Blogtable: Which rookie has improved the most this season?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
From NBA.com Staff
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Which rookie has improved the most since the start of the season?
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Steve Aschburner: It is tempting to say Marvin Bagley because the Sacramento forward seemingly has taken such a leap lately, from about 13 ppg through November to 18.4 ppg in February. But most of that is due to playing time — per 36 minutes, he has gone from 19.3 ppg to 21.8 ppg. Minnesota’s Josh Okogie has boosted himself from reserve to starting his past 23 appearances, and is shooting better. But I’m going with Dallas’ Luka Doncic. Doncic not only is scoring more, from 18.5 ppg through November to 24.1 ppg in February, but he has been forced to improve as opponents have focused more and more attention on him since he served early notice as a Kia Rookie of the Year favorite.
Shaun Powell: Marvin Bagley has shaken off a minor injury to rise right along with the Kings, and in fact is one of the major reasons the Kings are in playoff position. He also had to hear plenty of chatter about how the Kings should’ve drafted Luka Doncic instead and I wonder if that lit a fire within him. In any event, he’s putting up solid big man numbers and putting the Kings in position to someday having a future big three with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
John Schuhmann: Marvin Bagley’s skills — good hands, footwork and touch around the basket — were pretty clear from Day 1. But with increased opportunity and confidence, he’s been making more use of those skills of late, averaging 17.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game over the last five weeks and earning a promotion into the Kings’ starting lineup. He’s actually seen a drop in scoring efficiency over that stretch, but has rebounded and taken care of the ball better than he did over the first couple of months. The evolution of Trae Young’s playmaking has been fun to watch over the course of the season, Mitchell Robinson (averaging 17.4 points, 14.2 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per 36 minutes in February) is looking like a real prospect in New York, and Kenrich Williams has been a bright spot in New Orleans over the last month.
Sekou Smith: Based on what I saw from him early on to now, I’m going to have to go with Marvin Bagley III. There are others, namely Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Jarren Jackson Jr., Colin Sexton and Deandre Ayton, who have had their moments. But I have to keep reminding myself that Bagley reclassified and should be in college right now. He’s emerged from his slow start and is coming on now for a Kings team that is working hard to earn a spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. Bagley’s size/skill combination for a player as young as he is remains the most intriguing part of his game. He’s averaging more than 18 points and 10 rebounds in his last 10 games and is enjoying the finest stretch of his NBA career right now. This is a better than realized crop of rookies and Bagley, the No. 2 overall pick, deserves his seat at the front table.
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