As we wrap up the second week of the NBA season, there has been some great play by NBA rookies. Some impressive hidden gems in this draft, as well as top picks, are on this list. It’s way too early to make assumptions, but so far this is looking like a great class. Without further ado, here are my top 10 rookies for Week 2 of the NBA season.
10: Michael Porter Jr. Denver Nuggets (15.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG)
Porter made his debut on Halloween against the New Orleans Pelicans and looked like a great player in the making. After missing all last year with a back injury, he came out shooting and not afraid to score, firing off contested 3s as well as driving into the lane. Porter was also able to find his teammates cutting to the basket. He seems to have a great skill set going forward. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be an interesting piece off the Nuggets bench this year and can hopefully continue to make an impact.
9: Deandre Hunter: Atlanta Hawks (8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG)
Hunter has been a solid young piece for the Hawks this season. The forward has shot decently well from three and has been a big body on defense. He’s even been grabbing rebounds as well. His size and athleticism have proved to be a mismatch for many defenders and is electrifying in his play-style as well. With many young pieces on that team centered around rising star Trae Young, I would expect Hunter to produce 15 points and 5 rebounds on average this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him prove to be a reliable piece but not a star.
8: Coby White: Chicago Bulls (12.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG)
The point guard for the Bulls has been a scoring machine so far through a few games, shooting from all over the floor. With an interesting team consisting of young big men in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., I would expect Coby to be the main scorer for Chicago behind Zach Lavine going forward in the future. He’ll likely be the number 3 producer behind Markkanen as well. White has been extremely reliable from three so far. He was a huge riser up draft boards this season and continues to develop quickly this season. If his handling skills continue to develop, White will be a menace for a while for Chicago.
7: Rui Hachimura: Washington Wizards (18 PPG, 7 RPG, 1 APG)
Arguably one of the biggest standouts this season, Rui has been a main piece for the Wizards this season. Outside of Bradley Beal, Hachimura has been arguably the Wizards’ best player. His length is great on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. His interior game is great, and he has been able to draw fouls quite well. Alongside that, he can shoot for the perimeter, a common theme for this rookie class. On a depleted Wizards team, he can be looked at to be a main contributor on nights when Beal is contained by other teams. Rui was an interesting name for many people’s draft boards this offseason and has shown to live up to the hype. The question is, can Washington provide him and Beal help?
6: Matisse Thybulle: Philadelphia 76ers (5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG)
Matisse is the best defender out of any rookie this year by far. Putting up unprecedented numbers with 3 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game, the forward out of Washington is playing electric off ball defense. He is finding the ball and taking it away incredibly often, especially for his age. Matisse is also surrounded by an elite defensive team in Philadelphia. Even so, he continues to shine amongst them every night. Most viewed Matisse as a guy that likely wasn’t going to be seen a lot every night. However, he ended up making his first start in just the second game of the season. He held his own incredibly well, even drawing comparisons to former Sixer Robert Covington. If Thybulle continues this defensive dominance, he will continue to rise up this list.
5: Ja Morant: Memphis Grizzlies (17.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG)
Ja is as explosive as he was at Murray State, maybe even more. The Grizzlies point guard has been leading his team to a very good start, especially in their late win against the Brooklyn Nets the other night. Morant is elite in every sense on the offensive side of the ball. With good ball handling abilities, the explosiveness to score inside, and great shooting ability, Morant has the makings of a star quite early. The only reason he is not higher on this list is the other four rookies have been ridiculous. Morant is also not quite all there on the defensive floor just yet. But if Trae Young has proved anything, you don’t need to be elite there to become a star early.
4: Tyler Herro: Miami Heat (16.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.0 APG)
Tyler has easily been the best shooter in this year’s draft class. Herro dominates the league in mid-range shooting, as well as from the perimeter. Playing alongside Kendrick Nunn, who you will see later in this list, and Jimmy Butler, Herro has this Miami team looking like a very good team in the East this year. Pat Riley deserves a lot of credit for some great drafting and scouting. Herro is also good with the ball in his hand and can create his own shot if needed. With a skill set that he has that ages very well, he should continue to have a great, long career ahead of him.
3: R.J. Barrett: New York Knicks (18.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3 APG)
R.J has quieted any draft doubt about him coming out of Duke. He has quickly proven to be the young star he was hyped up to be. Being the centerpiece of the Knicks franchise going forward, Barrett has been able to create shots on his own and been an all around good offensive player for the Knicks. With not much help on that end in New York, Barrett has had to do a lot on his own and has proved to be quite adept at that. I would not expect him to get much help this season. However, this offseason and draft, I would expect the Knicks to begin to form their team with Barrett as the nucleus for them.
2: P.J Washington: Charlotte Hornets (15.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1 APG)
For this one I reached out to our dear friend Jack Duffy, who covers the Hornets for TPL. This is what he had to say about PJ:
He’s just been phenomenal all around this season. 13-25 (52%) from three. He has two 20 point games already this season. Washington is averaging 15.8 ppg and 7 rpg while shooting 54.7% from the field. He had one the most impressive debuts the NBA has ever seen in a breakout game to start the season, scoring 27 points on 7-11 from three. Teams are running him off the line now, and in SAC on Wednesday, he showed his soft touch and prowess in the post by scoring 23 points on 10-13 shooting. Washington has shown solid instincts defensively, being able to contest and block shots. No one could have guessed his shooting would be this improved and this lethal so early. Hornets head coach James Borrego has said that PJ acts and plays like he’s been in the league for 2-3 years.
1: Kendrick Nunn: Miami Heat (22.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.6 APG)
Kendrick Nunn has easily been the biggest surprise of the NBA this season. The undrafted rookie has the most points out of any undrafted player through five games in NBA history, surpassing Connie Hawkins. Nunn can drive inside and finish through contact, as well as shoot the three. He is helping to lead a youth movement alongside Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro in Miami under Jimmy Butler and Eric Spoelstra. It is interesting to see if he will ever slow down or if he will continue the hot streak he has going.
Best of the best highlights from rookies during the month of October