Five NBA rookies who've had impressive preseasons
Five NBA rookies who've had impressive preseasons
BOSTON -- The preseason has been an eye-opening experience for many of the NBA’s new faces as they adjust to playing against bigger, stronger, faster and definitely more experienced foes.
The approach to how much rookies can handle in the preseason varies from one team to another.
We’ve seen some teams take a slow-as-you-go approach, with the goal being to not overwhelm them with too much from Day One. And then you have others who say, ‘The hell with that!’ and immediately thrust youngsters into a sink-or-swim scenario to see if they are up to the challenge.
We’re about halfway through the preseason and while it’s still early in this pro basketball career thing, there are some rookies who are showing more potential early on, than others.
Here are five rookies who have had the kind of preseason that gives their respective teams hope that they can make an impact in this league sooner rather than later.
5. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix
Freakish athlete with a wide-ranging skillset, the Suns have every reason in the world to believe that Chriss can develop into a major, major player. So far in the preseason, the eighth overall pick in last June’s NBA draft has shown glimpses of that all-around talent. But many of the questions that dogged him throughout the draft process are still concerns. As a young player, you hear lots of talk about needing to have a “high motor.” That’s just not how Chriss is built. Because of his talent, often he’ll make the difficult look easy and in doing so, come across as if he’s not giving his all. You can’t argue with the production in the preseason where his 12.3 points per game ranks fourth among rookies and his 6.7 rebounds per game leads all rookies in the preseason. At the end of the day, he’s going to play a lot of minutes and put up pretty good numbers. But can he be that catalyst to get this Phoenix franchise headed in the right direction? Probably not.
4. Tomas Satoransky, Washington
Every year there’s an international player who comes to the NBA and plays above and beyond the expectations of many. Satoransky could be that guy this season. Taken by Washington in the second round (32nd pick overall) of the 2012 draft, he’s a 24-year-old combo guard who stands 6-foot-7. What has really stood out about the Croatian guard has been his ability to contribute in a number of categories. His ball-handling and court vision allow him to play some point, and he’s a decent enough shooter to where he can knock down shots if you leave him. And what isn’t known as much about him, is his willingness to get rebounds from his guard position. In three preseason games, he’s averaging 6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
3. Kay Felder, Cleveland
Arguably the best scorer in college basketball last season, the 5-foot-9 Felder would have been a first-round pick if he was taller. But don’t think for a minute that what he lacks in height has anything to do with his talent. Felder is a baller; period. And the Cavaliers got one of the draft’s biggest steals in getting him in the second round with the 54th overall pick. We know what he can do in terms of shooting the ball, but at the NBA level you have to be able to get teammates involved in addition to defending. Felder doesn’t excel at either of those things, but with Cleveland he doesn’t necessarily have to right away. In three preseason games, he’s averaging 11.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. If he can be a decent defender, buy into the team’s ball movement style and do what he does best which is make shots, then he will deliver exactly what the Cavs need from him as they seek out a second straight NBA title.
2. Jaylen Brown, Boston
Selected with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, after being drafted there was some thought that he might be a potential candidate to spend time in the D-League. That ain’t happening. The only question surrounding Brown now is how much playing time will he receive with the Celtics. He has the kind of elite athleticism that puts him on par in that regard with some of the best in the game right now. His perimeter game is a work in progress, but the Celtics will get a major boost with his versatility in defending both forward positions. And when he’s at the four (power forward), it presents Boston with a tremendous advantage offensively. Defensively? Like his shooting, it is a work in progress but definitely trending in the right direction. In three games, Brown is averaging 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
1. Buddy Hield, New Orleans
The best shooter in the draft looks to make a name for himself as one of the best in the NBA . . . right now. If there were ever a preseason rookie of the year award, Hield would be the runaway winner. Drafted with the sixth overall pick by the Pelicans, he has been a stat-stuffing machine. In three games, Hield has averaged 17.0 points (tops among rookies), 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 40.0 percent on 3s and 52.6 percent from the field overall. There’s never a guarantee that strong preseason play will result in regular season success. But to Hield’s credit, he has come out and showed the world why he was a high lottery pick, and that the narrative of him being the best shooter in this draft is just the beginning of what he can do in this league.