Tag Archives: James Wiseman

New Faces Becoming Familiar in NBA Rookie of the Year Race

A few of the new faces around the NBA are making names for themselves and cases to be the Rookie of the Year. There are at least two names many expected to be there. But there’s also a pair of surprise contenders for the award. Who takes the award home will depend on who among them can keep up their pace.

Getting Familiar with the NBA’s New Faces in the Rookie of the Year Race

1. LaMelo Ball

The youngest Ball brother (and January Rookie of the Month in the Eastern Conference) has quickly made a name for himself in the NBA. LaMelo Ball is the current front-runner for Rookie of the Year and he’s only started six games for the Charlotte Hornets. Don’t get it twisted, though. He’s been playing at or near starter’s minutes since the end of December. Ball is averaging 14.3/5.8/6.1 and slashing .438/.359/.791 across 26 games.

As a starter, however, Ball is putting up 21.7 points per game, 5.3 boards, and 6.3 assists per contest. His efficiency went up too, to 45.2% from the floor, 48.8% from deep, and 88.9% from the charity stripe. Among rookies, LaMelo leads all rookies in assists per game, steals per game, is first with six games of at least 20 points, and is second in rebounds. Oh! Charlotte is currently seventh in the East, too.

The one knock on Ball is his defense. As this chart illustrates, he is one of the worst defenders among first-year players. He’s offset that with his offensive production. But on nights when his shot isn’t falling he will have to get into a few more passing lanes than usual. Even with that, he will be tough to overtake.

2. Tyrese Haliburton

This is a topic that’s near and dear as someone who stumped for his favorite team to target Tyrese Haliburton in the draft. The former Iowa State Cyclone was the Rookie of the Month in the West for January.  Haliburton is putting up a smooth 12.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 29.4 minutes per contest.

He’s only drawn a single start but he’s fifth on the team in minutes per; higher than 2017 first-rounder Marvin Bagley. The graphic used for Ball also illustrates how much of a steadying presence Haliburton has been for the wayward Sacramento Kings. Digging into the numbers, Haliburton improves his team’s offensive rating by nearly a point when he’s on the floor. When he’s off the court, the Kings defensive rating worsens by 2.5 points.

Sacramento sits at ninth, square in the mix for the playoff play-in game that was introduced during the bubble. Haliburton is second in minutes per, assists, and steals and is shooting nearly 50% from the floor. On a bad team with several high-profile names, Haliburton is making a name for himself.

3. James Wiseman

The second-overall pick in this past NBA Draft, James Wiseman is currently recuperating from a sprained wrist. But the 7-footer was sent to the bench even before that as head coach Steve Kerr opted for Kevon Looney in the starting lineup. That led to better defense for the Warriors but Kerr believes it will only help Wiseman in the long run.

Maybe Kerr’s on to something (who would’ve guessed, right?) because Wiseman averaged 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds as a starter. The Warriors were 8-8 over that stretch. Coming off the bench with the reserves, the (ever so briefly) former Memphis Tiger is putting up 13.5 points and 6.3 boards per game.

Wiseman’s block numbers have taken a hit; falling from 1.4 to 1.0 per game but some of that may be due to the adjustment. The bigger “issue” is getting him back on the floor. Wiseman leads all rookies in rebounds, blocks, and is third in scoring. None of that matters, though, if he is unable to take the court.

4. Immanuel Quickley

An out-of-nowhere candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, Immanuel Quickley has turned himself into a weapon off the bench in short order. Averaging 11.8 points per game for the surprising New York Knicks is an honorable feat for a rookie as it is. Cracking a Tom Thibodeau lineup as a greenhorn is an accomplishment unto itself.

Quickley is fifth among rookies in scoring, but again, he’s playing behind a resurgent Elfrid Payton. He’s slashing 40.2% from the floor, 35.8% from outside, and 93.4 at the free-throw line. He hasn’t been overly efficient, he hasn’t been a detriment either. He even boosted his numbers in January to 12.8 points on 41.2% shooting and 37.0% from beyond the arc.

The rookie is one-dimensional at this point. When his shot isn’t falling he isn’t offering much beyond a threat. So far in February (five games) Quickley seems to be coming back to Earth. He’s averaging just 9.8 points shooting 36.6% from the floor and 33.3% from three. Add in the addition of Derrick Rose and you just hope Quickley’s best in his rookie season isn’t behind him.

5. Patrick Williams  and Desmond Bane

Yup, we’re cheating on this one. The bottom of the Rookie of the Year race is rather crowded but the two players that make the list are certainly making an impact. Patrick Williams leads all rookies in games started with 23.

He’s averaging a modest 10.3 points and 4.4 boards with an equally modest slash line of .466/.396/.800 in just over 27 minutes per game (third among rookies). But it’s his willingness on defense that’s separated him from the pack as he’s drawn the opposing team’s best player and held up respectably night after night.

Looking at what Desmond Bane is doing so far in his rookie campaign it feels like he should be much higher on this list. His numbers are solid for any rookie, let alone one drafted 30th overall in this past NBA Draft. He’s dropping 10.3 points per game in just under 23 minutes per contest for the 10-10 Memphis Grizzlies.

It’s his efficiency that stands out the most. He’s shooting 48.4% from the floor, 48.2% from three, and 82.4% from the line. More encouraging is that in his two starts, he’s averaging 15.5 points and 2.5 assists.

Catching Up in the Rookie of the Year Race

You might notice Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony didn’t make the list. Both are in the top-six in rookie scoring; Edwards second and Anthony sixth. Neither has been efficient in the early going.

The first-overall pick by the Timberwolves, Edwards is averaging 13.9 points but is shooting just 37.9% from the floor and 32.4% from deep. Second-generation player Anthony is up to 11.0 points per but is shooting 37.5% and 32.5% from the floor and three, respectively.

Early Aftermath of a Short (but Sweet) NBA Offseason

It’s been a week since the 2020 NBA Draft. With less than a month until the start of the 2021 season and free agency well underway, this is a good time to take stock of our favorite NBA offseason moves. Five teams, be it their draft decisions, free agency signings or trades, or both if they were really smart.

NBA Aftermath: Who’s Had the Best Offseason?

Honorable Mentions: Golden State Warriors/Miami Heat

You have to hand it to Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob. As trade acquisition Kelly Oubre said, Lacob is willing to spend to keep his team competitive. Oubre was taking a not-so-subtle jab at Phoenix Suns ownership, but the point stands. Lacob is spending upwards of $80 million due to the luxury tax. This even though Klay Thompson is out for the year with a torn ACL. It’s as easy to take Oubre’s words as just lip service as it is to dismiss the Warriors as contenders. But Oubre and James Wiseman is a good haul for a team in their particular situation.

There is a sense of underestimation with what the Miami Heat have done this offseason. The reigning Eastern Conference champs have flown relatively under the radar in a surprisingly active offseason compared to the rest of the NBA. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been doing well though. Landing Precious Achiuwa with the 20th pick is a steal. In free agency, the Heat lost Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr, and Solomon Hill but retained Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard. They replaced them with a pair of hard-working, two-way players in Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley.

5. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are in a new phase in which they seek to add impact veterans to supplement and aid in the development of their young superstar point guard, Trae Young. That didn’t stop them from taking athletic, shot-blocking forward Onyeka Okongwu out of USC with the sixth pick. They hit free agency hard, going after and landing playoff point god Rajon Rondo and certified bucket Danilo Gallinari. Then, they went with younger vets in landing tough defensive guard Kris Dunn and signing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who shot 37 percent from three last season to an offer-sheet.

4. Phoenix Suns

On one hand, you have to like what the Phonix Suns have done this offseason. Even more so if you include their perfect 8-0 record in the bubble. They took their slide in the draft thanks to the lottery in stride, landing Jalen Smith, a veritable Jonathan Isaac clone, out of Maryland 10th overall. Chris Paul comes with hopes of recreating some of his magic from Oklahoma City. Crowder brings toughness and perimeter shooting along with E’Twuan Moore and Damian Jones is a good backup for Deandre Ayton. It’ll be up to Paul and Devin Booker to prove Oubre wrong.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

David Griffin, you clever so-and-so. Not one to be overshadowed by the Prestis and Moreys of the world, the former Cavs general manager continued his facelift of the New Orleans Pelicans centered around phenom Zion Williamson. Gone are, Moore, Jrue Holiday (via four-team trade), Derrick Favors (FA to Utah), and Jahlil Okafor. Griffin replaced them with Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe (both via the Holiday trade), and guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13th pick). He also extended Brandon Ingram. This will be a tough defensive group at worst.

2. Portland Trail Blazers

This has to be People’s Champ for best NBA offseason. The Portland Trail Blazers brought back Carmelo Anthony (yes, there is some bias here) and Rodney Hood. They also brought rebounding savant Enes Kanter and potential-laden Harry Giles to bolster their big rotation along with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. They also signed Derrick Jones Jr, but the piece de resistance is Robert Covington. One of the absolute best 3-and-D players and just what Portland needs behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

The rich get richer. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers are still celebrating their championship while reigning Executive of the year Rob Pelinka is right back at it. Securing Dennis Schroder early was smart. Who knows what Presti could have extracted out of him further along in the process. “Stealing” Montrezl Harrell from the “rival” Los Angeles Clippers is a work of art. Granted, Harrell wasn’t going back to the Clippers after this past season played out how it did. But he will be motivated by what he clearly saw as slight from them. Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews bring good defense and enough outside shooting.

We also have to look at what Pelinka kept and got rid of. Moving Danny Green’s deal while bringing back Markieff Morris shouldn’t go unnoticed. Unsung playoff-hero Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns as well but, as a Klutch Sports client, duh. Ditto for the best “free agent” available in Davis. And they didn’t have to move Kyle Kuzma or Talen Horton-Tucker to do any of it. Losing Rondo and Howard can be overcome with the moves made. And they get to run it back with an integral piece from their Staples Center sub-lessee. The Lakers didn’t have many teams to be concerned over in the first place. It’s hard to imagine any team did enough to beat this squad fully-healthy.