What’s popping on Air-Ball
- THE TOP FIVE NBA MVP CANDIDATES AT THE ALL-STAR BREAK
- BUY OR SELL: THE HEAT AND BUCKS ARE HEALTHY AND READY TO RUN WHILE THE HAWKS AND PELICANS LACK ORGANIZATION
- NBA OFFICIATING IS RUINING THE GAME OF BASKETBALL
- NBA ROOKIE REPORT: WISEMAN AND MAXEY DESERVE MORE TIME AND I’M INTRIGUED WITH MALEDON
- I LOVE SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER
- WHY DOESN’T DAMIAN LILLARD GET THE RESPECT HE DESERVES???
Instead of a rookie report this week, I thought I’d give you my top five rookies so far this NBA season.
1. LaMelo Ball
For the first time since 2016, we may get a unanimous rookie of the year. That year Karl-Anthony Towns became the fifth player ever and this year it feels like LaMelo Ball has a chance. Ball is first in the class in points, assists and rebounds and also is contributing to a surprisingly solid Charlotte Hornets squad winning games. He’s also proving basically every person who doubted him pre-draft wrong by shooting it efficiently from deep (37.8 per cent), hardly turning it over (he has an assist to turnover of over two to one) and actually playing competent defence. It’s been a while since a rookie came in and was so clearly the best in his class from the start and halfway through this season, LaMelo Ball has done just that.
2. Tyrese Haliburton
Similar to Ball, Tyrese Haliburton has come into the NBA with a game that perfectly translated. He’s one of the rare players who basically plays the exact same in college as in the NBA despite the *slight* change in difficulty. Haliburton has a way to him that makes him play like he’s far more experienced than he is. What’s crazy is outside of Charlotte with LaMelo, I could make a case every team that passed on Haliburton until he landed at 12 would be significantly better with him right now. He’s just the prototypical floor raiser and Kings fans should be excited. He hasn’t quite flashed the star potential of Ball but outside of him, it’s hard to make a compelling case for anyone over Haliburton so far this season.
3. Immanuel Quickley
Few players have come into the NBA that reminds me more of a previous NBA player than Immanuel Quickley reminds me of Lou Williams. Both are undersized walking buckets with deadly floater games and a gift for just finding space to score. It made my day when I saw Williams is Quickley’s favourite player since their games are so beautifully transferable. I’m not sure if Quickley will ever be more than Williams in the league which may disappoint Knicks fans a bit. But in the twenties to land a perennial rotation piece and a guy who can randomly win you games throughout the regular season if he gets hot is a massive win for a franchise that hasn’t had many lately. It’ll be up to Quickley to see if there’s more to his game than Williams however right now, all that matters is he’s a real player and absolutely one of the three best rookies so far.
4. Patrick Williams
Patrick Williams hasn’t had the flash of anyone above him on this list this season but what he has been is a constantly positive contributor to a good Bulls team. He’s gone from literally not starting a game in college to starting all 33 in the NBA and somehow not looked out of place. Guys like Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James have even faced “The Paw” and come away impressed with how he’s looked so early on. Williams oozes potential when he plays, even showing off a one-dribble pull-up that has Bulls Twitter pleading for more. If you haven’t watched him yet I highly recommend it because Williams has been a top-four rookie so far this season.
5. Devin Vassell
Much like his Florida State teammate Williams, Vassell has instantly come into the NBA and impacted winning. Vassell is shooting it efficiently from deep at just under 40 per cent but much more than that, his defence has Spurs fans trying with all they can to avoid the Kawhi flashbacks. He’s third in the NBA in steals per 36 minutes and has walked into the NBA with long arms and a unique ability to get stops. It’s only a matter of time until those Kawhi whispers get louder and I can’t even blame Spurs fans. He’s been that interesting early on for maybe the team with the most fascinating young pieces. If you told me Vassell became the best of all of them I wouldn’t be shocked. He has a specialness to him that has me locked into Spurs games as often as I can.
HM: Saddiq Bey, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Desmond Bane