The NBA might just have to wait until December to see No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson make his debut, but several members of the 2019 rookie class had themselves a strong debut with their respective teams.
From high-octane scorers to surprisingly poised outings, here are a few performances that caught our eye:
PJ Washington (Charlotte Hornets)
Welcome to the NBA, @PJWashington!
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 24, 2019
The rookie lit up the Chicago Bulls for a scorching 27 points, burying seven 3-pointers — a record for a rookie in his NBA debut. The Kentucky product also chipped in four rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in his 38 minutes of play. Now that Nicolas Batum suffered a broken finger, the spot is all for Washington to keep.
Coby White (Chicago Bulls)
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 24, 2019
The No. 7 overall selection showed glimpses of quality in the preseason and earned himself some playing time under coach Jim Boylen. He did not disappoint, dropping 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, giving the Bulls that extra punch from the bench after a flat outing from Zach LaVine.
RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 24, 2019
The Knicks didn’t win the Marcus Morris Bowl against the San Antonio Spurs, but Barrett made a great first impression, scoring an efficient 21 points on the road. The Duke product shot a strong 9-of-13 from the floor and showed a true ability to be the team’s primary ballhandler, getting the start over Dennis Smith Jr.
Kendrick Nunn (Miami Heat)
Nunn you can do about it. pic.twitter.com/BqpyEl6ZD2
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 24, 2019
Nunn got the call to replace Jimmy Butler and boy did he do just that. The 6-foot-2 guard had already joined Stephen Curry and James Harden as players to score 40 in a preseason game, and he dropped 24 for good measure on 10-of-18 shooting form the floor. Nunn was a whopping plus-27 against the Memphis Grizzlies and a walking bucket in his own right.
Tyler Herro (Miami Heat)
Tyler Herro didn't even have to try to drop Grayson Allen 😳 pic.twitter.com/KUByovJ4Rc
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 24, 2019
If the preseason wasn’t any indication, Tyler Herro is a player, and one deserving of playing time. Coach Erik Spoelstra clearly took notice of that, giving Herro 34 minutes in the absence of Jimmy Butler. He rewarded his coach with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and a swift dropping of Grayson Allen for all of our enjoyment.
Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards)
Rui's first NBA career game is in the 📚
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) October 24, 2019
The rookie out of Gonzaga earned his first start and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, showing the Wizards front office he’s ready to contribute. In a night where Bradley Beal couldn’t find the bottom of the net, Hachimura was a stabilizing presence, hauling four offensive rebounds alongside Thomas Bryant in the frontcourt.
Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 24, 2019
The No. 2 overall pick dazzled in his NBA debut, showing he’s ready to take the stage. Morant was the first to score for the Grizzlies and followed his opening basket with a reverse alley-oop layup, starting the night 3-of-3 from the floor and finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 25 minutes.
Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia 76ers)
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 24, 2019
The rookie didn’t have a crazy stat line by any means (three points, two steals, two blocks), but boy has he endeared himself to the rowdy Philly fans. Thybulle says he doesn’t consider himself a “defensive stopper,” but rather a “defensive playmaker.” He showed just why by ruining Kemba Walker’s debut with the Boston Celtics, limiting him to a 4-of-18 night shooting in his 22 minutes off the bench.