2019 NBA All-Rookie First & Second Teams
There are a ton of intriguing prospects in this year’s rookie class. With everything from college stars to European standouts, it would be quite an understatement to say that the battle for all-rookie recognition will be heated. Without further ado, here are my predictions.
All-Rookie First Team
G- Collin Sexton (CLE):
The departure of LeBron James has officially started the rebuilding process in Northeastern Ohio. With recent reports surfacing that Cleveland looking to dish Kevin Love in a potential trade, it seems that the Cavs are ready for a complete overhaul. That starts with Cleveland’s top-10 pick, Collin Sexton. The lightning-quick point guard is a tremendous competitor with an unfathomable ceiling. Even with George Hill and Jordan Clarkson on the roster, it’s not crazy to believe Sexton will have a huge role from the get-go. Through six summer league games, the Alabama product is averaging 18.3 points per contest. The unlikeliness of Cleveland having a championship-caliber team will allow the rookie to play a good amount of minutes.
G/F Luka Doncic (DAL):
Perhaps the most talked about prospect in this class is European superstar, Luka Doncic. The 6’6’’ Slovenian averaged 14.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 4.6 APG this past year in the EuroLeague, in which he received MVP honors. His versatility will allow the Mavs to use him in many different ways and his ability to affect the game in other ways besides scoring will yield immediate results. His ball handling in the open court and in pick-and-roll situations add new dimensions to his overall game.
F Kevin Knox (NYK):
When New York selected Kevin Knox out of Kentucky with the 9th overall pick, Knicks fans were baffled; some wanted Michael Porter Jr, others wanted Mikal Bridges. That disappointment has subsided due to Knox’s stellar play in the summer league. After 4 appearances, he is 4th in scoring (21.3 PPG), while adding 6.5 rebounds per game. He will need to continue to work on his outside shot, but his mid-range game and ability to drive to the basket give the Knicks both a versatile forward and potential dynamic scorer.
F Jaren Jackson Jr (MEM):
Although his statistics were not that appealing during his lone season at Michigan State, Jackson Jr presents three virtues that NBA GMs love: length, potential, and the ability to stretch the floor. He is averaging 11.2 PPG on 41% from the field and although that isn’t great, his impact expands to the defensive side as well. Through five games, he’s grabbing around 8 rebounds per contest and blocking a staggering 3.8 shots per game. He can step out and shoot the ball (just under 40% from 3 in college) and also run the floor as well as anyone in the class.
C DeAndre Ayton (PHX):
Ayton may be one of the safest picks of this year’s draft, but that’s because of how physically dominant he is. The 7’1’’ 250 lb big man averaged 20.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG last year at Arizona. Like Jackson Jr, Ayton can run the floor very well and score in a variety of ways. His shot efficiency in the summer league is worth noting (14.5 PPG on 60%). Stretching the floor will allow Ayton to test centers in many different ways as he is very crafty in the post and willing to shoot mid-range jumpshots.
All-Rookie Second Team
G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC):
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be the Clippers’ Swiss-Army knife for years to come. The 6’6’’ Canadian has a tremendous feel for the game. He is recording 19 points per contest in the Summer League to go along with 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and an electric 2.3 steals; per game. The only thing that keeps him off my first team is the fact that the Clippers backcourt is very crowded (Patrick Beverley, Jawun Evans, Milos Teodosic) so the need for him to fill a big role early on is unlikely.
G: Donte DiVincenzo (MIL):
This may serve as a head scratcher for some, but there is denying the Villanova product’s ability to score in many ways. Despite not having played in the Summer League, DiVincenzo is primed for playing time given the spark that he can provide off the bench with his shooting abilities (something the Bucks desperately need).
F: Keita Bates-Diop (MIN):
Minnesota may have gotten the steal of the draft with pick #48 in the second round by taking Keita Bates-Diop. The four-year letterman from Ohio State is a prototypical 3-and-D wing. During his career in Columbus, he shot the ball at a 35% clip from downtown, but has continued to add to his scoring repertoire. The second-team NCAA All-American will make the All-Rookie Second Team because of his scoring pedigree and on-ball defense.
F Marvin Bagley III (SAC):
The #2 overall pick had an incredible season at Duke last year, but his game still needs some work. Bagley must develop a mid-range game to decrease predictability, but his size, quickness, and ability to run the floor will allow him to impact the game nonetheless. His crafty post-game will be a problem for opposing big men.
C Wendell Carter Jr (CHI):
The Chicago Bulls are currently putting together an impressive young core that includes Lauri Markkanen, Jabari Parker, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine. By drafting Wendell Carter Jr out of Duke, they’ve added a perfect complement to Markkanen’s outside game. Although he was overshadowed by Bagley at times in college, the 6’10 259 lb center will contribute right away in Chicago with his stellar rebounding and improving post play.