalen Bruson, Donovon Mitchell, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Shai Gilgeeous-Alexander, and Jordan Clarkson in that order. While all these players have had clutch performances one clearly stands above the rest, De’Aaron Fox.
Fox has made 71 clutch time baskets, which is 22 more than second place DeRozan. What makes this feat even more impressive is that he raises his field goal percentage by more than a full percentile during crunch time. He is shooting an impressive 52.9% from the field during crunch time. Naturally, Fox also has the highest clutch time point total. He has amassed 194 clutch time points, almost 40 more than second place. Fox also draws the 3rd most fouls of the top 10 leaders in clutch time points. What makes this all even more monumental is how Fox elevating his play during crunch time has led to wins. He helped a Sacramento team lock into a top three seed in the Western Conference and birth a playoff appearance for a team that hasn’t been there in sixteen years. Fox has shown time and time again that he can elevate his game to the extremes necessary for his team to win and that is why he is the Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year
Is there really an argument for Coach of the Year besides Mike Brown? Getting the Kings from being perennial lottery teams to the 3 seed in the Western Conference in Brown’s first season on the job is downright historic and will go down as one of the more impressive coaching feats in recent memory. When watching the Kings this year, the biggest change that Mike Brown has brought is spamming the dribble-handoffs with Domantas Sabonis and the shooters that Sacramento has with Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray. That action alone has been a huge part in catapulting the Beam Team to the top of the offensive standings.
There have been other strong candidates this year such as Jacque Vaughn, who has dealt with everchanging lineups and still put together a playoff team, and Joe Mazzulla, who has stepped in as the youngest coach in the NBA (with Will Hardy) and kept the Celtics as a (the?) top contender in the league. But at the end of the day, when looking at the greatest impact from a head coach this year, Mike Brown takes the cake in Sacramento.
All-NBA 1st Team
The guard depth in the league may be the toughest component deciding all-NBA teams. Seemingly, Antetokounmpo and Tatum, who have both held the No.1 spot in NBA.com’s MVP ladder at one point this season, are locks for the first team. There is an obvious toss-up between Jokic and Joel Embiid for both MVP and first-team center. When all-NBA teams are positionless next season, hopefully Embiid and Jokic can find a place together.
Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander have consistently been among the top guards this season. Gilgeous-Alexander has taken that all-star level jump and currently has the Thunder in the Play-In. His offensive production — top five in field goal percentage among guards and points per game overall — along with his underrated defense, have separated him from the rest of the pack. In a season where few saw Oklahoma City even in the mix after losing 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren, Gilgeous-Alexander has made himself a household name in the clutch.
Although the Mavericks are currently out of even the Play-In — who would have thought a team with Kyrie Irving and himself would have been — Luka has done Luka things. Currently third leaguewide with 10 triple doubles, the young star has been on a tear all season long… at least on the offensive end. A huge part of the deal with Irving was trading away a singular defensive asset in Dorian Finney-Smith. While Doncic’s defense has been further exposed after the deadline, he remains a first-team lock.
All-NBA 2nd Team
Here is where guards get even tougher to decide. Others in the mix could have been Stephen Curry, De’Aaron Fox, Jaylen Brown, James Harden, Ja Morant or Devin Booker. After helping lead Cleveland to its first playoff appearance since 1998 without LeBron James, Mitchell got the nod for his clutch play and shooting career numbers from the field.
Lillard was a debatable selection: One could make a case for if he deserved a spot at all — the Trailblazers have been eliminated from playoff contention and he hasn’t played since March 22. However, the 32-year-old Lillard is still pointing to his wrist because Dame Time is not over yet — he averaged a career high 32.2 points per game on a career-high tying 46.3% from the field, and led all players with 15, 40-point games this season.
Randle is most certainly deserving of second team. After a season where he had close to the worst offensive efficiency in the league, Randle has revitalized himself as an all star and will be the driving force for New York come playoff time. He has gelled well with co-star Jalen Brunson and has become both a better facilitator and defender.
Perhaps the biggest surprise one may find on this list is Kevin Durant, who has only played 46 games thus far. The Suns are 7-0 with Durant, who has not skipped a beat despite an injury-plagued season. While he has, as usual, been a phenomenal scorer, it’s his defense that has really stepped up this season, making Phoenix an even scarier opponent to face in the playoffs. Although he has been rock solid when healthy, given his recent injury history, he would not be considered under next year’s rule changes.
All-NBA 3rd Team
All NBA “Snubs”
It goes without saying that the league is as deep and talented as it ever has been and one of the most fun things to do as an NBA fan is to debate the All-NBA teams. As shown above the team here at LG Hoops has put together our picks for the All-NBA team selections but let me tell you, narrowing it down to 15 players for the 3 teams wasn’t easy as several more players received votes, each of them with compelling and convincing cases of their own. This is a debate that is laced with nuance.
Let’s quickfire a couple of the standout players who had exceptional, “All-NBA caliber” seasons in their own right!
Jimmy is having one of the best seasons of his career and is having a surge post All-Star break as the Heat gear up for the playoffs. After a somewhat “average” by his standards start to the year, Jimmy has averaged 26/6/6 on ridiculous efficiency (.715 TS%, an insane +13.4% over league average) on only 13 FGA. Unfortunately the Heat themselves are only 9-10 post-break and that appears to have held Butler back from getting more attention.
JB is having his best individual season to date. We’re talking career highs in points (26.7) and rebounds (6.8) per game on a more than stellar 55.2% eFG. He’s greatly improved his midrange shot, up nearly 7% from 10-16 feet compared to last year. One of his weaknesses has been ball-handling. This is an area he’s made strides in this year and become a competent shot creator. All this while remaining as versatile on defense as ever. He’s bringing it night in and night out for a Boston team that is amongst the best in the league.
Brunson gambled on himself and it appears that after one short season he and the Knicks are reaping the benefits. He’s naturally stepped into the Big Apple as a primary ballhandler and is turning in a fantastic offensive campaign. His scoring has naturally spiked without any drop in efficiency and what’s incredibly impressive is his playmaking. 6.2 assists per game to only 2.1 turnovers per game. His Box Creation metric, the number of open shots created for teammates per 100 possessions, currently ranks in the 97th percentile. The Brunson Burner is hot.
What’s remarkable about Harden is his ability to recreate himself over the course of his career depending on the situation in which he’s in. This year we are seeing peak playmaking, point guard Harden. His Box Creation is nearly as high as it was in Houston but on a fraction of the offensive load. Harden’s AST/TO currently sits over 3, all the more impressive considering he’s still giving Philly 21+ PPG and valuable spacing (38.5% on over 7 attempts from 3 per game). Will the Beard be feared come postseason?
We are seeing career seasons left and right this season and Spicy P is no exception. Siakam’s per 100 and per 75 stats are seeing career highs in both points (32 and 24) and assists (7.8 and 5.9) while still crashing the boards. As is the case with a couple other players here, he’s taken another leap with his playmaking and passing, super important for a Raptors team that can struggle to score when he’s not on the floor.
AD has cleared the 50 game mark which puts him square in the conversation for All-NBA which, despite injuries, is one of the absolute greatest of his career from a production standpoint. He’s the straw that stirs the Laker defensive drink. Since returning from injury on Jan. 25 the Lakers have the 5th best defensive rating over that span, a over two month sample size. He’s cleaning the boards at an elite rate. His offensive rebounding % is at a career high (11.3%) and his defensive rebounding % is the highest it’s been since he was a Pelican (27.2%). Let’s not forget the absurd scoring numbers. He has 20 games of 30+ points this year which is more than he had in the 2021 and 2022 seasons combined (16).
It’s gotta be satisfying for Jazz fans to see Markkanen getting All-NBA consideration as Mitchell gets his likely All-NBA nod in Cleveland. Lauri at first seemed to be a throw-in in the deal that had Mitchell end up in Cleveland so even the most optimistic of Jazz fans may not have seen this campaign from the Finnisher. He’s opened up his game this season by morphing into something much closer to a top-option scorer after playing a complementary role for his entire career. His 25.4 ppg are easily a career high. Fun fact: up until 2 games ago, he was on track to be only the second 7-footer alongside Dirk to average 25+ a game while shooting 40% from 3 (he’s currently sitting at 39.1% after shooting 3/18 from 3 his last couple games).
All-Defensive 1st Team
Jaren Jackson Jr.
All-Defensive 2nd Team
Imagine this scenario: the stakes couldn’t be higher, as the game hangs in the balance on a single possession. The clock ticks down as the crowd holds their breath, anticipating the inbound pass. It is precisely in these make-or-break moments that the defensive stalwarts of the league come to the forefront, poised to make the game-winning play. In these critical junctures, it is not merely about scoring points or grabbing headlines. As the old adage goes, defense wins championships, and it is precisely for this reason that the NBA’s First Team All-Defense award carries such immense weight. After all, defensive prowess serves as the very foundation of great players’ legacies and championship teams alike.
This year marks one of the most difficult years to try and decide who should make 1st team all defense. Defense in general is much more difficult to measure in this NBA era than it ever has been. With the 3 point shot being king, perimeter defense is as important as ever. We see that reflected as the majority of the 1st and 2nd team defense guys are all long, quick, switchable defenders.
While I largely agree with the players voted to the 1st team in the straw poll, there were 3 players from one team with the most 1st team defense consideration.
The Milwaukee Bucks may very well have 3 players from their starting lineup on the 1st team all-defense team. One of those guys is Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time MVP and former defensive player of the year. One could wonder how much better Giannis makes everyone else on his team look on defense and maybe take credit away from the other guys who were highlighted. Everyone knows what Giannis brings to the table with his constant hustle, and physical dominance, but let’s look closer at Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez.
Brook Lopez may benefit from the Giannis effect, but he absolutely holds his own. He leads the league in shots contested by a LARGE margin, and he is positionally always in the right spot. He’s a real candidate for DPOY, and has had an astounding impact. One could argue that his lack of explosive athleticism could hurt him in a switch-everything playoff scenario, but turns out, even if you get by Brook, Giannis is waiting for you at the rim. The Bucks defense is a nightmare.
That leads us to Jrue Holiday. Holiday’s combination of size, strength, and quickness make him a nightmare for opposing guards, and he’s also a great help defender who can disrupt passing lanes and block shots. It is well known that he is very well respected by his peers, as many claim him as the hardest player to play against.
If you were wondering, yes, there were other great defensive players not on the Milwaukee Bucks this year. One other outstanding defender voted to the 1st team all-defense team was Mikal Bridges, who was recently traded to the Nets, but we saw the impact he had in Phoenix during their final run. He has quietly emerged as one of the best young two-way players in the league, and his defense is a big reason why. He has great size for a wing player at 6’7″, but also possesses quick feet and excellent instincts. Bridges can guard multiple positions, and his length makes it tough for opposing players to shoot over him or pass around him. He is well deserving this year, and will continue to rack up all-defense awards throughout his career.
One guy who received votes but did not make it on this all-defense list is Alex Caruso. If you have watched the Bulls suffocating perimeter defense for even 1 game, he stands out as a guy that is well warranted for 1st or 2nd team all-defense consideration. Caruso is in the 99th percentile when it comes to defensive basketball IQ, always being aware of where he is on the court, and this leads to a ton of live ball turnovers and offensive disruption. He is very physical and has a never ending motor. The Bulls have had a top 10 defense this year, and Alex Caruso is a huge reason why.
This has been a memorable season and one of the reasons it has been is because we were absolutely spoiled with young talent from the 2022 draft class. Let’s look at some awesome feats from each of these awesome rookies.
The LG Hoops team of course selected our All-Rookie teams as follows:
All-Rookie 1st Team
The shoe-in for RoY is going to become just the 10th rookie in NBA history to average 20+ points in a season, a stat that proves promising as all of the 9 rookies preceding him (save Tyreke Evans) became perennial All-Stars.
The late blooming J Will has burst onto the scene in the second half of the season, showcasing an elite all-around game for a rookie. Since the All-Star break he’s averaged 19/6/4 on scorching 55/44/88 shooting splits.
The Auburn product burst onto the snowy Salt Lake scene cleaning the offensive glass and blocking shots unlike anyone we’ve seen in recent years. His 4.3 offensive boards per 75 possessions ranks in the 97th percentile while his block % of 8.5 is the 4th highest for any rookie since 1974 only behind Manute Bol, Mitchell Robinson and Mark Eaton.
Despite playing on the best team amongst all All-Rookie finalists, Murray’s tracks are all over Sacramento’s success this year. Of all rookies in league history to log 1000+ minutes, Keegan is the all-time leader in 3PM (201 at the time of this article) beating out 2018 Mitchel (187) and 2013 Dame (185).
Mathurin is a bucket. Plain and simple. His athleticism has already made for a player who can create his own shot (a respectable 35% on pull-up 3s) and be lethal in transition (his 269 fastbreak points this year ranks 8th in the ENTIRE league). All that despite logging only 28 minutes per game.
All-Rookie 2nd Team
Ivey is proving to be an awesome table-setting guard. He leads all rookies with 5.1 assists per game. Per BBall Index he generates 26 potential assists per 100 passes which ranks in the 97th percentile. Once the shooting efficiency catches up, he’ll be a scary offensive threat.
Duren gives the Pistons their SECOND All-Rookie player and the 6’10”, 250-pound athletic specimen is deserving. His hops bounce off the screen and lead to a ridiculous 71.4% FG at the rim and and 8.7 rebounds per game in only 24 minutes.
The 6’9” forward has had ample opportunity to explore and grow in San Antonio this year showcasing plenty of potential in his minutes. He is 1 of only 10 rookies this year to have 20 games with a Game Score of at least 10.
The Pacers join the Pistons as another team with multiple All-Rookie selections. Nembhard may not have the flashiest numbers but he’s arguably one of the cleanest rookies so far. He sports an awesome AST/TO ratio of nearly 3 and has proven capable when given increased minutes. In a win against Toronto on 3/22 he dropped 25 points and 10 assists in 35 minutes.
The electric Sharpe has shown incredible flashes as of late for the Blazers. With Portland shutting things down as the season winds down, Sharpe has seen a “sharp” increase in minutes. Since 3/22\ (8 games), he’s averaging and incredible 24/6/4 on 46/40/76 splits in 37 minutes per game. I’m sure Portland is happy to let Shaedon explore and grow.