Rookie of the Year race heats up, undrafted players contribute in wins, waiver notes, and more.

  • With the All Star break coming up, I think it’s safe to say that Detroit’s Cade Cunningham (#1 pick), Cleveland’s Evan Mobley (#3 pick), Toronto’s Scottie Barnes (#4 pick), Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey (#6 pick), and Orlando’s Franz Wagner (#8 pick) all have a legit shot at winning the Rookie of the Year award. You could argue for any one of these rookies to win it up until this point, so from now until early April, the next few remaining months will mean a lot and I expect some great performances out of these guys to help boost their stock. Those five I mentioned could very well be this year’s NBA All Rookie First Team with Houston’s Jalen Green (#2 pick), Indiana’s Chris Duarte (#13 pick), New Orleans’ Herb Jones (#35 pick), and Chicago’s Ayo Dosunmu (#38 pick) making a strong push for Second Team honors. Keep an eye on Orlando’s Jalen Suggs (#5 pick) to see if he can lock up that last Second Team spot. He just came back from a right thumb injury on January 4th and has averaged 12.3 PPG/5.5 APG/4.4 RPG/1.3 SPG in 11 games.
  • The guard skills of Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell (#9 pick), Charlotte’s James Bouknight (#11 pick), San Antonio’s Josh Primo (#12 pick), Washington’s Corey Kispert (#15 pick), New York’s Quentin Grimes (#25 pick), Denver’s Bones Hyland (#26 pick), Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas (#27 pick), Toronto’s Dalano Banton (#46 pick), and the LA Clippers’ Brandon Boston Jr. (#51 pick) have all been impressive in different ways. Each rookie plays with extreme confidence and enjoys taking on challenges.
  • Memphis’ Ziaire Williams (#10 pick) & Oklahoma City’s Tre Mann (#18 pick) are playing improved basketball since they returned from injury/health & safety protocols (Williams- 10.3 PPG on 48.0% FG, Mann- 8.8 PPG on 41.1% 3-PT). On February 2nd, Williams scored 21 points vs. New York and Mann scored 29 points vs. Dallas in away games. Indiana’s Isaiah Jackson (#22 pick) returned during mid January and averaged 9.7 PPG/4.3 RPG/1.4 BPG/55.9% FG in 9 games, but unfortunately suffered a right ankle sprain last night vs. Orlando. Also Oklahoma City’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (#32 pick) is currently dealing with a right foot issue following putting up 7.1 PPG & 5.8 RPG so far this season.
  • The rookie filled rosters of the Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, Nets, and Warriors continue to bring exciting potential. I mentioned the play of rookie standouts like Josh Giddey/Jalen Green/Chris Duarte/etc., but these clubs have other rookies doing just as well in their roles. Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga (#7 pick) & Houston’s Alperen Sengun (#16 pick) would certainly be in the running for All Rookie Team if they got more minutes, while Brooklyn’s Day’Ron Sharpe (#29 pick), Kessler Edwards (#44 pick), & David Duke (undrafted), Indiana’s Duane Washington Jr. (undrafted), Keifer Sykes (undrafted in 2015), & Terry Taylor (undrafted), Oklahoma City’s Aaron Wiggins (#55 pick), Houston’s Josh Christopher (#24 pick), and Golden State’s Moses Moody (#14 pick) continue to progress for the better.
  • Injuries have pretty much put the rookie seasons of Houston’s Usman Garuba (#23 pick) & Detroit’s Isaiah Livers (#42 pick) on hold. Garuba just had surgery on his fractured left wrist & Livers is still trying to get back fully healthy after having right foot surgery during the offseason. As for Miami’s Omer Yurtseven (undrafted in 2020) & Detroit’s Luka Garza (#52 pick), they were getting minutes with Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, Jerami Grant, & Kelly Olynyk sidelined, but now they’re back and the two rookies are out of the rotation. Out in Utah, Jared Butler (#40 pick) averaged 12.3 PPG/3.0 APG/1.3 SPG/47.6% FG in 4 games from January to February for the injury-ridden Jazz.
  • New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado (undrafted), the LA Lakers’ Austin Reaves (undrafted), Portland’s Trendon Watford (undrafted), and Toronto’s Justin Champagnie (undrafted) had a long shot at making NBA teams going into the season, but their professionalism and grind it out mentality helped them secure deserving roster spots.
  • Here are some names who were waived/on 10 days that showed off potential during their short stay: Xavier Moon (undrafted in 2017), Chaundee Brown (undrafted), Eugene Omoruyi (undrafted), Tre Scott (undrafted in 2020), Jeff Dowtin (undrafted in 2020), Petr Cornelie (#53 pick in 2016), JaQuori McLaughlin (undrafted), Aaron Henry (undrafted), Javonte Smart (undrafted), Marcus Garrett (undrafted), Micah Potter (undrafted), Hassani Gravett (undrafted in 2019), and DeJon Jarreau (undrafted).