Five under-the-radar NBA rookies to watch this season

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Five under-the-radar NBA rookies to watch this season

BOSTON -- When the NBA season officially kicks off, you can bank on much of the rookie hype being centered around the top three picks in the draft - Zion Williamson of New Orleans, Ja Morant in Memphis and the New York Knicks’ R.J. Barrett. 

Even with the top picks gobbling up most of the rookie shine, there are always a handful of first-year ballers whose play significantly outperforms where they were taken in the draft. 

And while most of the players we’re going to talk about on this list were first-round picks, you won’t find a lottery (top 14) pick among them. 

Why?

Because by virtue of being among the top 14 players selected, coming into the NBA and making an immediate impact is what’s supposed to happen, right? 

Recent winners of the rookie of the year award serve as a reminder of how the best rookies that float to the surface of success early on tend to come from the pool of players selected in the lottery. 

Since the lottery’s inception in 1985, only two non-lottery pick players went on to win the rookie of the year. 

And while this year’s rookie class has some elite players at the top, there’s no shortage of talented players who are eager to make the transition from being a player with potential to one who proves his worth in this league sooner rather than later. 

 

Does Al Horford's Instagram activity hint at his free agency decision?

Does Al Horford's Instagram activity hint at his free agency decision?

We're less than 24 hours away from the start of NBA free agency, which means it's time to read way too far into everything players say or do on social media.

This time, we'll be reading into Al Horford's interesting activity on Instagram. The veteran big man, who is expected to sign somewhere other than Boston in free agency, may have tipped his hand on Saturday by following a pair of Pelicans players: Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday.

OK, chances are it's just a coincidence. But Marc Stein of The New York Times added more fuel to the Horford-to-New Orleans fire shortly afterward.

The Pelicans are one of several teams interested in adding Horford once free agency gets underway. Also reportedly in the mix are the Mavericks, Lakers, and Clippers. The 76ers and Kings are surprise bidders for the five-time All-Star as well.

Horford will be holding his free agency meetings in Atlanta.

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Who will sign Al Horford in free agency? Not the Pelicans, per report

Who will sign Al Horford in free agency? Not the Pelicans, per report

Al Horford's list of potential free-agent suitors apparently has dwindled by one.

After discussing the possibility of the former Boston Celtics big man signing with the Pelicans on a recent Bill Simmons podcast, The New York Times reported Wednesday that New Orleans is not the "stealth suitor" for the free-agent big man.

The Pelicans are one of about 10 NBA teams with the cap flexibility to offer Horford the four-year contract north of $100 million he reportedly seeks, and the thought of adding the 33-year-old veteran to a club brimming with young talent like Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball was an intriguing one.

But it seems New Orleans isn't in on Horford, who reportedly has drawn interest from the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, with the possibility of a "mystery team" cropping up, as well.

The Celtics will be hoping the five-time All-Star takes his talents outside the Eastern Conference as he searches for a contender who's willing to pay him what Boston couldn't.

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