Just like other global sporting activities, the 2019-2020 NBA season has been suspended until further notice after confirmation of several NBA players testing positive for the deadly coronavirus.
The suspension of the NBA comes at a crucial stage of the season, where the battle for the playoffs intensifies. However, most of the season, the focus has generally been on the outstanding displays of the rookies who have graced the NBA this season. This season has seen a lot of rookies showcase their talents and excel. These players have also become integral members of their respective teams. Most of them have already enhanced their reputation as stars. A host of these players are in the running to win this year’s Kia Rookie of the Year award. Amongst the list of top contenders is Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant and New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson. Both players have made significant contributions to their respective teams this season and are firm favorites to claim the prestigious accolade this season. Here is a look at the top rookies in the current NBA season and the season they have had so far.
1. Ja Morant (Point Guard, Memphis Grizzlies)
The Memphis Grizzlies drafted Ja Morant as the second overall draft pick after New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson. Since making his debut for the Grizzlies in their 101-120 defeat to Miami, Morant has become a mainstay in the Grizzlies team. His impressive showings have seen his team stay in contention for a playoff spot at the end of the season. Memphis Grizzlies are currently 8th in the Western Conference with a 32-33 win-loss record. In 59 appearances for the Grizzlies this season, Ja Morant has averaged 17.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 6.9 assists per game. Morant’s average 6.9 assists per game are the highest return by any Rookie in the NBA this season. In total, the 20-year old Point Guard has scored 1041 overall points in the NBA this season. These stats highlight the talent and ability he possesses. At the moment, he is perhaps the clear favorite for the award this season.
2. Zion Williamson (Forward, New Orleans Pelicans)
Last summer’s NBA number one draft pick has endured a lot in his rookie season. An injury before the start of the season has limited the powerful Forward to just 19 appearances for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. However, the injury has not hampered his performances, putting the NBA on notice since making his debut for the Pelicans earlier this year. In his 19 appearances, Williamson has averaged 23.6 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists. His return from injury has also been a significant uplift for his side after their disappointing start to the season. In all, Williamson has 448 points, 129 rebounds, and 41 assists in his 19 regular-season games so far. He currently has his name in the record books as the first teenager in NBA history to score 20+ points in 10 consecutive games.
3. Kendrick Nunn (Shooting Guard, Miami Heat)
Nunn’s move to Miami Heat as an undrafted player has seen his stock rise as a result of the work rate he produces for the team. He has also become an integral player on the Miami Heat roster. He has already made 62 appearances for Miami Heat this season. In all, Nunn has averaged 15.6 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists per game. He has won Rookie of the month awards on multiple occasions and could steal the Rookie of the Year prize if the Heat manages to reach the playoff final this season.
4. Eric Paschall (Power Forward, Golden State Warriors)
Despite being thrust into a team depleted by injuries to key players this season, Power Forward has shown his worth on numerous occasions this season. The 41st overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft has proven himself to be a good player for the future despite the terrible season the Golden State Warriors are experiencing. Eric Paschall has averaged 14.0 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, and 2.1 assists per game in 60 regular-season games. Steph Curry’s return from injury could help improve his game and increase his numbers.
5. RJ Barrett (Shooting Guard, New York Knicks)
RJ Barrett has justified the New York Knicks’ decision to draft him with the third pick in last summer’s NBA draft. Despite the Knicks’ struggles this season, Barrett has blossomed. The 19-year old Shooting Guard has averaged 14.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game.