The NBA rookie of the year has always been a hot discussion. Every year, new favorites and substantial statistics comparisons are brought up to decide the best up-and-coming NBA star. We have picked out the top 10 NBA rookies from the 2019-2020 draft season that you should pay attention to.
1. Ja Morant, Point Guard for Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant has been consistently performing really well over the entirety of the 2019-2020 season. The Grizzlies was one of the weakest teams in the league, but Morant’s contribution has made a huge improvement overall, leading the team to a very high possibility of making to the playoffs. He currently stands at the best when it comes to footwork and ball handling. With a high stats of 17-18 ppg, 7-8 apg, and 41 FG percentage, he is deadly in court. In his early games, he made his presence be known with his fake shots, awesome blind passes, and crazy cross-overs.
Fans sometimes see a combination of great NBA guards like Kyrie Irving, Allen Iverson, and Derick Rose in his playstyle, which is a huge testament to his ability. Although it’s not all about flare, Morant keeps on favoring fans with incredible displays of talent in court. The moment you see him in play, you can tell that this young player got some real moves. He is also leading all rookies in assists per game. He is a point guard with a great court vision and high shooting efficiency, a double-edged-weapon that every team should look out for.
2. Zion Williamson, Small Forward/Power Forward for New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson is always being compared to Lebron James, and that can be proven with his statistics and dominance. The rookie averages 24 points per game with 7 rebounds per game. Although he was not able to play some games because of an injury, Williamson has made high-level comeback plays. He has an unquestioned talent in court and he brings the New Orleans Pelicans into a promising position.
Williamson is an explosive beast who can easily make solid slam dunks. He is efficient and productive just by playing to his physical strengths. He has the athleticism and the dedication of a real seasoned athlete, even at his young age. With his competitiveness and unique combination of foot speed, this rookie is a strong contender you don’t want to mess with.
3. Kendrick Nunn, Point Guard/Shooting Guard for Miami Heat
Although he was an undrafted rookie, his game performances have been bursting records. Nunn has averaged 18 ppg with a 45% shooting. In his first five NBA games, he scored 112 points, the most points ever made by an undrafted rookie. His contribution to the game has made Miami Heat a possible contender for Eastern Conference Finals.
Some of his most powerful qualities are that he is swift, strong, and athletic. He has an ability to remain steady and focused when he’s in the court regardless of who their opponents are. Nunn is talented in both offense and defense, boasting about twice as many assists as he has turnovers. When this young player plays hand in hand with one of his strongest teammates, Jimmy Butler, they are a duo sure to intimidate any opponents.
4. R.J. Barrett, Small Forward/Shooting Guard for New York Knicks
R.J. Barret is having a solid first season with the New York Knicks. Averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, Williamson’s former running buddy deserves to be on this list. With an impressive shooting of 46% percent high, Barret can be deadly in and out of the perimeter. He’s a skilled passer that can break through the tightest defenses and he’s able to improvise his play, seen by the way he rebounds well for his position, offense and defense.
When a rookie is averaging high in points and in rebounds, you know that the player has a real talent in the game. Barret is a flexible player that is able to take on multiple positions well. His young age means he is full of potential to carry the Knicks through this difficult season for the Knicks.
5. Coby White, Point Guard for Chicago Bulls
The 6’4″ guard out of North Carolina is another rising rookie to look out for. With NBA rookie stats of 19 ppg and 4 rpg, Coby White is a great addition to the Bulls. He is scoring at an efficient rate of over 40 from deep. Initially, White was not performing well in points and have not contributed much in assists. However, he has been improving significantly since February 2020, achieving a three-game stretch where he scored over 30 points per game and gaining the title of Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in February.
Now that he has gotten into the rhythm of the game, he has become a valuable weapon of the Bulls. Some people doubt if White can sustain this recent rise in performance and it remains to be seen what this rookie can become. One thing is for certain, he has the potential of becoming one of the best. He only lacks the experience and perhaps team chemistry, but once he sorts out these flaws, White can be unstoppable.
6. Rui Hachimura, Small Forward/Power Forward for Washington Wizards
Rui Hachimura is the first Japanese player ever drafted in the first round and is one of those NBA rookies with an incredible package that may not be known to the world yet. At such an early stage of his career, Hachimura is already showing signs of greatness, averaging 13 ppg and 6 rpg with an efficient shooting rate of 47%. He is strong in offense and defense, effectively making him a double threat on the court.
His unpredictable ball movements mean he can score reliably at any point in the perimeter, creating some real trouble for the opponents. Since February 2020, the young NBA rookie has also improved his 3-point shooting boosting it to about 50%, but he is still making low attempts per game. This is putting the heat on his opponents, looking at how this player is already doing really well but still has a lot of room to improve on.
7. De’Andre Hunter, Small Forward for Atlanta Hawks
De’Andre Hunter is a promising player for the Hawks. He is one of the leading NBA rookies in minutes with a statistic of 9 ppg, 4 rpg, and over 40% shooting percentage. Hunter can generate more baskets by converting from the post and attacking closeouts. The 225lbs, 6’7″ forward has a solid built for useful defense, making him one of this season’s best NBA rookies with outstanding defense.
Although he is not yet advanced in the offense, he is starting to emerge as a sharpshooter for his team. He is not showing yet enough skills in the 3-point line, but fans are beginning to see that he is another threat from the outside positions. This rookie can certainly be a tough match with proper guidance and experience over time.
8. Tyler Herro, Shooting Guard for Miami Heat
Miami Heat has another young rising star in Tyler Herro, who is averaging a respectable 14ppg, over 4 rpg, and 2 apg, with a high-efficiency shooting of 46%. Herro has contributed greatly to the resurgence of the Heat this season, clinching 12th place in the over-all picked in the last NBA draft. His biggest asset is his fast speed and incredible footwork in the court. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his talent in the game; there’s still much more to Herro that we have yet to discover.
One thing is for sure so far: he is a sharpshooter with a great eye on the ball movement. He is not afraid to take big shots and has the swag and the swish of a potential All-Star. He’s also a great ball-handler and he possesses a very high basketball IQ, which means that all-in-all, he is the kind of player that no one wants to go against.
9. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Michael Porter Jr. is one of the best NBA rookies with an interesting background. Porter Jr. went to Missouri for college and unfortunately got injured during a season opener. He only played a total of 53 minutes in college and none since he was drafted the 14th pick in 2018 despite his injury history, basically missing the entirety of his rookie season.
However, his return has allowed his natural talent to shine again. He’s currently averaging 8 ppg, and 4rpg, with a shooting efficiency of 42%. You might argue that this is not as impressive as the stats of other NBA rookies but this is considering Porter is only averaging 14 minutes in the court. If you translate this to an average of a 36-minute game in action, he should be making around 20 ppg and 10 rpg. His current scores are already quite impressive so over time, as he gets back in the game, his performance can only be expected to improve.
10. Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzles
Morant is not the only promising NBA rookie in Grizzles — Brandon Clarke has contributed to the rise of this team as well. He is averaging 12 ppg, 6 rpg, and 1.4apg, with an impressive 50% efficiency. Although he will not start the frontcourt for the Grizzles, he should still rank as one of the leaders in minutes among the NBA rookies.
He has consistently delivered baskets off the bench and he’s equally great in defense. He’s also a good bet to achieve a regular double-double. Although Morant has all-in-all been leading among the NBA rookies, Clarke is nearly as significant to the future of the Grizzles.
These NBA rookies might still be new to the scene but it’ll not be long before you will start seeing their names in sports headlines, carrying their teams to playoffs and doing some poster-worthy dunks. Not only do they have a bright career future, but they are also the ones who likely have the caliber of being one of the NBA’s GOATs in the near future. Huge names such as Lebron James or Michael Jordan will likely remain legends for a long time, but this roster of NBA rookies never fails to bring unexpected surprises in every game so there’s no telling how or when they will shake the world of NBA basketball as we know it.
If you were inspired by these rookies killing it in the game, check out our article on the best basketball shoes that can help you blaze the court like the pros.