NBA, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Luka Doncic isn’t the only great NBA rookie in his class

This good of an NBA rookie class deserves coverage more expansive than the current Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

There is no arguing the fact that the Dallas Mavericks got themselves a franchise player in Luka Doncic. Doncic, currently the frontrunner for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, is awesome. Enough about him.

There are some other rookies who deserve a lot of respect too. As always, good players from the 2018 NBA Draft are being and will be discovered throughout the first round and second round selections, and some undrafted players will make their marks as well. For once, though, many of the players selected near the top of the draft are being slept on.

It feels like so often when Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or Trae Young is brought up, it’s only to clown the team that took them for not going with Doncic instead. There’s merit to the idea of those teams making the wrong choice, but what’s done is done. Only using those players as cautionary tales is doing them a major, unfair disservice.

Those three blue-chip rookies balling out lately has helped to forget all of the other noise around them, fortunately. Bagley just had a career evening, scoring 32 points on 10-for-15 shooting in a big Sacramento Kings win over Ayton and the Phoenix Suns.

Ayton wasn’t at his best against the Kings, but he’s had some downright stellar performances of his own recently as well. Ayton also has a 30-burger this season, a 33-point performance in a game that saw the Suns nearly beat a very good Denver Nuggets team.

Young is probably the player most linked to Doncic, as he was the player the Atlanta Hawks got in exchange for Doncic’s draft rights. He’s coming into his own quickly too, as Young has two 30-plus point scoring performances and has recorded a 17-assist game in his young career already.

Those three rookies have done more than just have a good game here or there. Young is averaging 16.8 points, 7.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game this year, while Ayton is putting up 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists on a nightly basis. Bagley’s per game numbers are deflated because he comes off the bench for an unexpectedly good Kings team, but he’s still putting up 13.3 points, 7.0 rebounds. 1.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game.

Much like the Mavericks with Doncic, these three young players have their various fanbases excited about the future with standout play this season. If this NBA rookie class is any indication, the league is going to be a blast to watch going forward, and some of the teams near the bottom of the standings right now may not stay there for much longer.

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