As October is slowly drawing to a close, the NBA regular season is right around the corner. Preseason games have begun, and thus a host of new players are being ushered into the Association. High expectations are especially being placed on those players who were chosen in the top ten in this past summer’s NBA Draft. Their new team’s immediate success relies heavily on the ability of these players to quickly fulfill their potential.
So far out of the top ten picks, in the preseason, Stanley Johnson has the highest scoring average at 15.2 points per game (ppg). An athletic small forward, the Detroit Pistons eighth selection attended the University of Arizona for one year before deciding to enter the NBA Draft. Although not billed as a knock down shooter coming out of Arizona, so far through five games he is shooting 46.7% from three-point territory and 85% from the free throw line. While it is still very early, look for Johnson to be in the running for rookie of the year honors. His frame, motor, and growing skillset should serve him well in a Pistons uniform.
The number one pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey native, Karl-Anthony Towns, has also impressed during the preseason. Through four games, he has scored 12.5 ppg and grabbed nearly 7 rebounds per game (rpg). In this era of “stretch” big men, where players are asked to have a more versatile skill set, the most impressive statistic Towns has posted so far has been his 87.5% free throw percentage. This will be extremely beneficial to the Timberwolves at the end of games, as Town’s shot blocking and rebounding ability can be utilized, without him being considered an offensive liability. During the season look for his scoring average to remain in the low-mid double digits while his rebounding totals should increase.
Finally, as a Bronx native and an avid New York Knicks fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our selection, Kristaps Porzingis. A 7-foot power forward from Latvia, Porzingis has only appeared in two preseason games. While his averages of 8 points and 6 rebounds per game are pedestrian, Kristaps has only played 21 minutes per game in his two contests. Flashing some versatility in the Knicks 115-104 victory over the Wizards, this young big man will need to produce some tangible results to win the hearts of Knicks fans still sour over his draft selection.
Rookie of the Year Prediction
Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons
Malkese Edwards, Sports Editor, Staff Writer