There is no guarantee when the NBA season will return if it does return.
The NBA has every intention of continuing the 2019-20 season but the coronavirus pandemic isn’t slowing down. With health issues on hand and government restrictions still in place, there is no telling if and when the NBA can resume basketball activities.
Because of this, there is a real possibility that the 2019-20 NBA season is over. By that, we don’t mean that the league will go directly to a postseason but the NBA could proceed to a total cancelation.
If the season is indeed over, several rookies have done more than enough to merit a spot in the two All-Rookie teams. These are the best 10 rookies of the 2019-20 NBA season:
All-Rookie First Team
- Ja Morant, G
- Kendrick Nunn, G
- Zion Williamson, F
- Eric Paschall, F
- Brandon Clarke, F
- Ja Morant took the NBA by storm and played like a star from day one. The 6-3 point guard from Murray State was the second overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis was supposed to have a rebuild this year but with Morant exceeding all expectations and doing more, Memphis held the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
Morant started all 59 games he played during his rookie season. He averaged 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game for the Grizzlies while shooting a very high 49.1% from the field and a very good 37.5% from behind the three-point area. Morant was so good this year that he was favored by the betting sites to win Rookie of the Year over top pick Zion Williamson.
- Kendrick Nunn was another surprising rookie in 2019-20. The undrafted guard from the University of Illinois scored 40 points in a preseason game against the Houston Rockets and that impressed coach Erik Spoelstra and earned him a starting job. Nunn scored 112 points in his first five NBA games, setting an NBA record for an undrafted rookie.
Nunn is the first undrafted rookie to win multiple Rookie of the Month awards. His scoring averaged tapered off as the season progressed but he still put up 15.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Not bad really for an undrafted player who played in the G-League last season.
- No question Zion Williamson is special. Williamson was the top overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft but missed the first three months of the regular season while healing a torn meniscus. When he finally played though, he was as good as expected. Known for his explosion and freak athleticism, Williamson quickly led the New Orleans Pelicans back in the playoff hunt.
Zion was Rookie of the Month for February, finally unseating Ja Morant from the throne. Williamson became the first teenager to score 20+ points in 10 straight games. In a total of 19 games played, he averaged 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 58.9% from the floor.
- Eric Paschall was the last of the Golden State Warriors’ three draft picks in 2019. Paschall was picked after the Dubs had already chosen Jordan Poole and Allen Smailagic but he ended up as the one who was the most ready to contribute to the team.
For a while, it looked like he would give Morant a run for the Rookie of the Year award but when Draymond Green returned, his production went down a bit. But during a season where the Splash Brothers were hurt, he was a bright spot in a bad season for the Warriors. Pascall averaged 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in 60 games played.
- When we talk of Memphis’ success, most point to Ja Morant. But most don’t realize that Brandon Clarke played a big part of the Grizzlies’ resurgence. Clark was the 21st pick of the 2019 Draft by the Thunder and he was traded to Memphis. Now the Thunder must be scratching their heads.
Clarke averaged 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Grizzlies. He played in a total of 50 games and was the main spark off the Memphis bench with his raw athletic ability. He shot 62.3% from the floor and was a pretty good free-throw shooter at 78.4%.
All-Rookie Second Team
- Coby White, G
- RJ Barrett, G
- PJ Washington, F
- De’Andre Hunter, F
- Rui Hachimura, F
- Coby White was the Chicago Bulls’ 7th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft and was expected to provide instant offense for the team. He did just that, averaging 13.2 points per game while also putting up 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this past season. He started just one of 65 games played but looks like he is going to be the team’s future starting point guard.
- RJ Barrett was the third overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. The 19-year old was Zion Williamson’s teammate at Duke University and was a consensus All-American first-team selection in 2019. Barrett averaged 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game in 56 games played for the Knicks.
- PJ Washington was the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He made an impact from day one, making his first seven three-pointers and scoring 27 points in his NBA debut. He took over the starting power forward role and averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He shot 45.5% from the field and 37.4% from behind the three-point area.
- De’Andre Hunter was picked after Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett. The 6-7 forward averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 63 games played for the Atlanta Hawks. He will join Trae Young and John Collins as the future of the Hawks’ franchise.
- Rui Hachimura is the second Japanese-born player to be drafted in the NBA and the first to be taken in the first round. The Washington Wizards were looking for immediate help with John Wall hurt and Hachimura provided that by averaging 13.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He started all 49 games that he played this season.