Now before you say it yourself, allow me, yes it is way to early to make this statement. With that being said I’m still gonna say it, this draft class could go down as one of the GOATs. After going back and looking at every pick, I’m gonna highlight the players that elevate the class to this level of optimism I have about it.
Donavan Mitchell– Rookie of the year candidate. Mitchell was picked 13th by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Utah Jazz right after, and boy I bet the Nuggets regret that decision. Since he has entered the league, Mitchell has shown us his amazing scoring ability, shooting, and athleticism. This year Mitchell averaged 20.5p, 3.7r, 3.7a and shot 43.7% from the field (34% from three) and 80% at the line. He also broke Damian Lillard’s Rookie record for 3-pointers made in a year by hitting 187 threes. He led a subpar Jazz team (no disrespect to Gobert) to the 5th seed in the West. In his first playoff game, a loss to OKC, he posted 27p, 10r, 3a, 2 steals and shot 50%. If there’s one critique to his game it is that he can be very one dimensional, he is a scorer and thats it. He posted zero double double or triple doubles in the regular season. Donavan could grow into one of the best scorers in the league but I would like to see him grow as an all-around player. Either way, this kid is good.
Jayson Tatum– Jayson Tatum was drafted third overall by the Boston Celtics after one season at Duke. Tatum is the 7th youngest player in the NBA right now at 20 years 43 days old (born March 3, 1998). He spent a good deal of the season coming off the bench for a very solid Celtics team, and showed flashes of greatness. Since Kyrie Irving has went out with injury, Tatum was given a starting position and has not disappointed. For the season he averaged 13.9p, 5r and 1.6a. These numbers don’t tell the full story of Tatum, he is a good facilitator, great athlete and efficient with the ball, averaging only 1.4 turnovers per game. In his first playoff game, a win over the Bucks, he put up 19p, 10r, and 4a, however he was carless with the ball in this particular game and had 5 turnovers. As he grows up (both literally and as a player) he will only get better, I would like to see him become more dominant, however his lack of dominance is most likely due to being on a team with multiple good players. The future is very bright for Tatum.
Lonzo Ball– The most controversial of the class. Putting aside his jackass (yet genius) father, Zo is a quiet, humble dude and gets a lot of hate because of his dad saying very dumb things. Zo was drafted 2nd overall by the LA Lakers and has had a roller coaster ride of a rookie year. He started off pretty horribly, shooting awful percentages, barely scoring and putting up awful numbers. But as the year progressed he has gotten better, for the year he averaged 10.2p, 6.9r, and 7.2a. His weakest spot is his shot, everyone knew that his shot was weird but it has not been falling this year as he shot 36% for the season. These are not terrible numbers but a lot more was expected out of Zo considering, to some, he was the best player in this class when he was drafted. Seeing the way he has grown in the latter half of this year, I expect to see a better version of Lonzo Ball next season.
Markelle Fultz– The biggest story of this class. Fultz was picked by the Sixers #1 after they traded up to get him. In college he was an efficient scorer, looked NBA ready and was the clear cut #1 pick. At the beginning of the year Fultz changed his shot and it was bad, it was later announced he had a shoulder injury. Fultz went on to miss most of the season, but returned on March 27th just in time for a playoff run. In this game he put up 10p, 8a and 4r in just 14 minutes. He has been coming off the bench since then and playing around 14 minutes a game. Him being there makes it easier to give Ben Simmons some rest because Markelle is more than capable of running an offense. Since he came back he looks a lot more confident, he still has work to be done in regards to his shot, but he is looking good since he returned. Once he fixes that shot and starts playing more minutes a game who knows what this kid will do. On the last game of the year he became the youngest player ever to score a triple double, he posted 13p, 10a, 10r, and he is the 3rd youngest player in the league at 19 years and 324 days old (born May 29, 1998). Markelle still has the potential to be the best player to come out of this draft, we will just have to wait and see #TTP.
Other Players Worth Mentioning:
- Dennis Smith Jr (15.2p, 3.8r, 5.2a)
- Kyle Kuzma (16p, 6.3r, 1.8a)
- Josh Jackson (13.1p, 4.6r, 1.5a)
- De’Aaron Fox (11.6p, 2.8r, 4.4a)
- Lauri Markkanen (15.2p, 7.5r, 1.2a)
- John Collins (10.5p, 7.3r, 1.3a)
After taking a look at all the talent and potential in this draft class it is difficult to say this won’t be one of the greatest. A lot of these players have had such huge impacts on their teams as rookies. Ben Simmons was drafted in 2016 but since he did not play and is a rookie this year, throwing him into this rookie class just makes it even better. I can’t wait to watch all these players grow and turn into future stars in the league.