The 2019 draft class brought plenty of exciting talent, but which of these NBA rookies have real All-Star potential.
Making predictions isn’t easy. If it was, general managers would elbow each other for a piece of the first top 10 picks in every draft. With that in mind, I’ve divided this list for easier comprehension:
Zion Williamson, PF (New Orleans Pelicans)
Perhaps the lone obvious and distinct generational talent since LeBron James. If his NBA debut wasn’t any indication, a quick look at his numbers will prove it so.
The No. 1 overall pick is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and shooting a stunning 58.9% from the floor in his first 19 games as a pro.
He put up a career-high 35 points against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers just two weeks ago.
His strength, athleticism, and his maturity make him one of the most promising talents in the league. At this rate, he could be an All-Star as soon as next season, taking after Luka Doncic and Trae Young, who managed to do so as members of the 2018 NBA Draft class.
Ja Morant, PG (Memphis Grizzlies)
The words Zion Williamson can’t be spoken before Morant’s name is thrown in the conversation. The likely 2019-20 Rookie of the Year has a promising future — already one of the best passers and one of the most electric point guards in the league.
Morant is averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 49.1% from the floor in his first season; all while playing the toughest position to learn — point guard.
Much like his AAU teammate Zion, Morant also cooked the Lakers and had the best game of his career against them, scoring 27 points and doling out 14 assists against them.
With point guards like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry winding down their careers, the game is in good hands with a dazzling talent in Morant.
The works in progress
Kendrick Nunn, PG (Miami Heat)
The rookie had some experience advantage on his counterparts, having played in the G League and worked out for a few teams. Yet that doesn’t make his high-scoring talent any less impressive.
The 24-year-old is third on the rookie scoring list after the two aforementioned talents with 15.6 points per game. His defense and passing still need some work, but he’s proven to be a willing and capable 3-point shooter who can catch fire at a moment’s notice.
RJ Barrett, SG/SF (New York Knicks)
The No. 3 overall pick started the season off hot, then cooled off, then heated up again in March, rounding into a solid rookie season. His feel for the game still needs to develop, as evidenced by his shooting numbers.
Barrett is averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in his first season, shooting a mere 40.2% from the floor, 32% from deep, and 61.4% from the foul line. If he can refine his jump shot, his natural talent has All-Star written all over his future.
Coby White, PG (Chicago Bulls)
White was a star waiting to shine and it took a season-ending injury to Kris Dunn and a quad injury to Zach LaVine to get him the consistent run he was looking for.
The rookie out of North Carolina had shown that he could shoot the lights out once he catches fire, but consistency had been his biggest issue. White has scored 20 or more points in eight of his last nine games, including back-to-back-to-back 30-point games.
The microwave scorer has also shown he has solid passing chops, doling out five or more dimes in his last five games. Should he get the opportunity to become a starter, the sky is the limit for this streaky shooter.
The ‘not quite there’ yet
Eric Paschall, PF (Golden State Warriors)
The 41st pick in the NBA Draft gave Ja Morant a run for his money early in the season, as he gladly took Draymond Green’s minutes in wake of his injury. His averages of 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists are no joke, considering he slipped to the second round.
The Paschanimal is shooting a robust 49.7% from the floor and a swift 77.4% from the foul line. His 3-point shooting is a work in progress and the Golden State Warriors are hoping to reconstruct his jump-shot to one that is less-straining on his joints.
Paschall’s in-close and mid-range game have already proven NBA ready. If his range can extend to the 3-point line in the next few years, and the opportunity for minutes is there, he can quickly turn heads as a versatile up-and-comer.
Rui Hachimura, PF (Washington Wizards)
Hachimura was at first surprised to be drafted by the Wizards as new general manager Tommy Sheppard called him on draft night to tell him of his decision. But with a new edict to draft immediate contributors, not many around the organization were surprised to see him snagged at No. 9.
The Gonzaga product has a natural nose for the ball and a sweet stroke. Like Paschall, should he develop into a better 3-point shooter and get more minutes in the future, he could be yet another surprising talent to reach All-Star recognition down the line.