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Luka Doncic and Trae Young went from standout rookies to All-Stars in 2019-20. Which second-year players could make a similar jump this season?
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Steve Aschburner: It’s quite a leap to become an All-Star in one’s second season. Tricky, too, because the player has to up his production, help boost his team’s record and be in line to get a big chunk of the credit for that. A player like Tyler Herro, for instance, could light it up in the first half of this season and still miss out with Jimmy Butler and new star Bam Adebayo ahead of him in Miami’s pecking order. Memphis guard Ja Morant’s team was still underwater by the end of January, which might have cost him them. Still, I’ll go with Morant and Zion Williamson, who get plenty of spotlight with the Grizzlies and the Pelicans. If their teams start strong, both could see stars by their names.
Shaun Powell: The sensible answer is Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, the Nos. 1 and 2 picks who were, and are, heads and shoulders above everyone else in that class. If we’re looking for a sleeper pick, then Coby White and/or Tyler Herro bring the best credentials.
John Schuhmann: Ja Morant and Zion Williamson are the obvious answers and between the two, I’d favor Morant. He’ll have the ball in his hands and he’s a terror in the pick-and-roll, combining ridiculous quickness with pretty sophisticated savvy. Coby White isn’t on that level, but has had a very intriguing preseason thus far and will seemingly be given every opportunity to run the Bulls’ offense. There are probably too many good players in Miami for Tyler Herro to make that leap this season, but he could get there (to Young level, at least) in time.
Sekou Smith: Ja Morant and Zion Williamson are first in line. They are the two biggest names from last season’s rookie class and the two guys set up for the production needed to join the All-Star fray this season. They’ve have to follow in the footsteps of Luka and Trae to get there. And I’m not sure that’s possible, statistically or in the standings. The field is crowded as well, with a long list of All-Stars at their respective positions already in place. They are definitely next up, I’m just not sure when that time will come for either one of these talented youngsters.
Michael C. Wright: It’s Ja Morant and Zion Williamson for me because they’re simply the most explosive, exciting players of last year’s draft class. Morant seems to hunt bigs to dunk on, which leads to the viral clips we all love to see, not to mention the fact his rookie stats were better than Derrick Rose’s numbers in his first season. And Rose made his first All-Star Game in Year 2. As for Williamson, we all caught a glimpse of him for just 24 games last season due to his knee injury, and he was playing under a minutes restriction during all of those outings.